Director Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated Barbie arrives in theaters this week, and while reviews from mainstream critics have been mostly positive, conservatives are enraged that the movie wasn’t transphobic enough.
Based on the iconic Mattel doll, the film follows Margot Robbie’s blonde bombshell Barbie on her quest to find true happiness in the human world after being expelled from “Barbie Land” for being less-than-perfect. Barbie’s diverse cast features LGBTQ+ actors Scott Evans, Kate McKinnon, Alexandra Shipp, and Hari Nef alongside Issa Rae, Ryan Gosling, Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa, and many more as various versions of Barbie and her perpetual plastic consort Ken.
New character posters feature out stars Hari Nef, Kate McKinnon, and Scott Evans.
Gerwig, who also co-wrote the film with executive producer Noah Baumbach, and Robbie, also one of the film’s producers, have spoken about their goal of making a feminist Barbie film that is inclusive of all different types of people.
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Cue conservatives’ absolutely losing their minds.
A July 10 post on conservative Christian film site Movieguide warns parents not to take their daughters to see the film. The post, which is credited to the site’s staff and notes that a “full review” of Barbie will be available soon, accuses the filmmakers of forgetting their “core audience of families and children while catering to nostalgic adults and pushing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender character stories.” It is unclear whether the post’s authors have actually seen Barbie.
In his mostly incoherent review for conservative outlet National Review, Armond White criticized Gerwig’s “obnoxious social messaging.” While White did not directly address any LGBTQ+ themes, characters, or performers in the film, he mainly took issue with the film’s “hipsterism,” arguing that Gerwig should have focused on “the special feeling that females might know — the fulfilling, personal escape into free femininity, childbearing, family, homemaking, and romance that should be the essence of a Barbie movie.” Incredibly, he also described Rae and co-star America Ferrera as “diversity hires.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and wife Ginger weighed in on the film after attending a special screening on Monday. Among Ginger’s complaints about the film were its failure to address “faith or family” and “Disappointingly low T from Ken.” Meanwhile, her congressmember husband responded to a tweet criticizing him for attending the screening of a “movie where ‘Doctor Barbie’ is played by a Trans actor.”
“If you let the trans stop you from seeing Margo Robbie [sic]……the terrorists win…..” Gaetz tweeted.
Thinking about watching the Barbie movie?
I’d recommend sticking to getting outfit inspiration and skipping the theater. Here’s why:
The Barbie I grew up with was a representation of limitless possibilities, embracing diverse careers and feminine empowerment.
The 2023 Barbie… pic.twitter.com/AsparSgvS4
— Ginger Gaetz (@LuckeyGinger) July 18, 2023
If you let the trans stop you from seeing Margo Robbie……the terrorists win….. https://t.co/iS0OMUrhht
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) July 18, 2023
Nef, in particular, has been the target of pretty vile criticism, with right-wing pundits like Daily Signal’s Mary Margaret Olohan blatantly misgendering her. A post on Canadian Catholic site LifeSite cataloging conservatives’ complaints about Barbie also described Nef in the most egregiously transphobic terms possible.
On a June 30 episode of Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk’s podcast, conservative writer Peachy Keenan said that while she had been “kind of prepared for Barbie as the feminine girl boss escaping her dream life for the real world,” after seeing the film’s trailer and a recent Time Magazine cover featuring the cast, she “was really surprised to see a man as a Barbie.” She described Nef’s role in the film as “psychological grooming.”
“But that is sort of psychologically grooming them to accept it, to think it’s totally fine, completely normal, and that little boys can, in fact, grow up to be female Barbie dolls,” Keenan, who also repeatedly misgendered Nef, claimed. “It’s not for kids.”
Kirk asserted that the film is “trans propaganda” and had been “taken over by the trans mafia.”