The new Barbie movie paints a miserable world for young girls. It’s not one I want to live in.
I finally broke down and went to see the new “Barbie” movie. First, I read Ben Shapiro’s scathing review and read the elite, liberal media articles mocking his scathing review. I really have no interest in the movie, but you can’t write a review about something you don’t see.
I tried to go into the movie with an open mind, although I refused to join the hordes of women and young girls (preteens, teens, etc.) decked out in hot pink. A friend of mine said, “Does everything have to be political?” In other words, can’t people just enjoy a movie without it bogging down in our country’s divisive culture wars? Sure, I said, but this movie is trying to SEND a cultural message, and it’s doing it to kids. So it’s fair game that we analyze that message.
The movie was worse than I expected. Sure, it’s well-crafted, a sugar-high Candy Crush or Candyland type world of fantasy and satire, with Oscar-worthy acting by lead Margot Robbie, great sets, and snappy dialogue. The movie muddles its message at the end, making it somewhat confusing what it’s trying to say. It comes around to the right message at the end, that women should be able to be whatever they want, including a mother.
The problem is that it puts down men to get there, and it never corrects that.
Why are we supposed to be celebrating a movie that tells little girls that all men are sexist, superfluous jerks?
For most of the movie, “Barbie” creates a miserable world for young girls, where men are figures of ridicule who are not necessary or worthy of any admiration. There is not a single admirable man in the movie. It’s not a world that I want to live in. It’s also divorced from actual reality.
The movie has two worlds; there’s “Barbieland,” painted as a female-led utopia, where everything is plastic and perfect, no one has cellulite, everyone is happy all of the time, and, as Barbie notes, men are “superfluous” jokes. And then there’s the “real world,” which is painted as a patriarchal nightmare dominated by catcalling, sexist he-men. There is no in between. There is no “world” where men and women interact with mutual respect and recognition that each gender gains something from the other.
The movie opens with a scene of young girls in a desert smashing baby dolls as it informs viewers that, until “Barbie” came along with her many careers, little girls were forced to play with baby dolls and role play as mothers. This is painted as such a horrific thought that the baby dolls end up with their heads smashed to bits on rocks. I’d call that an abortion analogy, but the liberal, elite media would go wild on me. A woman is the president in “Barbie Land,” and the Supreme Court is made up of women too. For all the female power, though, it’s a pretty cold, plastic world.
There is a mother in the “real world” who looks tired, frumpy and exhausted and confesses how hard it is running around after kids.
Ken is painted in “Barbieland” as an effete, de-masculinized, basically castrated figure, who is powerless, stereotyped, and mocked by Barbie, whose affections he is desperate to get. He gets his worth through Barbie’s attention. Barbie rejects him throughout the entire movie, rendering him pathetic and declaring, “Ken is totally superfluous.”
He fares no better in the “real world,” where he prances around drunk on patriarchy, excited about horses and trucks and thinking he can get a job just because he’s a man. The real world is described as a place where “men rule, literally,” and Ken even chooses a book on the origins of patriarchy from a school shelf. Then he returns to Barbieland, and promptly starts turning it into Kenland, and the other Barbies end up subservient to the Ken dolls and brainwashed. Both worlds are miserable extremes.
At one point, Barbie even tells Ken, “I don’t want you here. It’s Barbie’s dream house, not Ken’s dream house.”
That’s the message the movie gives to young girls. Prioritizing the “I.” There is no “they” or “we” in this movie. There is no “their dream house.” Men exist as characters of ridicule. That doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t have funny moments. When all of the Kens strum away at their guitars thinking the eye-rolling Barbies will love their songs, who can’t relate?
My idea of a dream, utopian world, is different. It’s one where men and women both feel valued, and where they thrive together in equality. Empowering women doesn’t mean men need to lose their power.
In my dream world, men and women enter into loving relationships, and they create loving families. Sure, if you don’t want to have kids, that’s a choice some people make. However, the messaging in this movie reminds me of the messaging in the ’80s, when women were encouraged to be so career-focused that some waited too long to have families, and now they’re bitterly regretting it.
I don’t want a world where men are stereotyped and devalued. At least on the right and in the Midwest where I live, they generally are not. I also don’t want a world where gender is eradicated; the movie avoids that trend, at least.
I think the world is better with men in it, and many women appreciate and find masculinity attractive. It’s not something we should make fun of, discourage or depress.
I think it’s great when women have a career (I’d be bored without intellectual stimulation and have always had one) but being a mother is a cherished gift that is unparalleled on this earth (I’m one of those too).
Newsflash to the “Barbie” writers, but, in the real world, the U.S. Supreme Court has four women, a woman is vice president and, until recently, a woman was Speaker of the House. In contrast to the warped, unrealistic sexist “real world” in “Barbie,” there’s an argument that men are the ones who are degraded today. Women now outnumber men in the U.S. college-educated labor force, for example. More than three-fourths of suicides are among men, to cite another example.
A healthy society devalues neither.
Is there some sexism in the “real world” today? Sure. There’s some. I’ve rarely had a female boss in any of my professions, for example, and I’ve felt sometimes that I have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously. I’ve been objectified and sexualized when men are not. However, I generally feel that women today have the power to create their own paths, whether that’s becoming a mom, having a career, or, hopefully, both. The movie nominally makes this point toward the end, when it inundates the viewer with images of mothers and daughters, and showcases a mother and daughter who befriend Barbie, and argues suddenly that women can be anything they want, but that’s after it spent almost two hours convincing us that Ken and all men are misogynistic idiots, and women are better off without them.
I played with Barbies as a kid. However, in contrast to the movie, I imaginatively pretended Barbie had a career, but also that she found true love with Ken. I liked that dual fantasy. I also enjoyed putting her in pretty clothes. She was just part of my imaginative childhood. I also created a stand to sell my mother back her old magazines from the basement, forced my poor brother to play school when he was done with school, and wrote a 28-page crime novel in fourth grade.
I never once considered smashing the heads of baby dolls or considered Ken to be “superfluous.” That would never have entered my mind, but this movie is planting in the minds of many impressionable girls that men are superfluous morons.
It’s tempting to praise the “Barbie” movie for, at least, recognizing that binary gender exists, except it falls into the trap of old-school feminists who believed empowering women means disempowering men. It doesn’t. Men and women have different power; masculine and feminine energy are different, and they should be able to not only exist side-by-side but also build one another.
Barbie is gender on steroids. I did laugh when they tried to negate the criticism that she is a “white savior” character with a subtle aside. I remember the days when feminists hated Barbie because she was white, blonde, and too thin. Interesting, then, that they picked “stereotypical Barbie” as the protagonist.
By denigrating men and trying to convince impressionable young girls that they’d be better off without them or without babies, I think “Barbie” is painting a crass and damaging picture of a real world I wouldn’t want to live in and don’t believe exists. Well, it’s the world as seen through the “woke” “feminist” viewpoint admired by the left, I suppose, and maybe it exists in liberal enclaves on the coasts. There’s an entirely different reality out here in the Heartland.