I Regret To Inform You That “Barbie” Is A Children’s Movie

Greta Gerwig’s film has received massive hype and massive backlash. Both are beside the point.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
6 min readJul 24

A barbie thrown on the ground next to… I want to say shoes?
She’ll be fine. Photo by Shi Min T on Unsplash

There is probably no movie on the planet that could live up to the hype we gave Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. I’ve been hearing about the movie ever since those fateful first shots of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in Day-Glo roller skates. In the past few months, thanks to a dazzling marketing campaign, the movie became inescapable. Every gay person on my social media feed seems to have seen it on opening weekend, preferably while wearing a ridiculous outfit, and often (as I did) as part of a double feature with Oppenheimer.

Barbie is a good movie, but no movie could be that good, let alone a summer blockbuster based on a toy from Mattel. So, even as Oppenheimer seems to have pleasantly surprised many people — it’s less dour and self-important than its marketing, and contains a much-appreciated serving of Josh Hartnett — the only thing I’ve heard about Barbie is that people hate it.

Those people are sometimes Ben Shapiro, who famously wailed that it “uses the word patriarchy more than 10 times” before setting Barbie dolls on fire in retaliation. The Wall Street Journal compares it to Ms. Magazine and a “grumpier-than-average women’s studies seminar,” presumably for the same reason. Armond White says that it deprives young women of “the fulfilling, personal escape into free femininity, childbearing, family, homemaking, and romance.” (It seems significant that “romance” comes dead last on that list, after three different synonyms for “motherhood.”) Twitter user @TechnicallyRon is collecting the most inflamed Letterboxd reviews for use on its poster:

Yet even some of the cool queers who made Barbie a phenomenon are souring on the movie — for being too simplistic, too liberal, too earnest, too cringe. Viewed from a sophisticated adult lens, it might be all of those things. Here’s the thing, though: Barbie is a children’s movie. As a children’s…

Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.

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