Barbie: A Pink Menace

Barbie: A Pink Menace

Almost every little girl had a Barbie doll at some point in her life. Whether you wanted to or not was a different matter. Barbie managed to impress our parents with her pink glitz, so Barbie invaded all our homes. Now, was Barbie treated well? Well… (looks at my old Barbies with broken legs and missing arms, crying in the corner)…that depends on if you were a civil child or not.

In 2023, Barbie swept the world by storm with the release of the new live-action movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, and the whole world became infested with pink ribbons and bows. Directed by Greta Gerwig, it was beloved by women and girls alike; everyone wanted to hop on the trend, and pink became the hottest colour. This included me, of course.

Barbie, who was detested for giving little girls body image issues with her unrealistic appearance, was now a feminist icon. All hail the Queen!

I’ll admit it, even I was excited for Barbie after seeing all the positive reviews online and hearing people around me gush about how awesome it was. So I went into the cinema hall, dressed in a pink dress with a pink bow, and followed Barbie Core to the max, expecting a fun, lively movie to make me forget about my miserable little life full of darkness and depression. The movie began, and I wanted to run out of the hall just from the cringe. Because that’s all it was.

Alright, ladies, don’t come for me. I’ll give credit where credit is due. Barbieland looked amazing; the props and setting were all just like how our playhouses looked. The costumes were killer, especially the outfits worn by Margo Robbie’s character, Stereotypical Barbie. It was fascinating to see what all the costumes that we had for our dolls as kids looked like in real life on real people. The inclusion of Barbies of all skin tones, races, professions, and looks was nice to see, despite Barbie being often portrayed as a white woman. The message it tries to bring out, as it tries to show women their potential and power while also providing social criticism, is empowering and would have undoubtedly impacted the little girls who watched the movie positively.

Unfortunately, the dialogue fell short in many instances and seemed extremely preachy near the end of the movie. Although Barbie tried to empower women, the entire movie felt like Mattel, the doll company that makes Barbie, was trying to push back the criticism of its dolls through huge PR whitewashing. The issue of patriarchy and the suppression of women were brought out, but they weren’t executed in the best way, and the scenes felt as if they were written by amateur scriptwriters high on candy canes. Instead of trying to solve the issues between men and women, which are portrayed through the conflict between the Barbies and the Kens, reconciliation occurs in a manner that depicts female superiority as opposed to maintaining a balance.

Ken’s character is reduced to being a simp, and he’s pushed to be this annoying man who follows you around everywhere and can’t take a hint. Yet, Gosling’s performance as Ken is almost perfect, and his character overshadowed Robbie’s Barbie in more than one occasion. The contrast between the ideal world of Barbieland and the real world is prominent. Yet, the actions of the people in the real world are overly exaggerated to put forth the idea that the real world is sexist, patriarchal, and extremely unfair to women. And it is, that’s true. But not necessarily in an explicit way, as portrayed in the movie. Women undergo so many issues in real life, and they are all undermined in this movie as it tries to push this woke agenda.

When I went to watch the movie, I was hoping for a comedy, something fun and lighthearted, not a movie that seemed to push political propaganda. All the excitement that I felt before watching the movie due to all the hype just broke. The whole movie felt like it was destroying Barbie, the doll that was loved by little girls all around the world. But the outfits were pretty, and pink is awesome, so I sat through the whole movie until the end. Trust me, the only reason I stayed was for the Ken x Ken energy. You know what I mean if you watched it 😉

If you can bear to listen to the cringe dialogue and see the exaggerated portrayal of masculinity and femininity for the sake of pushing a narrative, then give this movie a go. The movie is pretty funny at times, and Barbieland is gorgeous.

And remember, “every Barbie is pretty,” and you’re “Kenough.”.

Rtr. Vibhavee Sarathchandra

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Yeshani Fernando

What well written criticism! Great article by the wonderful writer! ❤️

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