Barbie director Greta Gerwig has described the film’s eponymous toy as a doll with breasts – after the host of this year’s Golden Globes mocked the premise of her “feminist” hit release.
The award-winning director, 40, said comedian Jo Koy’s joke about Barbie being a movie about “a plastic doll with big boobies” was “not wrong,” but suggested the comedian may have misunderstood the film’s “seemingly superficial” starting point.
She told BBC Radio 4: “Well, you know, he’s not wrong. She’s the first doll that was mass produced with breasts so he was right on… but it felt like in a way, even though it was so seemingly superficial, that it was such a rich place to start.”
Koy’s joke in his Golden Globes monologue inspired an immediate social media backlash, with many perceiving it as “sexist” and claiming that it proved “why the movie was made.”
Barbie, which was the highest grossing film of last year, won the Golden Globe for the newly-introduced category of cinematic and box office achievement.
The fantasy comedy, produced by Mattel, inspired swathes of girls and women to dress up in pink and go to the cinema to watch the box office hit – which was described by Gerwig as “most certainly a feminist film”.
One monologue in particular was hailed as the stand-out moment in highlighting the experiences of being a woman in modern-day society.
In it, America Ferrera’s character says: “It is literally impossible to be a woman. We have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong… It’s too hard.
“It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you. And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.”
Gerwig previously said that everybody cried on the set when she delivered the monologue to the film’s protagonist, played by Margot Robbie, who goes through an existential crisis as Barbie.
The American director is known for making films with a feminist inspiration, including celebrated hits Little Women and Ladybird.
She told Radio 4: “I think so much of the project of the movie was unlikely because it is about a plastic doll and Barbie by her very construction has no character, no story, she’s there to be projected upon.
“Barbie has been around since 1959 and she’s been a villain and she’s been a hero but it felt like in a way, even though it was so seemingly superficial, that it was such a rich place to start.”
Barbie ‘is about you’
The director also admitted the doll has “always been a flashpoint for arguments”, recalling that her mother was unsure about it as a toy.
She added: “What’s sort of amazing about it is it has inspired such a wide range of reactions, but those are always my favourite things.”
Gerwig continued: “In some ways, it’s not surprising because Barbie has always been sometimes ahead of culture, sometimes behind culture and she’s always been a flashpoint for arguments.
“I know that even from my own personal growing up… my mom wasn’t so keen on Barbie. She wasn’t sure about it as a toy for me and of course, as a result I loved Barbie.”
The director also claimed there had never been a time when she was not familiar with the arguments for and against Barbie.
“So the fact that the film has inspired such a range of reactions seems fitting,” she added.
Gerwig said it was “very wonderful and emotional” to “take the stage with the group that made it” after the film won its Golden Globes award.
During the acceptance speech, Robbie became emotional when she dedicated the award to “every single person on the planet who dressed up” to go and watch the film in cinemas.
“This is a movie about Barbie, but it’s also a movie about humans. We made it – it’s about you,” she said.