Sean of the South: Barbie


Sean DietrichBy Sean Dietrich

Recently, it came to my attention that I was one of the remaining four Americans who had not seen “Barbie.” In case you’re one of the other three, “Barbie” is a wildly popular movie that is making waves in all the headlines.

The New York Times recently said that “Barbie” is “…about becoming your own hero.” CNN stated that “Barbie” is “…Important for normalizing women’s health.” Toisto Magazine called “Barbie” the “most important film of the year.”

“Barbie” has reportedly impressed the Hollywood establishment because it proved that, to produce a hit movie you don’t need computer graphics, elaborate CGI effects, and a huge production budget to create hype. All you need is a huge promotional budget to create hype.

So I decided to see “Barbie” with my friend Dan, a former law-enforcement officer, who asked me to accompany him and his two daughters.

Sean Dietrich BarbieI haven’t been to the theater in a long time. I think the last movie I saw was “Steel Magnolias.” Mostly, because my people weren’t big movie goers. We were sanctified Baptists who did not believe in going to the movies for fear that it could lead to mixed bathing.

When we got there, the first thing I noticed was that lots of young women were there to see “Barbie.” I could tell this because they were all dressed in neon pink.

“I’ve seen ‘Barbie’ four times,” one 22-year-old woman told me. “It’s just a great movie, with an important message.”

I asked the young woman what this message was, exactly.

“Um,” she went on, “like, it’s about, like… Like. I don’t know. You just have to see it.”

Another group of teenage women stood in line with their boyfriends. The young women had already seen “Barbie” twice. This was their boyfriends’ first time.

“We made our boyfriends come with us this time,” said one the girls. “Because it’s a super good movie.”

“Oh my God,” said another young lady. “So good.”

Most of the boyfriends were clad in Barbie-themed, festive clothes. I asked one of the boys whether he was excited to see the movie and I asked whether I could quote him in a column I would be writing.

He gave me a sincere but thoughtful answer by saying, “My girlfriend made me wear these pink pants.”

So we waited in a long line because it was a weekend, and everyone was at the theater. Some were there to see the new Indiana Jones movie, which features an 81-year-old Harrison Ford starring in “Indiana Jones Takes a Nap.”

Other movie goers were there to see “Oppenheimer” a film about J. Robert Oppenheimer, who invented the atomic bomb. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan, a director who critics hail for blending “thrill rides with thoughtful narratives which pose complex and pressing ethical questions” such as, “When will this movie be over so I can go pee?”

We purchased our tickets for “Barbie,” and went into the dark theater. Once we nestled into our seats, the movie began, and I can honestly tell you I did not move a muscle for the duration of the film.

Namely, because my feet were glued to the floor because of movie-theater-floor gunk, which is an adhesive consisting of decade-old soft drink spills and petrified candy.

The movie began. The screen featured stunning set design, elaborate dance sequences, and wild costumes. The first thought I was struck with was, “Man, I’m really old.”

Because most of the starring cast was comfortably in their early 20s, with fit bodies that did not contain a thimble-full of adipose tissue. And every other word in their scripted sentences was “like.”

Admittedly, I am also out of touch with popular culture, so I, like, didn’t get most of the, like, jokes.

Dan’s daughters, however, were laughing with everyone else. Meantime, I was looking around wondering when, exactly, did movie theaters quit using ushers with flashlights. And what happened to the Wurlitzer organ?

The apex of the movie was a stirring scene which featured the movie’s title song, “What Was I Made For,” recorded by Billie Ellish, which had many in the theater sobbing.

Admittedly, I was weeping too. Although to be fair, I was crying because my ticket cost more than a three-bedroom beach condo.

When the film ended, we exited and passed the gaggle of teenage boyfriends, lingering in the lobby.

“Please don’t write about me wearing pink pants,” one boyfriend said.

Which I would never do.

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