August 8, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10744

Arab YouTubers Condemn 'Barbie' Movie, Advocate for Ban In Arab Countries, Citing Feminist, Homosexual Themes

August 8, 2023
Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates | Special Dispatch No. 10744

In light of the recent release of the American fantasy comedy film "Barbie," inspired by the Barbie fashion dolls, many influential Arab YouTubers with millions of subscribers have taken to their channels to vehemently criticize the movie. They level accusations against it, claiming that it promotes feminism and homosexuality and call for its banning in Arab countries, urging their viewers to refrain from watching it.

This report will review the commentaries made by these content creators on YouTube and explore the different aspects of their condemnation of the movie, which is a massive global hit but whose July release was pushed back several weeks in the Middle East because of local concerns about content.

In a video titled "Review of the Barbie movie: A Long History of Radical Feminism," Syrian Islamist YouTuber Ahmad Dadoosh argues that the movie's plot aligns with feminist agendas and includes hidden messages, suggesting that in the future, Barbie could be portrayed as homosexual. He asserts that this narrative is in line with the ongoing cultural evolution in the West.

Dadoosh then brought up the fact that transgender actor Hari Nef played one of the Barbies in the movie and proceeded to read part of Nef's Instagram post where Nef expressed enthusiasm about being cast in Barbie. In response, Dadoosh commented: "This clearly illustrates that there is a message; this transgender actress confirms that it is not just about art or exploitation, nor is it solely driven by box office success; there is a message and an ideology they are working for. Hari Nef's cause revolves around gender transformation, and she sees this film as a strong supporter of that message."[1]

Dubai-based Jordanian YouTuber Omar Aburob, whose channel has over 1.5 million subscribers, published a video titled "Do Not Watch The Barbie Movie"[2] on July 24, 2023, where he argued that the movie promotes an ideal world where women and men live separate lives, aligning with the agendas of the third and fourth waves of feminism. According to him, the film supports the notion that women are superior to men and that diminishing men's importance leads to better outcomes for women, a concept to which he believes young girls should not be exposed as such exposure could result in various issues and the eventual disruption of families.

Aburob also said that the movie is politically driven, containing many jokes about homosexuals, endorsing gender transitioning, and including several jokes not suitable for those under age 18. He pointed out that the male characters are portrayed negatively, with one young man being depicted as clearly gay.

Expressing skepticism about the movie's success, Aburob revealed his opposition to its screening in the Arab world. He explained that cinemas in the region would edit parts of the film and send them to the main production company during the period when its release date was postponed to August 31. Depending on the company's acceptance of these changes, the film may or may not be screened. However, Aburob firmly believes that the right decision would be to not release the movie at all. Despite wide anticipation to see it, including his own, he argued that even if Arab cinemas remove all the negative content, the film would still include misleading ideas.

Redx, another UAE-based YouTuber with over 2.37 million subscribers, published a video on July 28, 2023, expressing his support for the authorities in the Arab world for banning the screening of the movie in movie theaters.

He justified the banning of the movie, which he said was an attempt to brainwash younger children, by saying: "In short, the movie does not align with our religion, culture, or customs. They are currently targeting our brothers and young children, as, if your brother, cousin, or son watches the Barbie movie, it will be the beginning of brainwashing them."[3]

In a video published on his channel on August 2, 2023, Khaled Alnajjar, a Jordanian YouTuber based in Turkey, presented his argument about the movie "Barbie."[4] He pointed out that despite being a children's movie, it was cast by adults "with hidden agendas and ideologies, intending to "manipulate young minds." Alnajjar emphasized that the danger lies in these adults trying to influence and negatively impact children through the film.

In a video titled "Barbie Movie, Poisonous Film, Dangerous Ideas, I Do Not Recommend Watching it" published on August 2, 2023, Moroccan YouTuber Mohammed Jaadi claimed that the movie promotes the idea that women are in constant conflict with men and that when men are in charge, women are oppressed and when women are in charge, men are humiliated. According to him, "this is a dangerous idea because there is complementarity between women and men, as there are needs in men that only women can satisfy, and vice versa. Therefore, promoting the idea that there is a constant conflict between them is illogical and contrary to human norms."

As for his accusation against the movie for challenging religions, Jaadi pointed out that, "while religions advocate for marriage, the movie outright rejects the very idea. They promote procreation, but the movie takes a stand against it. Moreover, religions encourage motherhood and breastfeeding, but the movie opposes these fundamental aspects. This clear contrast means that it challenges not only the divine religions but also questions our moral values. Its underlying motive seems to be portraying women as something other than their true selves, stripping them of femininity, beauty, and modesty."

Urging his audience not to watch the movie, he stated, "In summary, I do not recommend watching the film due to its lack of a captivating plot and more. It comes across as a simple and dull production, and the promotional efforts surrounding it overstate its value, while its underlying ideas are malicious."[5]

Rakan Al-Shaya, a Saudi YouTuber and movie critic shared his opinion on whether "Barbie" will be aired in the Arab World or not on August 31, 2023. He said: "I believe that the censorship issue in the Arab world with the Barbie movie revolves around the plot and storyline of the film. They cannot change the story, no matter how many scenes they delete, as they will ultimately distort the film. However, if the movie is released, I will be one of the first to watch it so that I can judge it."[6]

Criticizing the movie, Jordanian YouTuber Mustafa Shouman said in an August 3, 2023 video that "the first scene promotes the idea that this planet is male-dominated to the core and denies women their rights. It suggests that women do not need men and, therefore, they should assert their independence and become stronger and more autonomous."

He went so far as to claim that the movie encourages men to change their gender to become women in order to attain the perfect version of a human. He stated: "The other aspect is that the movie promotes the idea that for a man to reach the stage of perfection, he must transform into a female. Achieving perfection requires a person to have a male body and female emotions."[7]

In a video published[8] on July 29, 2023, Ema, a female Moroccan YouTuber, echoed similar criticism of the movie. She pointed out that the film presents exaggerated feminist ideas and promotes the notion that men and women cannot live a complementary life. According to her, the movie suggests that they must completely separate from each other, along with other ideas that people consider unsuitable for the intended audience of the film.

Hala Samir, a family and educational counselor, and a YouTuber with over 3.12 million subscribers, commented on one of the scenes in the movie where a baby-like doll was destroyed. She said: "I will discuss the opening scene of the movie, where young girls are shown breaking baby-like dolls resembling the ones we used to play with in our childhood. The act of breaking these baby-like dolls holds profound significance that I could talk about for years. It symbolizes the shattering of an idea and challenges the sanctity of motherhood."[9]

In his movie review, Egyptian YouTuber Mohamed Mosalam summarized the film as a promotional piece for the Barbie doll company aimed at maximizing profits. In a video published on July 30, 2023, he stated: "The film itself acknowledges this when the doll maker appears towards the end and discusses the history of the Barbie doll. The underlying theme of the movie revolves around consumerism's dominance. The film seeks to convey that back in 1959, when they created Barbie, it catered to the prevailing male perspective of that time. However, circumstances have changed, and now there is a more liberated viewpoint. Consequently, they chose to present Barbie differently, primarily for financial gain."[10]


[1], August 1, 2023.

[2], July 24, 2023.

[3], July 28, 2023.

[4], August 2, 2023.

[5], August 2, 2023.

[6], August 1, 2023.

[7], August 3, 2023.

[8], July 29, 2023.

[9], July 29, 2023.

[10], July 30, 2023.

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