Can Barbie save the world? It’s sure to look that way as we head into the summer of big and bodied Barbies, folks. Of course, there’s Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated release Barbie, Hit theaters in July. Before that – as now – we celebrate the director’s 25th anniversary Susan Sternrevealing documentary, Barbie Country: Unauthorized Tour. The movie garnered rave reviews when it was released back in 1998. Now, Stern’s Director’s Cut gets an exclusive premiere online on Prime Video, Apple TV, and Google Play on June 27th.
Here’s what to expect: Barbie rocks. Not just a toy, Barbie represents a lot of ideas for a lot of people. Stern’s iconic cult classic originally turned heads for how it explored the depths of all things Barbie, dream house and all. It also sheds light on the strange ways people have embraced the famous doll throughout history. No doubt 411’s about Barbie’s sassy rise from German sex toy to becoming Mattel’s savior and goddess sparked interest, too.
But in the Director’s Cut, viewers can expect all-new scenes that include things like “black Barbie” and even some Ken on Ken action. Oh my. Hope, according to Stern, is the “witness” to the extraordinary development of a cultural phenomenon. Discovering the secrets behind Barbie’s never-ending magic is a big plus, too. Susan Stern shared more about the doc and her hopes for getting it now in an exclusive MovieWeb interview.
All about Barbie
Susan Stern also produced Barbie Nation: Unauthorized Tour, which features, among other things, Ruth Handler, the slick American businesswoman who invented Barbie in 1959. Find candid interviews with RuPaul, Ruth Handler’s husband, Elliott Handler, co-founder of Mattel, Barbara (Handler) Segal, Sandy Holder, Franklin Lim Liao, Kerry Mueller, and others.
“Barbie Nation It’s a very happy, loving movie, and people come out of it feeling inspired by the creativity of a lot of people,” Stern said of the project. “People do different and often weird things with Barbie dolls, but this is a creative act. And the whole story of Barbie’s creation is really the love story of Ruth and Elliott Handler. This makes the movie very interesting.”
In fact, Elliott and Roth would go on to develop some of the most popular and best-selling toys in American history, including Barbie, Chatty Cathy, Creepy Crawlers, and Hot Wheels.
“because Barbie Nation It is the essential history of Barbie doll, and Ruth and Elliott Handler in it. Their love story is incredible, and Ruth’s story is incredible. She is a woman who may not have broken the glass ceiling however […] You know, someone in the movie says they think the glass ceiling was pulled down in order to take care of Ruth, because she was such an amazing force in American business. I hope people learn this history. It’s a really interesting history. It’s a great action story. It’s a wonderful love story.”
What people do with Barbie dolls?
It’s not all pastel pink and plastic car rides with the gorgeous Ken in the Malibu sun, folks. Many revealing sequences in Barbie Nation She lights up a sexier side of the iconic doll, and what Barbie actually is to some people. “It brings together an amazing amount of Barbie’s weirdness, and I think that would surprise people. There’s definitely some flirtation with the sexual things that people did with Barbie in the documentary,” Stern said. “I was surprised Barbie was a ‘sexual’ doll to some people. I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was, especially at the number of different people doing elaborate sexual things with Barbie dolls.”
The doc covers that in respectful ways, of course, and that specific element isn’t the main plot line in the movie. Stern also noted that her film is poised for a perfect release, aside from the strange connection to the Great Gerwig film. Barbie.
“It’s a perfect time to watch this doc because we’re going through an undeniable backlash, a time when books get banned, when drag shows get banned,” Stern added. “It’s a much tougher time than it was when this movie was shot. It’s a perfect time to look back and appreciate something when times weren’t so precarious.”
Plus featured clips of Handler, Scientists, Fun People, and even Stern’s own daughter Barbie Nation, the director pointed to one of the film’s original bold revelations. “Children are innocent in such a wonderful way. All those who want to ban things they don’t understand may not realize that children really are innocent. They don’t attribute the negativity that some adults attribute to dolls and sex. Children are intact and unharmed by a healthy attitude towards sexuality. I really like that Barbie She has a healthy attitude towards it and with that healthy attitude, we can play with different sexual identities, we can play with different sexual fantasies, and it’s not harmful.”
She quickly added, “We have a society now that says this is harmful and that it’s harmful to discuss sex, it’s harmful to discuss body image, and it’s harmful to discuss race. Barbie Nation He says it is not harmful to talk about these things. It’s healthy.”
Hey, don’t blame the doll!
Recently, Susan Stern received an email from one of her cousins who told her that she was not allowed to play with Barbie as a child because her mother thought she was too sexual. “A lot of people don’t like Barbie. A lot of people hope they do Barbie Nation It’s going to be an anti-Barbie movie because I’m a feminist,” said Stern, who explained.
But I mean, I don’t have that attitude towards Barbie. I don’t agree with people who are so against Barbie. This is a small plastic toy. You know, the problems we face as human beings, whether it’s not feeling satisfied with our bodies, or being forced into gender roles that we don’t like, these are human-caused problems. It’s not because of the little plastic dolls. The doll is a tool. We can play with it. We could do all kinds of things with it, but I don’t blame the doll.
It is interesting to note the number of LGBT people Barbie nation also. The documentary depicts a certain level of freedom experienced in the late 1990s, Stern says, which is kind of hopeful. This was, after all, several years before 9/11. “There’s been a backlash to that, where people want to end that hope now,” Stern said.
As for everything else—from how the doc aptly reveals how healthy young girls are exploring themselves and their identities through Barbie to other things that fall outside the “traditional” box—Stern quickly explains:
“You know, when I say people do weird things with Barbie, that’s not really the point. I’m not making fun of anyone. I’m celebrating everyone in this movie. I think what’s interesting is that even in 1998, people were really nostalgic.” To this. And you see the beginning of the “Make America Great Again” movement that has now blossomed into this completely surreal movement, which has no memory of what the past really was. You see people dreaming about a kind of past. I’m proud of that, and I’m proud of what it reveals about how children play. Really. And I’m proud of some of the interviews that people have been willing to share with me — their deep feelings. There’s a Barbie player in the movie, Allen, talking about his partner’s death to HIV/AIDS. And that’s just one of many really moving moments.”
Output version of Barbie Country: Unauthorized TourIt will be available on Prime Video, Apple TV, and Google Play starting June 27. You can get more information about Barbie Nation here.