Barbie release delayed in Pakistan’s Punjab

Due to the film’s allegedly “objectionable content,” the highly anticipated release of the Hollywood movie Barbie has been postponed in the province of Punjab in Pakistan.

According to the officials, the movie would be scrutinized, and it would need approval from the provincial boards that censor scenes that violate the social, cultural, and religious norms of the country.

According to Farrukh Mahmood, secretary of the Punjab film censor board, who spoke to the Guardian about the matter, “We will review the film before it is released in the country.” He did not elaborate on any specific events or scenes.

This decision was made after several nations in the Middle East, including Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), decided to delay the premiere of a film that was predicted to be one of the year’s most talked-about movies.

A moment in the film highlights a map displaying China’s unilateral claim of territory in the South China Sea, which led to the film being banned in Vietnam earlier this month for the same reason. The premiere of the movie in Vietnam was initially scheduled for the 21st of July.

Margot Robbie takes on role of Barbie in the film directed by Greta Gerwig. Ryan Gosling portrays Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend, in the movie.

On social media, users were critical of the Punjab province government’s decision to temporarily prohibit the movie.

“Have you just heard that they have banned Barbie in Pakistan? The day before yesterday, I watched [the movie]. There is essentially nothing in that movie that should be restricted. No cussing allowed. Absolutely no bareness. No lewdness allowed. Not even any characters who identify as LGBTQ+. One person remarked on Twitter that the film’s central theme revolves around the idea that women should have the freedom to pursue whatever goals they set for themselves, which the user believes poses a significant risk to the social fabric of our society.

Films that question or subvert cultural norms have always been subject to censorship in Pakistan. The predominantly Muslim nation with a conservative government banned the award-winning film Joyland in November on the grounds that it violated the “norms of decency and morality of the society.” Joyland was Pakistan’s submission for the 2023 Academy Awards.

In the television show Joyland, a married Pakistani guy had an affair with a transgender woman. Later on, the picture was given the all-clear by the government following a review by the national censorship board; however, Joyland was not allowed to be shown in Punjab, which is the province with the most residents.

Legal experts in Pakistan are of the opinion that the Punjab censor board has continued to appease fundamentalists in the religious community.

This is highly arbitrary and is very similar to the ban that was placed on the film Joyland, which won multiple awards. It violates the very freedoms that are protected by the Constitution of the United States. According to Osama Malik, a legal attorney who spoke to the media, “the self-proclaimed and self-anointed guardians of public morality who run the Punjab censor board may feel that a film as harmless as Barbie can shake the beliefs and values of the 100 million people who reside in the country’s largest province.”

Due to the film Zindagi Tamasha’s depiction of a devout guy who produces hymns and is found dancing at a family function, in 2019, the film was banned, and its director was accused of blasphemy, which is a crime that carries the death sentence. This was done by an ultra-religious party. Blasphemy is a criminal that carries the death sentence.

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