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One of the best directors made a horrific banned Barbie movie

One of the best directors of all time who made one of our favorite romances shot a strange Barbie movie that was banned, and we really want to watch it.

Margot Robbie as Barbie

We’re excited for Barbie, sure, but while Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is definitely a lot of fun (we say so in our Barbie review) we are also interested in visiting a much stranger movie featuring the plastic doll. And no, we’re not talking about the best animated movies in the canon.

We’re referring to a strange student film one of the best directors of all time made when he was learning about his craft. Before he directed Carol, Dark Waters, or I’m Not There, Todd Haynes created a short film titled ‘Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story’.

But why is this early career project from the guy who made the best romance movie ever banned? Well, it earned a bit of controversy about how it played out its serious subject matter.

The short answer, according to Rolling Stone, is that the project infringed on copyright by using Carpenter’s music. So, the only way to watch it is through a derelict YouTube video.

YouTube Thumbnail

At 43 minutes long, the short film is a vague dramatization of Carpenter’s experiences in Hollywood and some of the afflictions that affected stars in the 70s music scene. It uses vandalized Barbie dolls and voice-overs to act out the scenes, claiming to be a “graphic picture of the internal experience of contemporary femininity” about how “Karen’s visibility as a popular singer only intensified certain difficulties many women experience,”.

It sounds rather dark, but Haynes has made multiple movies that empathize with different aspects of the female experience, and while the short is rather crude and in-your-face, as most student films are, it doesn’t play cruel. However, there’s room for discussions about how portrayals of real people should be handled, even if they’re as fictionalized as this.

You will often find that a director’s earliest projects are the most bizarre, particularly if said director is known for a stylized approach or unique vision — look up David Lynch‘s shorts for some evidence.

For more on the official movie, we’ve got a big guide to all the actors in the Barbie cast, how to watch Barbie, and thoughts on why the Barbie movie’s body positivity came at the right time. If you love this vibe, you can also check out why we want to bring back camp 2000s movies.