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The student news site of Blaine High School.

BHS Blueprint

The student news site of Blaine High School.

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Barbie: Was it Truly Kenough?

Barbie+movie+poster+from+ebay.com
“Barbie” movie poster from ebay.com
 

In the magical world of Barbieland, a Barbie can be anything and everything. A doctor, a scientist, a chef, a dancer, and a President. In Barbieland the world is made for Barbie, ruled by Barbie, for all the Barbies. Oh, and Ken is there as well, same with Allan. However, one Barbie begins to feel…different. She begins to have these strange thoughts of death, feelings of anxiety, and her feet become flat. In order to fix herself and bring back her status quo, Barbie needs to go to the real world and find the child that gave her these emotions in the first place. Oh, and Ken comes along as well.

 

A movie based on the world famous children’s doll Barbie produced by Mattel was said to be in production for a long time. The project was first announced in September of 2009 under the production of Universal Studios, but would be adopted by Sony Pictures in April of 2014. However it wouldn’t be until October of 2018 for production and filming to fully begin when the project was adopted by Warner Bros. “Barbie” directed by director Greta Gerwig was released in theaters through the US on July 21st, 2023, sharing the same theatrical release with Christopher Nolan’s hit film Oppenheimer, creating the cultural event that would be known as “Barbenheimer”. The film would become a theatrical hit grossing over $1.44 billion dollars, becoming the highest grossing film of 2023, and 14th highest grossing film of all time. 

 

“Barbie”, unlike the real product it is referenced from, talks about many mature themes on gender roles, patriarchy, and how women are treated in our current society. In Barbieland, everything is run by women. The Supreme Court is all women, the President is a woman, all doctors are women, all CEOs are women. In Barbieland, a woman can be both anything and everything they want to be. However, when Barbie goes to the real world, she sees the complete opposite of how society is ruled in Barbieland. She’s catcalled and sexualized by almost every man that she meets, being seen as nothing but an object of pleasure to them. She sees almost every position of power being controlled by a man, even the company Mattel that created her. Upon reaching the real world, instead of being greeted with cheers and hugs, all she can see is hate and dehumanization. All she can think is that she has failed as a Barbie. 

 

However, there is someone that begins to feel the exact opposite once reaching the real world. A man by the name of Ken. In Barbieland, while all Barbie’s are seen as strong and powerful, all Ken’s are at the will of the Barbies. While Barbie’s can be anything they want, Ken is only there to be a partner for Barbie. Ken can only find joy when he is noticed by the eyes of Barbie. But when Ken makes it to the real world, he sees the opposite of everything he’s been through. In the real world, men control everything. A man can be a doctor, a scientist, a chef, a dancer, and a President. A man is meant to be strong and powerful, surrounding himself with “manly” things and acting like only he can control his destiny. It is a man’s job to enforce his superiority to all others. So learning all of this, Ken goes all the way back to Barbieland to spread ideas of patriarchy and male dominance, turning Barbieland into the grand Kendom. 

 

Both the perspectives of Barbie in the real world and Ken in the real world show off how women are treated in a patriarchal society. In Barbieland the roles of society are reversed, with all women being over men. In Barbieland women are in control, while all the men are only there to serve under the women. Barbieland is a reflection of our own society but instead of patriarchy, they stand underneath matriarchy. Barbie living as a woman of course doesn’t see anything wrong with how the system works, but the moment she goes out into the real world and sees how it’s like to be seen as “inferior” in society, she starts to have a mental breakdown. But what she also sees is the hardships that women face in our own society, and through learning that not everything can be perfect, she gathers the will to fight back and live. 

 

Ken however, brings out the opposite perspective. All throughout his life he has been belittled and seen as inferior all because he was a man. Ken couldn’t become anything more simply because he was born a Ken, and all Kens must follow the structure that society has upheld. The Ken’s reflect women in our society. So when Ken makes it to the real world, instead of feeling embarrassed or feeling harassed, Ken instead loves every second of it. Because for the first time in his life he feels like he’s being seen, like he’s actually seen as an individual instead of a backdrop for Barbie. He see’s how men are represented in society and how much power and freedom they seemingly have. So of course Ken would want to live in a patriarchal society, because he wants to be in a position of power for once instead of only living to serve. 

 

“Barbie” at its core shows off how both patriarchy and toxic masculinity effects and harms everyone within a society. A male dominated society undermines and attacks the lives and opinions of women, who are forced to work twice as hard as men with less than half of the benefits or rewards. Simply for the fact that they were born a woman, and so society expects you to act and work as a woman. And paired with the rising surge of toxic masculinity, woman begin to become seen as less of as human beings, and more so as an object of desire and labor. On the other side, patriarchy and toxic masculinity also harm how men view themselves and how they control their public image. Toxic masculinity tells men who they have to be, and how they should act, simply because they are a man. You have to be strong, you have to be powerful, you have to be emotionless, you cannot show fear, you cannot show sadness, you have to carry everybody’s burden. Ironic when many men believe that they have to carry harder burdens than women, while shunning men that allow themselves to cry. “Barbie” tells the audience that we can’t allow our society to be dominated by one group of people, because allowing a majority to control, allows the minority to be oppressed. You need to create a society that allows for equality and allows the voices of different groups to be heard and understood.

 

“Barbie” was one of the funniest films I’ve seen all year, combining the wackiness of the idea with the more serious and mature underlying themes of womanhood. When people heard of a film about the doll Barbie, they most likely were not expecting the tone and meaning of the actual movie. The film is fun and entertaining, allowing the actors such as Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie to shine and have fun, while also allowing them to have their moments to be emotional.  A great surprise to come out this year, and will most likely become a film that will be rewatched throughout the years.

8.5/10

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