Obviously, the answer is: YES.
I would like to begin by reiterating that the Barbie franchise is inherently good, and I won’t hear any criticism on that front. That being said, SOME of the movies are most definitely NOT good. Obviously, the early fantasy-based films are the best, but there is one universal underlying problem even in these. The animal sidekicks. All the Barbie movies have at least one, and they can really make or break the film. They exist to be the friend and confidante of all Barbie’s personal characters, and yet despite their “cute” and “loving” personas, these sidekicks have become the hidden villains of every story. Characters such as Penelope (Rapunzel), Tika (Island Princess), and Bibble (Fairytopia) are all horrid and they are responsible for the bad reputation all the animal sidekicks get, (not that many of them deserve a good reputation).
Disclaimer: This assessment and overall hatred does not extend to the actual villain’s animal sidekicks because they at least have the respect to be fun while being evil.
Barbie as Rapunzel is clearly the superior Film of the franchise. Sadly, it does not often receive this praise as SOME people can’t get past how unbearable her animal friends, Penelope and Hobie, are. Clearly, Penelope is the worst out of the two, but neither one manages to make themselves even vaguely likeable throughout the 84-minute runtime. Maybe this sounds like a personal hatred of the characters, which is true, but there is a valid reason as to why you too should despise them. While these characters are intended to support and help Rapunzel, they are naturally selfish creatures, and they both actively make situations worse for her. These do not sound like the characteristics a true friend would have, which seems like a massive oversight given that it’s a child’s movie (they need to learn about friendship!). Hobie and Penelope are often seen being disruptive, consistently second-guessing her ideas and plans, and creating new issues for Rapunzel to try and fix.
Penelope is utterly useless for the majority of the film. Yet in the last moments, she can finally get her act together and fly. Why did it take so long you ask? Because she’s a villain. She cares more about herself than her friend, who she readily admits was trapped in an abusive relationship with Madam Gothel. So in not pushing herself, she was making herself an accomplice to the main villain.
When we add that Penelope’s so-called ‘allergies’ constantly put Rapunzel at risk (sneezing fire is not cool dude), AND that she doesn’t try to mitigate the effects of her ‘allergies’ (sneezing fire), AND that these ‘allergies’ put her both in physical danger (SNEEZING FIRE) and at risk of more abuse from Gothel, we can see how awful Penelope is. Maybe she could have TRIED to do something about it rather than constantly placing her apparent friend in peril anytime she gets a whiff of dust. Just a thought.
Hobie, on the other hand, is just annoying, and needs to be watched constantly so he doesn’t get eaten??? (namely by the only good animal sidekick in the film ((Otto)) who also happens to be a Villain with a capital V). This is yet another issue Rapunzel shouldn’t have to handle. She has her own things to deal with.
Sure, we could interpret Hobie and Penelope as being representative of Rapunzel’s own doubts and fears, Hobie her underlying anxiety from living in an emotionally abusive home, and Penelope her own fear of leaving said home and her only known family, BUT we won’t be reading it that way. Penelope is AWFUL. Hobie is USELESS. Neither of them should be considered good friends. They only look out for Rapunzel under the direst of circumstances, and even then, it is with hesitation. That is all I will be saying on the matter.
My next issue comes in the form of Tika in Barbie as the Island Princess. Tika is the WORST animal sidekick. Just a nasty little beast. Tika clearly has issues with being alone. She is incredibly dependant on our current Barbie incarnation Ro(sella) and worries constantly that Ro is going to leave her. This fear has no basis, as, like all Barbies, Ro is kind and caring to a fault. The emotional toll this has to take on Ro is immense. And when Ro FINALLY gets a chance to be among people, find love, and reconnect with her family Tika further proves how selfish she truly is. We witness Tika HIDE a note that would secure Ro’s happiness, all because she doesn’t want Ro to leave her. This is no good, very bad content and she should not have been forgiven so easily. We should also mention that obviously, Ro has never displayed any characteristics or actions that would lead us to believe she would, or even could, abandon anyone.
