Bill Maher is the latest man to claim that “Barbie” is “man-hating.” The television personality and political commentator took to social media to criticize the Warner Bros. comedy blockbuster, which cracked the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office in less than a month.
“OK, ‘Barbie’: I was hoping it wouldn’t be preachy, man-hating, and a #ZombieLie — alas, it was all three,” Maher wrote. “What is a Zombie Lie? Something that never was true, but certain people refuse to stop saying it (tax cuts for the rich increase revenues, e.g.); OR something that used to be true but no longer is, but certain people pretend it’s still true. ‘Barbie’ is this kind of #ZombieLie.”
Maher attempted to prove his “Zombie Lie” critique by referencing the scene in which Barbie (Margot Robbie) confronts the executives of Mattel in the real world. The CEO of Mattel is played by Will Ferrell, and the Mattel board in the film is made up of all white men.
“Barbie fights the Patriarchy. Right up to the Mattel board who created her, consisting of 12 white men! The Patriarchy! Except there’s a Mattel board in real life, and it’s 7 men and 5 women,” Maher wrote. “OK, not perfect even-steven, but not the way the board IN THE MOVIE — which takes place in 2023 — is portrayed. And not really any longer deserving of the word “patriarchy.” Yes, there was one, and remnants of it remain — but this movie is so 2000-LATE.”
Maher appears to be upset with the film for not depicting the Mattel board as it really is in 2023, even though the film is a satirical comedy and not truly set in our world. Remember, it centers on a plastic doll come to life.
“I know, I know, ‘How could I know about the patriarchy, I AM a man!’ That argument is so old and so silly,” Maher continued. “Of course, none of us can know exactly what others go through life, but I can see the world around me, and I can read data. The real Mattel board is a pretty close mirror of the country, where 45% of the 449 board seats filled last year in Fortune 500 companies were women. Truth is, I’m not the one who’s out of step — I’m living in the year we’re living in. Barbie is fun, I enjoyed it — but it IS a Zombie Lie.”
Conservative figures have also condemned “Barbie” for similar reasons. Podcaster Matt Walsh called the movie “the most aggressively anti-man, feminist propaganda fest ever put to film.” Ben Shapiro posted a viral video on social media in which he set Barbie dolls on fire with a barbecue lighter while railing against the movie.
Did the film’s director, Greta Gerwig, anticipate the degree to which her film would anger right-wingers? “No, I didn’t,” she recently told The New York Times. “Certainly, there’s a lot of passion. My hope for the movie is that it’s an invitation for everybody to be part of the party and let go of the things that aren’t necessarily serving us as either women or men. I hope that in all of that passion, if they see it or engage with it, it can give them some of the relief that it gave other people.”
On the other end of the debate has been the likes of Marc Maron, who praised “Barbie” as a “masterpiece” in a recent TikTok video and took aim at men who were offended by the film’s satirical jokes.
“The fact that certain men took offense to the point where they, you know, tried to build a grift around it in terms of their narrative is right wing [explicative],” Maron said. “It’s so embarrassing for them. I mean, so embarrassing for them. Any dude that can’t take those hits in that movie, they’ve really got to look in their pants and decide what they’re made of. I mean, Jesus Christ, what a bunch of fucking insecure babies.”
“Barbie” is now playing in theaters nationwide.