Sunday, May 12, 2024
Reimagining 'Barbie,' conservatives falter in culture battles.

Reimagining ‘Barbie,’ conservatives falter in culture battles.

I’m not proud of the fact that I’ve seen the Barbie movie, but I’ve seen the Barbie movie.

The Decision to Watch Barbie

I have two daughters, ages six and four. They wanted to see “Barbie” because, well…Barbie. I was hoping they’d forget about it long enough for it to come onto cable and spare me the humiliation, but no such luck.

That left me with the prospect of disappointing my children or sucking it up and going to see what I was reasonably certain, based on reviews, would be two hours of obnoxious left-wing indoctrination. Naturally, I chose the latter.

A Unique Viewing Experience

If I was going to be forced to watch this, I was going to do it on my terms. I live in a rural area that turns out to have several drive-in theaters within reasonable distance, and Barbie was playing at almost all of them. So we loaded up the family trickster and set out for the drive-in.

It was some comfort that the tickets were only $10, as opposed to the usual $25 and up (depending on which theater you go to), and an added bonus that the youngest got in free. If Hollywood is going to get my money for this, I thought, I’ll make it as little as possible.

We got there and got set up. I don’t know when you last went to the drive-in, but you should see if there are any near you, because the experience was fun. I’d gone a lot growing up — our house was 2 miles from a drive-in — and it was always a blast, even when the movies left something to be desired. I wanted my kids to experience it at least once. (As it turns out, they loved it too, so we will likely return.)

After setting up our chairs and raiding the concession, we turned on the portable radio and tuned to the correct FM station as the movie started.

An Unexpectedly Enjoyable Movie

My eyes were ready to roll.

Only they didn’t.

The movie was no masterpiece, but I found it to be good. Margot Robbie is an excellent actress and easy on ready-to-roll eyes. Ryan Gosling was actually hilarious as Ken. I’m not a laugh-out-loud kind of guy — a chuckle is the most you’ll usually get from me — but this movie made me laugh out loud more than once. My girls were all-in from the start, laughing at goofy things and loving the clothes and life-size dream houses.

There was, of course, the left-wing whining about “the patriarchy” that many right-leaning reviewers have noted. Fortunately, young kids do not know what any of that is, and they are also smart enough not to wonder or ask about it. The Barbie World, to them, is about Barbie.

The only question I got was from my six-year-old, about the one obvious obscenity that the movie bleeps out for comedic effect. (There is no swearing in the movie.) She didn’t like that. She does not like “bad words,” even if she had no idea which bad word it was or what it was about.

And that was it. The plot of the movie didn’t matter — it never does to young kids. Teens might understand it and need a little discussion afterward.

Mixed Reactions

The only person who didn’t enjoy the experience was my wife. She grew up with Barbie as, I imagine, most women today have. The movie’s left-wing message upset her. When asked by the kids why she didn’t like it, she replied, “It was a movie about Barbie made by someone who hates Barbie.”

I didn’t see it that way, but perhaps that’s because Barbie doesn’t mean anything to me. If they make a movie about transgender G.I. Joe and how the bad guy COBRAs are trying to prevent people from becoming their “true selves,” I might have a different reaction.

As far as the movie goes overall, I see no reason to tell people to keep children away from it. Of course it is liberal. Of course it makes clumsy efforts at propagandizing. But so what? So does almost everything in the entertainment business.

The Importance of Participation and Education

You can’t take kids to see a movie about the horrors of human trafficking — and why would you? Culture happens around and to you, whether you participate in it or not. Pretending you can close your eyes and make it go away, like the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” isn’t realistic.

Participate, and then educate afterward, or at least be aware. Pretending something doesn’t exist doesn’t make it disappear. Take responsibility for strengthening your values in your children. Use moments like “Barbie” as an opportunity to explain. Otherwise, we will just continue to lose.

Derek Hunter is host of the Derek Hunter Podcast and a former staffer for the late Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.).

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