Barbie Not just a movie about a doll | Sunday Observer

Barbie Not just a movie about a doll

6 August, 2023

“Once I learned to like me more than others did, then I didn’t have to worry about being the funniest or the most popular or the prettiest. I was the best me and I only ever tried to be that.”

Imagine you are fitting into a dress, specifically a prom dress, or a party dress. You keep on trying one after the other, with different colors, with different sizes and different patterns. Among these try outs you get your dream dress but with a problem, the size doesn’t fit you…yet you love this dress so much, will you try another? Or simply adjust it to your liking with the help from staff?

Well, since it’s your dream dress it can be guaranteed you will adjust it necessarily. The women in our society is similar to this dress, living in a world with patriarchy at its finest, women are expected to fit into other’s standards disregarding their likes and dislikes, just; like the dress being adjusted by the customer. In today’s world to talk against fitting into these standards will be marked as “Feminism”, without proper context due to the lack of understanding the term. “Feminism” isn’t women trying to be men, but instead it’s the need of equal respect to both the genders. In the recent past, Portrayal of “Feminism”, in the entertainment industry has been quite evident with movies with the theme getting higher recognition.

Barbie (2023) directed by Greta Gerwig, is a fantasy comedy film for which many viewers were anticipating eagerly since the casting announcement.

Effective job

Based on the ever famous “Barbie” Dolls created by Mattel, it was a very delightful experience to be able to watch it in the theatres. Being the first live-action Barbie film, it really did an effective job when bringing out the theme of “Feminism” and “Self-Discovery”. With an all-round cast including Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Issa Rae and Simu Liu, the film is very bright pink themed with an album of original song collection. (The upcoming paragraphs may include spoilers to the movie, read at your own risk)

Might it be a movie simply about a doll that kids use to play, but the use of references alongside the writing has made an excellent penetration into the topics that require attention from the general society making the movie run deeper than its posters. Below mentioned are some of those remarkable points that I noticed while enjoying this splendid creation.

Marilyn Monroe: From the beginning itself we see the daily perfectly idyllic routine of “Stereotypical Barbie” (Margot Robbie). During the proceeding of this routine we can see how some of her life moments are very monotonous, however regardless of this she proceeds to have a smile throughout. In this sequence we are able to see two very important references.

Barbie, rather than using the stairs to come down, descends in order to get to her parked car, while she descends her dress lifts up due to the wind. This in my opinion is an indirect quotation to the Marilyn Monroe’s scene from the movie “Seven Year Itch”. This shall be also included by Gerwig due to Monroe being a sex symbol during the 1950s to early 1960s.

Heel: As we see Margot Robbie proceed with her character, we see her going through different shoes. At first we can she her wearing heels, but as the film progresses Barbie becomes more comfortable with her flats. This depicts how she has become more comfortable with herself, eventually leading to choose and live for herself.

Real world

‘Doll Feet’: Since the trailer many have praised Robbie’s heeled leg scene, with that in mind the heeled leg also symbolizes the unrealistic high standards in society. Although Barbie fits into this in the beginning, soon her legs become flat and she fears that the community will isolate her, like they did to the “Weird Barbie”. This explains how many of us sacrifice our opinions for others’ liking in the real world just to be loved by the people around us. Often many of us forget that we should also love ourselves for who we are.

Discovery of ‘Patriarchy’ by Ken: By an instant sneak peek you can say that women run the world, in other words Barbie land has a matriarch society which is completely opposite to the real world that runs on the dominance of males. When ken discovers what patriarchy is after coming into the real world, he sets out to study it and on eventually returning to Barbie land dominates the female power. This powerful interpretation is hence important to depict that ‘too much’ of anything doesn’t work, instead leads to problems.

The real world isn’t fair enough to women, it’s biased and unrealistic opinions has made living for women difficult. In a similar way to how women are a minority, in Barbie land the Kens are a minority that should depend on the Barbie’s. Too much of feminine power won’t do that good, neither will too much of masculine power do something great. Therefore, having equal power with a fair share is the best.

Aaron Dinkins’s “does that make me a woman then?”: With the film moving on its pace we get to experience the Mattel headquarters, it’s employees, the CFO and CEO as well. There comes a sequence where a normal employee named “Aaron Dinkins” speaks. His words “I am a man without power. Does that make me a woman then?”, shows how we differentiate people using labels due to their wealth, class and status. Here Aaron being a mere employee, questions his position in society compared to others from higher positions. The normal law of a patriarch society is dug deeper through this single dialogue.

Strong woman

Gloria’s Monologue: Gloria being an employee of Mattel and also the controller of Barbie, is a very strong woman whose heart is in the right place. Being a mother of a girl she portrays the life of a normal middle aged woman, who strives hard to please everyone around them. Towards the end Gloria’s analysis of the world setting fantastical standards for women, is a very powerful piece. “ “ . America Ferrera’s portrayal of the character deserves a huge recognition.

“No Ending”: In the end, after Barbie and Ken understand each other. Barbie insists Ken to rediscover himself alone, although he refuses saying “It’s Barbie and Ken.” Barbie however motivates him at the end to be himself. With this, Barbie’s creator Ruth Handler appears to lead Barbie into the real world. They are able to have conversation; in which we get to know the reason Ruth created Barbie. Named after her daughter “Barbara Handler”, Barbie was created to show that girls can be anything of their liking whether it is a doctor or a teacher.

This doll was to make girls motivated, knowing that there are many potentials for woman in the world. In the end Ruth tells Barbie that she has “No ending” and her ending isn’t with Ken. Her ending is open to be filled by herself. When we play with dolls we like to imagine different scenarios in our head, because we can be free when we play with them. Similarly, Barbie is given her freedom, with “No Ending”.

Deserves more recognition

Overall, the film really deserves more recognition due to its writing and directing. Although many claim that the movie isn’t such a good run, I advise to watch it first and judge next. Robbie’s acting compared to her other performances may look soft and all but her effort in absorbing the energy as well as imitating the emotions perfectly calls for an applause.

Even the soundtrack including songs from artists like Ava Max, Dua Lipa, Charli XCX, Fifty Fifty and Nicki Minaj, brings in a lot of energy into the movie. I should also praise the costume choices, which really brought out the wonderful pink theme within the movie.

Barbie (2023) isn’t just about a simple moving picture about a doll, instead it is a deep movie that brings out themes of self-discovery and feminism. Regardless of gender everyone should watch it to get a better understanding. Huge applause to all the actors, directors and writers of this masterpiece.