As it turns out, the Barbie film is about Ken attempting to impose patriarchy to Barbie world. And I don’t just mean philosophically or subtextually. Ken believes in male dominance. I mean it literally; he states plainly, “I want patriarchy,” since I guess nuanced writing isn’t one of Greta Gerwig’s strong suits. Not only that, but Ken also attempts to change the Barbie land Constitution in order to remove Barbies from positions of power. This is not hyperbole; this is not my exaggeration; this is what happened in the picture. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let us now discuss the Barbie film.

So, this is a film that I know a lot of people are interested to see, especially in my demographic (women in their twenties and thirties). And I believe this is largely due to the allure, as well as the marketing, which was undoubtedly extremely remarkable. They did an excellent job of conjuring all of the girlie delight associated with the Barbie brand. Not only that, but if you’ve seen the trailers and advertising material for this picture, you’ll know that, unlike “Indiana Jones and the Doll of Destiny” (that initial slip-up, “You stole it!” “No, you stole it!” says the narrator. “It’s called capitalism!”), unlike “Indiana Jones,” Barbie’s marketing has been fairly apolitical.

So much so that many people have been cautiously optimistic, thinking, “Hey, maybe this isn’t going to be some woke snooze-fest.” Maybe this will just be a wonderful, lighthearted comedy film that we can all watch this summer?” No, it does not. I can’t believe some people still haven’t realized that we can’t have nice things with Hollywood the way it is. This film is quite intelligent. And that, in my opinion, is not the case, particularly when it comes to the Barbie movie. When people say this film is communist propaganda, they aren’t merely saying “Oh, it’s pro-women’s empowerment.”
No, we’re talking about feminism here. And it’s plainly mentioned: women suffering at the hands of men, patriarchy’s ills, you name it.

And, just in case anyone is dismissing those who accurately identify this film as feminist propaganda, we’re going to walk you through the plot so you can see how bad it is. Because this is much, much worse than I could have anticipated. I’m not just talking about social and political messaging here; it’s also awkwardly written and clunky at times.

However, before delving further, let me issue a spoiler alert. If you haven’t yet watched the movie in question and still wish to, despite its negative reception, consider pausing this article and returning to it later, as we’re about to delve into its specific aspects.

The Barbie movie initially explores the historical context where young girls traditionally played with dolls, typically representing infants. That was until the advent of the Barbie Doll, which brought a significant change. This isn’t just a movie fabrication; it’s rooted in the real history of the Barbie doll’s launch in the 1950s. Before that, girls played with dolls resembling children, enabling them to imagine themselves as mothers, rather than dolls representing fully grown women with various adult roles.

Now, returning to the movie itself, it introduces us to Barbie land, a distinct realm separate from the real world. Barbie land perfectly encapsulates what many young girls would envision – it’s pink, impeccably groomed, glistening, and the residence of the protagonist, portrayed by Margot Robbie, who personifies the stereotypical Barbie, complete with blonde hair and an air of perfection.

Credit must be given to Greta Gerwig for the amusing depiction of Barbie land. Barbie awakens in her dream house, a structure devoid of stairs as per Barbie’s dream house tradition. Even her morning hair remains impeccable, and she showers with no water flowing, adhering to the fantastical Barbie dream house logic. She enjoys a breakfast of fake food and selects her outfit from an array of choices. For someone who cherished Barbie growing up, this segment provided genuine enjoyment.

At this point in the film, it’s easy to get swept up in the nostalgia, particularly since it incorporates real Barbie products, potentially evoking fond memories of specific outfits and Barbie accessories.

However, the film takes a downturn when it introduces the rest of Barbie land. Barbie and her surroundings exude a strong feminist ethos. This isn’t a mere projection of political ideology onto the film; it’s explicitly stated by the narrator, Helen Mirren. She declares Barbie as feminist, arguing that her versatility equates to women’s potential in the real world. This feminist stance becomes evident within the first five minutes of the film, signaling potential trouble ahead.

Within Barbie land, positions of authority are predictably occupied by Barbies, including the presidency, the Supreme Court, and even lawyer Barbies. In one scene, a plus-size Barbie, also a lawyer, argues the Citizens United case before the Barbie Supreme Court, advocating restrictions on nonprofit corporations’ political ad spending. This portrayal aligns with a certain anti-free speech perspective within feminist Barbie land.

