Barbie, and other films with incredibly confusing messages

THE triumphant Barbie movie tells audiences men are brutes who must be stripped of their democratic rights and kept as pets. What other films have jarring subtexts?

Apocalypse Now, 1979

An arty-yet-gritty account of humans going off the rails in ‘Nam, as when US soldiers massacre Vietnamese civilians for protecting a puppy. The subtext? ‘How cool is war, guys?’ Thrilling combat sequences, Ride of the Valkyries, the abandonment of all morality: you leave thinking ‘war is excellent, and I would like to shoot people from a helicopter’.

The Godfather, 1972

There’s good organised crime, you see, and bad organised crime. The dividing line is drugs and Vito Corleone is dead against them. Robberies, beatings, extortion, torture and shootings are all fine. So when you’re having your fingers severed, you’re assured it’s all in accordance with the mafia’s code of honour and that’s so comforting.

Thelma and Louise, 1991

A classic movie: great script, great direction, and a feminist message expounded by events not didactic monologues. All good, except in the motel sex scene there’s a lingering close-up of Geena Davis’ crotch which sits rather awkwardly with the rest of the film’s message and stays in the memory long after they’ve plunged into the Grand Canyon.

Saw, 2004

The traps in Saw can make the victims look at their lives from a new angle. One victim was so inspired she gave up drugs and turned over a new leaf as a serial killer. So if your friend’s an addict, depressed or has mild OCD, pop them in a monstrous metal mask that will rip their jaw off if they can’t solve a puzzle against the clock. They’ll thank you.

Straw Dogs, 1971

The rape scene is indefensible, but causes the overall message of the film to be overlooked. Dustin Hoffman overcomes being a sensitive, troubled nerd and blossoms into a macho, territorial killer who sticks someone’s head in a bear trap. Truly a magical journey of self-discovery, and how every man should be.

Moonlight, 2016

An Oscar-winner about black lives, which would be cause for celebration if its message wasn’t that black men are born into misery, their lives are unabated ordeals of suffering and if they’re gay they will never know intimacy or love of any kind. Black audiences must have been so pleased to see their truths represented on screen.

Barbie, 2023

In Barbieland, Kens are purposeless morons. In the real world, men are sexually harassing morons. Women, whether plastic or real, are amazing in all respects. Therefore men exist to be subjugated. The film’s other message: if you’re making a comedy loaded with simplistic feminism that isn’t really for kids, make sure your marketing lies about it.

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Can I cancel my holiday to an island on fire? F**k off, explains a lawyer

ARE you on, or going to, an island that is on fire for your holiday? Lawyer Denys Finch Hatton explains why this is entirely your responsibility: 

We’re due to fly to Rhodes this week. Can we cancel? 

Of course you can, while paying in full. It’s hardly the airline’s fault that Rhodes is ardenti inferno right now, is it? If they are willing to fly you to the hot zone then they have fulfilled their legal duties. You might want to be evacuated. That might be why you’re going.

If I want to fly home early am I entitled to a refund? 

Absolutely not. That’s your decision. If your airline or travel agent decides you’re unsafe it will arrange a flight. Which it won’t, because you’re safely sleeping on the floor of a gymnasium and the wildfires are at least a mile away until the wind changes.

Does my travel insurance cover wildfires? 

Is it called wildfire insurance? No? Then of course it f**king doesn’t. It covers you for travel, losing bags, etcetera. Wildfires are merely a natural feature of the environment and you’re no more covered for them than for sunburn. You people want something for nothing.

Will my health insurance cover wildfire injuries? 

Yes, with caveats. If you wilfully remained in the area of wildfires rather than paying for an immediate flight home or flew in when wildfires were raging or have contributed to climate change in the past then no. There are always exceptions.

We were evacuated, lost our luggage, and flown home after two days. Are we entitled to compensation?

Are you f**k. After your travel agent went to all that trouble? Do you ask a fireman for compensation when he’s carrying you from your burning home? And it sounds like you left your luggage to burn, so it’s your fault. In fact the resort owner has grounds for suit as your luggage was flammable material with which you deliberately fed the flames.

Free fruit provided by a relief effort post-evacuation gave me diarrhoea. Can I sue? 

That’s more like it. Screwing governments and charities out of cash is what the legal profession exists for. Yes, you can sue for the entire cost of your holiday, a whole new wardrobe, and compensation for emotional distress and ongoing anxiety. I await your instructions.