People often jokingly tease me about what I like. I am obsessed with Taylor Swift, hold the champion title as Disney’s number one fan and have more Funko Pop figures than I know what to do with. I try to avoid talking too much about the things that others don’t enjoy, which is why very few people know that I, a 19-year-old college student, still love Barbie movies.
I’m not ashamed, therefore this isn’t technically a guilty pleasure. I just don’t tell people because they don’t understand and, more often than not, disagree. But I stand by the fact that Barbie movies are truly top-tier films that deserve so much more love and appreciation.
The colors, the songs, the fact that, in the Barbie movies, they advertise Barbie as an actress who ‘stars’ in each film all make these movies satisfyingly sweet. The protagonist — Barbie, of course — is just as fun to watch as the villains. And yes, there are villains in these movies. Rowena from “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses” still gives me nightmares and Preminger’s villain anthem in “Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper” is still one of the best that I’ve heard.
These movies are ridiculous and unbelievable for reasons beyond their fantastical elements — who, in real life, can determine whether or not someone wrote a letter based on the scent of their stationery? But they are so, so wonderful. So free. I think it lies in the fact that the creators never try to make a Barbie movie something that it isn’t. They are really, genuinely just meant to be enjoyed. There are no tricks or surprises. They just are.
In all honesty, I think the reason why so few people express their love of Barbie movies is that society frowns upon it. Grown women don’t seem to be allowed to like “girly” things like Taylor Swift, Disney and Barbie movies. And that’s a shame because even though the plots are contrived, predictable and virtually the same in every single movie, there’s this sparkling, wholesome quality to every Barbie movie.
I have so many memories of me and my sister singing and making up dances to “I Am A Girl Like You” after seeing “The Princess and the Pauper” for the first time (and every time after that). We even had matching dolls that would sing and harmonize together; she had Anneliese and I had Erika.
I can still vividly remember “12 Dancing Princesses,” which I’m pretty sure I can still quote (Who else remembers the alphabetically-ordered names of all 12 sisters? Just me?). I learned how to play “Two Voices, One Song” and “Connected” from “Barbie and The Diamond Castle” on the piano when I was younger. I’m pretty sure I still have the music somewhere.
These movies were such an integral part of my childhood, and today, I feel like I don’t give them enough credit for that. I suppose I have been a victim of society’s pressures and expectations simply by not outwardly expressing my love for something that people have been conditioned to hate and find inferior to “real cinema.”
There’s magic in the stuff that we love just because we love them. Things are valuable to people not because of what they’re worth to society but because of what they’re worth to that individual person. That’s why memories are so valuable. For instance, I hold so much value in those days spent in my basement trying to learn the words to “The Cat’s Meow” or “To Be a Princess” just because those are memories from when I was so young, so free and so excited about the things I loved. When you’re five, no one tells you to stop loving what you love, even if what you love is Barbie movies.
I didn’t expect to find writing about Barbie movies to be so emotional or introspective, but it is what it is. I guess I should go rewatch “12 Dancing Princesses” now. It’s been years since I last saw it.
Daily Film Beat Editor Sabriya Imami can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.