The Mythic Masculine
The Mythic Masculine
#64 | The Descent & Redemption of Barbie - Carly Mountain

#64 | The Descent & Redemption of Barbie - Carly Mountain

What the ancient myth of Inanna can tell us about the heroine's journey of a doll (and society).
Barbie before the gates of the Underworld - generated with Dalle

Barbie is back in the news again. The Oscars race is on and the film was nominated for numerous awards including Best Picture.

Ryan Gosling received the nod for Best Actor, while Margot Robbie & Greta Gerwig were passed over. Ironic snub, given the context of the film? Or just how it goes sometimes?

Now before you roll your eyes and wonder ‘who cares?’ I’ve decided to do some of the mythic heavy lifting around why Barbie is a culturally significant film at this moment. And not just because it crossed a billion dollars at the box office and became a clear phenomenon.

Last summer, colleague Alex Beiner wrote eloquently of the cultural complexities in his essay Castrated Utopias: What Barbie and Oppenheimer reveal about our sexual politics.

He writes:

Barbie is one of the most interesting films to come out of Hollywood in some time. It’s a strange phenomenon; a feminist initiation myth that critiques, sometimes with joyful nuance, capitalism and patriarchy, but which is paradoxically designed to sell a corporation’s product. Instead of a film we might read an ideology into, it’s a film woven around an existing ideology: feminism. However, the vision of the feminism it champions is what makes it particularly interesting.

It’s fun, well structured and at times leans toward a kind of metamodern feminism that seems able to hold the complexity of both social construction and biological difference. At other times, it slipped into a more simplistic feminism, and I found myself shaking my head at its narrow depictions of men and masculinity. 

[…] I had a strong feeling that the film wasn’t really made for me as a man. It wasn’t trying to actively exclude me, but it was speaking to lived experiences of women, so I tried to listen to the message on its own terms.

I’ve finally decided to hoist my take into the ring, and I invited UK based writer, psychotherapist, and mythologist Carly Mountain to join me.

I was previously on her podcast to speak about the descent of Inanna, and so it felt perfect to bring her on to explore Barbie through this lens.

As well we touch on the arc of Ken and the advent of Patriarchy as borne from the rejection of the Feminine. Ken needs to go on his own quest to re-source the Feminine from within and meet the Great Goddess.

(This is much of the recent men’s work that I’m collaborating with Deus Fortier on. Our next Awakening the Wild Erotic weekend is coming up in April).

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Also stick around at the end of the episode for a little easter egg…

P.S. you’re invited to check out Carly’s book “Descent & Rising: Women’s Stories & the Embodiment of the Inanna Myth”.

P.P.S Here’s a few music videos from Barbie.

I’ve love to hear your comments on our conversation below. What’s your take on Barbie?

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The Mythic Masculine
The Mythic Masculine
Explorations on mythology, culture and the emerging masculinities. Hosted by visionary filmmaker Ian MacKenzie.