Sunday, August 06, 2023

Bewitching Barbie and Bread Pudding for Brains

The feminist dream of a world where women and men work together to reduce and gradually topple unequal social structures to ensure equal rights and social justice for all is an improbable fantasy. Too many men and women are too committed to the existing status quo where the benefits are manifold for those who sell their souls and silence their conscience to better kowtow to entrenched patriarchy. It is also the reason crimes against women and minorities persist with alarming regularity with no hope of justice for victims; wars continue to be fought in the interest of preserving the interests of the oligarchy; global warming and its implications for humanity will be brushed aside, because plastic needs to be used and sold so that fat cats can grow fatter and so on and so forth. 

It takes gut wrenching effort and soul crushing sacrifice to bring about lasting change. Who the hell can be bothered with all that when it is so much easier to be a part of the problem in a benign way? Where you can bow down before the Gods of capitalism in exchange for their benevolent assurance that you remain ever wrapped in the cold embrace of materialistic excess. When it is okay to lean into your inbuilt narcissistic tendencies and call it individualistic altruism because PC lingo is everything. Where it is perfectly acceptable to allow your brains to become bread pudding from the constant bombardment of exquisite imagery on your preferred screen crafted by those who have been paid to tell you what to think.
In this climate, of course Barbie – the movie would be a humongous blockbuster. Even though the explosion of pink, which despite being my favourite colour makes me feel like I have been chained and imprisoned in Dolores Umbridge’s basement. For the uninformed, she is a character in Harry Potter who uses pops of poisonous pink and a sickly sweet manner to disguise the extent of the hatred, intolerance and cruelty that actually defines her. While I have no intention of watching the movie, thanks to Greta Gerwig, who made the extraordinary Lady Bird, I have no doubt that Barbie is now funny, smart and endearing but pernicious as ever. 
After all, the truth is women, like Barbie herself, can be whatever they want to be as long as they expend all they have to be pretty and perfect as a doll. It is the surest way to guarantee success and be valued. Talent, intelligence, and aspirations count only if it is wrapped up in a glittering package that includes a gorgeous smile, great hair, glowing skin, a hot bod and overall compliance. It is only to be expected in a world where the feminist dream has been traded in to sell IP for Mattel and the rest of their ilk. Now if you will excuse me, I am off to buy a pink dress, shoes and accessories. Later, I’ll watch La La Land and let Ryan Gosling do his thing, so I can just stop thinking about impossible dreams. 

This column was originally published in TNIE magazine.

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