Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie”: Was it Ken-ough for M-A Students?

1 min read

Greta Gerwig’s exceptionally pink fantasy-comedy Barbie has earned nearly $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the biggest debut ever for a female-directed film. The blockbuster chronicles the retro-fabulous doll as she leaves Barbie Land and discovers the “real world”—and herself in the process. Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, the knockout cast also features America Ferrera, Issa Rae, Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, Dua Lipa, and Simu Liu. Whether you think Barbie’s not-so-subtle commentary on the patriarchy is overkill or right on point, the visual escape was undeniably a summer hit. 

The movie primarily takes place in Barbie Land, a colorful paradise where, in contrast to societal gender stereotypes, Barbies run the world and Kens are inept. Some critics found the movie overly negative in its portrayal of male stereotypes and went so far as to call Gerwig’s commentary, “man-hating.” Junior Savannah Lang said, “I like how thoughtful the movie was, but I also think the Kens were made to seem too stereotypically dumb.” 

Others were inspired by Gerwig’s feminist lens and appreciated its portrayal. Sophomore Kian Wilcox said, “I feel like Barbie did a really adequate job at representing female empowerment, and I think they should continue to make more movies like that.”

Many M-A students dressed up in pink and saw Barbie locally, which felt nostalgic, having played with Barbies as kids. Sophomore Zara Parekh said, “I grew up on Barbie so I had a personal connection to the movie.” 

Students, like junior Isabella Kha, also connected to the movie’s message of female empowerment on a deeper level. “There were a lot of pretty profound scenes that made me very emotional,” she shared. 

Surprising emotional elements were woven throughout the film both in terms of the central mother-daughter relationship—as well as the portrayal of how mothers struggle to “do it all” and have to wrestle with the sacrifices motherhood calls them to make. When Gloria and her daughter Sasha visit Barbieland, they reconnect through their mission to unify against the Kens’ takeover. The rift and repair of their relationship made the film more relatable to viewers who share similar experiences.

Many students connected with the themes of the record-breaking movie. Because of its success, Barbie proves that fun lighthearted movies can also contain deeper and more meaningful messages.

Rose is a sophomore at M-A and this is her first year in journalism. She enjoys writing about pop culture and issues affecting the M-A community. In her free time, Rose enjoys exercising, going to concerts, and spending time with friends and family.

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