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Republicans Go Nuts Over Barbie Film's Trans Inclusion and Alleged Communism

Republicans Go Nuts Over Barbie Film's Trans Inclusion and Alleged Communism

Hari Nef

Far-right politicians and pundits don't like seeing trans actress Hari Nef in the movie, and Ted Cruz thinks an image of a map is Chinese Communist Party propaganda.

Some right-wingers are losing it over the new and inclusive Barbie movie, critiquing its expansive view of gender and even calling it communist propaganda.

The Greta Gerwig-directed film, which opens Friday, depicts a land in which various Barbies and Kens have an idyllic life. But one of them, played by Margot Robbie, decides to see what the outside world is like, and she’s in for some surprises.

Another one of the Barbies is played by transgender actress Hari Nef. “As much as there’s a celebration of femininity and being a girl in this [movie], I think there’s also an encouragement of letting go of the checklist we ascribe to living and living your life and being in your body your way, on your own terms,” she recently told Out,a sister publication of The Advocate. “The best that we can do as women, as trans women, is be there for each other and take ourselves at face value, without relying on the green light from someone or anyone else.”

Other actors in the movie have made similar comments about its inclusive view of gender. “I knew it was going to be something and then I read it, and it was like, sort of about how like gender roles deny people half their humanity and how like we need to just like be ourselves,” lesbian actress Kate McKinnon told Fandango.

This was all too much for some right-wing commentators and politicians. The film “forgets its core audience of families and children while catering to nostalgic adults and pushing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender character stories,” wrote a contributor to Movieguide,a site with a conservative Christian bent. The article was headlined “WARNING: Don’t Take Your Daughter to Barbie.” Fox News quoted and amplified the Movieguide piece.

A separate Movieguidearticle quoted Nef’s Out interview again and interpreted her words to mean that Barbie “is an exploration of femininity and sexualization, with a clear, gross agenda in mind to push sexuality onto children.”

Others objecting to Nef’s presence in the movie include right-wing pundit Charlie Kirk, who dubbed the trailer “the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen,” and fellow conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who said the film is a “woke bleep show,” Rolling Stone reports.

Then there are those who found the primary Ken character, played by Ryan Gosling, to be insufficiently masculine. Ginger Gaetz, wife of far-right Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, wrote on Twitter that when they attended the premiere, she saw “disappointingly low T from Ken,” referring to testosterone, and she also called him a “beta” male, not an alpha. (Note: He’s a doll without genitalia.)

Another right-wing politician, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, thinks the movie is propaganda from China’s government. One scene shows a map that “includes the so-called nine-dash line, a much-disputed division of territory in the South China Sea,” The NewRepublic reports. It further explains, “China has used the nine-dash line to mark its controversial territorial claims. … Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei all say the marker violates their sovereignty.” Vietnam has banned the film, and the Philippines may as well.

Because of the line, Cruz tweeted, “I guess Barbie is made in China.” Later, a spokesman for him told the U.K.’s Daily Mail, “China wants to control what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think, and they leverage their massive film markets to coerce American companies into pushing [Chinese Communist Party] propaganda — just like the way the Barbie film seems to have done with the map. Sen. Cruz deserves credit for reversing these trends.”

That also led Fox News anchor Rachel Campos-Duffy to ask on-air, “Is Barbie Communist?” One of her cohosts replied, “Maybe.” Fox News has aired other segments denouncing the film as well.

But Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, explained on Substack,“It’s a nonsense map. There are squiggles and arrows and hashtags and dotted lines all over the damn place. To the extent that the map is supposed to depict the Pacific Rim, the dotted line is nowhere close to where the actual nine-dash line is.”

All the fuss probably won’t cut into the film’s audience. The hashtag #BoycottBarbie hasn’t caught on widely, according to Rolling Stone, which notes, “It seems unlikely that enough momentum will build before the movie is officially released on Friday to impede its estimated $95-$105 million opening weekend gross.”

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