For the record, I never had a Barbie doll. I don’t think I ever asked for one, but that probably was because I knew my mother would never allow one in the house.
She thought of Barbie dolls as a kind of gateway drug to the heroin of compulsive consumerism.
It wasn’t just a doll, after all; it was a marketing behemoth featuring a vast line of products designed to make little girls endlessly, helplessly desire more stuff.
Give a girl a Barbie, and in no time, she had that monkey on her back, craving her next hit from the latest outfits, Dream Houses and eventually her very own spike heels, spike boobs and blond hair to match those of her plastic fantastic role model.
So, I figured I wasn’t exactly the target audience for “Barbie,” the movie.
Oh, how I underestimated the prodigious talents of director Greta Gerwig.
“Barbie” is biting social commentary disguised as cotton candy. It has more laugh-out-loud dialogue than “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” more visual humor than “I Love Lucy” and more wisdom than Moses. (Think about it. When’s the last time you quoted Moses about the perils of the patriarchy?)
It also has a terrific soundtrack, Kate McKinnon’s awesome “Weird Barbie” and maybe the best walk-off line in all of movie history. But I digress.
“Barbie” is just what we need in the post-Roe era, and the star doesn’t even have a vagina.
The movie also says a whole lot about Colorado circa 2023, which claims to be a cutting-edge progressive place but is really just a Barbie Land of faux female empowerment that inevitably smacks down any woman who dares to challenge the faux cowboy status quo.
In Barbie Land, women are astronauts, doctors, athletes, scientists, corporate CEOs, and presidents. Then, Barbie slips through a portal into the real world and discovers it’s all a lie.
In the real world, “women hate women and men hate women,” says a schoolgirl to the wide-eyed, pink-clad Barbie who tries to make friends. “It’s the one thing we can all agree on.”
In the real world, Barbie (the doll) was cynically marketed by greedy corporate dudes as a sparkly tool pretending to inspire little girls to be all they could be.
As the Mattel CEO in the movie (Will Farrell) says, “What do I think of when I think of sparkle? Female agency!”
It’s one of many moments when Gerwig, along with her partner Noah Baumbach, get some big laughs when they skewer Mattel, a major producer behind the movie.
But while the script is hilarious, its message is deadly serious.
You see, in the real world, even when women win, they lose.
Remember Hillary Clinton?
She got something like 3 million more votes for President in 2016 and still lost to a lying misogynist who cheated on his taxes, bragged about sexual assault and paid hush money to a porn star.
He’s just a bloated, bloviating Ken with a comb-over.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, ours is one of 18 states that have never elected a woman governor. We’ve never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate. And Denver has never elected a woman mayor.
Enormously qualified women seek these offices again and again and get crushed.
A woman who sought the governorship a few years ago told me consultants were constantly advising her to girl-up her wardrobe, girl-down her voice, and avoid talking about the all-too-obvious fact that she was a woman. Oh, and they wanted her to cut her hair.
As Farrell’s character might say, “Get into the box, you Jezebel.”
Mayoral candidate Kelly Brough is just the latest example of what Gerwig describes as a typical woman who has to be extraordinary, can never get old and “is always getting it wrong.”
Week after week through a grueling campaign, Brough wore her hair down, then put it up; bragged about her career, and then soft-pedaled it; talked about her kids, but only a little; mentioned that she would be the first woman mayor of Denver and got hammered for playing the woman card.
She wasn’t perfect, but that wasn’t the problem. Just being a woman was the kiss of death.
Once again, the portal between Barbie Land and the real world snapped shut.
Brough lost to the ultimate Ken, a Ryan Gosling doppelganger, who looks like he could “beach off” with the best of them.
Yes, our handsome new mayor might even come with a full line of accessories, including a fur coat … and a horse.
I’m thinking of buying him an “I’m Kenough” T-shirt to complete the look.
And as for Brough, I think what she needs right now is a pair of pink Birkenstocks.
We all do.
Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.
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