Oscar-winner Diablo Cody says she struggled to make Barbie ‘feminist girl-boss’, quit movie: ‘S–t the bed’

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Oscar-winning “Juno” screenwriter Diablo Cody recently claimed she dropped out of a “Barbie” film that was in production at Sony because she couldn’t figure out how to make the iconic doll a “feminist” icon.

In an interview with GQ, Cody claimed she just couldn’t get a script together for the film, which was ultimately dropped by the studio in 2018, five years before Warner Brothers took up the project starring Margot Robbie that is set to premiere later this month. 

Cody got candid with the magazine, claiming that, among other reasons, she had trouble finalizing the script because she didn’t know how to make the doll into a “girl-boss” “feminist” hero. 

The Hollywood talent declared “that’s not what Barbie is.”

The screenwriter admitted to GQ that she bombed at the project, claiming the culture and her were not aligned on what a Barbie movie could be. She said, “I think I know why I s— the bed. When I was first hired for this, I don’t think the culture had not [sic] embraced the femme or the bimbo as valid feminist archetypes yet.”

She acknowledged that now there seems to be more of a path forward for a big-screen version of the doll than there was at the time she was involved. She added, “If you look up ‘Barbie’ on TikTok you’ll find this wonderful subculture that celebrates the feminine, but in 2014, taking this skinny blonde white doll and making her into a heroine was a tall order.”

Cody says Barbie is not a feminist character, and at the time, she didn't know how to portray her as one.
Cody says Barbie is not a feminist character, and at the time, she didn’t know how to portray her as one.

Alluding to more of what Sony had in mind for the character, a more ironic, self-aware Barbie, Cody continued, saying, “That idea of an anti-Barbie made a lot of sense given the feminist rhetoric of 10 years ago.”

However, she noted she had a hard time squaring that idea of “anti-Barbie” with the earnest, straightforwardly feminine iconography of the character. “I didn’t really have the freedom then to write something that was faithful to the iconography; they wanted a girl-boss feminist twist on Barbie, and I couldn’t figure it out because that’s not what Barbie is.”

Ironically, comedian and actress Amy Schumer dropped the same Sony production because it wasn’t pro-feminist enough. During a recent interview with “Watch What Happens Live” host Andy Cohen, Schumer affirmed she left the movie because it didn’t “feel feminist and cool.”

Schumer left the production after feeling the role wasn't pro-feeling feminist enough.
Schumer left the production after feeling the role wasn’t pro-feeling feminist enough.
Getty Images for Writers Guild of America East

Cody also noted to GQ that the success of Warner Brother’s “The Lego Movie” at that time added to her pressure while she was trying to come up with a screenplay for “Barbie.” She claimed, “I heard endless references to ‘The Lego Movie’ in development, and it created a problem for me because they had done it so well. Any time I came up with something meta, it was too much like what they had done.”

“It was a roadblock for me,” she added.

It remains to be seen whether Warner Brothers’ “Barbie” film embraces heavy feminist themes, though there are hints there may be at least a woke element or two to the film.

Though not confirmed, there have been hints that the new Warner Bros movie will have feminist tropes.
Though not confirmed, there have been hints that the new Warner Bros movie will have feminist tropes.

In a recent interview, with Fandango.com, “Barbie” actress Kate McKinnon described the upcoming film’s script saying, “I knew it was going to be something and then I read it, and it was like, sort of about how like gender roles deny people half their humanity and how like we need to just like be ourselves.”

Others have raised concerns over the film’s geopolitical implications, of all things. Recently, lawmakers from the U.S., Vietnam, and The Philippines alleged that the film’s studio tried to throw a bone to the Chinese government, claiming a cartoon map of Asia featured in the film depicts China’s claims in the South China Sea. 

Though representatives for the studio have since denied the drawing depicts Chinese interests. 

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