Saturday, March 02, 2024

But Is It Art?

Believe it or not, I saw Barbie.

While I did find some of it to be eye-rolling (fun fact: in real life, women make up almost half of the board of Mattel), it was, on the whole, entertaining, funny, and at times even insightful. My view has always been that everyone deserves to tell their stories. The silly criticisms this movie faced when it was released always baffled me. What did people expect a Barbie movie to be, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane? So I am happy that its makers told the story they wanted with the views they wanted. Good for them. Write your own story with your own characters and say whatever you like. That's the way it should be.

What does grind my gears is that while this movie has received accolades for its strong feminist message, so many existing male heroes and stories lately have been ideologically hijacked and rewritten through "the feminist lens." I won't bother asking what the reaction would be if a film ever came out that painted feminism with the same brush that Barbie paints men in society today because that's not the point.

The point is - if the extreme level of inequality in modern society this film rallies against were accurate - then, in a world where Barbie proudly exists and is nominated for Oscars, the Dune adaptation would not have been rewritten because the director felt the book needed a female lead. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Indiana Jones would not have been shat upon so that Kathleen Kennedy could elevate her female insert characters over them. The Doctor and The Master would have always remained male, and poor Spock - the patron saint of stoic, self-sufficient, driven, always calm, logical, and in-charge-of-himself male science fiction characters - would not have been retconned so that his entire life and accomplishments were due to a never-before-heard-of sister. Also, his rewritten existence would not focus on his relationships with his girlfriends and pining over how his "emotional immaturity" has failed them. Because there is a difference between creating new representation and hypocritically taking existing representation away.

As I said, everyone deserves to have their stories told.