TV host and comedian Bill Maher ripped into the Barbie movie, saying it does not reflect the reality of women’s status and independence in the world today. He called the movie a “zombie lie” which he describes as something that used to be true, is no longer true, but people still insist that it’s true. He was referring to patriarchy – male domination of women – which he argued was once a reality but no longer is, and Barbie is lying in its pretense that nothing has changed.
One example he gave was the film’s depiction of the Mattel board of directors. Mattel is the company that invented and produced Barbie dolls and in real life, its board of directors comprises seven men and five women. In the movie, all of Mattel’s directors are male.
Maher admitted, however, that the movie was fun, and he enjoyed it, but he said it was outdated because it hasn’t caught up to 2023.
Meanwhile, the film’s popularity continues apace, and it became one of only around 50 films to breach the $1 billion mark recently. Margot Robbie, who played Barbie, is said to have earned about $50 million. The Australian actress played the lead role but was also involved in the film’s production.
The Barbie phenomenon has not been well received all over the world, however, and perhaps some of the global reactions act as a counter to Maher’s arguments. For example, Lebanon has banned the movie specifically because it “rejects patriarchy.” It is likewise banned in Kuwait for similar reasons – officials said Barbie promotes “ideas and beliefs that are alien to the Kuwaiti society and public order.”
Vietnam won’t allow Barbie in its theaters but for different reasons. The Vietnamese are offended by the atlas of the world visible in the background of one scene. The map features the so-called “nine-dash line” which is used on Chinese maps and corresponds with its disputed territorial claims.