Unofficial Barbie movie screenings draw crowds, showing the complex relationship between Russian audiences and Western entertainment. Officially, the Barbie movie isn’t showing in Russia.
However, a makeshift pink paradise has emerged in a Moscow shopping center, with pink furniture, popcorn, and life-size Barbie and Ken cardboard cutouts.
Despite Hollywood studios boycotting Russia due to sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine, unauthorized copies of the film are finding their way into the country and being dubbed into Russian.
The situation at cinemas has taken on a secretive tone. Some cinemas sell tickets to short Russian films and then screen the Barbie movie as a preview to circumvent licensing issues.
Russia’s culture ministry disapproves of the Barbie movie, citing concerns that it does not align with “traditional Russian moral and spiritual values.”
However, many cinemagoers in Russia are delighted that Barbie has graced their screens.
Despite differing opinions, the presence of the Barbie movie in Russian cinemas reflects the tension between Western entertainment and traditional values.
Russian MP Maria Butina has voiced concerns about the film and questioned its licensing status. She emphasizes the importance of adhering to the law.
The Barbie movie screening issue comes against broader narratives pushed by Russian authorities, portraying the West as an aggressor and Russia as a peacemaker.
State TV continuously shows Western leaders as Russia’s adversaries, aiming to dismantle the country and seize its resources.
Russian Government Opposes Barbie Film Screening
Russian high-school textbooks further this narrative by promoting patriotism and asserting that Western influences have eroded traditional Russian values.
The message to Russian students is clear: they must contribute to strengthening the Motherland.
While some in Moscow remain open to Western culture, the situation appears different in smaller towns.
In Shchekino, a concert featuring Russian soldiers performing patriotic songs draws a mixed audience of young and old.
They wave Russian flags while images of tanks, soldiers, and President Vladimir Putin play on the screen behind the performers.
Patriotic messaging is effective in these settings, and the allure of Barbie is absent in this environment.
“Forget Western habits,” says one resident, Andrei. “We need to cut out Western habits from our lives. How can we do that? Through film. Cinema can influence the masses.”
Others emphasize the importance of Russian cinema promoting family values, love, and friendship.
However, some, like Diana, believe in the universality of art, asserting that cultural exchange enriches society.
The clash between Russian traditional values and Western cultural influence continues to play out, with cinema acting as a battleground where these tensions are fully displayed.