Op-ed by Haika Mrema
Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has taken the world by storm since releasing in July, becoming Warner Bros's biggest domestic movie of all time. From its impeccable marketing to notable casting, Barbie quickly became an inescapable household name.
Regardless of your takeaway from Barbie post-launch, you can assume it is a less woke version than the original plan.
While the film fueled discussions about feminism and a woman's role in society, we can be thankful for some of the decisions made along the way that prevented Barbie from being the “girl-boss feminist twist” that some hoped it would be.
Many may not remember that Amy Schumer, a comedian related to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, was originally cast to star in Barbie. However, Schumer revealed that she backed out of the movie because it wasn’t “feminist enough” for her.
“They definitely didn’t want to do it the way I wanted to do it, the only way I was interested in doing it,” she told Hollywood Reporter last March. Schumer’s idea included a “fish-out-of-water” storyline in which a woman was removed from “Barbieland” for not modeling perfection.
Alternately, Sony had a more conventional vision of Barbie. Instead of being the “ambitious inventor” Schumer envisioned, the studio asked that Barbie invent a high heel made of Jell-O.
“The idea that that’s just what every woman must want, right there, I should have gone, ‘You’ve got the wrong gal,’ ” Schumer said.
Former Barbie writer and producer Diablo Cody shared her struggles with crafting the movie, leading to her walking away from the film in 2018. “I failed so hard at that project,” she revealed. “I was literally incapable of turning in a Barbie draft. God knows I tried.”
The original plan seemingly wanted an “anti-Barbie” where Cody’s idea of a tender and distinct Barbie character merged with an “unconventional” starring actress – Amy Schumer.
“I didn’t really have the freedom then to write something that was faithful to the iconography,” she said. “They wanted a girl-boss feminist twist on Barbie, and I couldn’t figure it out because that’s not what Barbie is.”
Cody would be correct in her judgment, and it seemed that those involved in the film listened. While many may still conclude that the movie was “too woke” or “anti-man,” we can at least acknowledge that it isn't as progressive than the original version we could have had.