Commercial screenings of the anticipated summer blockbuster Barbie have been banned in Vietnam for showing the controversial “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea on a world map. In 2016, The Hague ruled unanimously that China’s use of the line to show its disputed territory in the sea was not valid – although Beijing has said it doesn’t recognise the decision. This is not the first time Vietnam’s government has banned a film on these grounds: Dreamworks’ 2019 animated film Abominable was banned as was Sony’s 2022 treasure-hunt film Unchartered. That such a crudely drawn depiction – see above – of the disputed border has met with such a severe reaction from Vietnam shows just how sensitive the politics of the China/Hollywood relationship has become. Last week, the Pentagon banned assistance for movie studios if they were planning to comply with Chinese censorship in reaction to the removal of Taiwan and Japanese flags from Maverick’s flight jacket in the Top Gun sequel.
Photograph Warner Bros.