The runaway box office success of Barbie has taught Mattel one thing and one thing only: the toy box is a treasure trove of profitable properties. We’re not even into the second week of Barbie hitting theaters and they’re already prepping some of their blue chip titles for production. We’ve heard about the Daniel Kaluuya A24-style Barney film (yes please!) the JJ Abrams-produced Hot Wheels movie (no thanks!) and even a film based on the card game UNO (cautiously optimistic.)
But the film that seems to have the highest possibility of cashing in on Barbie‘s success is Polly Pocket, which is being rushed into development as we speak, during a strike, no less. Lily Collins of “Emily in Paris” is set to star as Polly and everything seems just hunky dory.
Here are some other talented queer actors we would’ve loved to have seen bring their “Kenergy” to Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’.
Except for one thing: the film’s director. No sooner did Marvel announce they’d attached Lena Dunham to direct than Twitter starting pointing out (quite rightly) Dunham’s problematic history.
Dunham, whose HBO show “Girls” opened the door for younger creatives in the TV and film industries, hasn’t always been the most sensitive when it comes to…well, anything. We’ve known for a long time about her history of racist tweets and comments, and while the actor and director claims she’s learned from her past, it’s hard to get excited about a creator who continues to stand for white feminism and its many, many discontents. In her 2014 memoir “Not That Kind of Girl,” she admitted to some uncomfortable childhood behavior enacted on her younger sibling, the writer and artist Cyrus Grace Dunham, that many view as crossing a line.
In 2017, actor Aurora Perrineau spoke out about alleged instance of abuse from former “Girls” writer Murray Miller. Dunham was quick to defend Miller. “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 per cent of assault cases that are misreported each year,” Dunham and “Girls” co-creator Jenni Konner said in a statement. Dunham later recanted, saying that she knew less about the alleged rape than she’d previously claimed.
When “Girls” premiered in 2012, TV critics of color were quick to point out the lily-white casting of the show, which Dunham defended. In 2016, Dunham singled out wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., after an uncomfortable non-exchange at the Met Gala. And that, sadly, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Essentially, the people aren’t having it, and for very good reason.
While the Polly Pocket news was announced in 2021, it’s a bit jarring to be reminded of the film’s existence the same week that the Venice Film Festival announced that they would extend invitations to alleged rapists and child molesters Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.
If Mattel is trying to replicate the success of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, they might have to try just a little bit harder.