The Good, the Bad, and the Kens: Why the Barbie Movie is a Must See

Last weekend, I saw the Barbie movie. Before it even ended, I knew I had to tell you all about it. Seen it or not I’m sure you know by now that the movie has led to controversial discussions, and intriguing social media content, evoking strong emotions not just out of me but from countless others; albeit in various directions. This article is to give you a little insight into what the buzz is all about along with my opinion so you can decide if the Barbie movie is a must-see.

Filled with hilarious moments, empowering messages (and some very awkward ones), with a dense female cast, and a philosophical twist, this movie is more than just a pretty face. Giving you a mild spoiler alert now let’s visit all the areas that are making Barbie the talk of your town.

*External links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement of any of the products, services, or opinions of the corporation or organization, or individual.

WHAT IS BARBIE ABOUT

When I received an invite from my girlfriends to watch the movie, I invited my husband to join us. For me, it was a no-brainer, the Barbie movie was a must-see. Buuut, I had to do a little extra convincing with him. In order to prepare him I admitted that my expectations were not that high. I said, “This movie is bound to be stupid. But, it’s like a rite of passage – something you just have to experience.”

Little did I know, I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Well, about the stupid part. The movie turned out to be anything but foolish; it was wonderfully amusing, intellectually captivating, and visually stimulating. If you order drinks and food at the movie theatres, it’s safe to say all of your senses will be engaged.

Barbie Shoes

THE PLOT

One of the reasons why the Barbie movie is a must-see is for its hilariously entertaining storyline. The film revolves around Stereotypical Barbie (Margo Robbie) as she starts to experience some not-so-perfect things in her deliciously perfect life. With each unfolding event, Barbie ignites a spark within herself, leading her to question the very essence of her existence. 

The movie begins in Barbie Land, where Stereotypical Barbie and her fellow Barbies call home. Barbie Land is a utopian paradise, that is a matriarchal society, governed by women. Gone are the days of damsels in distress waiting for their prince charming to sweep them off their feet. In fact, it’s the Kens, who also inhabit Barbie Land, that is desperately seeking to be sought out and wooed by the Barbies. 

It is after visiting the “real world”, Barbie returns to Barbie Land, as a catalyst that propels change, urging for a world where all Barbies (and Kens) unite and embrace diversity in its most vibrant form. 

BARBIE IS FUNNY

Ken Dolls

Every Barbie in Barbie Land is named Barbie and that’s how they all address each other. (Except Midge). And every Ken is named Ken so the same for them (Well, except for Allan. He’s just Allan and there’s no duplicates of him).

THE CHARACTERS

Having no real purpose whatsoever in Barbie Land other than “Beach”, the Kens ( who unfortunately don’t feel like they are ever Kenough), provide viewers with a lot of slapstick comedy with their one-liners and dialogues. Some moviegoers even go as far as saying that the Kens are the real show stealers!

Without giving too much away, I have a feeling that at some point Ken will be trending more than Barbie with Ken-inspired fashion. I wouldn’t be too surprised if very soon we will start seeing shirts with quotes like “big time Kenergy”, “I am Kenough”, “I’ll Beach you off”, or “Weird Barbie”. (I only put Weird Barbie in the Ken subject because I myself had a “weird Barbie” and it was because I didn’t have a Ken so I chopped her hair off, leaving her bald in some spots).

Sorry Barbie.

Speaking ooof, that’s pretty much how, when, and why, Stereotypical Barbie sets off on her journey in the first place. It’s “Weird Barbie”, brilliantly played by comedian Kate McKinnon, who gets this adventurous party started.

THE THEMES

The film’s comedic satire revolves around parodies of the gender equality movement genre we live and breathe today.

For most moviegoers, the comedic element of this movie provides a refreshing break from the deeper themes allowing viewers (Im talking about men too) to just laugh and enjoy the lighter side of this feminist fairytale.

For other moviegoers, it is the exact same comedic elements that have got their panties in a wad, even causing one of them to throw a Barbie in a fire-filled dumpster on his YouTube Channel. 

Not cool Ken! Not cool. 

BARBIE IS CONTROVERSAL 

Plastic Surgery

No stranger to controversy, Barbie has been a controversial figure for decades. She always has been and if I’m being honest,  probably always will be. 

Since the film’s release, a lot of high public figures and politicians have taken their beef with Barbie to social media. Things like “woke”, “feminist cancer”, and “flaming garbage” are just a few of what’s being said.

The controversy isn’t all from men either. It is coming from women too. But there’s no shock there. A lot of the controversy about the doll in general seemed to have really taken off around the height of second-wave feminism.

All this controversy alone has been enough for people to consider the Barbie movie as a must-see.

Let’s continue, shall we?

CONTROVERSY IN REAL LIFE 

From arguing that Mattel is not diverse enough to claiming that Barbie perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards, Barbie movie director, Greta Gerwig thought it a good opportunity to use the movie to address it all. 

Using what’s known as “The Eminem Method,” the 39-year-old director made a bold move to bring these issues to light.

