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The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Jo Koy faces backlash for ‘Barbie’ joke during his Golden Globes monologue

At this year’s 81st annual Golden Globes, host Jo Koy’s blatant reduction of the “Barbie” film ignited outrage. His oversimplification and complete misinterpretation of “Barbie’s” message was a picturesque example of misogyny in action.
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Kaitlyn Verde

Jo Koy’s monologue

After a streak of controversies in recent years, this year’s 81st annual Golden Globes should have returned the event to its original recognition and legacy. Instead, it was opened in a contentious, uncomfortable, and even offensive fashion – primarily by comedian Jo Koy, who was announced as the host just two weeks prior.

In his monologue, he relied heavily on the tradition of poking fun at celebrities. However, the degree to which he did overstepped the fine line between witty fun and crude commentary. His jokes fell flat, to the point where he defended himself mid-speech, blaming his writers and lack of time. 

In an off-script moment, he yelled, “Yo, I got the gig 10 days ago, you want a perfect monologue? Yo, shut up! You’re kidding me, right? Slow down, I wrote some of these, and they’re the ones you’re laughing at!”

Koy’s joke on “Barbie”

Of particular controversy was an objectifying joke about “Barbie,” one that unintentionally emphasized the film’s argument against sexism. 

“Barbie,” directed by Greta Gerwig, although largely lighthearted, tackles critical themes about modern misogyny. Through the narrative of a famous plastic doll, Gerwig crafts a film that exposes the appearance-based objectification of women, especially in a male-dominated age.

Yet, with much insensitivity, Koy shouted, “‘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…The key moment in Barbie is when she goes from perfect beauty to bad breath, cellulite, and flat feet. Or what casting directors call: character actor!”

The audience went quiet, and on screen, several celebrities–including Helen Mirren, Selena Gomez, and Emma Stone–can be seen visibly unamused, reacting with shaking heads and physical grimaces. What’s more, the “Barbie” cast and crew–including Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, and Greta Gerwig–sat looking unimpressed, and even disappointed.

On social media, Koy’s blatant reduction of the film ignited outrage. His oversimplification, and in many ways, complete misinterpretation of “Barbie’s” message, was marked as a picturesque example of misogyny in action. 

On X, receiving 53,700 likes, one user’s tweet wrote, “‘Barbie is based on a doll with big boobies’ is an INSANE joke to make about a movie with a plot about how difficult it is to be a woman in a man’s world.”

“This is rancid, unfunny misogyny coming from the #GoldenGlobes host…I don’t think Barbie was some feminist masterpiece, but to reduce it to being about a plastic doll with ‘big boobies’ is gross,” said another tweet.  

Connection to “Barbie’s” overarching message

At the movie’s end, Barbie realizes she wants to leave her “Dreamhouse life” behind for the real world, with all its harsh truths and inconveniences. “I want to do the imagining, not be the idea,” she says, “I want to be a part of the people that make meaning, not the thing that is made.”

Greta Gerwig, in describing her inspiration for “Barbie,” explained, “She’s been a villain, and she’s been a hero, but it felt like in a way even though it’s so seemingly superficial that it was such a rich place to start.” 

As the historic, cultural, and universal image of female play dolls, Barbie herself was the material symbol of our world’s norms and values. But Koy reduces “Barbie” to its physical, aesthetic attributes, in an insensitive and ignorant manner. He jokes about Barbie’s superficiality as if the movie’s morals on female empowerment meant nothing to him. 

Yet, Greta handles the situation with grace, although disappointedly. She admits that, realistically, she didn’t expect her audience to treat her film’s feminist undercurrent with much sincerity–given that the movie was, at its core, based upon plastic dolls. 

Greta responded to Koy’s remarks with, “Well, he’s not wrong. She’s the first doll that was mass-produced with breasts, so he was right on…And you know, I think that so much of the project of the movie was unlikely because it is about a plastic doll.”

In responding to Koy’s immature jokes with tameness, Greta sets an example of maturity. Although disappointed, she acknowledges our world’s inherent flaws and lasting fight for feminism.

Sources:

https://time.com/6553085/jo-koy-golden-globes-barbie-joke/ 

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/greta-gerwig-jo-koy-golden-globes-barbie-joke-1235784439/ https://www.etonline.com/greta-gerwig-responds-to-jo-koys-barbie-joke-at-the-golden-globes-217721

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About the Contributor
Julia Bang, Opinion Editor / Assistant In-Depth Editor
Hills senior Julia Bang is looking forward to being on the Trailblazer for her final year. She joined the publication her freshman year as a staff writer and edited for the Life & Style and In-Depth sections in her sophomore and junior years, respectively. This year, Bang is excited to create content and manage stories alongside the entire editorial staff. Fun fact: Bang is a "cafe enthusiast."

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