Mojo Dojo Casa House and Masculinity in the Popular Imagination

Curator's Note

In the immediate aftermath of Barbie, the term “Mojo Dojo Casa House” gained traction as a popular meme on TikTok and X. In these posts, “Mojo Dojo Casa House” and “Barbie Dream House” are oppositional signifiers that, depending on the meme variant one stumbled upon, marked binary heterosexual relations between “men” and “women”, negatively perceived transformations or predominantly male-dominated spatial situations. One may even rent “Mojo Dojo Casa Houses” on Airbnb. The “Casa House” is, in the popular imagination, conceptualized as nothing more than the logical inverse of the feminized “Barbie Dreamhouse,” and—in this way—does nothing more than perpetuate binary gendered logic and contribute to outdated stereotypical sexual perceptions, best exemplified in the old saying “Men are from Mojo Dojo Casa Houses and Women are from Barbie Dream Houses”. What the popular imagination thoroughly misses in its infatuation with the “Casa House” is its radically subversive and politically provocative potentiality. Put another way, the popular imagination does not trouble Ken and asks: Why does it feel good to say “Mojo Dojo Casa House”?

“Mojo Dojo Casa House,” in its utter redundancy, speaks to the twinned relationship between patriarchal social structures and the capitalist mode of production—specifically, capital’s investment in illusory consumer choice. Through the discovery of patriarchy, Kens generate an altogether new commodity relation in the “real world” via the deployment of a redundant naming schema. Barbie links the affective structure of the “Mojo Dojo Casa House” to the structure of capital through the immediate cut (after Ken introduces the term) to Mattel executives and employees discussing the exorbitant sales of the “Mojo Dojo Casa House” box set and the fictive “Ken” film. In the space of a single cut, Barbie asserts a psychical-political argument: patriarchal discursive structures generate excessive, circuitous signifying chains. In Lacanian parlance, the “Mojo Dojo Casa House” stands as a master signifier of patriarchy itself. In the simplest sense, the master signifier is an empty signifying constellation that, while “imaginary,” structures social relations. The “Mojo Dojo Casa House”—although a physical space in the film’s diegetic reality—”feels good” to say because it prioritizes linguistic excess and redundancy to mask social inequity (women’s oppression). The linguistic excess obscures a corresponding material lack. The cut to the Mattel executives and employees suggests that this patriarchal excess is linked to an accumulative excess.

In meme-ifying the play of surface appearances—the simplistic dualism between “Mojo Dojo Casa House” and the “Barbie Dreamhouse”—the popular imagination omits the careful formal work occurring within the frame and at the technical editing level. The popular mobilizations of “Mojo Dojo Casa House” noted above, through their reification of male-dominated space, work to undercut Barbie’s feminist political labor. The meme-ified “Mojo Dojo Casa House” is divested of its political acuity. Those who lightly, but earnestly, deploy “Mojo Dojo Casa House” must trouble themselves and ask: why does it feel good to say?

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