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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

Warner Bros. Explains the Barbie Map Controversy

This weeks Your Nerd Side Show:

Warner Bros. has explained the controversial drawing that has led to the Greta Gerwig-directed Barbie movie being banned in Vietnam.

A Warner Bros. Film Group spokesperson told Variety, "The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing. The doodles depict Barbie's make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the 'Real World.'" The representative elaborated that the Barbie Map did not intend to make any political statements.

Vietnamese officials are unhappy with the drawings, claiming they represent the "nine-dash line," reinforcing China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. Vietnam disputes China's claims, which it views as impugning its sovereignty. Vietnam has banned the release of Barbiein their territory. Actual global map lines are dissimilar in shape to the ones depicted in the Barbie map, which only has eight lines.

According to the official synopsis of the Barbie movie, Barbie leaves Barbie Land, and the map will have a pivotal role to play in how Margot Robbie's character gets to 'the Real World.' Kate Mckinnon's Barbie gives Robbie's character the map that will guide her journey to self-discovery. 'Journey lines' are serial dashes often used in kid's drawings and child-friendly animation to show where characters have traveled to or from. The 'Journey lines' are believed to be mistaken for the 'nine-dash line' Vietnamese officials insist they represent. Vinay Menon, a columnist, wrote, "I'm not sure this map, which you'd miss if you blinked at the one-minute mark in the third trailer, would be admissible in the International Court of Justice. It's cartoonishly unrealistic," he commented.

Greta Gerwig's Barbie Movie Inspiration

Barbie is co-written and directed by Gerwig, whose inspiration for the character came from a deeply personal place, "When you are directing something, you have to be a bit stupid about yourself, or a little bit unconscious...I had no idea," she said about the similarity of Robbie's character arc and the filmmaker's path from acting to directing, "It's completely true. The things where you really feel unconsciously seen are things like that, where you realize, 'Oh man, I didn't hide anywhere.' And that's always part of the joy of making art for people, is sometimes they understand it more than you do, which is unsettling."

Alongside Robbie and Mckinnon, Barbie will star Issa Rae and Emma Mackey as other versions of the titular character. Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, and Ncuti Gatwa will portray Ken as part of a diverse cast that also includes America Ferrera, Hari Neff, Michael Cera, and Will Ferrell.

Barbie will hit theaters on July 21, 2023.

Source: Variety

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