The upcoming Barbie film has generated a tremendous amount of excitement among social media users, for obvious reasons: Its evident appreciation for femininity, the color pink, and its unapologetic portrayal of Barbie as the iconic figure she has always been. The movie embraces Barbie's essence, showcasing her as the stylish, girly, and fun doll we know and love. Based on the trailers and endless promotional stunts, Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie have done a great job embodying the qualities that have made her an enduring symbol over the past six decades.
What sets Barbie apart is the fact that it doesn't follow the typical girl boss or "empowering" woman trope that has become overused in Hollywood in recent years. This exciting deviation from the norm empowers Barbie in a different way – by staying true to her core identity and embracing femininity to its fullest. However, the Barbie movie wasn’t originally set out to be like this.
This week, writer and producer Diablo Cody opened up about the motion picture to GQ. She was originally brought on board to help with the script but left the project in 2018 without even turning in a draft. “I failed so hard at that project,” she confessed. "I was literally incapable of turning in a Barbie draft. God knows I tried."
Five years later, she finally revealed why she had so much difficulty in shaping the movie – it seems they wanted an "anti-Barbie," one that was a "girl boss feminist" that featured Amy Schumer as the star doll. So, a woke Barbie. She also talked about how the “femme” and “bimbo” archetypes weren’t really accepted back in 2018. Though I disagree – women have always loved the Paris Hilton persona, it’s just that “empowered” women tropes have been forced down our throats over the past decade. “There was a lot of pressure to not write the dramatic equivalent of ‘math is hard,’" she tells GQ. “I grew up playing with Barbies, and those were sort of the first movies that I ever cast. A lot of people learn to tell stories by playing with dolls.” The plan originally included Amy Schumer, who’s known for her crass “humor” and jokes. Had the film gone with its original route (and thank goodness it didn’t), Schumer would have been the perfect anti-Barbie.
“That idea of an anti-Barbie made a lot of sense given the feminist rhetoric of 10 years ago,” Cody adds. “I didn’t really have the freedom then to write something that was faithful to the iconography; they wanted a girl-boss feminist twist on Barbie, and I couldn’t figure it out because that’s not what Barbie is.” I'm glad Cody understood that the OG "feminist" idea of Barbie wouldn't have worked out. Except, Barbie is a girl boss – she's a teacher, designer, flight attendant, nurse, and she's even been a president. She’s just not the “girl boss” that Hollywood wanted at the time, one that hustled away while abandoning herself in the pursuit of money and status.
As for Schumer, she backed out because it wasn't feminist enough. “They definitely didn’t want to do it the way I wanted to do it, the only way I was interested in doing it,” Schumer explained. The Trainwreck actress added that she wanted Barbie to be an inventor. “The idea that that’s just what every woman must want, right there, I should have gone, ‘You’ve got the wrong gal.'"
It's evident that Barbie now has the right gal and script. The movie is currently eyeing a whopping $80 million to $100 million opening, with presales that are likely to surpass The Little Mermaid and Oppenheimer. The hype even brought Barbiecore into mainstream consciousness, proving that millions of women want to embody the feminine traits that are inherent within them.
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