Barbie Movie Review | Fr. Patrick Briscoe & Fr. Bonaventure Chapman

February 8, 2024

Father Patrick: This is Father Patrick Briscoe. 

Father Bonaventure: And this is Father Bonaventure Chapman. 

Fr. Patrick: Welcome to “Godsplaining.” Thanks to all who support us. If you like the show, please consider making a donation on Patreon. Be sure to like and subscribe to “Godsplaining” wherever you listen to our podcasts. I’m here with Father Bonaventure today, of course, and we are very excited to do this episode about the Barbie movie. It changed both of our lives, and we can’t wait to tell you how. But before we get to the episode, I have a great announcement from the St. Paul Center, which I’m excited to share. So founded by Dr. Scott Hahn, the St. Paul Center is a Steubenville-based apostolate that provides all kinds of ongoing formation to Catholics. They have a number of great projects, and the St. Paul Center is specifically dedicated to helping Catholics come to know and love the scriptures. This Lent, the St. Paul Center wants to help you make the most of this holy season by offering you the opportunity to take advantage of all the digital content produced by the St. Paul Center completely for free. So this is a great offer. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the St. Paul Center will be launching Exodus and Exile, its first ever Lenten challenge. You’ll have the opportunity to walk alongside Dr. John Bergsma in the 40-day Exodus challenge, in which Dr. Bergsma will reflect on one chapter of Exodus each day, and provide you with a daily challenge to grow deeper in your prayer, fasting, and almsgiving devotions this is Lent. You’ll also have the chance to hear Dr. Scott Hahn present a series of talks based on his new book, “Catholics in Exile,” written for every Catholic who might feel alienated from the culture and even from the church, and is seeking a productive response to what they’re feeling. So again, friends, this is a great invitation to join the Exodus and Exile challenge, especially if you’re looking for how you’re going to grow this Lent. You can visit That’s, and receive free access to every piece of digital content produced by the St. Paul Center, including the recently launched Emmaus Academy, which is a digital learning platform which features over 20 classes taught by world-class theologians. So that’s a great platform there. Make the most of your Lent this year, and don’t miss the opportunity to begin your Lenten journey with the St. Paul Center. 

Fr. Bonaventure: I feel like you should plug OSV’s Lenten, you’re gonna do a Lenten companion, I assume, right? 

Fr. Patrick: Yeah, so of course, sure. 

Father Bonaventure: Oh, fantastic. That’s great too. Yeah, don’t miss out on, we choose all, right? 

Fr. Patrick: We do, we absolutely do. So thanks to the St. Paul Center for partnering with Godsplaining for some of these great opportunities, and we really are excited to share them with you, and we think they’re fantastic. It is difficult, though, to transition from Lent content to the Barbie movie. 

Father Bonaventure: It’s true. 

Fr. Patrick: But we will manage it by discussing the times when we wore pink. 

Father Bonaventure: Oh yeah, that’s right, yeah. As men, yeah, I mean, you should, if you’re comfortable in your masculinity, and maybe not a hot pink, but a pink color. This is what Gaudete and Laetare Sunday are about, I suppose.  

Fr. Patrick: In high school, I had a good friend of mine that played football, was easily one of the manliest guys I know who showed up to my house one day. We were going out someplace and had a pink polo shirt on.  

Father Bonaventure: Yes, classic.  

Fr. Patrick: And I made fun of him for it, being weak and stumbling, as I am.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, and beat you to a pulp.  

Fr. Patrick: Exactly, and he looked at me and he said, “It’s not pink, it’s manly mauve.”  

Father Bonaventure: Manly mauve, yes, that’s good, yes. The chairman of our physics department in college was a big guy, Dr. Shane Brower, and Hunter backwoodsman. His brother’s were named Dane and Zane, and they were lumberjacks, and he was a physics professor. So, fascinating, wonderful man. But he wore, he had no shame about wearing pink. He was, yeah, he was strong and large and massive, and good at optics, really good at optics, yeah.  

