It’s played for laughs, and I laughed, too. And the similarities with “A Mirror” are clear: Playful imagination can have serious consequences. But the stance “Barbie” takes on that seems to be closer to Mr. Celik’s than Adem’s.
The plot of “Barbie” implies that Barbie Land only exists in its usual happy form because little girls (and, it later turns out, adult women) have been having the correct thoughts while playing with the dolls. If they stop — if they start having thoughts of death, for instance — that threatens the dolls and their happy world.
Little girls, apparently, have been playing with Supreme Court Barbies without imagining the kinds of injustice that might need Supreme Court intervention, and with President Barbies without imagining the power that a president might wield.
But why? That seems to imply a far more limited kind of play than anything in the real world.
When children play, part of their fun comes from using their imaginations to work through their fears and try on borrowed bravery. Frankly, kids think about death a lot, and storytelling and play are ways to cope with those thoughts. This is probably why so many Disney movies involve a parent’s heartbreaking demise. And why “Bluey,” the beloved Australian cartoon whose portrayal of children’s play is among the most accurate I’ve ever seen, has story lines about children’s fear of abandonment, the needs of premature babies, infertility and the costs of perfectionism.