Barbie’s impact endures and even manages to touch the hearts of those who may not have grown up with the iconic doll.
As a young girl, pink was a colour I couldn’t stand and playing with ‘girly’ dolls was the last thing I wanted to do.
You see, I was a tomboy through and through, having spent most of my formative years around four bachelor uncles. While my friends had Barbies, I had the Power Rangers and instead of wanting to become a successful woman one day, I only had one goal in mind: to become the next Red Ranger.
Fast forward three decades of coming into myself and a live-action Barbie film later, my entire viewpoint has changed and the name Barbie etched into my soul.
That’s the impact the Barbie film, directed by Greta Gerwig, has had on me.
Barbie follows the titular character (or more specifically known as Stereotypical Barbie), played by Margot Robbie, as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery upon realising that there’s more to the world than the repetitive lifestyle of Barbie Land. In joining her on this journey, we also see Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, discovering himself as more than just Barbie’s boyfriend.
Narrated by Helen Mirren, the fantasy, musical-comedy film is filled with fantastic pacing and a story in which everyone, regardless of background, can appreciate and enjoy. Of course, the film also manages to cleverly depict the trials and tribulations of being a woman in a male dominated society, while also portraying the basic essence of manhood, in a tasteful way.
In many ways Barbie isn’t just a film about dealing with an existential crisis after realising that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It manages to truly personify the very essence of what it means to be human and the stereotypical roles the patriarchal society has given to both men and women, the latter of which is EPICALLY portrayed through the monologue delivered by America Ferrera’s character. The clink of glasses in the audience as soon as she finished only reinforced the notion that this is truly how we feel in today’s world, living with the unrealistic and unachievable expectations that have been placed upon us.
While we see this as commonplace in the real world, which somehow manages to function, living according to one ideology and an inflexible set of rules completely breaks down the perfect haven that is Barbie Land, regardless of whether the importance is placed on men or women.
The way in which this teaches us about the need for balance and understanding that perfection need not be attained in order for one to be worthy is so cleverly told in Barbie.
There’s so much more that can be unpacked in terms of how the story of Barbie was told, but I’d be giving away too much. Just believe me when I say that you need to experience this on your own to truly appreciate the underlying meanings and messages. Plus, there were a good number of laugh out loud moments that you just HAVE to enjoy on your own as well.
For me, personally, the entire story and the way in which it was crafted speaks of several important things but the most important being empowerment.
The main character in the film may be Stereotypical Barbie, but ‘Barbie’ is so much more. It isn’t just one single doll with one set of characteristics. No, ‘Barbie’ is more than a doll. It’s a concept and one that can be anyone and everyone, inspiring and encouraging young girls to dream and be whatever they choose to be. It is this aspect of Barbie and the film that I truly appreciated. After all, teaching the younger generation to pursue their dreams and passions is what I do as a diversity advocate.
It is this idea that Barbie can be anything and represent everyone that really turned me into a fan. Can you believe that the little girl who refused to wear pink now rocks pink nails and dresses from time to time? I suspect that’s because that little girl grew up realising that, like Barbie, she doesn’t need to be perfect and she can be whatever she chooses to be.
Barbie was more than just its story though. The casting for the film was spot on and the cast played their roles perfectly, with a brilliant dynamic, for the most part, between their relationships with one another.
More so than Margot Robbie, I actually believe Ryan Gosling stole the show with his depiction of a lovestruck, yet, unassuming Ken, who believed he didn’t have an identity beyond Barbie (because let’s face it, we all helped create that persona for Ken, who’s just, Barbie’s boyfriend and nothing more).
The way in which Gosling portrayed Ken and his character development throughout the film was simply genius and if he doesn’t get an award for his performance, I think I may just riot.
Of course, there were also more stereotypical performances and less developed character dynamics that I wished were given more time, such as that between America Ferrera’s character and her daughter, played by Ariana Greenblatt.
When it came to visuals, aesthetics and music, oh you can bet that Barbie had that all down pat and did so in a way that made you feel like migrating to Barbie Land. The way in which the visuals and aesthetics tied in with the story, helped to truly sell the concept of the contrast between the perfect lollipop haven of Barbie Land and the rather mundane, almost greyscale world of reality.
This, of course, further helped drive the notion that the perfect life isn’t actually a life at all, which is a concept that is quite thought provoking for a musical-comedy.
Then comes the soundtrack, and what a soundtrack it is. Between the film’s soundtrack and musical numbers, it was difficult to not want to jump up and start to boogie alongside the characters on screen. The entire suite of music helped provide the pacing of the film and gave it that extra something to leave an impact on our minds.
I definitely left the cinema wanting to go out and dance.
Without saying much more in order to avoid spoiling the film, Barbie was simply magical. It will not only leave you both laughing and in tears but have you really thinking about how human society works. Ultimately, it even helps answer that age old question you’ve been asking yourself for years, “what is my purpose?” Trust me, even before watching this film, I think you already knew the answer all along.