Friday it was announced that Amy Schumer will star in a live-action Barbie movie, slated for 2018. A Barbie movie has been kicking around for a while, and the current treatment comes from Hilary Winston, a veteran of TV shows like My Name is Earl and Community, and who is also scripting The LEGO Ninjago Movie as part of the LEGO cinematic universe. It’s reported that Schumer and sister, Kim Caramele, will do a rewrite on the Barbie script, but they’re working off Winston’s idea, which is that an imperfect Barbie is cast out of Barbieland (Christ) for being a misfit toy, and then she has a real-world adventure before going back to Barbieland (I mean, REALLY) to save it and teach everyone a lesson about acceptance and inner beauty. So basically, it’s Enchanted but with Barbies.
Amy Schumer + Barbie is a recipe for controversy, and sure enough the internet swamp monsters are already at it I’m having flashbacks to the nightmare of Ghostbusters where we have to put up with two years of misogynists bitching about a movie most of them won’t see anyway. And when it comes to a Barbie movie, there are so many other issues raised, like whether or not this is going to end up reinforcing the Barbie Ideal anyway. Barbie comes with her own baggage about body image and beauty standards and vanity and self-acceptance—for a toy Barbie is a total landmine of issues.
But instead of talking about whether or not a Barbie movie is a good idea in the first place, we’re going to talk about Amy Schumer playing an “imperfect” Barbie. Schumer, who is still a cute, blue-eyed blonde and is hardly fat. (The “men’s rights” internet problem with Schumer isn’t that she’s not a size two, it’s that she’s outspoken and confrontational. They use her body against her because her words make them mad.) I get the intention of the project but how does this NOT end up reinforcing the worst of the Barbie Ideal? IS a Barbie movie a good idea in the first place? I feel like we were kind of moving past Barbie, culturally, but a movie, especially a successful one, will put her right back at the center of the pop culture map. Who is this actually good for, besides Mattel’s bottom line?