The new Barbie movie and its powerful achievements, as well as the backlash the film faced.
BY EVELYN JONES, ’26 SOPHIA WOOD, ’25 LUCY BAKER, ’26. GRAPHICS BY MALLORY JOHNSON, ’24 SCARLET POOR, ’24.
“Barbie” came out July 21, 2023 and has been a huge hit across the globe, although many people love it, some feel it is a feminist movie. The movie is about mother and daughter relationships, and how Barbie Land doesn’t make you a real woman.
The movie also has the trending songs such as, “I’m Just Ken” by Ryan Gosling and “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish. Merchandise that says things like, “You are Kenough” are selling out of stock. However, people seem to focus more on the feminist message in the movie.
In Barbie Land women – Barbie dolls – are in charge, and men – Ken dolls – are just accessories to the Barbie dolls. When Barbie and Ken leave the feminist utopia, they realize that women don’t rule over everyone in the “real world” the way they do in Barbie Land.
Ken takes this knowledge of the patriarchy back to Barbie Land and shares it with all of the Barbie and Ken dolls. Conflict arises as the Ken dolls slowly take over what used to be Barbie Land and change it to “Kendom”. The Ken dolls then attempt to take away the rights of the Barbie dolls.
A POWERFUL MOVIE
Greta Gerwig, the writer-director of the movie “Barbie”, has now become the first solo female director with a billion-dollar movie. Not only is she a director, but she is also an actor. She appears in many mumblecore (a genre of narrative film which is focused on the lives of young characters with scenes of more dialogue and less action) films that some of which she co-directed on.
Gerwig began her career in 2006, and has now made history. Barbie has been around since 1959 and has always been a very powerful, feminine toy.
Pink houses, fashion, and high heels are all associated with Barbie. Even Ken, who was released two years after Barbie, tends to be looked at as part of the feminine set.
The movie delivers a message that women don’t need to meet anyone’s expectations, and that women can be anything they want.
When the film was released, public reactions varied.
People were expecting it to be a movie based around girl power, but others saw beyond this message.
Mattel is an American toy manufacturing and entertainment company; Ruth Handler and Mattel are responsible for creating the Barbie doll.
An argument that Mattel has faced for years is that Barbie dolls have an unrealistic body and push subsequently unrealistic beauty standards.
More recently, Mattel has developed more inclusive and diverse Barbie dolls so that all young kids can feel included.
Now, Mattel has thirty five different skin tones, ninety seven hair styles, and nine different body types.
Mattel is planning to create more inclusive Barbie dolls as time goes on. In the 80s, Barbie dolls were first released with different skin tones and given the same name, Barbie, to represent inclusivity.
Mattel continues to break free of the unrealistic beauty standard stereotype by creating more diverse and inclusive toys.
When talking about the movie “Barbie”, one thing that is sure to come up in conversation is the hate that the movie is getting.
“Barbie” is being talked about on many social media platforms such as X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, and more.
Ben Shapiro is a Youtuber with 6.1 million subscribers who is known for his
Shapiro made a video titled, “Ben Shapiro Destroys The Barbie Movie for 43 Minutes”. In the first 30 seconds, he manages to light Barbie and Ken on fire with a match.
Although the video is impolite to everyone who created the Barbie movie, the comments below the video are disagreeing with Ben.
“Ben Shapiro proves why we need the Barbie movie in the first place” user @emmacoe3801 said.
The Barbie movie has been called “woke” and said it was an “anti-men” movie. These are terms mostly used by the people who rate the movie one star.
Another common theme was that the movie seemed to “disappoint” people. Viewers claim that the long speeches in the movie about how women are treated were “confusing”.
“It ended with over-dramatized speeches and an ending that clearly tried to make the audience feel something, but left everyone just feeling confused,” One reviewer said.
Even some Upper Arlington students didn’t enjoy the film.
On Rotten Tomatoes, an American film review site, the approval rating of “Barbie” dropped to a 71% after rising high on previous days.
However, after all the unverified reviewers were removed, the approval rating went back up to near 90%. The reason for the sudden drop came from about 20,000 ratings logged in at one time, but those votes didn’t have a huge impact on the positive ratings coming from around the world.
Despite all the negative reviews, Barbie surpassed $1 billion at the box office, exceeding the expected $155 million.
The movie beat Mattel’s high expectations and became one of the biggest movies of the year in under a week.
UA STUDENT OPINIONS
Part of the excitement around the movie “Barbie” is the range of opinions viewers have expressed.
Those within the high school share this range of emotions. Students have had mixed opinions about the new film, ranging from no opinion to supporting the message of the film.
“I thought the message was good,” junior Abby Cui said. “I think it’s a good message to promote to young kids.”
While the message of the movie is what enticed many viewers, the production and quality of the movie captured the attention of viewers as well.
Many found the movie to have successfully balanced the heavy topics with witty humor.
“It’s a really funny movie, it has a good message,” freshman Sophia Edwards said.
While some of the Upper Arlington students said that the movie was entertaining, others did not enjoy it as much.
“Honestly, I thought it was kind of overhyped. Some parts were boring,” freshman Lauren Dowler said. “Some parts of it were like good, and then some of it was like, ‘man’.”
Overall, the opinions from students varied, but many students liked the message and had relatively positive things to say about the movie.
“If you played with Barbies when you were younger than yes, I would recommend it because it’s kind of like a throwback,” freshman Isaiah Rodabaugh said.