Diablo Cody says he dumped her Barbie The film’s script, which would have seen Amy Schumer in the lead, “shit the bed” because the executives wanted an “anti-Barbie” narrative.
The Oscar-winning writer opened up about why she thinks the movie never took off in a new Interview with G.Q. magazine. Cody suggested that the story she was asked to write made no sense because discussions of feminism and Barbie were not yet ready for the kind of complex contradictions that the doll has historically embodied.
“I think I know why I shit in bed,” he said. “When I was first hired for this, I don’t think the culture didn’t [sic] hugged the women or the bimbo as still valid feminist archetypes. 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 turning her into a hero was a tall order.”
Cody essentially explained that there was pressure to deliver the “dramatic equivalent of ‘math is hard,'” according to the magazine. His “idiosyncratic, affectionate take on him” would have been paired with comedian-actress Schumer, whose confessional stand-up “gave her some countercultural credibility,” Adam Nayman wrote.
“That anti-Barbie idea 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 true to the iconography; they wanted to give a feminist touch to Barbie, and I couldn’t imagine it because Barbie is not that”.
Another obstacle for his film, beyond Schumer’s defection in 2017, was the release of the lego moviethat it had opened the door to a specific type of meta satire and branding spread that Hollywood wanted to replicate.
I heard countless references to the lego movie in development, and it created a problem for me because they had done it very well,” he told the magazine. “Every time I came up with something meta, it seemed too similar to what they had done. It was a hindrance for me, but now enough time has passed that they can throw [The Lego Movie antagonist] Will Ferrell as the real-life antagonist Barbie movie, no one cares anymore.”
Cody says he had a genuine interest in telling the Barbie story as someone who “grew up playing with Barbies, and those were the first movies I ever did.” But he’s also wary of how some notable and distinctive directors are getting into the IP storytelling lane, even if he knows why they’re doing it.
I wish every day I could write Paw Patrol movie because credibility is not going to get my kids through college,” Cody said. “I have made several changes in IP with Barbie and powerpuff girls, and I take full responsibility for the failures of those attempts because I have a specific voice and point of view, and I haven’t figured out how to modulate it.”
“I mean, nobody really wants to delve into the lore and myths of Hungry Hungry Hippos,” he continued. “That’s not really an artistic exercise.”