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  • Maddy Burger

Barbie: It’s Not As Pink And White As We Think It Is


Warner Bros.

WARNING: Spoilers.


Life in plastic is actually not fantastic. …Maybe.


After much anticipation, our Pink Paradise is here! But it is no secret Greta Gerwig’s picturesque Barbieland is an illusive, dystopian world. The combination of neon-colored Chevys (with the Indigo Girls blasting through the speakers, of course) and pink stilettos act as an indefectible catalyst for powerful conversations to be had about our realities.


The conventions of Barbieland mirror the habitual practices of our world, consistent with defining people through stereotypes and clichés. President Barbie (Issa Rae), Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon), Mermaid Barbie (Dua Lipa), are all limited to the four corners of the cardboard box they came in. Ironically, Stereotypical Barbie, played by Margot Robbie, is the one to undo the twist ties for herself and her community, as she goes on an existential journey of leaving Barbieland and navigating the “Real World. ''


The transparency of the real world seems debilitating for Stereotypical Barbie (also known as just “Barbie”). She repulses at the heavy presence of sexism and capitalism, leading to a very warm welcome of rejection… and a mug shot. A burly man and his sidekicks make Barbie a spectacle, which escalates to the man groping her. She fires back with a punch, and rightfully so.



Warner Bros.

The shock of the real world wears off after Barbie realizes her world is a similar creation. From a surface level perspective, it is easy to think that this movie pitted worlds, ideas, and people against each other. However, Barbie displays that wisdom and change lies in the individual.


Barbie unlocks her subconscious connection to her owner Gloria (America Ferrera), as their thoughts become synchronous. In their reunion, they realize together that existential reflections and most importantly, anger, are not dangerous or taboo, they are information. Information that leads to quiet and loud revelations about how to gently tend to their hearts and minds and take and connect with fellow women. Barbie and Gloria teach us that we may not necessarily have a choice in the way systemic issues oftentimes live inside of us, but it is up to the individual to break out of “the trance.”


After Barbie and Ken’s trip to the real world (or in other words, Venice Beach), Ken is enthralled with the way men exist within society, inspiring him to overturn Barbieland and reverse the power structures in place. The Barbies are quite literally put into a trance, turning into low maintenance, casual girlfriends to the Kens. Barbie and Gloria’s relationship is too powerful for Ken's overtake, allowing them to break the other Barbie’s out of it and ignite the women collective once again. Gerwig’s commentary that spills out through these plot twists should not be overlooked. There is no enemy here, only a reflection of the current reality we live in. Gerwig gives a call to action, gently, for women and men to shed what does not serve humanity. Girl-power definitely helps.



Warner Bros.

While Barbie has made over $400 million since its release on July 21st (Forbes.com), reactions to the movie have been mixed despite gender, social, and age demographics. John Dennis, the chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, posted to social media a selfie with his family at the movie explaining he’s “ready to mock the woke” (Twitter). Kasia Delgado, the Chief Features Writer for The i Paper, writes “The Barbie film pretends to be knowing, and to send up Barbie dolls and Mattel, sticking two fingers up at the big corporations, beauty ideals, and all-male boardrooms. In the end, though, all Mattel has done is package up a totally conventional Barbie and sell her right back to us” (I hated the Barbie movie). Gerwig has responded to these strong opinions stating, “certainly, there’s a lot of passion. My hope for the movie is that it’s an invitation for everybody to be part of the party and let go of the things that aren’t necessarily serving us as either women or men” (New York Times). To please everyone in a mass produced piece of media is near impossible. The frustration similar to Kasia Delgado’s is noteworthy. That said, mass media films, especially tied to billion dollar corporations, have to be mindful of accessibility and the way they present hard-hitting conversations.


This film was made to be accessible to the Barbies, Kens, and the haters of the world. The ways in which Greta Gerwig is able to connect women across the globe, to offer a mode of acceptance of our complexities, and to celebrate them makes it all worth it.


Barbie is simply an invitation to look at the issues of our society more abstractly, and now a tool to honor the masculine and feminine parts of us. The doll and the corporation reflect our times, our human flaws, and have now been provided an opportunity for evolution and revolution. The movie in the end is a reflection of humanity and our likeness… with a touch of pink.

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