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Diablo Cody Says Canned ‘Barbie’ Movie Starring Amy Schumer Was Trying to Have a “Girl-Boss Feminist Twist”



Diablo Cody says that she scrapped Barbie movie script, which would have seen Amy Schumer in the lead, “shit the bed” because executives wanted an “anti-Barbie” narrative.

The Oscar-winning scribe opened up about why she believes the film never made it off the ground in a new interview with GQ magazine. Cody suggested that the story she was asked to write didn’t make sense because discussions about feminism and Barbie weren’t ready yet for the kind of complex contradictions the doll has historically embodied.

“I think I know why I shit the bed,” she said. “When I was first hired for this, I don’t think the culture had not embraced the femme or the bimbo as valid feminist archetypes yet. 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 essentially explained that there was pressure to deliver the “dramatic equivalent of ‘math is hard,’” according to the magazine. Her “affectionate and idiosyncratic take” would have been paired with comedian and actress Schumer, whose confessional stand-up “gave her a certain counterculture credibility,” Adam Nayman wrote.

“That idea of ​​an anti-Barbie made a lot of sense given the feminist rhetoric of ten years ago,” Cody said. “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.”

Another roadblock to her film, beyond Schumer dropping out in 2017, was the release of The Lego Moviewhich had opened the door to a specific kind of meta satire-meets-brand extension Hollywood wanted to replicate.

“I heard endless references to The Lego Movie in development, and it created a problem for me because they had done it so well,” she told the magazine. “Any time I came up with something meta, it was too much like what they had done. It was a roadblock for me, but now enough time has passed that they can just cast [The Lego Movie antagonist] Will Ferrell as the antagonist in a real-life Barbie movie, and nobody cares.”

Cody says she had a genuine interest in telling the Barbie story as someone who “grew up playing with Barbies, and those were sort of the first movies that I ever cast.” But she’s also weary of how some notable, distinctive directors are entering the lane of IP storytelling, even if she knows why they’re doing it.

“I wish every day that I could write The Paw Patrol movie because credibility is not going to put my kids through college,” Cody said. “I have made several swings at IP with Barbie and Powerpuff Girls, and I take full responsibility for the failures of those attempts because I do have a specific voice and POV, and I haven’t figured out how to modulate it.”

“I mean, nobody really wants to delve deeper into the lore and mythos of Hungry Hungry Hippos,” she continued. “That’s not really an artistic exercise.”

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