One of the hottest films of the summer is sure to be Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, starring Margot Robbie. Before you head into theaters to see that, visit a Barbie world with Susan Stern’s director’s cut of Barbie Nation: An Unauthorized Tour. The documentary gives you the origin of the famous doll and introduces you to those who love the blonde-haired trailblazer.
In 1959, a toy company known as Mattel decided to create a toy for girls that would allow them not only to dress and pose but to help them become more comfortable with their transition to womanhood. That doll was Barbie, who was met with much controversy as some believed that the doll would give young girls a false image of what women should look like. This controversial subject is still going on today.
“…the origin of the famous doll and introduces you to those who love the blonde-haired trailblazer.”
What Barbie Nation: An Unauthorized Tour does well is show all sides of Barbie and those that hold her on the highest pedestal. Several Barbie lovers detail what the doll has brought to their lives. We hear from a Barbie dealer, a doll artist, Barbie “players,” and more. I use quotation marks around players because the duo that the documentary uses the term for are two women who pose as Barbie and G.I. Joe in erotic ways. These women keep their identity hidden, which is ironic, and they display how they use dolls in BDM and orgy scenarios. Seeing someone do this and knowing that it is a hobby is pretty funny.
Aside from the orgy scenes that were both uncomfortable and hilarious, something that kind of took me out of the film is that the picture quality is very dated. The video used is clear, but you can tell that the interviews came straight out of the 1980s and early 90s. I guess this can help the nostalgia factor for some, but I would have liked to have seen some updated footage just for the sake of modernizing it a bit.
I never played with Barbie, but the doll was always in my life due to family members playing with or collecting them, as well as going to the toy stores and seeing the all-pink aisles, mostly made up of the doll and every accessory on the planet. I admire Barbie for what it is: a G.I. Joe for young girls. Everyone who ever played with Barbie will appreciate Barbie Nation: An Unauthorized Tour in one way or another. Whether Stern’s film gives them nostalgia or teaches them more about where the doll came from. If nothing else, the film shows that Ruth Handler, co-creator of Barbie, is a true inspiration, and you can see where Barbie’s ambition came from.
"…you can see where Barbie's ambition came from."