Fr. Patrick: Now, it might be a surprise that there would be a “Godsplaining” episode on the “Barbie” movie, considering that Oppenheimer seems more on brand for “Godsplaining” in the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon. So, if we could have gone one way, that might have been the way that viewers anticipated us going. But Father Bonaventure, do you wanna talk us through, just why does the “Barbie” movie matter? What did you think of it? Give us some kind of an initial response.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, well, good question. I mean, one, it’s just topical. I thought, and there’s something about the “Barbie” movie. I think this, well, this summer, both those movies. It took us a while after COVID to get back to, I think, good cinema, you could say. And most cinema that’s been at all shown in theaters, the summers especially, are like Marvel movies. And it’s kind of, I think everyone’s getting tired of the same old “Mechwarrior” bash-up or something, like laser rays or like god rays at the end of some things, bizarre things. And this summer produced, I mean, three, Indiana Jones nostalgic kind of fest. But then these two, Oppenheimer, Chris Nolan was taken on a biopic, which is, Nolan’s so spectacular. And then “Barbie”, which is this weird, totally different, who would have thought this would have worked as a movie. But something just delightful about a summer, summer allows you to do things you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. And this was a cultural kind of phenomenon. I mean, I remember I was, I saw it in Oregon. I was with my aunt and uncle. I was visiting some family out there. And my aunt was interested in seeing it. And I was flying out the next day at 4 a.m. or something. And it was like, the showing was either 8 or 9 p.m. And she said, “Well, do you want to go? “Do you want to go to this?” ‘Cause I thought, well, it’d be good for class use this coming semester. 

Fr. Patrick: To talk to the kids. 

Father Bonaventure: To talk to the kids about, for all sorts of reasons. And so she said, “Well, do you want to go? “This would be the only time we could do it.” And so I said, “Well, that’s gonna be four hours.” I said, “Yes, I will do it.” And it was this bizarre experience of, I mean, everyone was wearing pink there. There was shouting, there was excitement. It was weird, it was a bit like when the Star Wars movies were re-released, when I was a wee lad. And those were kind of a similar thing. People were dressed up, that sort of stuff. So it was just a moment. And then the movie itself was, I mean, there was lots to talk about with it. But there was, yeah, it was a delightful experience, you could say. You saw it in a different context, I think.

Fr. Patrick:  Well, absolutely. I was very interested in the commentary surrounding the movie. That was what caught my attention. I mean, Greta Gerwig’s a good, I would say that she’s a talented filmmaker. I enjoyed Lady Bird a great deal. I thought it was a fabulous coming-of-age story. And so I’ve been interested in things that she’s done. But when you have the kind of commentary coming out around Barbie, I just couldn’t resist it, right? So you’ve got like Crystal Ball saying, “The movie was not funny or entertaining or family friendly. “No star actor or immaculate set design “was gonna rescue this mess. “It’s way too preachy to be enjoyable “or even be effective as propaganda.” It’s like AI wrote a screenplay based on 2010’s “White Feminism.” The radicalism level was firmly set on safe. So I loved Crystal Ball’s commentary. And then I went right from Crystal Ball to Ben Shapiro, who said a bunch of things that we can’t say on Godsplaining because we don’t have his fancy bleep button. But Ben Shapiro hated it as much as Crystal Ball. And these are not people that agree on much. So Shapiro said, “It’s one of the worst films “I’ve ever seen. “On every possible level, it is a horrific movie.” He said, “It’s full of–”  

Father Bonaventure: He doesn’t see many films. 

Fr. Patrick: He said, “It’s full of writing “by idiots who think they’re smart.” So you see the skewering of the Barbie movie by both Ben Shapiro and Crystal Ball. I mean, Bill Maher weighed in on it too. He also destroyed it in a Twitter feed. And then, of course, Armand White, the movie critic over at National Review also hated it. So you just kind of got back and forth, left to right. All of these people dumping on the Barbie movie. And that’s what caught my attention about it. I thought, how could all of these people really hate this thing? What are they all so angry about? So I had to see it.  

Father Bonaventure: Yes, yeah. 

Fr. Patrick: When we first talked about it, I was surprised. ‘Cause I enjoyed it. But you were quite confident about it. You said, “It’s decidedly good.” 

