‘Mormon Land’: Is ‘Barbie’ an allegory of Mother Eve in LDS theology?

The film’s heroine ventures from the Garden of Eden into the “real world,” where she runs smack-dab into patriarchy — a system Latter-day Saint women find in the church’s all-male priesthood.

(Warner Bros. Pictures) Barbie (Margot Robbie, front) drives her pink Corvette out of BarbieLand, with Ken (Ryan Gosling) as a stowaway, in director Greta Gerwig's "Barbie." Some have compared Barbie's journey as echoing the biblical Garden of Eden story.

On the face of it, the blockbuster “Barbie” film seems like a light romp through gender-swapping universes — the first where women rule (Astronaut Barbie, Nobel Prize winner Barbie, President Barbie) in perfect harmony and the second where men dominate.

But some, including an author at Christianity Today, see it as a reverse allegory of the Christian Garden of Eden story with Barbieland as the world untouched by human tragedy. The heroine must commit “original sin” to travel to the “real world” to discover the knowledge of “good and evil.”

This telling echoes Mormon theology of a “happy fall,” in which Eve makes the right choice, even though she disobeys God, and persuades Adam to follow her. “In addition to introducing physical and spiritual death,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explains, “[the fall] gave us the opportunity to be born on the earth and to learn and progress.”

So what does the movie, which has attracted Latter-day Saints and millions and millions of other theatergoers, have to say about women and men, the need for choices, the all-male priesthood, patriarchy and perfectionism?

(Rachel Rueckert) Rachel Rueckert, award-winning author and editor-in-chief of Exponent II.

On this week’s podcast, Rachel Rueckert, an award-winning author and editor-in-chief of Exponent II, a magazine for and about Latter-day Saint women, discusses those questions and more.

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