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The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The ‘Barbie’ movie is more than just pink

Six months out of the box office, and people have already twisted ‘Barbie’ into a joke
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UKinUSA via flickr
Greta Gerwig, director of the “Barbie” movie, speaks at a reception for the movie’s release in the UK

Theaters across the country, filled with the hot pink dresses and ambition of inspired girls, bursted with full audiences. The excited mother-daughter pairs walked into the movie theater quickly, eager to see such an influential piece of their childhood projected onto the big screen.  

“Barbie,” the powerful movie that blew up shortly after its release date on July 21, 2023, has easily been one of the most influential films of the year. Margot Robbie’s near perfect performance as Barbie and Ryan Gosling’s hilarious portrayal of Ken not only appealed to younger audiences, but the movie’s message of female empowerment hit close to home for many females in the theater. 

With the incredible acting from the cast, it was not just hoped but expected that Robbie would be nominated for best “Actress in a Leading Role” at the Oscars, approaching quickly on March 10. However, when she wasn’t nominated, and the infamous Ken (Ryan Gosling) was, a major controversy started. 

The movie was about empowering women, but the academy was like, ‘No I like this guys singing about being Ken without his shirt on.’

— Chloe Tang

“I think that Margot Robbie did a fantastic job as Barbie,” senior Henry Ervin, co-founder of Film Studies Club, said. “I think she did a good job of conveying that [feminism] message and the acting correlates to that. This is a hot take: I do not think that Ryan Gosling deserves an Oscar for playing Ken or a nomination…I think she [Robbie] was probably snubbed.”

While the rage surrounding the nominations does circle the fact that Robbie’s performance was incredible, most are devastated that a movie focused on standing up against the patriarchy was in turn mocked by it. 

“I think the fact that he [Gosling] got nominated over Margot Robbie almost defeated the point of the movie,” junior Chloe Tang, a member of Girl Up, said.“The movie was about empowering women, but the academy was like, ‘No I like this guys singing about being Ken without his shirt on.’”

Like Robbie, Greta Gerwig too was snubbed, as she didn’t receive a nomination for an academy award for best director. Although receiving best picture nominations for her work with “Lady Bird” and “Little Women,” Gerwig has only ever been nominated for best director for “Lady Bird,” one out of her three films. “Barbie” was nominated for best adapted screenplay, but many believe Gerwig’s directing deserves its own nomination, for the movie would’ve been nothing without her. 

“I actually read the screenplay before [seeing the movie] because I was interested,” Ervin said. “From that screenplay, you could see exactly what she wanted out of the movie.”

The message of “Barbie” was blatantly about women’s rights and overcoming the patriarchy, and watching Gerwig and Robbie not get nominated seemed to defeat the entire message. In fact, the Oscars, occurring for its 96th year, have only ever nominated eight females for best director out of the immense amount of fantastic women behind the scenes directing.

“It speaks to the fact that still there aren’t a lot of women in power, and the women who are in power, like Greta Gerwig, the director, don’t get recognized for that,” Tang said. 

Not only have people been outraged by the misplaced Oscar nominations, but many have been horrified by the jokes Jo Koy, host and comedian at the 2024 Golden Globes on Jan. 7, insensitively made. 

“‘Oppenheimer’ is based on a 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project, and ‘Barbie’ is on a plastic doll with big boobies,” Jo Koy stated at the Golden Globes, receiving nearly no laughter in response and awkward glances among the audience members. 

Many celebrities, including several members of the “Barbie” cast, and lots of  women in general have publicly spoken out, smashing his rude jokes by saying that Jo Koy was disrespectful and, clearly, didn’t understand the point of the movie.

Just because something’s based on a book [‘Oppenheimer’] doesn’t mean it has any more relevance,” Ervin said. “If you kind of flip that comment on its head and you say ‘Barbie’ is based off of a plastic doll, and they were able to [create] this amazing, sensational, billion-dollar idea that had a great message behind it all from a plastic doll; it’s totally just amazing.”

Many people now worry about the twisted message people are spreading about “Barbie,” concerned that rude, sexist comments will mold others’ understanding of empowerment into a mindless comedy. 

“I think on the one hand some people don’t understand [‘Barbie’] and they just see it as…pink and glittery and that’s fine,” Tang said. “If they could not understand ‘Barbie’ the first time and that was the representation of ‘Barbie’ that they got…that’s what they’re going to think of women’s issues, which is devastating.”

However, even with the unfair results of the “Barbie” movie nominations, the message of strong female empowerment and rising up to the patriarchy still resonates with girls around the world, including at New Trier High School. 

“I think in the sense that Girl Up focuses on helping the girls of the future and female leaders of the future is definitely connected to ‘Barbie,’ because ‘Barbie’ kind of does the same thing and makes the message of feminism a little easier to understand,” Tang said. 

And still, even though the “Barbie” movie may have been interpreted in the wrong way by some, its strong message still continues to create an impact. Just because the ideal, equal rights for men and women, isn’t yet a full reality, the “Barbie” movie encourages us to push back against the patriarchy and create a more just society. 

“In the end…Barbie chose to go to the real world,” Tang said.

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