Father Bonaventure: I liked it, yeah. Well, I thought, one, the aesthetics. I mean, the aesthetics were quite brilliant. All the little details out of this. Just the visuals, the colors. And I’m not exactly a man to normally be weighing in on colors and things like this. But pink and black are in my wheelhouse. I can see those without a problem. Greens are very minimal and this sort of thing. So the aesthetics are beautiful. I thought the acting was quite delightful. Ryan Gosling is, he’s one of those people, when I first saw him as an actor, I thought, you know what, not interested. But each time I see him in a movie now, every time he goes, he gets better and better to me. So it’s one of those weird things where you get a second chance. And I guess it’s like Leonardo DiCaprio, right? He did Titanic and I thought, never watching you again. But Ryan Gosling just gets second chances and he gets better and better. I think he’s fantastic. And Margot Robbie, of course, delightful. I thought all the little side characters, the Alan. I thought also the, even though, let’s put it this way, for a man, I mean, I didn’t grow up playing with Barbie. Some men maybe did, but I didn’t. My sister really didn’t play with Barbie. You might have had Barbies around a little bit.  

Fr. Patrick: We had lots of them, yeah.  

Father Bonaventure: So I couldn’t, so a lot of it went over my head in a way, or at least I wasn’t, it was geared towards people who experienced Barbie and played with Barbie. And I missed those, so it was nice to have, my aunt was there and so she explained to me, oh yeah, this is a classic Barbie problem. Oh yeah, you can change the clothing and all this kind of thing. The Ken figure and all that. That was a world entered. So one of the nice parts about it was also that it was pitched to a different audience. It was clearly pitched to women of a certain generation, but also to other women and also to the wider public. But it had a center of focus in a way that is different from other movies. And this is true for, say, Black Panther. I had this similar experience that you were, it’s very rare that I go to a movie where I’m not the main person it’s being pitched to, in a middle-aged or young-ish American, male. So this was, I imagine the experience of being a Barbie is a bit like the experience of being in a Marvel movie for most women. It’s just like it’s not really for me, so I pick up on the side points. But actually, they might get nothing out of it. Whereas I thought it was delightful social commentary. There was a little preaching, but I wasn’t as offended as some. I mean, I guess if you’re willing to be offended by any time feminism appears, then you can get offended. But I wonder if that’s just being too offended and thinking that we live in a different world than we live in.  

Fr. Patrick: It’s a good point to ask, who is this movie for? Because it’s certainly not a kid’s movie. It’s rated PG-13. And there’s some humor that I certainly didn’t enjoy. You know, some of the Ken jokes in particular. And we could talk about the ending because I think that’s important to get to. But so it’s not a kid’s movie. There’s some untoward and adult humor in it. But I think with that in mind, you have to recognize that it’s trying to say something. And I agree, not being a woman in the theater, it was an interesting experience to look at the film and to say, okay, what is actually going on here and what is trying to be said and what are people experiencing through it?  

Father Bonaventure: Well, and I thought also, it reminded me of a movie that John Travolta did a long time ago, maybe in the ’90s or something. There’s an actor who just can’t get himself out of his own way. But if you’re like John Travolta, sorry, I’m willing. I’m always willing to watch him. But there was a movie called, I think it was called “White Man’s Burden” or something. And it was a reverse. So it was written where he was in a society or in a city where whites tended to be the more impoverished and so he was playing a kind of impoverished guy who had held up a family, a well-to-do black family. And so it got at the race issues and the kind of relations of poverty and crime from the racial perspective. But you were, it was flipped in a way so that you identified with, as a white person, you identified more with Travolta and the poor. And so it kind of forced in a, not in a horrible or hackneyed way, shifting of your perspective lenses. You know, you kind of just view of things. And I felt like Barbie was, part of what it was doing is trying to aim at this for realization that putting with Ken and the Kens there as what many women perceive of their experience of the patriarchy or the male culture or blah. So, but it allowed, it allowed a man to get into that and to kind of see that from a perspective, their perspective in a way that didn’t feel, it didn’t feel uncomfortable to me. It wasn’t like I knew immediately when I felt like it was a sledgehammer hitting me over the head about how, yeah, I see, you know, women are just for looks and all this and Barbie is just a continuation of male power into our society. And so we need to force you to realize this. I thought it did it in a kind of playful, gentle way of just making me think, oh yeah, I wonder, you know, it is different being a woman in the American society, in the Western society in general. And I don’t take that, what you do with that is, you know, the outcome of that is different. I don’t take that immediately into account. And I think with, especially in terms of JP2 conversation, the complementarity between men and women, it’s good to realize that there are different perceptions of them. What you do with that will be very different, whether you’re a radical feminist or a JP2 Catholic, but to realize that they are different, that men and women are different and perceived differently. That’s helpful and I thought that that kind of flip of perspective was generous and gentle enough that it allowed a man to kind of experiment with thinking about just what it means to be a woman and always be looked at in a particular way.  

