Barbie – delusions of the far right

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By FRANCISCO FERNANDES LADEIRA*

we must understand Barbie as a cultural product of what is, today, the greatest enemy of the oppressed peoples of the planet: US imperialism

The film Barbie, one of the main issues on the public agenda in recent days, will certainly go down in history as one of those cinematographic productions that is more talked about than properly watched. Following this line, I intend to focus here on the repercussion of the work and not on its content.

It's not about making value judgments about who went to watch the movie wearing pink, about who didn't recommend Barbie or if it is (or is not) a production aimed at children. In my view, these are irrelevant questions for a minimally productive debate. After all, going or not going to the movies is an individual right.

First of all, we must understand Barbie (or any other similar) as a cultural product of what is currently the greatest enemy of the oppressed peoples of the planet: US imperialism. Any analysis that does not take this into account runs the risk of being mere prejudice or laceration. Incidentally, these two visions, both Manichaean, guided almost all of the criticisms about the film. Barbie.

Historically, US planetary dominance was not built by military or economic means alone; also featured what political scientist Joseph Nye defines as “soft power”, that is, the discursive ability to model the desires of the other, generating such attraction that he chooses to follow his example.

Thus, Barbie has as its main ideological function to spread identity, an ideology created in the United States, whose main objective is to divide and confuse the oppressed sectors, replacing the class struggle (the engine of history, according to Marx) by movements of certain identities (women, blacks, gays , lesbian, transgender, indigenous, vegan, obese, etc.).

No case of Barbie, his narrative, centered around the abstract “struggle against patriarchy” (which hides the real struggles of oppressed peoples: against the bourgeoisie, on a national scale, and against imperialism, on a global scale), conveys a pseudo-progressive image, of supposedly "Women's Liberation". That's enough to attract politically naive people.

This supposedly progressive character of Barbie (ironically, a doll symbol of 1950s Yankee conservatism) led many individuals linked to the extreme right to label the film as “anti-man”, “cultural Marxism”, “affront to Christian values”, “apology for homosexuality” and “against the family”. ”, among other delusions typical of this audience.

So far, nothing new, as “other people's shame” and “extreme right” belong to the same lexical field. However, as shameful as the delusions of the extreme right were the positions of (a good part) of the left about the film Barbie.

Instead of denouncing the film industry as a cultural arm of US imperialism, many leftists (or supposed leftists) preferred to praise the work, with “ready opinions”, coming directly from Harvard and its lacrating mantras like: “symbol of female empowerment”, “against toxic masculinity”, “women in power” and (the previously mentioned) “fight against patriarchy”.

As nothing is so bad that it can't get worse, we also had the analyzes carried out exclusively based on the extreme right's criticism of Barbie, and not the content of the film itself. Something like "if it bothered/annoyed conservatives, it's automatically positive for the left".

And so the far right becomes the ideal scarecrow for the negative otherness of the left. The “main enemy” is no longer the “exploiting bourgeois”, but the “scrotum male”.

In short, if in the military and economic aspects, the United States is a decadent power (considering, for example, the inability to deal with the growing global influence of Russia and China), in the “semiotic war”, that is, in the symbolically, Americans are stronger than ever. Barbie, the film, is not only a box office success, it is also a successful action movie. soft power.

*Francisco Fernandes Ladeira is a doctoral student in geography at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). Author, among other books, of The ideology of international news (CRV).


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