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ę Saturday Morning Coffee Break & Prayer Revival | Main | Gardening, Puttering and Adventure Thread, July 29 Ľ
July 29, 2023

Barbie, the Politician


The old bait and switch advertisement

Barbie and the South China Sea

J.J. Sefton has picked up a lot of interesting content about the Barbie movie in his Morning Reports this month. Bet a lot of people in the USA missed this: Barbie movie banned in Vietnam over dispute with film's depiction of China's maritime boundary:

The new Barbie movie featuring actress Margo Robbie has been banned in Vietnam over scenes that feature a map showing China's nine-dash line.

The nine-dash line is a maritime boundary in the South China Sea drawn up by China, which claims to own the territory inside the line. The boundary is controversial to the surrounding countries that also claim part of the waterway, which includes Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Philippines

Tien Phong, a Vietnamese state media outlet, reported that the nine-dash line is featured in multiple scenes throughout the movie.


When Republicans asked Warner Bros. about this, Politico reported: GOP declares war on . . . Barbie

The headline seldom matches the reporting at Politico:

In a Barbie world, who controls the South China Sea?

That's the question a handful of Republican lawmakers -- not to mention much of Southeast Asia -- is asking thanks to a background detail in the upcoming "Barbie" movie due out later this month.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who leads a select House panel aimed at countering the influence of China, said the map "illustrates the pressure that Hollywood is under to please CCP censors."

"While it may just be a Barbie map in a Barbie world, the fact that a cartoonish, crayon-scribbled map seems to go out of its way to depict the PRC's unlawful territorial claims illustrates the pressure that Hollywood is under to please CCP censors," Gallagher said in a statement to POLITICO. "I hope Warner Brothers clarifies that the map was not intended to endorse any territorial claims and was in fact, the work of a formerly plastic anthropomorphic doll."

Warner Bros., in its own statement to POLITICO, said there were no geopolitics intended in "Barbie."

"The map in Barbie Land is a child-like crayon drawing," a spokesperson for the Warner Bros. Film Group said. "The doodles depict Barbie's make-believe journey from Barbie Land to the 'real world.' It was not intended to make any type of statement."

The line, nine-dash or not, has made waves far beyond U.S. political circles. . .


A few days earlier, CNN had reported that:

"Barbie" is the latest movie to be banned in Vietnam for depicting China's controversial nine-dash line, which was repudiated in an international arbitration ruling by a court in The Hague in 2016. China refuses to recognize the ruling.

In 2019, the Vietnamese government pulled DreamWorks' animated film "Abominable," and last year it banned Sony's action movie "Unchartered" for the same reason. Netflix also removed an Australian spy drama, "Pine Gap," in 2021.
"Barbie," starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, was originally slated to open in Vietnam on July 21, the same date as in the United States, according to state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper."

OHHHHH . . . So there's a pattern to China pressuring movie studios to include the nine dash line in movies?????


Ted Cruz said that Barbie was likely to be a big movie, particularly with young girls. Then he talked about the nine-dash line and Chinese censors. From this, Vanity Fair concluded that Cruz was going to war against Barbie:

Cruz, for one, is siding with the Vietnamese government, which has banned the release of Barbie thanks to the map, shown briefly in the film, that they say depicts a disputed dash-line used by China to claim the South China Sea. Vietnam's state-run newspaper called it an "offending image"; Cruz calls it "Chinese communist propaganda," which he seems gravely concerned will brainwash the young girls who go see Barbie this weekend.

Of course, he said nothing about brainwashing young American girls with Chinese propaganda. But this theme took hold, with social media and Substack sites even reporting that the GOP had called for a "Barbie Boycott", which was totally unsuccessful, of course. HAHAHA.

Mainly because it never existed.

* * * * *

A movie that begs for sequels

One thing I have concluded from reading and seeing reviews of this movie is that it is disjointed enough to keep people arguing about what it means. There are several set-ups for sequels, I think.

Some reviewers on the right contend that the movie is accidentally based. There are spoilers in these reviews if you intend to go to the movie as a movie, but if you intent to watch it just as social commentary, the spoilers don't matter anyway.


I think this movie can be understood as feminism throwing in the towel. It's going through the motions, but it's an ideology that has accomplished all that it could and has now run into the brick wall of reality. There's no grand vision, no hope of anywhere else to go. All it wants to do is keep making the same arguments again and again as a kind of permanent therapy session.