Fr. Patrick: Yeah, that was one of the aspects of the film that I really appreciated, actually. It was a refreshing assertion of the binary nature of sexual complementarity and I thought, wow, this is amazing that they pulled this off. You know, there is a trans actor, the doctor, Barbie, is transgender, but you don’t notice in the film.  

Father Bonaventure: You don’t even notice. I was really shocked that there was not as much over-the-top explicit– 

Fr. Patrick: Explained to you. Yeah, exactly, but it’s pretty subtle in that way and I think it’s interesting that it’s really getting at, it’s really getting at the question of what it means to be a woman, right? So I think it’s worth reading the long quote, you know, that Gloria’s famous speech played by America Ferreira, because I think this is germane to what you’re raising. 

Father Bonaventure: To set this up, though, right? This is the, so this is the kind of speech, and this was a weird, I was in the theater at the moment, and when she gives this speech, so there’s been this role reversal, so Ken has discovered the power of horses and the patriarchy when he’s going to the real world and he comes back.  

Fr. Patrick: Which I absolutely love.  

Father Bonaventure: Oh, it’s fantastic. 

Fr. Patrick: Horses, like the horse thing, that horse was the image they chose to be the patriarchy, like the cowboy horse thing.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah.  

Fr. Patrick: When Mount Rushmore is changed to be the horses.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, horses, yeah, exactly. The horses are extensions of men. It’s just fantastic, yeah, exactly. I mean, no, no, the whole thing is brilliant. It’s just very, it’s very subtle and brilliant. But so the Ken has taken over. Again, the patriarch’s been reasserted, and so Barbies are back to being Barbies, not ruling Barbie world, but rather, you know, acting like, I don’t know, women perceive themselves to be active in this world, bracket that, and so they have to be saved by a message. It kind of has a gospel, evangelical kind of feel to it, and Gloria, one of the women from the real world who’s been oppressed, blah, blah, blah, comes to Barbie world and gives this kind of speech expressing her frustrations and hearing these words brings Barbies out of their patriarchal horse domination.  

Fr. Patrick: Slumber, yeah.  

Father Bonaventure: And they get back to, yeah, they’re woken up again to who they’re supposed to be, which is in control and this sort of thing. So this, but this, yeah, this is the speech, and it was, in the theater, it was interesting just being around when the speech happened, which I thought, the women around, there was this kind of knowing nod. It was fascinating, just as a phenomenon. And I realized, yeah, there must be something about this that gets people to kind of, if you were younger, you’d click snap fingers or something, but this was a knowing realization or an acceptance, like finally, someone can say this. So, but here’s the speech.  

