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The Student News Site of Hayfield Secondary School

The Harvester News

The Student News Site of Hayfield Secondary School

The Harvester News

A life shaped by sports
Yahia Omar, Staff Writer • May 21, 2024

The Barbie movie: disappointment of the summer

Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP
FILE – Margot Robbie poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film ‘Barbie’ on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, in London. The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming the “Barbie” movie raised more money in one day than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has his entire life. (Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP, File)

I can’t speak for everyone else’s recommended advertisements this summer, but mine? Mine were cluttered with pink. Pink bubble letter font, warm toned set interviews, it seemed the Barbie movie used more of its budget on floor-to-ceiling marketing than the movie itself. While I’m aware of my exaggeration of watching a couple of commercials and clicking the “x” on pop-up tabs, it’s safe to say the Barbie movie was at its peak this past July. With high expectations and a large Sprite in hand; I sat in the last row and watched the movie with some of my closest friends. As the credits rolled I thought to myself: “They did it again. Margot Robbie looks great in plaid dresses.”

Suffice it to say, seeing the movie with my friends caused me to attribute only good to the Barbie movie. However, as the months pass and I’m remembering more and more of the plot, I don’t feel this to be the case anymore. I feel the Barbie movie to be a collection of missed opportunities. Equipped with a great cast, a nostalgic concept, and a hundred-million-dollar set, how did it manage to fall so flat?

Despite my negative review, The Barbie movie addressed and pointed out so many issues in an overall light and comedic way that I appreciated. I especially thought the scene where the stereotypical Barbie was captured and brought to Mattel’s headquarters was particularly exceptional. Gerwig’s character commented on the fact that there weren’t any women at the executive table. The team, stunned momentarily, shrugged it off. This was amusing when I learned that this lack of diversity is no different from the real company’s executive team; also run by predominantly men. I also appreciated the inclusion of different races and bodies. While these diversities weren’t at the forefront of the narrative, I think this choice was a crucial one to make. Crucial because these dolls have been known to have a specific look: thin, with caucasian features. While I’m aware that more dolls have come out since 1959, the overall brand has a universal umbrella image. While these diversities (or lack thereof) weren’t at the forefront of the movie, I thought the message was well communicated regardless. 

Margot Robbie, left, and Ryan Gosling arrive at the premiere of “Barbie” on Sunday, July 9, 2023, at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

While all of these things are notable, the movie was 2 hours and Ryan Gosling could only pick up so much slack. The slack in question was during the climax of the movie. The character Gloria gives a speech on the constant double standards women face. This ends up “deprogramming” the other Barbies within earshot who were originally under the code of misogyny. While some may chalk up the line towards empowering, it got preachy after the ninth “They can’t be too this or this.” While I agreed with all of her statements, it can be a little too on the nose. Clearly whoever wrote the scene skipped the English lesson in middle school of “show, don’t tell.” We, as an audience, want to conclude these overarching themes. We don’t need to be spoon-fed a message. 

My biggest piece of criticism for the Barbie movie is related to its misleading message: The Barbie movie is a feminist film. I don’t believe this to be the case. Rather, the theme centers more around the patriarchy and its issues. To make this distinction, it’s essential to note the definitions of both words. Patriarchy is a societal system that favors one gender over the other. Feminism is the advocacy of equality of all genders and sexes. Originally, I had assumed that the Barbie movie opted for the latter in terms of overarching themes. I argued how tropes such as these that support the underlying theme of “women and women only run the world” are just another reason for people to stray away from calling themselves feminists. I felt it reinforced the stereotype that feminists were man-haters who were constantly angry and irrational. I wanted the representation to be the fact that feminists don’t want more rights or privileges than men, they just want equal opportunity. The movie never said that all problems were nonexistent with women in charge. We saw the same problems in Barbie Land that we do in the real world. Just with the roles reversed. It merely emphasized the issue of the patriarchy as a whole. The completely invalid reality of placing one group ahead of another is what I choose to believe the Barbie movie was arguing for. 

Perhaps that’s my fault. I came into the movie assuming it was a feminist film. But how did I come to that assumption? Where had I even gotten this idea? I reread past interviews featuring Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie to see how they defined the movie. “Looking at all the thorniness and stepping into what is the negotiation of what women need to be, and how to give them something other than a tightrope to walk on, is how it feels feminist to me,” Gerwig says to an interviewer of ABC News. I do think looking at the Barbie movie as anti-patriarchal rather than as a feminist anthem is more satisfying and leaves less room for disagreement and dissatisfaction, at least on my end. That is my argument. However, I don’t think that’s what Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie wanted and they certainly made that much clear, which makes the movie’s outcome much more upsetting.. 

As much as I’ve trashed this Warner Bros film, my friends and I had long been anticipating its showing and I don’t regret seeing it with them. Despite the movie’s well-done set, cast, and comedic lines, that alone could not salvage the mess that was the Barbie movie. 


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Emily Johnson
Emily Johnson, Staff Writer
Hey I’m Emily, I’m currently a sophomore and am excited for this upcoming year of The Harvester News!

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