“Barbie” is a smash hit, confounding those who expected the movie’s wokeness to dampen enthusiasm at the box office.
The success of “Barbie” is more than getting people to buy movie tickets; it’s getting them to stream a soundtrack with customized songs about “Barbie,” to track Margot Robbie’s spot-on outfit recreations at every international press stop, to call up their friends and all flock to a theater wearing matching bubblegum pink. There is a social phenomenon surrounding “Barbie” that is larger than the movie itself.
The most obvious reason behind “Barbie” fever is a brilliant and pervasive marketing campaign that involves a real-life Dreamhouse on Airbnb, a giant doll box in Dubai, and dozens of brand partnerships. But plenty of clever campaigns don’t elicit nearly the positive response that this one has received.
The magic of “Barbie” is not publicity stunts, it’s that the movie — and its advertising — is unapologetically girly. No part of this movie was designed for men, and the marketing team wanted the world to know it.
This shouldn’t be revolutionary, but it sets “Barbie” apart in a world in which female spaces are rapidly disappearing. Thanks to the progressive left, women’s sports are no longer just for women. Sororities, too, have started admitting men. Anyone who speaks out against this is promptly labeled a bigot, shaming so many women into silence.
Men won’t be turned away at the theaters, but they won’t be showing up to watch “Barbie” in the first place. The movie theater is one place women can go to celebrate womanhood around other women, which makes it a little sad that the movie is thoroughly woke.
There is not a single male character who is not, at least at some point, portrayed as a bumbling goober — save for one, Alan, who is charmingly vanilla. Men don’t get to excel in Barbieland.
When the women are in charge, Barbieland is presented as a girl-power Utopia. When the men are in control, it’s a bro-ified hellscape. The solution to this problem, hatched by the Barbies, is to switch places on dates and thereby pit the Kens against each other, making them forget to vote on a crucial day for Barbieland’s democracy.
Of course, the world is not better when only one sex has the power, nothing will improve by pitting members of one sex against each other, and men deserve to be more than just comic foils for girlbosses. But none of this silliness has hurt the movie at the box office. Women are so hungry for a female-only experience that we are willing to look past a reductive and ridiculous storyline in a pseudo-documentary about childhood toys.
Amid all the woke messaging are a few kernels of truth, including that living up to the expectations of womanhood is hard. “Barbie” has held dozens of jobs, all with a painted-on smile, which surely resonates with women who feel compelled to juggle an impossible slate of responsibilities while making it look easy.
But “Barbie” missed the chance to show that just because womanhood is hard, doesn’t mean it’s also not beautiful, special, rewarding and most of all, unique to the female sex.
Angela Morabito is a visiting fellow at Independent Women’s Forum (iwf.org).
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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