‘Barbie’ Star Defend’s Film’s “Feminism 101”

in Movies

Barbie cast sneaks into Kenland dressed in all pink

Credit: Warner Bros.

You’ve heard about the Barbie movie– even if you live under a rock. The Greta Gerwig film took over the world, resonating with millions. Many women saw their careers and personal lives reflected in Barbie’s (Margot Robbie) heartbreak as Ken (Ryan Gosling) took over Barbie Land. Others were reminded of their teenage years watching Gloria (America Ferrera) and Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) navigated their complicated mother-daughter relationship.

Making more than $1.4 billion at the box office, Barbie (2023) is the 14th highest-grossing film ever. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing an “I’m Kenough” t-shirt or bright pink, Mattel-branded regalia. Whether they remember welling up at Billie Elish’s “What Was I Made For?” or laughed as Gosling and Simu Liu battled through “I’m Just Ken,” Barbie impacted viewers.

Barbie and Ken singing in her pink convertible
Credit: Warner Bros.

Still, every successful film has its critics, and Barbie World isn’t immune. While there was the expected misogynistic backlash, some feminists felt the Warner Bros. Pictures movie didn’t go far enough.

Some criticized the juxtaposition of anti-patriarchal themes in a movie based on a plastic toy, often children’s first introduction to American consumerism. But much of the feminist critique revolved around Gloria’s viral monologue, which empowers Stereotypical Barbie to take back Barbie Land.

Weird Barbie, as played by Kate McKinnon.
Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie. Credit: Mattel/Warner Bros.

“I think one of the reasons this scene didn’t resonate with me is that this surface level feminism like. This is what you come to understand when you turn 12,” said x (formerly known as Twitter) user @k1ndbutnotsoft. “Also I guess it just feels like white feminism bc there’s no intersectionality.”

“The problem with Barbie isn’t that it’s feminism 101, it’s BAD feminism 101 for white collar city folk and the little girls who aspire to work in a cubicle, but like, a cubicle the same size as all the men have, I guess,” @jentalksmovies wrote

In a recent interview with The New York TimesFerrera defended her character’s speech.

“We can know things and still need to hear them out loud. It can still be a cathartic,” the actress argued. “There are a lot of people who need Feminism 101, whole generations of girls who are just coming up now and who don’t have words for the culture that they’re being raised in. Also, boys and men who may have never spent any time thinking about feminist theory. If you are well-versed in feminism, then it might seem like an oversimplification, but there are entire countries that banned this film for a reason.”

America Ferrera and Ariana Greenblatt in pink jumpsuits in Barbie
Credit: Warner Bros.

“To say that something that is maybe foundational, or, in some people’s view, basic feminism isn’t needed is an oversimplification,” Ferrera continued. “Assuming that everybody is on the same level of knowing and understanding the experience of womanhood is an oversimplification.”

Did Barbie live up to your expectations for the movie? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments.

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