I haven’t watched Barbie, but I know what it’s about. I know what it’s about because it’s directed by Greta Gerwig—an ugly Unitarian woman (i.e. a communist, metaphysical variety). I also know what it’s about from the way people talk about it.
The other day, I talked about how ironic detachment and decadence go together—about how when Britain became decadent Oscar Wilde became popular, and how America became decadent in the 1990s. Well, Barbie is just a continuation.
It’s a vast hit—and it’s not a hit because it’s being watched by what I take to be the Barbie audience, girls aged 7-12. It’s a hit because grown-ups (not adults, grown-ups) watch it. How do they watch it? Ironically.
The fascination with a children’s toy reflects that people today are still childish—even over 21. However, it’s not a simple return to the safety and security of the nursery (warm milk and rusks—as prescribed by nanny). It’s more sinister than that—because it’s ironic.
What this is about is a nostalgic revisit to the nursery but with a sneer on your face. Yeah, you thought life was going to be getting your hair done, baking cupcakes, and going to Maui with Ken—well, it wasn’t, was it? It sucks. So in the film, as I understand, Barbie is thrust into “the real world”—and I can imagine what that means; it means sex, death, vulgarity—“adult themes”.
So what this is about is resentment—which is why the masses lap it up. All those girls who played with Barbie and imagined themselves as Barbie (because women identify with these characters more than men, whereas men impose their traits on their toys)…well, then it turned out you weren’t the popular blonde girl—and so you grew your armpit hair long, like Greta Gerwig, and became a sarky miserable creature who claims to love cats (“yay”).
Far from an appreciation for Barbie, this is a chance to go back and have a pseudo-cynical sneer at unironic admiration for beauty (and childhood innocence)—it’s not true cynicism because the true cynic isn’t bitter like that, he values simplicity (but the word has become twisted, just like “Epicurean”—because it’s a noble philosophy, hence it has to be turned into a word for what is squalid).
Further, since the intended market for Barbie will also see the film, you get to ruin all those little girls who play unironic dress-up and cupcake bake with Barbie—they too can “get real”, not at 17 or 26 but at 7. So it’s a malicious chance to ruin innocent fun. “Hey, sister, life isn’t like your Barbie play set, ya know!” Leave the kids alone.
This video, from Alan Moore, a popular leftist comic book writer, illustrates the same phenomenon. Moore liked to boast that comics, aimed at that Barbie age range, 7-12, started to cover “adult themes” thanks to his generation—as examples he used homosexual rights and the holocaust (so “adult” here means leftist propaganda).
There’s a parallel to Gerwig, because Barbie includes ironic post-Marxist and feminist jokes—irony signals exclusivity, remember (it’s a chance for the audience to self-congratulate that they “get” the reference to Judith Butler—it’s a film for “grown-ups” now, you see).
Moore helped to coin the phrase “graphic novel”, a pretentious attempt to make what is low-brow high-brow—so it’s not just innocent fun for the kids anymore, it’s “serious” (i.e. innocent heroism has been hijacked by the sarcastic left—“adult” doesn’t mean “Shakespeare” here, it just means full-on lesbo action and sadistic violence; that is to say, it’s “graphic”).
In the video above, Moore poses as a helpful person—by showing the kids violence, birth, and death in all their full-frontal gory detail he helps them “mature”, get “streetwise”. But it’s false, because, to quote Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven”.
Kids aged 7-12 don’t need “brutal disillusionment”, because they’re too young to understand that—if you show them “full frontal”, you’ll just pervert them, because what you’ve done is destroy their innocence.
Yes, it’s “adult”—but it’s not “mature”. It’s adult as in “adult videos”—that’s what Moore thinks will help kids. Because he has a malicious desire to destroy innocence, just like, some 30 years on, Gerwig does with Barbie.
What children need are higher archetypes to aspire towards, not “brutal disillusionment” (which is, in actuality, insincere—because people like Moore and Gerwig are among the most illusioned people out there, being egalitarian to the core; and their illusion is that there is nothing higher than man—which is why they are bitter).
The male equivalent to Barbie would be to take a series like GI Joe and then make a film where the muscle-bound hero, with a name like Snake-eyes, is kicked off his elite special forces base and has to become some suburban dad—has to look after the kids and do grocery runs to Walmart.
“Hey kids, you thought life was going to be about heroism—but this is real life; yeah, kinda sucky, isn’t it?”. Traffic jams. Supermarkets. Pensions. You know, once you thought you’d rescue the girl from terrorists—now you say, “Leave her, she’s not worth the bother—you can have her.”
In fact, films like that have been made—films where the male archetype is made mundane (the Shrek series is a variation on the theme—ugly ogres are actually the goods guys, princesses should turn into ugly ogres; it’s all Satanic inversion and reversal of fairytales).
What hides behind this apparently “enlightened” and benevolent view “get real” (the kids have to learn about real life sooner or later, toughen up—man up!) is that it conceals the desire to refute archetypes. Sure, no girl, even the prettiest, is like Barbie—and no man is like GI Joe. Yet these exist, whatever their deficiencies, as archetypes that people could aspire towards—or young children could aspire towards, anyway.
You could fix your hair in a pleasant way, even if you’re not the prettiest girl in school. You could fight for the team, even if you’re not “Snake-eyes” with 20/20 vision and the strength of a puma. What hides behind the supposed “adult sophistication” is the desire to destroy all standards, all attempts to move towards what is higher—no, we’re just going to let our armpit hair grow long and never use deodorant, like Greta Gerwig.
It’s a perfectionist, childish attitude that lies behind Barbie—if I can’t be No. 1, I refuse to make any effort at all (and, further, under the guise of “sophisticated” ironic engagement I’ll ruin it for everyone else as well). So that’s envy—if I can’t be No. 1, I will do nothing and just sulk; and drag it all through the mud with an acidulous eye, so no one else will do anything at all either.
As it happens, the masses lap this up—this story of envy, of why we should envy blonde attractive people (there is a racial element here too, an element of anti-European sentiment cultivated by Hollywood). Indeed, Margot Robbie, the Australian actress who plays Barbie, isn’t even that attractive—Australian women are always quite masculinised. And that’s deliberate—because it’s the joke, to make Barbie a bit ugly as well (just to ruin it all).
Of course, on paper it’s a hit for the brand—but, in reality, it’s death for the brand; because it destroys the unselfconscious engagement with the product that is characteristic of genuine child-like activity.
That’s why Jung channeled Nietzsche to say that true maturity is when man rediscovers the seriousness of the child at play—whereas most people are not children at play, they’re adolescents looking over their shoulder to make sure they look good; and nothing is serious, because it’s always an act.
Child’s play is serious business—and Barbie hates the serious child as she lays out the cupcakes for the party after the girls have done their hair. Because it hates what is eternal—what is higher, what is archetypal.