The message ends up being subversive despite itself. The feminist complaining in the film lacks any direction or even solid program. In what's supposed to be the crescendo, Gloria (America Ferrera) gives a speech about how women are expected to be perfect moms, smile, be sexy but not sluts, not be selfish, blah, blah, blah. There's very little politics in the sense of political demands. Rather, it's completely about norms, expectations, and how hard it is to be a woman because of how people see and judge you. It's almost as if women's problem is their baseline higher levels of anxiety and difficulty adjusting to what is ultimately a more individualistic society than conditions we evolved under.

We see this when Barbie and Ken go out into the real world. Barbie notices men hitting on her, with "undercurrents of violence." Someone asks Ken what time it is, so he feels respected and like he's on top of the world. He decides to take this idea of "patriarchy" and bring it back the Barbieland. When he gets there, he's able to rule with his friends. They institute a constitutional reform movement, and even develop warfare. So when the Barbies were in charge everything was stagnant, but men actually introduce innovation and change.

There is no sense in the movie that women ever can actually be happy. The idea of making Barbie into a doctor or lawyer or whatever is now generations old. The movie beats us over the head with the idea that this did not solve all the problems of patriarchy. So what will? Like Barbieland, feminist ideology is stagnant. . .

There's more, with a wry note on why feminism is now turning to transgenderism as its only new idea.


The Lotus Eaters recommend keeping this movie away from children, but enjoyed watching it themselves, as accidentally based. They recommend waiting until it goes to streaming, then watching it for unintentional hilarity.

Save the video and start at 14:45 if you're short on time.


Maybe you caught Ed Driscoll's link to Peachy Keenan.

Enter the Barbie Longhouse.

Spoiler alert: Lots of spoilers abound in this review. Beware!

I walked out of the Barbie movie stunned and in disbelief. Hollywood darling Greta Gerwig, the scowling girlboss writer-director of this guaranteed smash-hit, has somehow made the first movie explicitly set inside the Longhouse.

And she did it totally by accident.

What a time to be alive!

Plot is then summarized in the Substack.

The last scene is the newly human Barbie, in Santa Monica, wearing Birkenstocks instead of high heels, arriving at a doctor's office. The receptionist asks her who she's there to see. Barbie, now calling herself Barbara Handler, says with a gleeful smile, "My gynecologist!"

Cut, roll credits.

Gynocracy, take a bow!

In another accidentally based twist, what makes Barbie a woman is having a vagina - - paging Matt Walsh!

There's more.

Still don't understand the Longhouse after meeting Fascist Barbie and noticing that the Venice Beach in the movie is not the Venice Beach of today?

What is the longhouse?

The historical longhouse was a large communal hall, serving as the social focal point for many cultures and peoples throughout the world that were typically more sedentary and agrarian. In online discourse, this historical function gets generalized to contemporary patterns of social organization, in particular the exchange of privacy -- and its attendant autonomy -- for the modest comforts and security of collective living.

The most important feature of the Longhouse, and why it makes such a resonant (and controversial) symbol of our current circumstances, is the ubiquitous rule of the Den Mother. More than anything, the Longhouse refers to the remarkable overcorrection of the last two generations toward social norms centering feminine needs and feminine methods for controlling, directing, and modeling behavior. Many from left, right, and center have made note of this shift. In 2010, Hanna Rosin announced "The End of Men." Hillary Clinton made it a slogan of her 2016 campaign: "The future is female." She was correct.

Movie Barbie would have a hard time walking on the real Venice Beach today. Thanks for ending men, Hanna!

* * * * *

What's the deal with Ken and horses?

When Ken came back to Barbieland and easily established The Patriarchy, videos of horses running could be viewed in dreamhouses all the time.


A question for the next sequel? Didn't I say something about this movie being sort of disjointed? Was this on purpose?


Cowboy Ken, or something like this for the next sequel?

european migrationss.jpg

* * * * *


Patriarchy, h/t David Foster

* * * * *

Hope you have something nice planned for this weekend.

This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

* * * * *

Last week's thread, July 22, Queering the Trans Movement

Comments are closed so you won't ban yourself by trying to comment on a week-old thread. But don't try it anyway.

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