This is the official Perth blog site for posts, comments, and other contributions about leadership, behavioral finance and economics, and about management generally, as well as other related topics that take our fancy.
Font size: +

Barbie: A Space Odyssey

Barbie’s is the ultimate search to avoid shallowness and meaninglessness. She fails. Miserably.

Superficiality is It

“Barbie” the movie is turning out to be a big hit. How could that be for something that is all about superficiality and modern gender consumerism?

I actually watched it twice so I could figure out what I am missing. And what’s with the “Space Odyssey” stuff? That comes up in the opening credits. A little girl smashes her Barbie doll against a rock in imitation of that famous ape in the opening scenes of “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

In its own recapitulation of “2001”, “Barbie” is an odyssey too. This time it’s from Barbie-land to the “Real World”, to Ken- (the pallid male equivalent) -dom and thence to the next universe, no matter where that might turn out to be.

Barbie is the stereotypical superficial female. Ken and all the men are satisfyingly shallow. The fundamental problem in this world is the lack of evil. It turns out that what Barbie – and Ken and the Shallow Men are really trying to avoid is meaninglessness. And that ends up in pursuit of the avoidance of boring.

Evil is It Too

In this rendition of existential philosophy, the true problem is that deep down, something we just don’t want to admit, is that humans are fundamentally boring and all of life is the race to avoid that fate. We tolerate and in fact even laud evil since it provides an escape from cosmic boredom.

See “2001 A Space Odyssey” for corroboration. Why are the astronauts in 2001 traveling on a starship (until Hal kills all but one of them) in any case? To find something that gives them and their (until then at least) boring human lives something fresh and young (Barbie perhaps?) to look forward to.

Even Hal – the wayward computer – is tolerable since he provides temporary if light release from the mundanity of even their interstellar existence. We live for entertainment since it gives us relief from boredom and even from cool – even Barbie gets bored eventually with cool.

That’s why those little girls in the opening scene are smashing their Barbies. It’s straight out of “Clockwork Orange” anything, including murdering innocent little babies - is better than monotony.

Patriarchy Is the Other Bad Answer

That’s the significance of all this stuff about AI and the Singularity. It’s not about innovation, it’s about avoiding monotony. Failing that evil is fine, even preferable. Hence the convergence with the global - and of course the cosmic - spread of autocracy. It lessens the pain. Cue Star Wars for proof.

Humans tried patriarchy but that only works for a limited time. You end up with Ken, QED. So, after patriarchy you’ve only got dictators and pure evil. Such is life.

Barbie doesn’t know it, but her burdensome lifetime task is to overcome shallowness and no meaning. She will do it by traveling around looking everywhere for it. When she doesn’t find it, she will go to the stars, with Hal if need be. Ken’s life goal is to become Hal; he just doesn’t know it, but it will be a giant step forward for mankind if he, or Barbie, makes it.

Perhaps outer space and the Universe is big enough to make it feasible to find the Anti-Monotone. That’s what 2001 astronauts, Barbie, and Elon Musk are banking on. So that boredom can actually be eliminated.

Does Barbie find meaning? We want her to do that but at the end of the film it’s pretty clear she hasn’t.

The only things that exist are shallowness and meaninglessness, but we have a ways to explore before we find out what we suspect to be true. This will be Barbie’s comeuppance. But at the end of the movie, she still hadn’t realized that. Bummer for her, and for us.

Maybe evil is the better option compared to boredom because in fact, anything is.

That’s the lesson in Barbie.


Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

Does Gravity Cause Transgender Transitions?
Will Obesity Drugs Make Us Even Less Healthy?

List of all Perth posts