Barbie banned in Kuwait as Lebanon urges actionon August 10, 2023 at 3:01 pm

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The blockbuster falls foul of authorities over its portrayal of social values.

Barbie in DubaiImage source, Reuters

The Barbie film has been banned in Kuwait and faces calls for a ban in Lebanon amid criticism in the Arab world of the movie’s social values.

Kuwait acted to protect “public ethics”, the state news agency said. Lebanon’s culture minister accused the film of “promoting homosexuality”.

The blockbuster is however being shown in conservative countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia.

The film has grossed over $1bn worldwide within weeks of its release.

Lafi al-Subaiei, the head of Kuwait’s board of film classification, said that usually the board asks for movie scenes deemed to flout his country’s culture to be cut.

But when they promote behaviour the state thinks is unacceptable, they are banned outright.

The film “promulgate[s] ideas and beliefs that are alien to Kuwaiti society and public order”, a spokesman for the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information said.

On Wednesday, the Lebanese Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada asked the interior ministry to “take all necessary measures to ban” Barbie.

He said the film “promotes homosexuality and transsexuality… supports rejecting a father’s guardianship, undermines and ridicules the role of the mother, and questions the necessity of marriage and having a family”.

Following Mr Mortada’s call, the Lebanese interior minister and state judge Bassam Mawlawi asked the country’s censorship committee to review the film.

The minister is supported by the Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah. Last month its leader said homosexuality posed an “imminent danger” to Lebanese society and called on authorities to ban events that are seen the promote it.

The move comes amid “a wave of bigotry” in the country, Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the Samir Kassir Foundation, a Lebanese rights organisation, told Reuters news agency.

“This is part of a broader campaign that is bringing together Hezbollah, the Christian far right, and other top religious leaders in a focused campaign against LGBT people,” Ms Mhanna said.

The film has also fallen foul of censors elsewhere, including in Vietnam for featuring a map showing a contested Chinese territorial claim in the South China Sea.

Starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, the movie tells a coming-of-age story of the children’s character where she explores her identity and encourages fellow Mattel Inc dolls to express individuality.

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Shazir Mucklai is an angel investor and adviser in disruptive startups. He is a financier and specializes in options, IPOs, derivatives, and Greek analysis....