Bill Maher Hated the “Barbie” Movie for the Stupidest Possible Reason

The host called the movie "preachy, man-hating and a zombie lie"

Bill Maher attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.
Bill Maher attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

These days, Bill Maher can be found spending large chunks of his precious airtime comparing the “woke revolution” to communism, so it shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise that he didn’t enjoy the Barbie movie’s take on feminism and the ways in which we all suffer under patriarchy, regardless of our gender. But the comedian’s main reason for disliking the movie is perhaps a little more unexpected: he simply doesn’t think patriarchy exists anymore.

On Monday, after taking in the Greta Gerwig film with an unnamed “woman in her 30s,” the 67-year-old Maher posted a review of Barbie to the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“OK, ‘Barbie’: I was hoping it wouldn’t be preachy, man-hating, and a #ZombieLie – alas, it was all three,” he wrote. “What is a Zombie Lie? Something that never was true, but certain people refuse to stop saying it (tax cuts for the rich increase revenues, e.g.); OR something that USED to be true but no longer is, but certain people pretend it’s still true. “Barbie” is this kind of #ZombieLie.”

“Spoiler alert, Barbie fights the Patriarchy. Right up to the Mattel board who created her, consisting of 12 white men! The Patriarchy! Except there’s a Mattel board in real life, and it’s 7 men and 5 women,” he continued. “OK, not perfect even-steven, but not the way the board IN THE MOVIE – which takes place in 2023 – is portrayed. And not really any longer deserving of the word ‘patriarchy.’ Yes, there was one, and remnants of it remain – but this movie is so 2000-LATE. At one point the Barbies have to win over the Kens, and they are told to do it by pretending to act helpless and not know how to do stuff. Helen Gurley Brown called, she wants her premise back. Yes, that WAS a thing. I saw ‘Barbie’ with a woman in her 30s who said, ‘I don’t know a single woman of any age who would act like that today.’”

“I know, I know, ‘How could I know about the patriarchy, I AM a man!’ That argument is so old and so silly,” he concluded. “Of course, none of us can know exactly what others go through life, but I can see the world around me, and I can read data. The real Mattel board is a pretty close mirror of the country, where 45% of the 449 board seats filled last year in Fortune 500 companies were women. Truth is, I’m not the one who’s out of step – I’m living in the year we’re living in. Barbie is fun, I enjoyed it – but it IS a #ZombieLie. And people who don’t go along with zombie lies did not take some red pill – just staying true to CURRENT reality. Let’s live in the year we’re living in! Hi Ken!!!”

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Oh boy. Hear that, ladies? Patriarchy’s over! We did it! Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land, women across the country have bodily autonomy, we’re all receiving equal pay for equal work, and — oops, I’m being told none of that is true and we actually live in hell.

First of all, as Rolling Stone points out, “[Maher] appears to have misread (or deliberately misinterpreted) a recent report commissioned by Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity concluding that 46.5% of board seats in Fortune 100 companies were made up of women and minorities (not just women). Of all Fortune 500 companies, the report concluded that only 22% of board seats were given to women and minorities, while 78% of board seats in the Fortune 500 were held by white men.”

But even if we give Maher the benefit of the doubt and assume he wasn’t deliberately misinterpreting that data, are we supposed to take five out of 12 Mattel board members or 45% of board seats in any company, Fortune 500 or not, being women as proof that we’re not currently living in a patriarchy? Does he really think living in a slightly less male-dominated society is the same thing as living in a world free of sexism?

Of course, it’s no surprise that Maher, who famously had no female writers whatsoever working on his show until very recently, isn’t exactly an expert when it comes to gender parity. But maybe he should’ve asked his 30-something-year-old movie date for a hipper pop cultural reference than “so 2000-LATE” to make in his anti-Barbie screed. Nothing says “I’m an old, out-of-touch white guy” quite like calling someone else irrelevant and out-of-step with the zeitgeist by quoting the 2009 Black Eyed Peas song “Boom Boom Pow.” Yikes.

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