All Hollywood hiring practices are “performative.”
The primary goal has always been to make money, of course, and in the case of Barbie it didn’t seem unusually risky to tap into the mythology of a 60-year-old doll franchise and then give it a sassy progressive spin.
That said, nothing will weaken your standing or get you fired faster than your rivals sensing you’re trying to do something other than make money.
Ask yourself this: if you were the progressive-minded senior editor of a sweeping USC–funded study of Hollywood hiring practices regarding women and persons of color, and particularly if your report was created under the imprimatur of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, would you be inclined to be (a) critical or admonishing or punitive or (b) less so in that regard?
Three Fundamental Hollywood Laws: (a) nobody knows anything, (b) nobody wants to stand out by making bold creative decisions of any kind, and (c) you don’t need a conspiracy of cowardice given that cowardice is so deeply embedded in our DNA.