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Barbie and the Left’s War on Childhood

Barbie and the Left’s War on Childhood
Adults who refuse to grow up are ruining childhood.
By Daniel Greenfield

Barbie dolls are meant for little girls from 3 to 12, while the Barbie movie is rated PG-13. The material in the movie isn’t appropriate for children, but neither is it appropriate for adults.

Parents are expected to take young girls to the movie which is one part pink glitz, as it is being marketed through every corporate media outlet, and one part extended feminist rant denouncing men and our society. Tacky and vulgar, Barbie the movie is the work of children in adult bodies who have been given adult powers, but confuse leftist virtue signaling with adult responsibilities.

Barbie is the latest invasion of childhood spaces by adults who have never grown up. Peter Pan long ago stopped being a fantasy and became an extended societal nightmare. The majority of attendees at Disney theme parks are no longer families, but childless millennials, and the same is true of subscribers to the Disney+ streaming service. Barbie follows up on Disney’s legacy of replacing family and children’s programming with deconstructionist millennial nostalgia binges.

The theme of so many classic children’s fantasies from Peter Pan to Narnia was there was a dividing line between childhood and adulthood. A time had to come when the toys were put away and the business suits were put on. But a generation came of age that put on the business suits and kept the toys out, that held off buying a car and a home, getting married and having children, to go on playing games. This is the generation that Barbie was made for.

Past writers nurtured childhood fantasies, yet knowing that they could never truly be a part of them, while their contemporary counterparts angrily stomp all over those fantasies with a mixture of adult themes and childish bitterness. Unable to truly immerse themselves into the escapist play of their childhood, they poison the well so that children won’t be able to do it either.

If they can’t play with their old toys, no one, especially children should be allowed to play.

This is the psychodrama that drives so much of the obsessive deconstructionism of classic characters and stories. Bitter aging millennials ‘update’ children’s stories so that they are no longer for children and fill them leftist virtue signaling and political rants. The classic “if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention” bumper stickers come to Barbie and everything else.

Writer-director Greta Gerwig brings an even dumber version of the same feminism that she used to dumb down her distorted adaptation of Little Women over to Barbie. The pink glitz and plastic sets of Barbie replace the lush period costumes of Little Women, but underneath are the same complaints about how unfair life is to women in a “patriarchal society”. Gerwig’s problem isn’t actually the ‘patriarchy’: it’s that she’s about to turn 40 and is still an unserious child.

The ‘patriarchy’ didn’t make Gerwig decide to date her much older current husband and Barbie co-writer Noah Baumbach after he broke up with his older wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh (and then skewered her in a movie, ‘Marriage Story’, in which she’s replaced by Scarlett Johansson.) Like previous cinematic feminist heroine Lena Dunham, Gerwig confuses her bad judgment with the patriarchy and uses a movie about a toy to blame society because she can’t make adult decisions.

Barbie captures the perpetual immaturity of media feminism better than ever Disney could. It’s a $300 million production that amounts to a session of aging women acting out a childish feminist narrative with Barbie and Ken dolls come to life. Underneath the pop tunes and fashions, its message is that being a woman and a doll are unhappy things. Call it a ‘late stage’ feminism in which there is little for women to aspire to beyond the spite that the movie spits at men.

What does feminism even mean in a world in which women dominate college admissions, but they also officially no longer exist? As marriages and families stretch further into the distance, what’s left except, as Gerwig’s counterpart in the movie played by America Ferrera does, than to find some toys to play with while mourning the rites of passage of adulthood and aging…

The realities of human existence were once confronted through faith and meaning, but Gerwig was raised a Unitarian Universalist, who went to Catholic School and loves the “ritual of religion”, having gone to “mosque and to synagogues”, while Noah Baumbach, despite making movies depicting Jewish characters, is the son of a Jewish father and a Protestant mother.

Faith and meaning are not on the table when all you have is pop culture and your old toys.

Toys writ large dominate Hollywood. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has swallowed up most of the industry and serious actors line up for their opportunity to appear in it. Mattel’s new CEO decided to take the Disney approach and view the toy company as a bunch of IPs that could be turned around into deconstructionist movies for depressed adults who hate being grown up.

Next up is a ‘surrealistic’ Barbie movie that will dig into ‘millennial angst’ and “focus on some of the trials and tribulations of being thirtysomething, growing up with Barney—just the level of disenchantment within the generation.” And the possibilities are endless.

With properties like American Girl, Hot Wheels, and Masters of the Universe, Mattel could have its own miserable cinematic universe for dysfunctional overgrown children who cry and denounce society while playing with their old toys. Just imagine how a Hot Wheels movie can lecture us about the environment or what He-Man could tell us about toxic masculinity.

It’s funny, but it’s also tragic. A generation of adult children have ruined childhood, not just by wrecking the privileged fantasy worlds that children naturally create, but by trying to make children into miniature adults. The sexualization of children in schools and pop culture is the natural outgrowth of adults who, like child molesters, think of themselves as still being children.

Adults protect and nurture children. A society in which bitter adults exploit children, deny them the safe harbor of their dreams and force them to act out personal and political psychodramas for their benefit is a deeply sick society. Like the Islamic terrorists who train children to kill, the child soldiers of the pop culture revolution are told from an early age that the world is on the brink of destruction and that their family members and friends are evil people. And that their mission is to dedicate their lives and personal happiness to changing the world.

Children who are denied safety and security, politicized at an early age, sexually groomed, become broken adults who are never able to move past their childhood traumas. And that is the ideal audience for feminist Barbie, depressed Barney and a whole world of broken toys.

Hollywood, like the rest of the leftist cultural empire, has collapsed the distinctions between adults and children. Appropriating and colonizing the culture of childhood is a generational imperialism that reflects the immaturity of adults and the abuse of children. Adults who refuse to let go of their toys, are also refusing to let children be children.

Instead, they force children to grow up while they never do.

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