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Barbie: a fluorescent feminist fable

Barbie travels to the real world. [Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures]

Greta Gerwig’s hit movie Barbie (starring Margot Robbie as the titular protagonist and Ryan Gosling as her overlooked boyfriend Ken) has become the highest-grossing movie of 2023, making $575 million within the United States and $1.3 billion internationally. A cinematic reinvention of toy company Mattel’s most famous doll franchise, the film follows Barbie – a stereotypically feminine and rather naive doll – as she navigates her journey out of the perfect-pink matriarchy of Barbie Land into the epically disappointing realm of the Real World. Taken aback by every element of reality that seems to be turned against her, Barbie struggles to grasp the credibility of the Barbie Land system she is accustomed to living by and suffers through an identity crisis. 

From evoking intense feelings of nostalgia and celebrating femininity through its fairytale-like set design, to addressing current social discussions regarding gender equity, idealism and empowerment, Barbie really does it all. The film’s tongue-in-cheek dialogue and its comical dance sequences are guaranteed to make you laugh, yet its deeply emotional monologues about societal pressures and the bittersweetness of girlhood will leave you turning off the TV with tissues in hand. Barbie balances comedy and sombreness excellently, while also leaving much of the story up to the interpretation of the audience. 

However, among other complaints regarding the film’s somewhat abrupt ending, many have criticized the movie’s use of fairly surface-level feminist ideas and the over-trivialization of its male characters. Though these criticisms are true to an extent, their implementation into the film is not inherently reprehensible. Yes, the feminist notions explored in the movie may appear to lack profoundness. But is it not important for those less educated about the feminist cause to be enlightened about the foundational values of this movement before mainstream media delves into more convoluted topics? Yes, the majority of the film’s male characters are trivialized and undervalued. But wasn’t the whole purpose of that creative decision to expose the irony and hypocrisy of the patriarchy? While valid to an extent, such judgments unintentionally perpetuate the issues that Barbie highlights. 

Thus, if an ideal activity includes embarking on an emotional rollercoaster, sparking a new heated discussion at the dinner table, or simply being transported back to the days when pink Dreamhouses and polka-dot Schlond Poofas were all that mattered…look no further as Barbie does it best.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 


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Erin W. ('25)
Erin W. ('25), Staff Writer
Erin is a staff writer in The Blue and Gold. She is a sophomore at TAS, and is excited to start Journalism to share writing pieces with the community that she, and hopefully others, are passionate about. Outside of writing, Erin enjoys reading, photography and filmmaking.

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