Furthermore, Barbie land promotes diversity and inclusivity, featuring Barbies of different races and abilities, including wheelchair Barbie and transgender Barbie. This inclusion of a transgender Barbie is where the movie takes a divisive turn. It raises concerns when you observe that every powerful position in Barbie land is held by Barbies who epitomize perfection and proclaim that women have it better in their world. This narrative shifts from playful homage to Barbie to something more insidious.

While some may argue that these are merely aspects of a children’s movie, the film’s overt messages, like how women in Barbie land supposedly fare far better than those in the real world, and the elevation of Barbie as a feminist icon who has rectified all societal issues, suggest a more intentional agenda. This narrative seems to convey to young girls that they should adopt feminism and take responsibility for addressing perceived injustices, painting men in a negative light in the process.

Now, let’s take a moment to address a perspective that some viewers might hold. They may argue, “Barbie has always been about women’s empowerment and telling girls they can be anything they want.” However, this viewpoint is more of a retroactive interpretation imposed on Barbie over time. In the 1950s, when Barbie was created, the intention wasn’t primarily to empower young girls. Instead, it stemmed from a woman’s inspiration by her daughter’s paper dolls, aiming to offer girls dolls representing more mature figures than just infants. This is the foundational concept behind Barbie.

So, when you encounter portrayals like Barbie land being framed as an outright feminist utopia, it’s crucial to recognize that this wasn’t Barbie’s original purpose; it’s a later overlay on the brand. But for now, understand that this movie isn’t merely an innocent homage to Barbie; it carries feminist messaging.

Now, back to the film’s plot. Barbie is in a relationship with Ken, voiced by Ryan Gosling. The movie humorously pokes fun at the typical perception of Ken as a flawless male specimen, instead presenting him as a sensitive and somewhat effeminate character, which is a positive shift in many ways. Embracing emotional sensitivity in men is commendable. However, it’s somewhat unusual to see such messaging in a children’s movie, given that these characters represent the conventional ideals of femininity and masculinity.

The movie takes an even more perplexing turn as it progresses. Ken begins engaging in open discussions about patriarchy, expressing the belief that women hold too much power in Barbie land. He even attempts to amend Barbie land’s Constitution, which surprisingly exists. The Constitution stipulates that only Barbies can hold positions of authority. Ken’s desire for patriarchy and power is painted negatively by the film.

The most concerning aspect is Ken’s reasoning, which hinges on the stereotype that women are too emotional to wield authority. Yes, you read that correctly. Ken argues that women are too emotional for leadership roles. This perspective is inherently sexist, and the movie acknowledges this. However, it then contradicts itself by suggesting that women are excellent at wielding power precisely because of their emotional sensitivity. This mixed messaging raises questions about the film’s stance on women and their capacity to handle power.

Here’s where the movie’s writing starts to crumble. Initially, Ken is portrayed as desiring a return to patriarchy, a perspective painted as incorrect. He asserts that women are too emotional, another viewpoint the film disapproves of. However, later in the story, there’s a sequence where Barbie, overwhelmed with sadness, sheds tears that magically save the day. This presents a puzzling inconsistency: does the movie suggest women excel in power due to their emotional nature or that they falter because of it? This mixed messaging is perplexing.

The film attempts to have it both ways, promoting a feminist agenda while simultaneously perpetuating outdated and sexist stereotypes about women’s emotional tendencies and men’s rationality. This creates a tangled narrative.

What’s even more perplexing is that towards the movie’s conclusion, Barbie amends Barbie land’s Constitution to allow men to hold positions of power. Her method, though, feels forced and cringeworthy. She delivers a speech emphasizing the strength and independence of women while asserting the importance of including men, but it comes off as insincere and contrived.

To compound the confusion, Ken, initially portrayed as a villain seeking to disempower women, proposes to Barbie, and she accepts. This ending contradicts the earlier depiction of Ken and leaves the audience puzzled.

In sum, “Barbie: The Movie” was a disappointment. It had the potential to be an enjoyable tribute to Barbie but ended up delivering conflicting messages and heavy-handed feminist propaganda. These critiques come from someone who supports gender equality and feminism, but the film’s execution left much to be desired.

Nonetheless, it’s possible that I’m overanalyzing the movie. Some might argue that it’s just a children’s film and should be taken lightly. Perhaps I should indeed consider that perspective. However, when a film aggressively promotes an agenda, it invites critical scrutiny. So, those are my reflections on “Barbie: The Movie.” If you’ve seen it, I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments section. And if you haven’t seen it yet, your opinion may differ once you do. Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll catch you in the next review.