This is truly the finest headline of the year. After news broke that Vietnam has banned Barbie over a map in the film depicting what looks like the “nine-dash line,” which China uses on maps to lay claim to disputed territory, Warner Bros. has released a public statement trying to calm the waters.
Enter, Diplomat Barbie.
As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the movie studio behind the goofy Margot Robbie-starring toy adaptation said, “The map in Barbie Land is a whimsical, child-like crayon drawing. The doodles depict Barbie’s make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the real world. It was not intended to make any type of statement.”
Please, please don’t get mad about the doodles.
It’s unclear whether this statement will placate the Vietnamese censors into allowing the film to play there or convince The Philippines not to make a similar move for the same reason.
But for a moment, imagine that you’re the art department for Barbie, charged with making a map that looks like a kindergartener drew it. It’s a delightful task in what has already been a color-filled gig. You scribble some boats and wave-like squiggles. You try to empty your mind completely to make random-enough shapes to turn into continents. On a whim, you fill some empty space next to “Asia” with a few dashes.
Now, you’ve caused an international scandal that will cost the company whatever it might have made in Vietnamese theaters.
Also, there are only 8 dashes there. What a time to be alive.