Backstory: In the 2002 film, 8 Mile, rapper Marshall Mathers aka Eminem, gave an unforgettable performance in one of the final scenes of the film. Portraying an aspiring rapper, he regularly participates in underground rap battles that involve freestyle raps where opponents verbally roast one another. To disarm his rival, Papa Doc, The Real Slim Shady stood up and cleverly mocks his own weaknesses, leaving no ammo for his opponent to use against him. And if my memory serves me right after his epic rap sesh, he dropped the mic – Boom!

The “Eminem Method” is a power move that strategically turns a weakness into an advantage. And that’s exactly what Gerwig did.

In one of the film’s scenes, a powerful exchange unfolds between Barbie and Sasha, a human character. Set in the bustling lunchroom of her school, surrounded by friends, Sasha boldly labels Barbie as a fascist. To add insult to injury, she declares, 

“You’ve been making women feel bad about themselves since you were invented”.

Ouch!

During an interview, Gerwig discloses that Mattel initially had reservations about including such strong criticism towards Barbie in the script. However, ultimately they decided to keep the line intact. Gerwig explains that it was vital to shed light on these genuine societal concerns rather than stepping over them.

Leaving those lines in the movie not only communicates to consumers that the company is aware of people’s concerns, but that they are listening. 

CONTROVERSY = ACTION

The company has taken significant strides in recent years to produce a wider range of dolls that embrace diversity in race, body types, and abilities. 

A groundbreaking moment in Barbie’s manufacturing legacy is the creation of the Fashionistas line. This extraordinary collection encompasses:

Four distinct body shapes, 22 skin tones (including vitiligo), eye colors in thirteen shades, and 76 hairstyles. 

It’s truly awe-inspiring to witness how far Barbie has come on this journey of progress and inclusivity. And while there is always room for improvement and no shortage of arguments on how long it has taken for Mattel to make changes, what matters most is the now and all the advancements that have been made keeping Barbie moving in the right direction.

BARBIE IS….PHILOSOPHICAL?

The Barbie Movie is a must-see obviously for many reasons, but one of the most surprising and my FAVORITE aspects of the film was the concept of Barbie having an existential crisis. 

As a philosophical sommelier, watching others delve into the deeper questions of life, making me delve into the deeper questions of life –I feel is what I truly live for.  In this film, Barbie goes through the same things as you and me.

BARBIE HAS A CRISIS

Through clever storytelling, thought-provoking dialogue, and the hilarious approach in how Barbie brings up death, she shares her feelings about various circumstances. From feeling anxiety for the first time and a sense of unease from the dirty gazes of men, to feeling confused about not being liked by other women. Each one of those elements reverberated LOUDLY not only to me but others as well who had those same experiences.

Who has felt those same stares.

Who secretly wanted to be liked and friends with other women, but honestly believed about themselves and have said out loud, “I get along better with men than I do with women”.

If you know what I’m talking about say, “Hello Barbie”!

Barbie at a sleepover

BARBIE IS ALL THESE WOMEN, AND ALL THESE WOMEN ARE BARBIE

After taking time to process the film, I came to the conclusion that the storyline held a strong resemblance symbolizing my own transition from little girl to woman.

In the beginning, the cheerful dialogue initially echoes the imaginative thoughts and viewpoints of an eight-year-old little girl, proclaiming each day to be the best day ever.

As circumstances unfold we see her innocence start to become colorless as the harsh realities of life play out. No longer in the protective bubble of “parents” and the innocence of childhood, we watch a girl enter adolescence. Becoming aware of a very different environment and learning about societal expectations and her place in this world.

A world where she no longer feels secure walking alone when it is dark at night or early dawn. Following, that feeling that can only be described as intuition, she instinctively remains on high alert because there is indeed evil in this world today, and being sexually assaulted (not just once) but numerous times throughout her life is a real and true possibility.

Sound familiar?

*No Barbies were assaulted in this movie. I am merely using it as an example of a harsh reality.

Ultimately, the philosophical watermark of the movie introduces the notions of introspection, identity, and self-worth, prompting deep and fruitful conversations between you, your friends, and even your kids. 

BARBIE IS A REVOLUTION

Pink Barbie Shoes balancing on a disco ball.

Despite the criticisms and controversies surrounding the Barbie movie, by the time you read this, it’ll be in its 3rd weekend at the Box Office. Although I can’t be too sure, I have a feeling that it will still be going strong. 

What I am 100% damn sure of is that my girl Barbie (Greta Gerwig) totally embodies that of Stoic principles.

Tracing back to my article from last week, she exemplifies to a T, lesson no. 3. To not let her judgment from external sources hurt her, but empower her. Negative critiques are better than none. This project is generating so much negative noise, which means only one thing…

The Barbie movie has successfully sparked a conversation. 

THE CHOICE IS NOW YOURS

WEIRD BARBIE

The story’s origin at its essence encourages people to embrace change, while also inspiring them to boldly initiate dialogue that will lead us toward a world that is inclusive and accepting.

As a response to the onslaught of criticism that Greta Gerwig has been receiving, she had this to say :

“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.”

To that, I say “Preach Barbie”! If anything, her statement alone has rung true and is just another reason why the Barbie movie is a must-see.

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