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Black Barbie

2023 1h 40m Documentary List
96% Tomatometer 27 Reviews 59% Audience Score Fewer than 50 Ratings
Through intimate access to a charismatic Mattel insider, Beulah Mae Mitchell, Black Barbie delves into the cross section of merchandise and representation as Black women struggle to elevate their own voices and stories, refusing to be invisible. This film is a personal exploration that will tell a richly archival, thought-provoking story that gives voice to the insights and experiences of Beulah Mae Mitchell, the aunt of the Los Angeles-based filmmaker, who spent 45-years working at Mattel. Upon Mattel's 1980 release of Black Barbie, the film turns to the intergenerational impact the doll had. Discussing how the absence of black images in the "social mirror" left Black girls with little other than White subjects for self-reflection and self-projection. Beulah Mae Mitchell and other Black women in the film talk about their own, complex, varied experience of not seeing themselves represented, and how Black Barbie's transformative arrival affected them personally. Read More Read Less
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Black Barbie

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Critics Reviews

View All (27) Critics Reviews
Richard Roeper Chicago Sun-Times Writer-director Lagueria Davis delivers a comprehensive look at the history of Black Barbie and her forerunners and poses poignant and timely questions about the importance of diversity in dolls. Rated: 3/4 Jun 27, 2024 Full Review Carla Renata RogerEbert.com [A]s elegant and enriching as the doll that inspired it. Rated: 4/4 Jun 24, 2024 Full Review Concepción de León New York Times The documentary is about what led to the 1980 release of Black Barbie, but the issues it explores run much deeper: the harm of lacking a “social mirror,” the slow pace of progress and the tensions around darkening a white fictional character. Jun 21, 2024 Full Review Hope Madden The Screening Room Podcast Absolutely fascinating and informative doc. Rated: 4/5 Jun 21, 2024 Full Review Marya E. Gates Cool People Have Feelings, Too. (Substack) [An] expansive, informative, and thought-provoking documentary, which is part cultural anthropology, part corporate history, part sociological study, and part playful experimental art film Jun 21, 2024 Full Review Radhika Menon Decider The documentary is a touching, personal look at the impact of the Black Barbie doll. Jun 20, 2024 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (4) audience reviews
Peter K Fascinating topic but even as an important documentary was much too long and repetitive. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 06/21/24 Full Review Salim H It was really bad, really non necessary Rated 1 out of 5 stars 06/20/24 Full Review Kristofer G Great Doc! Never knew the “doll test” was used in the Brown vs Board of Ed ruling. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 06/20/24 Full Review Last K It's hard for a lot of people that benefit from representation to understand the position of those who do not. This isn't a condemnation and this isn't an opportunity to divide people but to bring us together-- and that's what this documentary does. Well made, well shot, well mixed and with a great message in times that often feel like it's always getting worse, this is well received and well timed. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 06/19/24 Full Review Read all reviews
Black Barbie

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis Through intimate access to a charismatic Mattel insider, Beulah Mae Mitchell, Black Barbie delves into the cross section of merchandise and representation as Black women struggle to elevate their own voices and stories, refusing to be invisible. This film is a personal exploration that will tell a richly archival, thought-provoking story that gives voice to the insights and experiences of Beulah Mae Mitchell, the aunt of the Los Angeles-based filmmaker, who spent 45-years working at Mattel. Upon Mattel's 1980 release of Black Barbie, the film turns to the intergenerational impact the doll had. Discussing how the absence of black images in the "social mirror" left Black girls with little other than White subjects for self-reflection and self-projection. Beulah Mae Mitchell and other Black women in the film talk about their own, complex, varied experience of not seeing themselves represented, and how Black Barbie's transformative arrival affected them personally.
Director
Lagueria Davis
Producer
Aaliyah Williams, Lagueria Davis
Screenwriter
Lagueria Davis, Lagueria Davis
Distributor
Netflix
Production Co
Lovely Day Films, Just A Rebel, LinLay Productions, Lady & Bird Films
Genre
Documentary
Original Language
English
Release Date (Streaming)
Jun 19, 2024
Runtime
1h 40m
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