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Why The Barbie Movie Is So Relevant

By Marissa Rotolo

With the high anticipation that came with Greta Gerwigs’ “Barbie” movie, so did the discourse. The film was met with strong emotions. Some critics called the movie “woke,” while others were met with intense emotion, and others praised Gerwig for capturing the feminine experience: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ultimately, this film distinguishes itself because its message so easily goes over some viewers' heads. People’s differing conclusions reflect how different the human experience can be.

Many people’s issue with the movie is that it favors the matriarchy. However, people seem to not notice that nobody is inherently happier (or suffering) in the matriarchy, and vice versa when Ken brings the patriarchy to Barbie Land. Rather, the movie seeks to highlight humanity over hierarchy. In the end, choice is the main idea. Barbie chooses to choose. The Kens and Barbies choose what they want: to be a doctor, to run for president, to be a homemaker, etc.

The movie’s main idea is about coming into womanhood. This is pointed out through America Ferrera’s eloquent monologue. The entire concept is that Barbie has become a symbol of how complicated womanhood can actually be. Barbie was created with the intention to be whoever you wanted her to be. Overtime, the idea of Barbie has become jaded. She’s framed as a bimbo who only cares about fashion and the color pink. This is a frustration for women coming into their own. You must be a boss woman, but also not too much because then you are greedy. You should love yourself and not care about being super skinny, but also if you gain weight then you lack self-control. You should be independent but also not too much or you come across as ungrateful. The list simply goes on and on. Barbie is the perfect icon to highlight this dilemma because she herself is the dilemma. When did Barbie’s original purpose get so mixed up?

Perhaps the most pivotal moment in the film is when Barbie takes the hand of her creator and sees girlhood being played out. This is the heart of the film. She sees the innocence of being a child grow into the complexity of becoming a woman. This moment is bittersweet because the innocence of being a child and playing with barbies is so simple. After all, as a child you never question the inner workings of the things you love. There tends to be a moment or a shift where we become hyper-aware of ourselves, and Gerwig does a phenomenal job of portraying that while also provoking a nostalgic, bittersweet emotion.

With all this in mind, Greta Gerwig has done a fantastic job of highlighting the layers of womanhood, while also maintaining a specific sense of irony and wit. Her wit goes so deep, that it can go over the viewer's heads. The layers that this film produces makes it a timeless piece of cinematography that will stay relevant for years to come.

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