Fr. Patrick: Okay, so here’s the speech: “It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like we always have to be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong. We have to be thin, but not too thin. You could say you want to be thin, you have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining. You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be part of the sisterhood, but always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged, so find a way to acknowledge that, but also be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard, it’s too contradictory, and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you. And it turns out that, in fact, not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault. I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing a woman, then I don’t even know.” So part of the thing that I think is so compelling about this speech is the tension between how people live when they want to really express themselves genuinely and how they live when they want to be engaging in society. Okay, so this is what I was thinking about in the speech. Because again, not being a woman, it resonates with me differently. But I do think that there are so many ways that we self-censor today, especially as Christians, right? And when we want to interact with society. And there are all kinds of expectations that are put on us in order to be part of the public conversation, to participate in civic life, to get along, even with members of our family, right? So there are all kinds of ways that we’re trying to avoid expressing what we really think in order to just make good on our own. On the kind of goods of public friendship, right? And so I was thinking of that in this tension, which is obviously specific to women and the way women feel, it’s very particular to them. And I’m certainly not taking that away from this. But I do think that there’s a larger tension that’s getting along, that this is getting at. The kind of expectations of society and the contrast that you feel when you’re really being yourself and expressing in a kind of uncensored or unfiltered way what you really think.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, so I’m a big fan of Ervin Goffman. Social dramaturgy, he produced a book. He’s an American sociologist in the twentieth century. And he produced a number of books, but one of his was a presentation of self in everyday life. And he talks about front stage, backstage kind of things. And looking at how we engage as actors uses the dramaturgy, calls it social dramaturgy, the liturgy of drama that we interact with each other through. He goes to a bunch of islands and looks at the standard sociological thing and looks at different societies and how they present themselves. And then looks at that in our own kind of society as we’re always actors or we can be, we often be actors and we step into roles. There’s a sort of passivity that you have in society. You think we’d be more dynamic and it’s individualism and enlightenment and we’re in control and we get to decide and we’re free and all this. But he says actually, no, largely in society, you’re playing roles and you step into those roles. And when people make mistakes, it’s usually mistakes because they’ve stepped out of their role. Not so much that they’ve made a mistake per se, but they’ve made a mistake by not following their own script of the way they present themselves. And they actually may be more like themselves in that moment of stepping away from the script and improvise and you could say, but society is set up to encode. Now you could take this too far, but I’ve always thought that that was an important insight in our social interactions that we do have roles we play and how frequently we let those dictate what our actions ought to be. And in many ways, of course, if you’re a father or a mother or a child or a daughter or a son, you do have roles. Like there are stations and demands, duties and all this sort of stuff. If you’re an employee, if you’re an employer, that kind of thing, there are different roles to play. But you can make those roles as your identity and that does structure how you interact with each other. And I think then if that’s too much so that you’re just role acting and play acting all the time, the tensions, the psychological tensions build up and we demand to be known for ourselves. And I think Christ has a sense of freeing us from playing roles with him. And we oftentimes go to try to play roles with him and he wants to break through that so that then we can actually play roles, remove a little bit playing roles with each other. So that’s just like a Ervin Goffman move quickly from sociology to theological prayer and relationship there. But all in the sense of Barbie, fair enough.  

Fr. Patrick: So another interpretation I had, so I was thinking about this tension again of who we are and how we present ourselves, the expectations of society. Another interpretation I had was I thought, I was thinking of Barbie and “Barbie Land” through the rubrics of the cave.  

Father Bonaventure: Oh, sure, yeah, play those cave.  

Fr. Patrick: Which he is kind of obvious, right? And this is an especially profound interpretation, but there’s a world that Barbie thinks is real. But “Barbie Land” is what Barbie knows.  

Father Bonaventure: Yes. 

Fr. Patrick: And then she travels out of “Barbie Land” and experiences things as they actually are for the first time. And it’s extremely difficult for her to get her head around how things really are. And so I wonder what you’ve made of that, Fr. Bonaventure, or if you think it’s fair to look at this as a kind of exploration of Plato’s “Algory of the Cave.”  

