Less than a week since banning director Greta Gerwig's highly anticipated Barbie, Vietnam bans the Chinese-produced Netflix drama series Flight to You. The Vietnamese government banned the series for similar reasons: a map.

In both Barbie and Flight to You, a map is shown to have the "nine-dash line," which depicts China as owning around 90 percent of the South China Sea. However, China has no claim to that sea, yet the country brought its military into that region and occupies some islands there. Vietnam says that the use of the map violates its sovereignty and they will not tolerate any depictions of the "nine-dash line" in film and TV.

“As a result of the Vietnamese regulator banning elements of the series, we have removed ‘Flight to You’ from Netflix in Vietnam. It remains available on our service in other markets,” a Netflix spokesperson told Varietyin an emailed statement.

So what are movies and shows able to do to screen in Vietnam?

Two Kens arguing with a Barbie breaking them up, 'Barbie''Barbie'Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Is There Any Solution to Existing Films and TV Shows with the "Nine-Dash Line"?


In the case of Barbie, Warner Bros. denied last week that the map shown in the film has the "nine-dash line," stating that the map is just childish scribble.

“The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing,” a spokesperson for Warner Bros. 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.”

The Philippines' film censorship board is now reviewing Barbie over the map scene.

For shows like Flight to You, the map clearly shows the "nine-dash line" in multiple episodes. According to Variety, "The department ordered Netflix and carrier FPT Telecom JSC to remove the show within 24 hours and to confirm their compliance."

While I am not for films or TV shows editing a final cut as it could easily lead to censorship, I could see Netflix and other streamers editing the map with the "nine-dash line" out to keep the revenue flowing from as many countries as possible. 

As for future production, set designers are now tasked to find and use maps that do not have the "nine-dash line" to prevent their films or TV shows from being banned. It's a real conundrum, but this shows how delicate it can be to release a movie worldwide. You might not be able to know everything about what is happening in the world, but you can make a conscious effort to avoid the mistakes that others make or lean into them if that is your goal. The choice is yours to make.

What do you think of Vietnam banning Flight to You? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Variety