EIEIO…It’s a Barbie World
“I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you! How dare you! – Tyra Banks
“Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus.” – John Gray
“A man is just a woman’s strategy for making other women.” – Margaret Atwood
We wanted to. Desperate to escape Summer heat, and Summer hate, Barbie the Movie was coming just in the nick of time.
Legions of Mothers and daughters, along with supportive Dads and boyfriends poured into Theaters starting Thursday raking in over $150 million over four days. Adding to that, the Barbie marketing machine was a thing to behold with sponsorships ranging from games, clothes to songs…all told, over 2000 Barbie deals were struck for the movie.
Since the invention by Ruth Handler in 1959, Barbie has sold over 1 billion dolls and has been a staple for young girls. Ken came along a couple years later and since then, have been the All-American couple with perfect features and perpetual tan.
Barbie could have and should have been a fun girl-power movie like Legally Blonde and/or a sentimental heart string puller like The Notebook. Alas, it was neither.
Struggling for a plot line from beginning to end, the takeaway was clearly that women don’t need men and in fact, men are pathetic.
A new drinking game will undoubtedly be created for Barbie. Every time the word “patriarchy” is used, you need to take a shot. By the end of the movie, you not only will certainly be wasted but you get to take a Lyft home (with its pink team color).
Movies often tap into the zeitgeist of the times…Casablanca in the anti-German mood of World War II. The counter-culture vibe of the 60’s was captured by The Graduate. “Greed is good” said it all about the 1987 Michael Douglas/Charlie Sheen hit Wall Street. Last Summer’s Maverick: Top Gun was pitch perfect for a Country that wanted to get its mojo back. Barbie seems to be about five years behind #MeToo and the Women’s March in timing and tone deaf on a society that is looking to desperately searching for unity, not further division.
I know, I know – lighten up…it’s just a movie. And I know, to some it sounds like I’m begrudging the rise of women or can’t laugh at a fanciful story about a doll, But in reality, why Barbie is such a flop in my view is because it doesn’t advance gender equality, but in fact it sets it back….and it was also painfully unfunny.
I’ve been writing about the Power of Women theme for years. In a Knowledge Economy, the fact that 60% of college students are female today makes it clear who is going to be running the World tomorrow.
The rise of women in key roles across society is happening in a very exciting way. As the father of two young women and now a nine month old granddaughter, I can say that nothing makes me happier to see the opportunities women are getting today.
What’s equally clear, and very disturbing, is the disappearance of the young male from society. In the 1950’s, when Barbie was introduced, 98% of men between 25 and 54 years old were working or looking for work. Today, there are 7.2 million men in that category that have dropped out of the workforce…less than 7 in 10 men work today.
What are they doing? Watching TV, playing video games, and smoking weed. Ironically, studies show that they actually spend less time with other members of their household than people who are working.
43% of males age 18-34 are living with their parents. Just 50% of men are married today compared to 75% in 1961 when Ken was born.
Today, only 2 in 3 children live in a home with their father compared to 9 out of 10 in 1960.
In his book “Slouching Towards Utopia”, Berkeley professor J. Bradford Delong argues that over the past 150 years, change and rebirth has played out continually. Technological change has quadrupled which has created increased havoc on jobs and society.
Since 1950, the weight of change on the working class has been significant. Good paying, blue collar jobs in manufacturing such as steel and auto plants has gone from 30% to 9% of the jobs. From 1970, 80% of all workers pay has fallen on a real basis and the bottom 40%, mostly non-college educated, has dropped off a cliff.
As Prof G put it this week, “deaths of despair, a lack of economic opportunity, and lost young men are all signs that our nation continues to offer prosperity but not progress. It’s time again to start investing. America needs young men, and they need us.”
We’re all for Barbie World, and strongly for gender equality. But we’re also supportive of not kicking Ken while he’s down, but give him his own path to a life of purpose.
Stocks were mixed with a bias upwards for the week. Hopes for a soft economic landing were buoyed but moderating inflation data and persistent strength with job demand. For the week, the Dow advanced 2.1%, the S & P was up .7% and NASDAQ was off .6%.
Netflix surpassed expectations but margins were below forecast creating weakness in NFLX. Tesla reported good numbers but Elon warned of potential lowering of prices given potential softness in demand.
This week is a huge for 2nd Quarter earnings reports with nearly 50% of the S &P 500 by market cap releasing results. This group includes Microsoft, Google and Meta.
Even with stocks up smartly since the low last October, we remain cautiously optimistic for the opportunity for high quality growth stocks. Despite the positive stock action, are sense is that investors remain anxious and stocks often climb “a wall of worry”. See legendary investor Bill Miller’s comments on the market below.
Need to Know
GSV’s Four I’s of Investor Sentiment
GSV tracks four primary indicators of investor sentiment: inflows and outflows of mutual funds and ETFs, IPO activity, interest rates, and inflation. Here’s how these four signals performed last week:
#1: Inflows and Outflows for Mutual Funds & ETFs
#2: IPO Market
Oddity Tech popped 35% following its IPO, with L Catterton’s $50 million investment into the company now worth $900 million. Patriotic Marketplace Public Sq. also had a strong offering, with shares popping over 100% in the first trading day on the NYSE.\
Source: Renaissance Capital
#3: Interest Rates
The Fed is widely expected to end its 16-month hiking cycle next week with a quarter point raise. Consensus is that this will be the last major rate hike this year, with only one-fifth of economists surveyed by Bloomberg see another rate hike by November to contain inflation.
Inflation continues to call, and the Conference Board believes the US is heading for a “shallow recession” from Q3 2023 to Q1 2024. Goldman Sachs cut US recession odds next year to 20%....down from 35% in October 2022.
Charts of the Week
Chuckles of the Week
Entrepreneurship: 42% – unicorns started by second-time founders (Medium)
Innovation: $4 – value of an NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet bought for $2.9M (Stocktwits)
Education: $38,000 – spending per pupil at NYC public schools (Larry Summers)
Impact: 79% – percent of Gen Z that supports nuclear energy (ANS)
Opportunity: 91% – percent of Coursera learners in developing countries who report career benefits (Coursera)
Connecting the Dots & EIEIO…
Old MacDonald had a farm, EIEIO. New MacDonald has a Startup…. EIEIO: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Education, Impact and Opportunity. Accordingly, we focus on these key areas of the future.
One of the core goals of GSV is to connect the dots around EIEIO and provide perspective on where things are going and why. If you like this, please forward to your friends. Onward!
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