Barbie isn’t what you think

Written by: Libby Thoma | Staff Writer

Barbie, the hot pink movie that made over one billion dollars, made history by “…instantly (becoming) the biggest debut ever for a film directed by a woman.” 

This movie was seen as the feminist movement of the century. It even earned a whopping 88% on rotten tomatoes but controversially, I don’t see it that way. There were many instances within and outside of the movie that diminished the movie’s “feminist” premise entirely. 

Starting with the movie itself, I enjoyed America Ferrara’s speech in the movie, and I thought Barbie’s subjection to the reality of the world — along with its treatment of women — was well put and interesting. I enjoyed the messages of bonding between women, anti-beauty standards, critiques of the patriarchy and more. 

However, I thought these lessons were leveled by two things in particular. The first was how easily and quickly the Barbies fell into patriarchy, and, the second, was how quickly the Kens were able to take over a long laid land of women. 

Although this might not have been the intent, how easily the Barbies were brainwashed portrayed them as ditzy — a stigma that the whole film was trying to fight. I think this sequence made it so that the Barbies were more easily labeled as stupid girls, or as Jo Koy alluded to, “…nothing more than a doll with big boobies,” even though Barbies should be and are so much more than that, especially in the current world. 

Along with this, I can not stand the ending scene where Barbie apologizes to the Kens, where they repeat that not every night has to be girl’s night. 

This is a problem in two ways, firstly, we should not be teaching any girl that a “Ken” has to be included in their safe space, or that Kens have to be included in their private home life at all. Along with this, little girls are already taught to think about and cater to men’s feelings in addition to tending to their own mental health. While men, on the other hand, aren’t. 

As a society, we are trying to step away from this, and the movie did a poor good job of supporting this notion. I understand there may be some deeper meanings to these apologies, and maybe the movie is even trying to show men ‘how it would feel,’ but as a movie that is classically marketed to a younger audience, many may not understand and take this idea of inclusivity and catering to men, to heart — even if that’s not what it’s meant to be. 

All of this also made the movie more so about men than it should have been. I wish the movie would have been more focused on apologizing to and focusing on women, not men. Although I have many complaints about the movie’s lack of feminism, there were still many important parts throughout the movie, which were then diminished multiple times by the Oscars. 

Firstly, there was the joke made by Jo Koy, stating that ‘Oppenheimer’ is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project, and ‘Barbie’ is on a plastic doll with big boobies.” 

This joke had many upset, completely ignoring the attempted point of the movie, and broke hearts around the world as many — other than myself — found it to be an important feminist film. 

Another joke Jo Koy made was, “The key moment in ‘Barbie’ is when she goes from perfect beauty to bad breath, cellulite and flat feet. Or what casting directors call character-actor!” 

The whole point of the character Weird Barbie and the transformation of Barbie herself is not to judge other women based on their appearance, and a short bald man commenting on Margo Robbie’s looks is ridiculous either way. 

Maybe Jo Koy should have watched the movie before writing his “jokes,” or maybe he’s just not that funny. 

Finally, Ryan Gosling has spoken out about his win at the Oscars, stating that there would be no Barbie without Greta Gerwig or Margo Robbie, for they were responsible for the film. 

Margo Robbie did not win best actress, even though she and America Ferrara carried that movie, but Ryan Gosling, who should have been a silly addition to the movie, won best actor for it. Absolutely ridiculous. 

In the future, I would like to see a movie solely about empowering women, leaving out ditziness and any apologies to men. Hopefully, when the next major feminist movie comes out, men like Jo Koy — and the other men in our lives — will understand its importance, and maybe the awards will focus on women. 

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