Home Christian News Does ‘Barbie’ Push an ‘LGBTQ Agenda’? Not Really

Does ‘Barbie’ Push an ‘LGBTQ Agenda’? Not Really

Keenan based her words on the fact that trans actor Hari Nef plays one of the Barbies, who is a doctor. “Message: Little girls can be anything, even doctors—as long as they’re born male,” Keenan said. There are several other actors in the cast besides Nef who identify as LGBTQ, but their sexual orientations and gender identities do not impact the movie’s plot. 

An article from NBC News titled, “Turns out, Barbieland isn’t as gay as its queer fans had hoped,” evaluated the movie for “less heterosexual” moments and did not come up with much. The authors even acknowledge that “despite rumors, a healthy number of LGBTQ actors, a few coded minor characters and perhaps some wishful thinking, Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ movie has nothing overtly queer about it.”

What the movie does have is blatant messaging about what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man. Movieguide founder Dr. Ted Baehr called the film “hardcore propaganda” and said it belittles motherhood while portraying men as the “villain.” The opening scene of the movie riffs on “2001: A Space Odyssey” and shows little girls smashing the baby dolls they once played with after the womanly Barbie doll arrives. 

“Barbie” pits women against men, portraying women primarily as empowered and men primarily as domineering. One funny moment occurs when Barbie, after entering the Real World with Ken, sees a billboard for a beauty pageant and says, “Look, the Supreme Court!” Ken, who in Barbieland has never been valued for who he is as a person, is shocked to find that a woman in the Real World respects him enough to ask him what time it is. He takes this idea much further, however. Thrilled to find that men in the Real World have more power than women, he fully embraces patriarchy. 

Ken takes patriarchy back to Barbieland and, with the other Kens, brainwashes the Barbies into thinking the Kens define the Barbies’ existence. Barbieland becomes a basic bro paradise (“Kendom”) where the Barbies happily get the Kens beer and live for their endless mansplaining. Upon discovering what has happened, Barbie, with the help of Mattel employee Gloria (America Ferrera) and Gloria’s daughter, Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt), goes to battle against the Kens to save Barbieland.

The film has a lot of fun, particularly at the beginning, with poking fun at gender stereotypes, but its message quickly gets overbearing, even to those who appreciate parts of it. Regarding a monologue Ferrera has about the difficulties of being a woman, movie critic Christy Lemire wrote, “The middle-aged mom in me was nodding throughout in agreement, feeling seen and understood, as if this person knew me and was speaking directly to me. But the longtime film critic in me found this moment a preachy momentum killer—too heavy-handed, too on-the-nose, despite its many insights.”

As the plot resolves (the Barbies regain control of Barbieland, of course), there are some changes in Barbie’s thinking. She apologizes to Ken for taking him for granted and affirms him as having worth in and of himself. But Barbieland is still female-centric at the end. President Barbie tells Ken she will not allow even one Ken to serve on the Supreme Court. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the movie is about Barbie after all, but what is the movie telling its viewers about the nature of men and women?

Again, “Barbie” is not directed at young children, but thoughtful parents of teens can find ample opportunity to discuss what the movie says about gender roles. What are the good points the movie makes and where is it misleading? How does the Bible portray the roles of men and women in contrast to the movie? Do men and women have to be in a power struggle for their places in society? Could the Barbies and Kens have worked together as a team instead of fighting each other to see who gets to rule Barbieland? What is the difference between knowing one’s self-worth and actually oppressing other people?

Movieguide responded to a request for comment by referring to its review of the “Barbie” movie, which offered “a liberal feminist worldview” and “did have at least one transgender character,” i.e., the one played by Nef.

This article has been updated with a response from Movieguide.