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  • Mia Schlenker

Contrary to popular belief, "Barbie" wasn't just about a “doll with big boobies.”

"Oppenheimer is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project, and Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobies” reverberated through the Beverly Hills Hilton like a shot heard around the world. Cue pan to a stone-cold expression of disdain from Greta Gerwig, followed by an automated laughter track and the deafening sound of the demise of Joe Koy's career. 

A staple of the Golden Globes, the opening monologue is meant to pay homage to the actors and associated crews that worked to create the nominated films. To kick off the 81st annual Golden Globes and the upcoming award show season, Joe Koy was announced to host a mere two weeks prior, his resume including a total of six comedy specials featured on Netflix and Comedy Central programs. Prior to the Globes, Joe Koy remarked, “This is that moment where I get to make my Filipino family proud."

In a feeble attempt to make his community “proud” Joe Koy targeted Gerwig's highly acclaimed $1.446 billion-grossing film Barbie. Rookie move, Jo Koy. Immediately upon deliverance, Joe Koy realized his grave mistake, gasping, “Some I wrote, some other people wrote. Yo, I got the gig ten days ago, yo you want a perfect monologue? Shut up.”

Yo, Jo Koy, most of my peers can write 1200-word essays in a single night, complete in MLA format, yo. 

Catherine Seok recounts her visceral reaction: “I was like, shut up. Just shut up. I honestly just didn't wanna see his face anymore, so I just scrolled past it because it's like, how is that funny? Who is that funny to? Why make jokes at the expense of women?” Even if seemingly innocuous, Joe Koy's joke seems to echo everything the Barbie movie seeks to refute. The Barbie movie emphasizes the duality of the female experience, marginalizing stereotypes, and unchecked masculinity, and its reduction to a “doll with big boobies" is nothing short of disappointing in this day and age. 

Contrary to Joe Koy's assessment, others appreciated how the Barbie movie was meant to be received: “Empowering is the first word that comes to mind," senior Charlie Wilson recalls. "It was made with such intention and in a format that was accessible to so many people and it was a highlight of my summer to watch that.”

The Barbie movie viewer experience goes beyond simply watching the film. It's dressing up in an all-pink ensemble. It's inviting women in your life that you cherish to watch it with you. It's the conversations in the car ride home. It's listening to “What was I made for” on a cyclical repeat in the days following. Empowerment is certainly at the center of the Barbie movie, distinguishing it from innumerable movies before it that portray women as collateral or highly idealized figments. In the words of cenior Alice Copeland, “Barbie being as popular as it was was really important.” 

Although Joe Koy's joke was very publicly criticized, its irony lies in the fact that many would receive this not as a joke but as a legitimate interpretation. This kind of commentary normalizes diminishing women and their work for the sake of entertainment, especially in the Hollywood arena, where women have been at a disadvantage to male producers and actors for decades. Despite its absurdity, Jo Koy's blithe discussion of Barbie did have some positive undertones in the response it warranted. The communal consensus that these types of "jokes" are outdated and, frankly, just not funny demonstrates encouraging progress in an ever-changing cultural landscape that is more outspoken and progressive than ever.


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