'No, no Barbie, let's not party': Lebanon's culture minister seeks to ban Barbie film

'No, no Barbie, let's not party': Lebanon's culture minister seeks to ban Barbie film
3 min read
09 August, 2023
The film about a plastic children's doll was reported to "contradict religion and values," the Minister of Culture said.
Despite initial delays, countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have allowed the film to be screened. [Getty]


Lebanon’s Minister of Culture announced on Wednesday that he would request for the ‘Barbie’ movie to be banned from theatres in Lebanon as it “promotes homosexuality and transgenderism.”

The Minister, Mohamed al-Mortada, said that Barbie “contradicts the moral and faith values and the established principles in Lebanon,” and that he would request that Lebanese General Security prevent the screening of the film.

Barbie, a blockbuster hit in the US and Europe, is a film about a doll that is struck with ennui and questions whether there is more to life than her pink fantasy dream world.

The movie has quickly become a cultural phenomenon worldwide, with celebrities and politicians dressing in "Barbie Pink" outfits to attend the film's screening.

In the Middle East, the film about a plastic children's doll has sparked controversy, where some countries have objected to its seemingly feminist overtones and questioning of patriarchal norms.

In Saudi Arabia, the film's screening was given the green light on Monday, despite authorities initially delaying its release.

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Lebanon's reported ban on the movie prompted outrage and mockery in the country.

"If only they banned the more important wrong things that happen in this country! What a joke!" Rawan Hijazi, a Twitter user, said in response to the announcement.

Others said the film's banning was part of Lebanon's more extended history of censorship.

They pointed to the country's banning of the book "The Da Vinci Code" and the 2019 cancellation of a concert from the band Mashroua Leila, some of whose members are queer.

"The irony is that when it comes to anti-liberal attitudes and willingness to dictate to people what they can read … we have some sort of unholy alliance. Bigoted clerics of all sects find themselves thinking alike," Karim Bitar, a professor of International Relations at the University of Saint Joseph Lebanon, told The New Arab.

The film's banning comes as Lebanese political figures and other authorities in the region have launched an unprecedented wave of hate speech against LGBT and feminist groups.

At the end of July, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the pro-Iran militia Hezbollah, warned that gay people's existence was a "threat to society" and called for LGBT people to be killed.

In neighbouring Jordan, the Speaker of the House said that a new proposed cybercrime bill could be used to "criminalise homosexuality, while another MP proposed an amendment to "combat sexual abnormality."

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Analysts have said politicians are targeting LGBT people and other groups to draw attention away from worsening economic malaise in countries like Lebanon, which is entering its fourth year of financial crisis.

"The entire system realises that they are impotent to solve all the major issues, so they are trying to find scapegoats, which is either refugees, sexual minorities, or a movie as innocent as Barbie," Bitar said.

TNA requested comment on the reason for the film's banning in Lebanon from the Minister of Culture in Lebanon but had yet to receive a response by the time of publishing.