- Greta Gerwig was accused of being a sell-out after directing the Barbie movie.
- Gerwig responded to the accusation.
- The Guardian article criticized Gerwig and other indie directors for working with major corporations like Mattel and Disney.
When it was announced that a Barbie movie was going to be a reality, many people expected the worst. Thankfully for everyone involved, however, Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie worked together to make Barbie a massive success both critically and commercially.
Thanks to that success, Robbie has revealed she isn’t done playing Barbie and Gerwig reportedly got the biggest payday of her life. Given everything Barbie even though Gerwig worried the movie would ruin her career, it seems like she should be getting celebrated from all corners. Instead, there was an article labeling Gerwig a sell-out that was published.
What Has Greta Gerwig Said About Being Called A Sell-Out?
After the mammoth success of the Barbie movie, Greta Gerwig was interviewed by the Independent. During the resulting conversation, Gerwig was asked about a Guardian article that had come out at that time which painted her as a sell-out.
A lot of the time when artists like Gerwig get called sell-outs, they reply defensively and angrily. That makes the fact that Gerwig didn’t seem mad at the accusation all the more remarkable. Gerwig did go on to explain what she wanted to accomplish with Barbie.
“I’m sure they make good points, probably. There’s always some tension, obviously, between art that exists in the world to be seen and consumed. I joked at the beginning that I’m not Emily Dickinson, but I really am not Emily Dickinson.”
Gerwig continued, “I’m not writing poems on the back of envelopes and creating and destroying worlds from the confines of my home and never letting anybody see it. I’m making art to be seen by people.”
Gerwig then went on to talk about how plays and films have always been affected by what viewers like. Instead of rejecting that, Gerwig explained that she loves the balance of making art and creating projects audiences will enjoy.
“I’m not saying I’m like Shakespeare, but I do think that sort of tension is part of what I like about all of it. We all live in this mess.”
Why Was Greta Gerwig Accused Of Being A Sell Out?
After the Barbie movie was released and became a smash hit, there was a slew of reports celebrating that fact. Many of those reports focused on the fact that Barbie became the 14th highest-grossing movie of all time largely because it was made for people Hollywood often ignores.
Among the media voices rejoicing, however, some seemed to see the glass as half full. Arguably the most notable example of that is the aforementioned Caspar Salmon Guardian article which implied that Gerwig is a sell-out.
As that article starts by pointing out, Gerwig began her career by making indie movies that many observers believed were crafted for niche audiences.
“Gerwig was so indie that her films didn’t even go to Sundance, they went to South by Southwest. She was so indie that when she moved from micro-budget mumblecore movies to a scripted film with Noah Baumbach – Greenberg, in 2010 – the Guardian called it ‘her first tentative steps into the mainstream’.”
Greta Gerwig’s Directorial Box Office Records
Worldwide Box Office:
Nights and Weekends (2008)
Lady Bird (2017)
Little Women (2019)
With that in mind, The Guardian pointed out how shocking it was to see Gerwig make a big-budget movie for a toy company. “Greenberg was made for a budget of $25m, which it didn’t make back; now Gerwig has directed Barbie, for the film arm of mega-corporation Mattel,”
After pointing out how Gerwig’s career started and what it has become, the writer for The Guardian asked a very telling question.
“Gerwig’s swerve into the actual mainstream prompts the question: does the phrase ‘selling out’ have any meaning any more?”
That same piece pointed out other indie directors that the article implied also were sell-outs. Those names are Sarah Polley who is making the live-action Bambi and Barry Jenkins who has finished work on the sequel to the 2019 version of The Lion King.
The article then goes on to state that Gerwig, Polley, and Jenkins are wrong to be working for major companies. “Mattel and Disney are two enormous corporations that would seem to stand for everything these directors are – or should be – in opposition to.”
Later in the same article, the writer rails against the suggestion that people don’t take selling out seriously any longer. The writer also brings up Gerwig during this section which makes it obvious that she is being called a sell-out.
Actors Who Almost Starred In Barbie:
- Amy Schumer
- Anne Hathaway
- Saoirse Ronan
- Gal Gadot
- Timothée Chalamet
- Bowen Yang
- Ben Platt
- Dan Levy
- Jonathan Groff
“Why has the concept of selling out lost so much of its cultural capital today? Online, you can hardly move for defenders of these directors, belligerently vaunting the fact that – for instance – Gerwig was influenced by directors such as Max Ophüls and Jacques Tati, as if that confers greater legitimacy on a film using IP (intellectual property) to make money for a toy company that sells vacuous, hypersexualised dolls.”
The Guardian article continues, “There’s a parallel here: the idea of Barbie dolls being in any way noxious seems, in the current climate, to be as hopelessly stick-in-the-mud a stance as the concept of selling out.”
The Guardian’s Caspar Salmon went on to write, “The thought appears to be: look, the bad guys won, so we should all go along with it; since we’re all hypersexualised anyway, we might as well do it in a more egalitarian fashion; since the big corporations rule everything now, we might as well get people with a bit of artistic nous to be the face of their product.”
Finally, the article finished up by claiming that directors like Gerwig supposedly selling out was even more meaningful given the 2023 Hollywood strikes.
“But the recent writer and actor strikes in the US show that selling out is not just a question of personal ethics, but an industry-wide concern. A director’s decision to align themselves with these Goliaths of entertainment has consequences; makes money for the big guy, in opposition to fostering an industry where smaller films and creators have more opportunities.”