Several Republican lawmakers are accusing the highly publicized Warner Bros. film "Barbie" of pandering to Chinese censors.
The issue at hand pertains to a scene in the film that the lawmakers say features a cartoon map (pictured above) illustrating and endorsing China's assertion of control over disputed territories in the South China Sea.
"China wants to control what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think, and they leverage their massive film markets to coerce American companies into pushing CCP propaganda—just like the way the Barbie film seems to have done with the map. Sen. Cruz deserves credit for reversing these trends," Texas Sen. Ted Cruz spokesman said in a statement obtained by Scripps News.
Earlier this week, Cruz also took to Twitter to double down on his opinion, writing, "I guess Barbie is made in China...."
Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher is also condemning filmmakers and Hollywood, telling Scripps News that the map shows the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Hollywood.
"While it may just be a Barbie map in a Barbie world, the fact that a cartoonish, crayon-scribbled map seems to go out of its way to depict the PRC's unlawful territorial claims illustrates the pressure that Hollywood is under to please CCP censors," Gallagher said in a statement.
Florida Rep. Mike Waltz added to the accusations by telling Fox News that the American film industry is catering to China's extensive audience while turning a blind eye to the country's troubling human rights violations.
"This is yet another disgraceful example of Hollywood being in the pocket of communist China. Not only does it undermine our national security but exposes the film industry's blatant hypocrisy on social justice and human rights," Waltz told Fox News.
This controversy comes as Vietnam banned the highly anticipated film over this same map.
According to Vietnamese state media, Vietnam Express, Chinese maps use a U-shaped "nine-dash line" to illustrate Beijing’s territorial claims over large portions of the South China Sea, including waters that fall within areas claimed by Vietnam and other nations. The map has been "internationally condemned and rejected" by Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines.
Scripps News reached out to Warner Bros. for comment but have not heard back. However, in a statement obtained by Variety, the film company says the map was taken completely out of context.
"The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing," a spokesperson for the Warner Bros. Film Group told Variety. "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."
This summer blockbuster starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling is set to hit theaters on July 21, and it's expected to have an estimated $31 million in opening weekend earnings.
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