LGBTQ Equality

Many Americans love ‘Barbie’ – Christian Nationalists, not so much

  Rob Boston

When far-right extremists tell me I shouldn’t read a certain book, see a movie or listen to a song, that only makes me more determined to do it.

That contrarian spirit explains in part how I found myself in a movie theater with my wife last Friday watching “Barbie,” a film I hadn’t intended to see. A steady drumbeat of attacks from right-wingers, including Christian Nationalists, changed my mind. (The fact that my wife and I were on vacation last week and it was 96 degrees in southern Maryland may have also been a factor. We had been outside a lot, and an air-conditioned theater sounded pretty good.)

‘Barbie’ strikes fear in the hearts of Christian Nationalists

Why are so many on the far right worked up about “Barbie”? As far as I can tell, they’re mad because the movie frankly discusses the struggles women face today and chides men for their often toxic forms of masculinity. Oh, and they’re furious because a transgender actress has a small role in the film.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the film, directed by Greta Gerwig, concerns an existential crisis faced by a “stereotypical” Barbie played by Margot Robbie, who must leave her pink-hued Barbieland and travel to our world to seek a solution to her angst. Her pal Ken, portrayed by Ryan Gosling, tags along. Turns out he’s facing a crisis of his own as he grapples with the realization that he’s just another accessory in Barbie’s dream world.

The movie raises lots of interesting questions about gender roles, the unrealistic beauty standards women face (with Barbie being responsible for some of those), the relationship between mothers and daughters and how patriarchal attitudes run through our society. There’s also plenty of humor in the film. Anyone who raised a kid who went through a Barbie phase – and my wife and I did – will chuckle at the inside jokes.

Attacks began early

Some Christian Nationalists began attacking the film before it was even released. These folks yearn to confine women to “traditional” roles and are bothered by the fact that Barbie can empower young girls to dream of all they can achieve (horrors!), and one even complained that Ken isn’t masculine enough. (Seriously, when has Ken ever been a hyper-masculine figure? Get a G.I. Joe if you want a testosterone overload.) Right-wing loon Ben Shapiro, who lives in a state of perpetual outrage over anything he considers “woke” – and that is pretty much everything that has happened since 1960 – got so worked up over the film that he made a video of himself setting fire to some Barbie dolls. Now there’s a mature response!

My wife and I found that we had much to discuss during dinner after the movie. To my mind, when you walk out of a film still mulling over what you’ve seen, you got your money’s worth.

Plenty of people seem to agree with me. “Barbie” has already made $500 million, and reviews are mostly positive – take that Christian Nationalists!

If you’re curious, I urge you to see “Barbie” and decide on its merits for yourself. Feel free to ignore the cackling collection of clangorous cranks who, even as they strut about pretending to be “alpha males,” and “warriors for Jesus,” cower in fear before an 11-inch plastic doll.

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The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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