December 8, 2023

My daughters Maine, Ysa, and Betchay grew up not with paper dolls but with Barbie dolls.
Barbie was a blonde fashion doll whom they enjoyed to dress up in outfits and jewelries that were available separately.
The American toy company Mattel produced it and believe it or not, three dolls are sold every second worldwide. It was manufactured the year I was born, which means 64 ages ago. Her creator’s inspiration was a doll called Bild Lilli – a German fashion doll appearing in a comic strip.
As my daughters grew up, every mall trip here and abroad, they would head directly to Toys-R-Us and get the latest collection of Barbie and her male counterpart – Ken dolls with its multitude of accessories including cats and dogs, horses, pandas, a lion cub and a zebra. Barbie had cars, a pink Beetle and Corvette convertible, trailers, and jeeps. She was a pilot, flight attendant, doctor, astronaut, a variety of roles in life.
Once, in Los Angeles, California, my daughters overheard a father in the toy store buying a doll for his daughter’s birthday. He asks the clerk, “How much is the Barbie displayed at the front window?”
The salesperson responds, “Which one is it? Workout Barbie costs $19.95, Shopping Barbie costs $19.95, beach Barbie costs $19.95, disco Barbie costs $19.95, and divorced Barbie costs $265.95.”
The perplexed father inquires, “What? Why is the divorced Barbie $265.95 while the other Barbies are only $19.95?” The salesperson answers, “Sir, divorced Barbie comes with Ken’s car, Ken’s house, Ken’s boat, Ken’s furniture, Ken’s computer, and even one of Ken’s friends.”
Barbie starred in a lot of movies but her 2023 fantasy comedy flick starring Margot Robbie created a fuss in Vietnam and of course here in the country thanks to the grandstanding honorables in the Senate.
Vietnam has reportedly banned the showing of the Warner Brothers movie because it depicts the nine-dash-line of China’s claim on almost the whole of West Philippine Sea (WPS). In the movie, the dashed lines drawn in a “child-like manner” appeared in several locations on the map around land masses identified as Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Asia depicting an escape route for Barbie and Ken.
The dash-lines were adopted from Chinese maps in the 1940s. China also calls it 11-dash-line and is a set of segments on various maps that indicate their territorial claims. The contested area in the WPS includes our own Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal. The line, like the movie, is actually a mere figment of the imagination. Beijing bases its claim to almost the entire WPS on the nine-dash line, a U-shaped line taking in nearly all of the resource-rich waters, which the International Court in a decision on 2016 found to have no legal basis.
One senator Tol who admitted that he has seen the movie says it should be banned as it “violates Filipino fisherfolks’ rights and will be injurious to the country and is contrary to what we fought for and achieved under the arbitral ruling in 2016.”
Even the gentleman from Baguio, who has not seen the film says it is a geopolitical issue (ako mismo di ko maawatan ngay) says “he agrees to show the movie if the scenes affecting the arbitral ruling would be edited out by the producer.”
Our leaders are should know that their acts amount to censorship and violative of basic rights such as rights to free speech and free expression but for once, a lady senator said it’s a movie, and its fiction, and let’s not fuss about it.
Good thing the Movie and Television Review Classification Board gave it the green light and will soon be seen in our cinemas although the WPS map will be blurred.
The MTRCB is convinced that the “cartoonish map” did not depict the nine-dash line and instead portrayed the route of the make-believe journey of Barbie from Barbie Land to the “real world”, as an integral part of the story.
Ultimately, we should not take the fun out of movies and popcorns. Maybe I should watch it myself too. Sigh.