In France, all Barbies are Proust Barbie
Well it's been said that the French are pretentious while at the same time taking silly things - like Jerry Lewis - too seriously.
And no better example of this can be found than in the latest edition of the French magazine L'Obs.
They ran an opinion piece on the movie "Barbie" that manages to mention the Bible, Shakespeare, the Rocky movies and Sigmund Freud.
My French comprehension level in reading is still only at the B2 level, so I relied on Google Translate to make sure I got all the nuances. Here is the last paragraph of the piece, translated into English.
No, I did not make this up. SPOILER ALERT.
By not addressing the troubled relationship between power and desire, the film reproduces a Manichean and binary vision of society. How to speak, live, work together, with or without desire, but in equality? What if Barbie gave up the newfound power when Ken became independent again and freed himself from her gaze? Foreign (this is the etymology of the first name Barbara), she agrees to acquire a vagina to save the human race. From the "missing penis" theorized by Freud to the "erased vagina" imagined by Mattel, the female body gives rise to all fantasies, even when it is made of plastic!
"Barbie" was chosen because that was the name of the daughter of Ruth Handler, creator of Barbie. Trust the French to discover a deep etymological significance.
Earlier in the piece we learn the etymology of Ken, which is short for Kenneth which means handsome.
And without any spoiler warning the article gives away the ending of the movie in the first paragraph.
The author Jennifer Tamas is French but teaching literature at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Obviously Tamas has successfully resisted all American influences.
The Barbie movie mentions a Proust Barbie:
Barbie and Ken’s arrival in the real world puts Mattel executives on high alert and they order their capture. Ken makes his way back to Barbieland by himself after exploring more of the real world and learning about patriarchy, while Barbie is found by Mattel’s agents and taken to the company’s headquarters. There she meets Mattel’s CEO (Will Ferrell), who’s waiting for her with a huge Barbie box. Barbie gets in the box and mentions that the smell is a Proustian memory, with the CEO mentioning how badly the Proust Barbie sold.
While Barbie features discontinued, controversial, and obscure Barbies and Kens, Mattel never made a Proust Barbie.
I'll bet Tamas thought there was a real Proust Barbie.