(The other sidekicks in this film are great. We don’t need to talk about them, they have never done anything wrong in their lives.)
Hardship is a key element of any Barbie Film, with every single movie covering the topic, specifically the way in which people deal with, and overcome it. Ro is a castaway, lost on an island for years with only animals for companions. She has a LOT to deal with here. And yet? Tika is out here acting like she is the one facing the greatest difficulties, when her only problem is that she can’t handle sharing her friend. Her inherently selfish personality only becomes more apparent when Ro finds herself a place she belongs and more happiness in doing so. Tika’s only realistic burdens are that her friend is happy and has slightly less time for her. Her actions throughout the film only become more and more questionable. Tika is more villain-like than any other animal sidekick in the franchise.
Moving on to our final horror. Bibble.
Barbie: Fairytopia may not be the best of the Barbie film franchise, but it definitely could do better if it weren’t for our borderline feral, hidden villain. Bibble is the only animal sidekick we will be addressing that doesn’t speak. Sure, he makes annoying, speech-like noises, but it is nothing that can be labelled a real, human language. This being said our current Barbie, Elina, can understand Bibble and we are just supposed to be ok with that.
But I’m not. And you shouldn’t be either.
Without speech, we can only judge his actions and the random statements Elina repeats out loud for The Audienceä. Bibble is the stereotypical animal sidekick. Small, annoying, most likely considered cute by small children. He flits around Elina constantly chattering in a distressed tone about things we cannot physically understand. We are, for once, given less information than our main character. Elina gets to know something we do not, and it comes from her annoying, ugly little sidekick/companion. This does not mean that Bibble is capable of less evil, it just means we have to pay more attention to see it.
Another difference in this movie is that Elina has other friends. She has real live humans (technically fairies) that she can interact with. They are out there, they look out for her, they exist. And despite it all, she continues to spend the majority of time with Bibble, who, if it weren’t for Elina understanding his babbling, could only be considered a pet.
Fairytopia clearly isn’t like other Barbie movies.
Bibble spends the majority of the film attempting to stop Elina from saving her fellow fairies from our main villain. Apparently Bibble is also incapable of trust and does not believe that his friend is capable of saving anyone. Not that this is ever stated implicitly, but it is in the subtext. Serving only as a distraction to Elina throughout the whole film, Bibble essentially has no reasonable purpose.
I don’t believe Bibble does anything useful in this movie besides find Hue (I would die for Hue), which is very little in the grand scheme of the film. Bibble consistently distracts Elina from the VERY important events going on, often placing Elina in danger as she tends to his every dumb issue. Not only is he not helpful, he is actively a hindrance to the rescue mission and should have been left at home.
AND we can’t forget that he is the only creature in the film that does not speak a real language. We have: pixies, fairies, mermaids, annoying little trolls, a gnome-ish man, a dryad, a butterfly, and strange villain creatures all called fungus, and ALL of them speak real human words. We can understand every one of these creatures, so it is not an issue of different creatures/species having different languages. So why is Bibble the only one???? Is he foreign? An idiot? We don’t know. It doesn’t add up, and as such we should question his true motives.
I understand that this may not be the most cohesive analysis, nor is it well explained, but I know in my heart that Bibble is a villain. Bibble is a villain in the way that he makes me not want to watch the movie.
This may only be a small selection of animal sidekicks, but I can assure you that they ARE all villains in one way or another. Penelope, Tika and Bibble are evil, and if you think otherwise you have fallen for their trap. Their emotional manipulation, selfishness and suspiciously timed distractions are all indicative of more sinister situations taking place in these films. The Barbies in these movies are victims of their corrupted companions and are constantly being placed in harm’s way due to their supposed friend’s nefarious actions. Masking themselves as cute and caring creatures, these animal sidekicks maintain their hidden villainy from all but us, the audience.
Please do not criticise me in any way, shape or form, I will not be able to handle it.