If you’ve been following Hey Alma’s coverage of the upcoming “Barbie” movie, you know that the film is not wanting for fabulous Jewish actors. Hari Nef, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ana Cruz Kayne, Rhea Perlman and maybe even Barbie’s Jewish inventor, Ruth Handler are among the ensemble cast of Barbies, Kens and humans. However, in a recent interview, director Greta Gerwig revealed that Timothée Chalamet was almost in “Barbie.”
“I was also going to do a speciality cameo with Timmy [Chalamet], and both of them couldn’t do it and I was so annoyed,” Gerwig said of her reasoning for scrapping cameos with “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” collaborators Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet.
On the one hand, there doesn’t seem to be any harm done with this cut. “Barbie” is still shaping up to be the movie of the summer sans Ronan and Chalamet. Yet, on the other hand, there’s been catastrophic harm done to me, personally. Forget “Dune and “Wonka.” (Seriously, what is the “Wonka” trailer?!) As a rabid consumer of Jewish pop culture, I am bereft to miss out on seeing the biggest Jewish heartthrob of our generation grease up his tiny abs and become “just Ken.”
In an ideal world, I would’ve loved to see Timmy play an explicitly Jewish character from the Barbie-verse. Unfortunately, without a Rabbi Barbie or Bar Mitzvah DJ Ken, I’m not sure there is one. Though some claim that Barbie and Ken are canonically Jews: Handler named the dolls after her Jewish children, Barbara and Kenneth, after all. To console myself for that probable lack of Jewish representation, I am left to imagine the other possibilities of what Timothée’s specialty cameo might have been. But dear Hey Alma readers, imagine I will. Imagine I must.
Without further ado, here are my predictions for what Timothée Chalamet’s role in “Barbie” would have been.
Earring Magic Ken
In 1993, Mattel debuted Earring Magic Ken. Sorry, let me rephrase: In 1993, Mattel birthed a gay icon. Though the company didn’t intend for Earring Magic Ken (known colloquially as “Gay Ken” or “Fey Ken”) to be claimed by the LGBTQ+ community, that is exactly what happened. Dressed in a lavender mesh shirt, pleather vest, a necklace and one earring, queer commentator Dan Savage wrote at the time that the the people behind Earring Magic Ken must’ve “spent a weekend in LA or New York dashing from rave to rave, taking notes and Polaroids.”
I know some of you will be upset that I suggest a (presumably) non-queer actor play such a queer role. And I get it. But here’s the thing. I am gay. I am so gay, and I wish this could happen more than I’ve ever wished for anything in my whole life. Just imagine an Ashkenazi Earring Magic Ken with the circular necklace charm swapped out for a Star of David! I’m kvelling at the thought.
But alas, it’s already not happening. According to the New York Times, the film will include “a parade of short-lived dolls from Barbie history, like Earring Magic Ken.” Meaning, Earring Magic Ken is in “Barbie” could’ve been Timmy’s speciality cameo, but will not be. Sigh.
Rappin’ Rockin’ Ken
If you’ve seen the YouTube videos of high school talent show performances, this one is self-explanatory. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the only white Jews capable of rapping well are The Beastie Boys.
You’ve probably never heard of Barbie’s younger twin sibling Tutti and Todd — and for good reason. Introduced as a pair in 1965 and later discontinued, Tutti and Todd have, according to Wikipedia, “seamless ‘bendy’ bodies with internal wires.” Ew?! While I would never body shame an actual person, that is gross and I’m glad those little freaks are discontinued. Bendable bodies with wires inside are not b’tzelem elohim (made in God’s image).
That said, Tutti and Todd could’ve been the perfect cameo for Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, nodding to the fact that the duo are inextricably linked both to each other and Gerwig. Also, to reiterate, I would never negatively comment on a person’s body. But a friend of mine once wrote in a now-deleted tweet, “timothee chalamet was invented to body shame teen girls and birds,” and I feel like that also perfectly captures Tutti and Todd’s overall vibe.
In 2004, Barbie and Ken broke up. But from the ashes of their relationship rose another: Barbie and Blaine. Introduced the same year, Blaine is an Australian boogie boarder who, in my opinion, bears an uncanny resemblance to the “Call Me By Your Name” actor. The wavy brown hair! The disaffected expression! The documented love of hip hop! (See: “Rappin’ Rockin’ Ken section) Blaine is essentially Australian Timmy. Thus the implication is clear: Blaine is Jewish.
In my head, I’ve come up with an extensive Jewish backstory for Blaine. The gist of it is this: Blaine grew up in Sydney’s thriving Jewish community, where his family attended Central Synagogue, a Modern Orthodox congregation. When Blaine left Australia for Barbieland, his Jewish practice became slightly less traditional. Still, his parents were thrilled when he started dating Barbie, the ultimate NJG. Though they’re no longer together, Barbie is still friendly with Blaine and his family. Nowadays, Blaine often returns to Sydney to celebrates the holidays with his family and is sure to visit his favorite Jewish-style bagel shop, Lox in a Box.
Anyway, Blaine would’ve been the perfect role for Timothée Chalamet. Greta, if you’re reading this, feel free to use my Blaine character arc for a potential “Barbie” sequel.