In 1994, when M.G. Lord interviewed the California-based creators of the Barbie doll, she had no doubt Barbie would be as provocative in 2023 as she was in 1959. But Lord did not anticipate that this plastic object, once tarred as anti-feminist, would evolve into a touchstone for understanding feminism—as well as the star of a blockbuster attack on patriarchy. This talk will explore the Greta Gerwig effect and the 64 years of changes in Barbie’s jobs, ethos, and even body. Audience Q&A and a reception will follow.
M.G. Lord is the co-host of the podcast L.A. Made: The Barbie Tapes, which tells the story of the doll’s creation in the voices of its original creators. She is also the author of Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll and The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice. Her 2005 family memoir, Astro Turf, is a cultural history of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as well as the basis for L.A. Made: Blood, Sweat and Rockets, a 12-part podcast that she hosts. It tells the story of the early days of rocketry in Southern California, and the unusual figures—a practitioner of “Sex Magick” and an accused Communist—who founded JPL. Lord is Associate Professor of the Practice of English at the University of Southern California.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Imagining California series and the IHC Idee Levitan Endowment