Title: Delay in Middle East Release of Greta Gerwig’s Film ‘Barbie’ Sparks LGBTQ+ Censorship Battle
The release of Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated movie ‘Barbie’ has hit a major roadblock in the Middle East. Due to a censorship battle over LGBTQ+ content, the film’s release date has been delayed, according to Middle Eastern theatre chain Vox Cinemas.
Originally slated for release on 18 July, the film’s premiere has been rescheduled to 31 August. The delay has come about due to censor requests demanding cuts to LGBTQ+-themed content. However, there is uncertainty whether Warner Bros., the studio behind the movie, will approve the requested alterations.
Movie enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain will be disappointed as ‘Barbie’ will not be shown in these countries, as confirmed by Saudi film platform Movsto. However, there may be a glimmer of hope for fans in the UAE, as a tweet later suggested that officials have agreed to showcase the film on the revised release date.
While ‘Barbie’ features LGBTQ+ actors, it does not contain explicit LGBTQ+ content. However, some queer-coded moments are present. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Hollywood films shown in the Middle East to undergo regional cuts to align with local sensitivities. Failure to comply with these demands can result in an outright ban, as has been the case with previous Barbie releases in Saudi Arabia due to non-alignment with conservative values.
This controversy mirrors a recent incident surrounding the film ‘Lightyear,’ a spinoff of the popular Toy Story series. After refusing to cut a same-sex kiss from the film, Disney faced backlash and consequent banning in 14 countries. The UAE’s Media Regulatory Office cited a violation of the country’s media regulation laws as the reason for the ban.
Interestingly, LGBTQ+ Pixar employees accused Disney of cutting gay affection from their films. In the case of ‘Lightyear,’ despite opposition from staff members, the same-sex scene survived. Actor Chris Evans expressed his frustration that the inclusion of such content has become a topic of discussion, emphasising that LGBTQ+ representation should be the norm in films.
The underlying goal is for LGBTQ+ representation to become standard in the film industry, where inclusivity is the norm. As such, discussions about the inclusion of LGBTQ+ content should no longer be necessary.