Father Bonaventure: No, I use, it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to see this movie, because I was teaching Plato’s cave, the “Algory of the Cave” and played in the ISM this semester to my freshmen and my juniors and seniors in my classes. And this was a clear case, a nice version of, of course, the fundamental founding myth of Western philosophy, which is there’s appearances and there’s reality, and we have to relate those. Oppenheimer’s the same way, just it turns out there’s stuff going around, but then the physics, the actual equations are what the real world is. There’s just science, Platonism is just science. But the Barbie ones are particularly interesting because Barbie World, in a sense, is the world of the cave, the appearances, not the real world, that’s the outside the real world. You leave that, you leave the cave and go there. But of course, in Plato’s analogy, like leaving the cave is going to a better place. It’s going to the place of the forms, the place of the true and the good and the beautiful. Whereas the cave is this appearances, which you didn’t know were bad, but actually are bad. Interestingly, in Barbie, of course, it’s the other way around. It’s kind of an Augustinian view, I suppose. You’re leaving the realm of appearances, which is actually kind of the good world, to the horrible, the real world is actually like the bad world. It’s the world of male power and this sort of thing. So it’s a sort of inverted cave, or at least it has some new tensions and new parts to play for that. But I think it is fundamentally the Western philosophical idea of, what I see is not what I get, that there’s something that’s really behind this. I can’t really explain how it, Barbie World does not explain, or the movie doesn’t explain how the real world does interact. I mean, you kind of, you draw Barbie in the real world, and that kind of does things to Barbie in the fake world. She’s kind of a puppet, but we don’t get exactly the mechanisms. That’s okay, we don’t know the mechanisms of how anything really works in this world anyway. I mean, you just keep going further in quantum mechanics and stuff gets crazy. But that dualism, that fundamental dualism, I think is an important aspect of Western philosophy, and Barbie just picks up on that. And of Christian philosophy too, I suppose. I mean, we believe in the real world here, but we believe in the Heavens, and God as being the true kind of peace in all of this. So the Christian story is the other way around again, that the other world that you go to, you leave this world in a sense, or you’re not dragged down by this world, as Augustine would say, the senses and sinfulness, to the perfect world, the world of divine blessedness, where the world of the saints, yeah, Dante’s Comedy brings this up as well. So I think Barbie has this, it’s a beautiful reminder of that appearance as reality distinction, and adds just that kind of twist to it, where of course, things in the real world are screwed up too. So it’s a reminder that actually, the Barbie world are both world of appearances. And if she gets, they get this, because they go back to the Barbie world and try to fix it a bit, and make it, it’s not the perfect world. It’s not like, and she doesn’t, spoiler alert, are we doing this?  

Fr. Patrick: Yes, oh, absolutely.  

Father Bonaventure: So she decides to go and enter the real world. So she wants to leave, whereas of course for Plato, the job of the philosopher is you have to keep going back and to fix the other, the world. But she goes and enters the real world to be who she actually wants to be, to be a real human. So that’s, again, it’s got the fundamental myth of the cave, but it plays around with some parts to it that I think make it interesting.  

Fr. Patrick: Yeah, so I do wanna close at the end, but before we get to that, I wanna introduce one last idea, which is that, again, so we mentioned the binary and how that was refreshing. There are clear ideas of maleness and femaleness in this film, and all of those should be praised. I was grateful for them. I found them very refreshing. But one of the ideas that I liked as I continued thinking about it is that there ought to be, the film is suggesting that there ought to be spaces that are for women and spaces that are for men, and I like that idea too. I actually like the idea, if we separate it out from what is ideal and what is not, if we abstract it from that, I like the idea that there is a space that is for women. And we experienced this in the church. When you’re a priest chaplain and you’re visiting a women’s religious community, you are entering the space that is for women. And it’s very clear, it couldn’t be clear because the convent is clean, for example, and it smells nice, and it’s not the friary. There are not friars there. It’s not a friary. So I think that this is something that the church understands that is being lost in society that we need to find ways to protect. We see this in the importance of men’s and women’s sports, but that there are spaces that are for women that are very different from the spaces that are for men is an important thing. And I saw the film playing around with that idea in a way that I thought was compelling.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, that’s a good point. We do, I mean, part of the bad part of feminism, I suppose, is that it, instead of making women equal, at least it hasn’t done that yet as far as I can tell, or maybe women would say, it just neutralized all genders and the discourse and the differences between them such that it didn’t respect the gender difference, which I think was, of course, a goal of it. But women weren’t allowed to be women, actually. They were just kind of, I think, had to act in a man’s world and act like men. And so, in a sense, this speech that Gloria gives in the movie is, I think, reflective of, not a further development of feminism, but a reflection on a bad version of feminism that says we were sold a false bill of goods. We had to be both attention. We had to be both men and professionals and women. So I think that’s salubrious that feminism is realizing that actually we need to hold, we need to hold being women qua women. And we need to have, and we want men to respect us as, as women and not as something else. 

Fr. Patrick: Yeah, that’s right. The Mattel CEO, right, he says, we sell dreams, imagination, and sparkle. And when you think of sparkle, what do you think of next? Female agency. It’s an interesting line because, again, I think it gets at what you’re suggesting, that women were not taught, actually, or feminism did not design something that was authentically for women, but instead just made women men.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah.  

