Still overthinking Barbie, enshittification everywhere, free stuff from the past

I’ve still been reading about Barbie here and there, since it’s the run-up to awards season. I watched the movie quite belatedly. A lot of my impression from the marketing was that it was meant to be posited as revolutionary, but I found the movie representing the contrary; it felt like a head-pat in response to the pain it spent a lot of time recognizing (to no greater end). The result felt validating of America’s corporatocracy more than subversive.

But the stuff I’m still reading makes me feel my impression from marketing was wrong too. Although they used imagery and language of revolution, talking to people involved makes it seem more like they wanted to create a cute confection that is extremely referential but without the burden of responsibility for its ideas. It’s Just A Toy Movie.

I’m personally annoyed by a generation of creators who freely, openly state that they don’t want any burden of responsibility for their ideas. I see it in writers all the time. I’m Just Writing Entertainment. There’s no reason words can’t be disposable in this way; I aspire to something else, but it’s fine for things to just…exist. I guess. Well, it’s fine in writing, because even the greatest writers are essentially nobodies. But in Barbie, I’m a little less forgiving, since there is so much budget and so many eyes.

America Ferrera at least thinks that it’s important enough to have a Feminism 101 movie (Variety), which is fair too, I guess. I’m just. Like. Okay. We have so many Feminism 101 movies. Can I have Feminism 201? Feminism 220? I *like* feminism and I don’t *want* feminism that’s so entrenched in corporate stuff, at all, and it just feels *evil* if you’re going to try to also do that without responsibility for your message because she’s Just A Doll. Also, the feminism of Barbie was awfully concerned with Ken, who kinda remains the main show. (Variety)

I’m thirty-five years old and I’m being told by women my age, and older, that Barbie is just the greatest thing ever, and if Barbie and Ken’s Feminism 101 is the greatest thing then I don’t know where the fuck I stand.

Since I’ve got such a personal grudge around the very ideas they’re throwing out there, I think I really gotta reevaluate Barbie in a couple years to see if I still think it’s an incredibly cynical glass onion. I’m not being cool about it right now, lol.


Engadget’s article about the volume of Teslas delivered this year reminds me of recent reports that Teslas have poor build quality (Reuters). When I see this headline, I mostly think about a lotta people driving cars that break a lot, without customer service or accountability for the damage.

Growing up from the 90s to the 20s now has been an odd era for consumerism. I’ve seen things going from being built extremely ruggedly, possibly irresponsibly so when you consider the volume of plastic involved, to some kind of balance of quality and value, to price over everything else. Prices have stabilized or dropped for a lot of goods in the last decade, but with inflation, and whatever other economic factors smarty smart people would evoke, that means that the products have had to all become like tissue paper to keep up with demands.

My personal favorite example is ring slings. I bought a ring sling from a major manufacturer for $40 or $50 when I had my second baby almost a decade ago. The old ring sling is long gone (donated to another family), but its fabric and rings were thick and sturdy. Two years ago, I bought another ring sling off Amazon for the same price – I got the one with the best reviews and searched for the stiffest fabric. The modern equivalent really does feel like tissue paper. I think the rings are metal, but they’re not metal-metal somehow. It’s just *cheap*.

Everything feels like that now. It’s not good value. Everything is cheap. But cheap doesn’t actually mean we’re paying low prices; relative to stagnant wages, stuff is really more expensive. Others have called it enshittification. I wonder what comes next. It’s felt like a race to the bottom–are we there yet?


Treating things cheaply isn’t new. There are episodes of culture classic Doctor Who (The Independent) we will never see because the BBC treated them as cheap, recording over the original reels, disposing of them, or storing them improperly.

The same guy making cheap Teslas is treating rockets as cheap. (Ars Technica) The commander of the first consumer space flight laments that their historic vessel doesn’t seem to be preserved in any way. It was reused, and then possibly scrapped? That’s the whole business model. The attitude Musk spreads across the companies under his influence is one of dispensability.

Properly preserving history is a respectful, thoughtful process. Musk is in the business of making history, not caring about it. Someone who really cared about history would at least be investing into real infrastructure projects, which would last generations, and force people to associate his memory with something positive. Gross, who cares about nerd stuff like that? Am I right?


Colossal notes that a lot of properties entered public domain this year besides Steamboat Willie. There’s some other interesting stuff. You can find a full rundown on a Duke University page.

Highlights that caught my eye:

  • Lady Chatterley’s Lover (the novel)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (the novel)
  • House at Pooh Corner (bringing Tigger into the public domain)
  • Peter Pan (the stage play)
  • The Man Who Laughs (the movie that inspired The Joker)
  • Makin’ Whoopee (the song)_


Like probably most people, I’m scratching my head over the idea of a Minecraft movie. (Tor)

I don’t love the Minecraft property whenever they try to insert narratives, like their chapter-based stories or what have you, so it’s safe to say in advance this one won’t be for me. But whether that holds true or not is really up to my kids.


Balloon Juice notes that the conservative attack on education in America continues. This one is a direct career jump from a GOP politician into higher ed. You’ve probably also heard that Gay was pressed into stepping down (AJE) from her position as president of Harvard based on a multi-pronged attack accusing her of anti-Semitism and plagiarism.

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