Aug 8, 2023Liked by Mike Pesca

I found Barbie to be a confusing mix of messages wrapped in a well-designed package. Who can resist Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling cosplaying some of the most iconic toys in America? The cultural and commercial mythos alone seemed to presage success. Add some excellent actors, sets, and costuming and wait for the money to come in. Is it woke? I don’t know, but it’s capitalist AF.

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It seems a mistake to me to categorise Barbie as woke. While the message is undoubtedly a feminist one, the film can easily be interpreted - without stretching credulity - as a lampoon of the more excessive or nonsensical aspects of the movement.

Feminism alone is not enough to make it woke.

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“If anything the progressive content of Barbie was useful in assuaging the portion of the audience ready to write it off as a piece of hour-and-a-half-long commercial fluff.”

Oh, it did more that that. It made a giant Hollywood moneygrab based around something that had long (and probably rightly) been seen as morally tainted acceptable (and hip and clever) to the millions of women who really, really wanted to see a big, flashy, fun Barbie movie.

Is “woke wash” a term? Well, in any case, they “woke washed” Barbie.

When people talk about lab grown meat or “ethical porn” the dream is to make a product like the Barbie movie. One that satisfies a primal hunger while absolving the consumer of guilt.

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First, let me acknowledge another well-written argument. Second, allow me some throat-clearing by stating that I found something hopeful in Anheuser-Busch selecting Mulvaney as a spokesperson, and something ugly in the backlash.

Shibboleths aside, I think there is something more to your fungible/not-fungible analysis. Barbie was already a politicized property. If you were primed to see the movie, you probably already had some sympathy for its point of view. Bud Lite, on the other hand, does not immediately lend itself to notions of sexual inclusion. If anything, it already had the patina of something antithetical to fans and supporters of Mulvaney. To grossly generalize, the Bud Lite drinker that immediately comes to mind is either a frat-house-party-goer, or a group of middle-aged men spending a weekend at a hunting cabin. Of course, those could be my own stereotypes showing.

Thanks, Mike.

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That’s a good point. Maybe taking an already socially conscious property into a bit more socially conscious area has far different ramifications than forcing some social Justice into a brand that doesn’t play in that sandbox at all.

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