Barbie Princess Movies and Eschatological Storytelling

Barbie Nutcracker DVD CoverOkay, hifalutin’ title, but serious point.

If you have a young daughter, it is almost axiomatic today that she (and, therefore, you) has (have) watched the ubiquitous Barbie Princess movies. I have occasionally found myself, or rather, “caught” myself, singing Disney and Barbie songs to myself for days at a time. Y’know, that recurring ditty that nags and nags!? (I’ve learned, incidentally, that I have to occasionally intentionally choose a new song. Of late, my songs of choice are Negro spirituals… “De-ep river, my home is o-ver Jordan!”)

Anyway, we recently watched Barbie in the Nutcracker and I noticed a phenomenon we could call the Beauty and the Beast ending. It harkens to that scene at the end where the Beast is transformed from a ghastly… uh… beast to a young, blond-haired, strapping prince. The castle and surrounding world are reborn. Even the anthropomorphic kitchenware are human again.

The resolution to the conflict in Barbie, like Beauty and the Beast, is almost always a redemptive return to the world’s in-the-garden state. (And no, I don’t mean New Jersey.) When the spell is broken, bones are recast, leaves return to green, birds sing, and love is in the air. Barbie has at last found her prince and all is well with the world.

It’s eschatological. And the Barbie folks have rediscovered the formula for engaging my daughter. I mean, she’s watching this and vicariously experiencing not just romantic warm fuzzies but her soul’s desire for restoration. It’s straight out of Ezekiel 37:

(5) “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. (6) And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.'”

It’s dry bones being restored to life. A world with evil enchantresses and imprisoning spells is reinvigorated with hope and love. Creation is freed to live and act as intended. And my daughter can’t get enough of it. Over and over again.

Even though they don’t explicitly name it theologically, the movie makers are onto something. Something big. The hope of God’s redemption of the world is exciting. Not just for me, but even for a 5-year-old watching a Barbie princess story.

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2 Responses

  1. You’re so right: as my pastor often says in his sermons “God’s redemptive story is about getting us back to the garden”. Everything was “good”. He’s restoring it and we can either be part of the work or not, eh?

    Won’t be long and Sophie can read Ezekiel for herself.

  2. “We can either be part of the work or not.” Amen. In my mind there aren’t very many other options.

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