‘Barbie’ highlights for men who don’t want to watch it

For most of its run, Barbie is a comedy that roasts women, Mattel and wokes who have infected the world with the inane language of political correctness.
For most of its run, Barbie is a comedy that roasts women, Mattel and wokes who have infected the world with the inane language of political correctness.


It is a comedy that roasts women, men and doll-maker Mattel as well as overdone liberalism

I am an expert in men and I wish to explain the Barbie movie to men who do not wish to watch it but would like to talk about it. When I went to watch Barbie, wearing grey, I expected to be the only man in the theatre. I was, because I am usually right. But there were three adolescent boys, too, who stained an otherwise fine prediction. They were with their girlfriends, who may have dragged them along. I do not recall a film that is so widely perceived by men as something that is meant only for women. Even straight men who have enjoyed Bridgerton and Downtown Abbey have stayed away from Barbie. I had faith in it because it is directed by Greta Gerwig, who made Lady Bird.

First, it is important to note that Barbie is a doll that girls like, one that adult women today used to adore when they were girls, with some exceptions who always let you know they never liked Barbie; it’s like how people who went to Harvard find a way to let you know the fact. The first Barbie doll was a theoretically perfect blonde beauty who irritated some women. The complaint was that Barbie “set impossible beauty standards for girls," which means Barbie made girls want to be like her who then felt bad because they couldn’t. This is humanities nonsense and one of the great absurd misreadings of how humans think, but it succeeded anyhow. Stereotypical Barbie became so despised that Mattel Inc was forced to come up with diverse Barbies, including an African-American Barbie, over-weight Barbie and even a pregnant Barbie. And the modern Barbies were all “career women."

At this point, you may want to know what the synopsis of the film is, even though there are few things as meaningless as the synopsis of a film. Here it is, in any case: Barbie is about an unhappy doll who does not know what she wants, and who also does not love her boyfriend. So maybe it’s a kind of realistic drama.

The film begins with a spoof that might be, in an odd irony, recognizable to more men than women. Because it is a riff on an iconic scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—the scene in which early apes are infected by a mysterious black slab, turning them violent. To the same legendary music, Greta Gerwig replaces the slab with Stereotypical Barbie, and the apes with little ancient girls playing with their baby-dolls. Barbie infects them and the girls turn violent, dismembering their old dolls. It is particularly funny if you have seen A Space Odyssey. If you don’t count people who work in cinema, my guess is that more men than women are part of the Space Odyssey cult, just as I am certain but cannot prove more women than men have watched Gone With the Wind.

For most of its run, Barbie is a comedy that roasts women, Mattel and wokes who have infected the world with the inane language of political correctness. It roasts men, of course, but in a surprisingly gentler way than you may be led to believe. Even the portrayal of Ken, who is a beautiful airhead madly in love with Barbie, who is nothing without Barbie, who craves attention from Barbie, is a satire on women because Ken is a riff on the needy pretty girlfriend who has no other pursuits in life except love.

At the heart of the comedy, though, there is a primordial wound. It is that the world is run by men, and these men favour men. This may irritate you. Look, you may want to say, you did boring things like prepare for objective-type tests, suffer engineering and suffer dull jobs, while most girls enjoyed “literature" and “fine arts" and “film criticism" and “hypnosis" and something called “gender studies"; how can they then accuse you of pushing them into low-paying jobs?

But then you may have similar complaints against Caucasian males, who can say that they have better things to do than suppressing you but here you are discreetly carping that they always get better jobs. The beauty of a class struggle is that all classes have a right to whine. Even male billionaires, whom no human can oppress, endure a class struggle—against sentient machines. Who do you think is funding all the nonsense about machines taking over the world?

There is an argument Barbie makes that is hard to refute, but the film does not have the courage to sheath it in the correct language. The film glorifies success, but it also acknowledges that women may just seek an ordinary life. A character suggests to Mattel’s CEO that the company should come up with an ordinary Barbie who wants to be nothing much beyond a mom. This is the right to mediocrity, a right that men enjoy in ways that may not be easily discernible. They appear to have a career, one at which they are not very good, but they are still able to survive for long years. Exceptional women can find the recognition that exceptional men get because it is hard to suppress genius. It is ordinary women who never get the deals that ordinary men enjoy.

So Barbie does make men the problem and make fun of you, your brotherhood, the way you explain things to women (though I know you explain it that way to men too), and your jealousies. In a scene, the Barbies fake their devotion to the guitar recitals of their Kens. The film insinuates that women feign appreciation for men. In the real world, it is probably untrue, and it could be one of the underrated reasons why the world is skewed against women. Women appreciate the works of men, they are generous to exceptional men, but men, in general, do not engage much with the works of exceptional women. It is this deficit in generosity that partly finances the progress of men.

Manu Joseph is a journalist, novelist, and the creator of the Netflix series, ‘Decoupled’


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