Barbie or Nah? The Summer Movie Controversy Continues

Barbie or Nah? The Summer Movie Controversy Continues

Barbie or Nah? The Summer Movie Controversy Continues

Full disclosure here: I have not seen the movie Barbie, nor do I intend to see it. It’s not because of anything a detractor wrote, it’s simply because a film like that is just not my thing. In fact, when I first heard that this movie was in the works, I rolled my eyes and said to myself, That’s a hard pass. 

Little did I know that this summertime fluff would cause such a hubbub.


First, the Barbie Haters

Let’s start with Piers Morgan at the New York Post, who wrote:

If I made a movie that treated women the way Barbie treats men, feminists would want me executed.

That was just the title. Morgan goes on:

The movie’s clear message is that the only solution to this dreadful patriarchal state of affairs is for women to rule the world, and preferably to do so on their own without horrible men to ruin both the planet and them…

This is a feminist Utopia where the Barbies are all-powerful and the Kens, led by Ryan Gosling, are a bunch of second-class, useless halfwits.

Piers Morgan wasn’t the only voice to raise a stink over this movie. So did Elon Musk, who tweeted:

Then there’s the Daily Wire duo of Matt Walsh and Ben Shapiro, who let you know in no uncertain terms how deeply they despise this movie.

Walsh wrote, in his own unique, burn-it-all-down style:

I would rather jump feet first into a wood chipper than sit through that film. I don’t need to watch “Barbie” to know that it’s bad for the same reason that I don’t need to pull a rotten onion out of the garbage and eat it in order to know that I don’t like the taste. I have never thrown myself into a volcano, but I feel that I can safely say that the experience would be unpleasant, and probably a little hot.

Okay, then. Not to be outdone, however, Ben Shapiro lit Barbie and Ken dolls on fire.

(That’s literally a Barbie on the barbie — see what I did there?)

However, burning anything you don’t approve of is silly. Because you’ve already paid for it, and the company you hate just took your money. You’d think Shapiro would be smart enough to figure that out, but such is his hatred of this film, I guess.

Finally, there’s this YouTube review by Will Jordan, aka The Critical Drinker. He’s an acerbic Scotsman who hammers Hollywood and its movies with a panache that surpasses anything that Shapiro or Walsh can dish out. His take on Barbie is clever and delivered with a braw brogue.


Then There’s the “Meh” Crowd

Two writers at National Review urge conservative movie goers to lighten up! 

Jack Butler opined that “Conservatives Are Getting Barbie Wrong.” It’s satire, folks, and brilliant as well:

What it all appears to suggest is that Barbieland is not merely a superficial construct but an entirely satirical one: a kind of post-feminist satire of what feminists imagine a perfect world looking like and of what they imagine male dominance is like.

Moreover, Butler wants us to know that he really had to think deeply to come to this conclusion because of his masculinity or something:

I had to overcome my own hesitation to arrive at this view. Masculine pride makes it far easier for me to recommend Oppenheimer than to esoterically interpret Barbie positively.

But …

It is, to be clear, not really a movie about men. But it does not hate them. It is something far different, and far more interesting, than that. Conservatives who think otherwise might not be thinking big enough.

Meanwhile, Luther Ray Abel urges conservatives to not be a “Barbie Downer.” It’s all about … capitalism!

Like Saturday-morning cartoons, the movie is a pallet of marketing that just so happens to be good, and, as such, it is palatable consumerism in motion …

Grab some lifelong friends and delight in a juggernaut of capitalism . . . not everything has to be a battleground.

Brendan O’Neill, editor for Spiked and contributor to The Spectator says that writers like Morgan and Shapiro are the real snowflakes here. He compared Shapiro immolating the Barbies to “those watery-eyed trans allies who burn Harry Potter books as a form of medieval protest against the speech-crimes of the witch J.K. Rowling.”

O’Neill concluded:

The mad overreaction to a movie about a life-sized doll speaks to today’s culture of fragility and intolerance. The great irony of Shapiro and Morgan damning Barbie as “woke” is that their sad, frail response to the film is what’s really “woke.” If “wokeness” means anything, surely it means a censorious sensitivity to culture and ideas that do not accord with your own values?

Interesting take. But I’ll still pass. Like I said, it’s not my thing.


Barbie and Her Scrofulous Past

I wonder if the scolds and supporters are aware of Barbie’s curious past as a German call girl?

Yes, really. Mattel toy designer Ruth Handler traveled to Switzerland in 1956 where she saw a fashion doll named “Lilli,” which was distributed by a German toy company. She brought three of the dolls home with her and convinced her husband — a co-founder of Mattel — to manufacture a similar toy for Americans. The rest, as they say, is history.

Barbie Bild Lilli dolls

Lilli dolls by Bild. Silke Knaak personal Bild-Lilli Collection for Sale by teadrinker is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

If you’re thinking that Barbie looks like a clone of Lilli, so did Greiner & Hauser, which manufactured Lilli. They sued Mattel, but settled out of court, and in 1964 Mattel bought the rights and patent for the German doll.

But before that, Lilli herself had a controversial past.

The website Messy Nessy noted:

Unbeknownst to most, Barbie actually started out life in the late 1940s as a German cartoon character created by artist Reinhard Beuthien for the Hamburg-based tabloid, Bild-Zeitung. The comic strip character was known as “Bild Lilli”, a post-war gold-digging buxom broad who got by in life seducing wealthy male suitors.

Whoa, take that, Matt Walsh!


Frankly, I don’t care. I had a Barbie doll when I was little, as did my daughter. However, my 6-year-old granddaughter doesn’t have one, and I’m happy about that. She plays with her Lottie Dolls and plushies instead.

Nor will her mom take her to see Barbie. “It’s not for kids,” she told me.

Matt Walsh wrote in his screed about the Barbie movie:

Thousands of moms took their daughters to see this thing over the weekend. And it is a wonderful movie to show your daughter, if you want her to be a vapid, man-hating harpy.

He’s wrong — neither a movie nor a doll is going to turn a little girl into a “vapid, man-hating harpy.”

That’s because the biggest influence we women have in our lives is our mother. I was blessed to have a mom who taught me morals and passed on her deep faith to me. Yet she also encouraged me to attend college to develop my intellect, gain a career, and become independent. I like to think I did the same for my daughter, and that she is doing likewise for my granddaughter.

My mother’s influence has lasted long after her passing at the age of 88. And because of her, I’ll pass on Barbie and see the biopic Oppenheimer instead.


Featured image: Mike Mozart/flickr/enhanced/CC BY 2.0.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

1 Comment
  • George V says:

    What I didn’t understand until articles such as this one came out, explaining the plot of the movie, is why there is no howling and screeching from the progressive side about the evils of Barbie Dolls. For years we’ve heard how the dolls give girls a false view of womanhood, that Barbie’s physical proportions are all wrong causing girls to have psychological problems, the the doll sets up the exploitation of women, etc., etc., etc..

    And suddenly Barbie is just peachy keen wonderful. The, the commentators, and politicians all love her. The governor of my state, Michigan, has even created a Gretchen Whitmer lookalike from a Barbie doll. Their opinion spun so fast it’s a wonder their brain isn’t unscrewed from their spinal cord.

    And now we know why – the movie supports the narrative.

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