Fr. Patrick: And in a way that was–  

Father Bonaventure: And made them unfairly play.  

Fr. Patrick: Yeah, exactly.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, in a game that they ought not to play in, yeah.  

Fr. Patrick: Okay, so by way of conclusion, what did you think about the ending? Because the ending is a little bit controversial, right? Barbie decides that she wants to go to the real world and she shows up and where is it that she arrives? She’s going to see a doctor and it’s a gynecologist.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, I don’t–  

Fr. Patrick: What did you make of that?  

Father Bonaventure: I mean, I thought embracing womanhood, embracing it like that, this is part of being a woman. You might think that her not having to deal with these sort of issues would allow her to be more a woman because she’d be able to be interacting in society without the difficulties of the biological life and the aspect of being a woman, which I know nothing about, but I suspect are significant. But instead, no, actually getting to be a woman means to embrace fully all the components that make one a woman, both in nature and in psyche. So I thought that was, yeah, that was, I mean, you could take it in a playful sense, of course, or you could take it, we could run a deep natural law kind of reading of this thing and hijack the movie for that like, she really understood the actual nature of male and female, have these all the way down, sexual organisms and all that kind of stuff. Either way is fine, you?  

Fr. Patrick: Yeah, I think there are some people that are responding to it and disliking it. They say, well, it’s kind of a crude thing. But I appreciated that it was making a point about embodiment and that femaleness is not just a concept, but it’s written in us physically.  

Father Bonaventure: And there’s a natural law argument, yep.  

Fr. Patrick: Exactly, yeah, so that was the argument that I wanted to make in my defense of the ending, because it’s not possible to abstract femaleness from a female body.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, it’s by entering the real world.  

Fr. Patrick: You only get to be a female in a female body.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, by entering the real world, the first thing she has to do in the real world is not get a job, not get whatever, but to show up to that gynecologist and get to be an actual woman. And so, I mean, I’d be surprised. I don’t know, I haven’t read the commentary, but I’d be shocked if people didn’t think that was a failure of the movie to respect transgender and that kind of stuff. So it’s super conservative.  

Fr. Patrick: There’s absolutely that essay over the New York Times by a transgender critic.  

Father Bonaventure: Yeah, ’cause it’s a super conservative movie, apparently, who knew, you know?  

Fr. Patrick: Yeah. 

Fr. Patrick: Well, as we wrap up for the Bonaventure, any last comments on the Barbie movie?  

Father Bonaventure: I think it’s helpful to remind ourselves that movies are movies and they’re produced by the cultures that they’re in. And so sometimes we demand perfect from society that’s not gonna give us anything close to that. So don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We can take all these things, and especially even Barbie movies, and have a way in to talk to people without worrying about totally sidelining them, because they’re not perfect or they have some, they’re not exactly kosher with Catholic faith or what have you. I thought life’s mysterious, don’t take it so serious. Let this one go and take the good with it and see if, and it has plenty of opportunities for discussion of real feminism and male and female, male and female relations, and just society in general.  

Fr. Patrick: Yeah, I think the lighthearted critique of Mattel, the whole consumerist principle behind all the different Barbies, I thought that the binary nature of embodiment and personhood, questions about friendship and identity, I think they’re all there, I think they’re in the film, and I think they’re worth talking about as we tried to do on the episode.  

Father Bonaventure: And good, just gentle reminder to men that maybe you do see women as kind of just Barbie, at least gives you a moment, all of us as men to go, huh, I wonder.  

Fr. Patrick: You know what we need for our God’s planning set? A horse.  

Father Bonaventure: We’d, yeah, that’s true. 

Fr. Patrick: We need horses.  

Father Bonaventure: Yes, I should have, yeah.  

Fr. Patrick: Fantastic, well, thanks everyone for tuning in for this episode of God’s planning. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Like, subscribe, and leave us a five-star review. We’re also on TikTok if you do that. If you’d like to donate to the podcast through Patreon, follow the link in the description. You can also follow links in our show notes to shop Godsplaining merch and to get information on upcoming Godsplaining events. As always, friends know that we’re praying for you, and we ask for your prayers for us in our work. God bless.