Miss 7 and I went on a rare evening excursion to the theatre recently. The Princess had seen the TV ads and nagged away but her pleas initially fell upon deaf ears because the show she wanted to see was “Barbie Live!” and The Evil Queen did not love that idea.
Then came the 50% off offer email. Suddenly a little bit of holiday spoiling and special time together seemed less of a horrid thought. Besides, I imagine just about anything is palatable when served up at the darling, erstwhile grandeur of the Palais. Was someone beside herself when she found out her mother had caved!
I’d give more detail of the show but that’s neither here nor there. It was exactly what you’d expect, a stage-load of young and gushy, energetic actors with fabulous sparkly costumes, pep talks about self-esteem and all delivered around three earlier Barbie movie plots. Nothing genuinely offensive and of course little girls loved it; my own pausing only to say “I’m hungry!” or ask “Is it night yet? Is it night?”
I want to tell you about something else now: The discussion on Facebook that followed my lengthy rant after reading Helen Razer’s (expletive-ridden) Crikey.com review of the very same show:
“I read Helen Rage-against-the-world-er’s #BarbieLive review. And while some may think the feminist missive was sheer brilliance, this time I hesitate to agree. I suspect some fans of the cutting Razer would laud any venom-spurting, copiously big-worded, reference-littered critique she offered as gospel brilliance; this invites clicks and no doubt the only reason poor Helen found herself there at the Palais.
I, on the other hand am the mother of a seven year old girl and I know the world is many shades of grey (and Pink). While I wish I too had been paid to go, despite my mixed feelings about the whole Barbie juggernaut (I have written on this before), we went along Saturday night. After much nagging and some degree of dread, a 2-for-1 ticket offer was all I needed to change my mind, for some one-on-one treat time with my daughter.
I was never a doll-loving child as my girl is. Sometimes we do things for the people we love, not because we enjoy it but because we know how much it means to them. In years to come, when my now seven-year-old daughter’s life flies off the rails and she cries furiously in her therapist’s office, no doubt it will be traced back to the night in 2014 she suffered psychological abuse wielded via hot pink, glittery musical theatre.
Luckily I have not been teaching her to think for herself as I drown her in a diabetes-inducing environment of vapid, mass pop culture. How fortunate she is that through my not sharing my thoughts, nor critically discussing any objectionable messages with her afterward, she will become disenchanted with life before she’s old enough to duckface her own selfie.
So imagine my disappointment when after revelling in a night of singing, sparkle and joy, my little blonde airhead in a tutu turned to me and said, “see Mummy, there was no boyfriend stealing in THIS story.”
But most of all, I can never get enough instruction on how irresponsible my parenting is from those who know so much better. So thank you. I have been schooled.”
My thoughts were unexpectedly well received, even shared and a couple said I should blog it- so here you are. However there’s a bit more. I added:
“So I decided to woman up and comment on the Crikey.com Barbie Live! review page. And far out my blog gravatar popped up with it, yay. But I’ll happily stand by these words:
“While I wish I too were paid to go, I do not hate joy and understand the reality of raising offspring means there’s many shades of grey (or Pink) involved in what you expose them to. Luckily I can offset these transgressions, even raise an independent thinker with balanced management and ongoing discussion so I may just continue to live with myself.
It’s disappointing to see you underestimate (if not the parents) young girls this way. One of whom at seven years of age says though she enjoyed much about it, Barbie Live! doesn’t even come close to The Wizard of Oz. If she hadn’t gone, how would she know that?”
See, if we parents simply forbid all of which we disapprove, how do our kids learn to think for themselves? And while I do enjoy some of Helen’s off-the-handle shtick, mine was one of very few comments with no author’s comeback so I’ll accept the flattery.
After the show, we stepped out into the new darkness. As we held hands, I watched my daughter take in with wonder the moving lights of Luna Park at night for the first time. While she may yet forget the production itself, I doubt she’ll forget this night.