“Barbie” was not revolutionary

Bachir Miloudi / Sputnik Photography

As everybody was losing their minds over the new Barbie movie, the feminist uproar from social media made me very excited to watch it. I cannot lie, it was a great movie and I don’t regret watching it. I want to note that I loved the soundtrack, there were amazing monologues, I enjoyed the actors and the roles they embodied. Overall, I thought it was a great production. The key word here is production. The movie was a great piece of media and art.   

However, I feel like scholars were coming at it from a feminist discourse point of view. While the rest of the society was looking for female empowerment, it coined the term feminism as a synonym. The Barbie movie was far from feminism. My critique comes from what I’ve learned from gender studies, I cannot lie that I was expecting a much more progressive dialogue that could’ve been a full rejection of patriarchy with a mix of trends, jokes from popular culture and elements of childhood. While part of this was included, I was hoping there’d be a stronger feminist understanding that patriarchy hurts both men and women. But there wasn’t anything revolutionary or new.   

For example, the weird or discontinued Barbies were on the outskirts of Barbieland and could not integrate into the regular society. These characters did not get as much personality development as the main white and blonde Barbie. It is worth noting that there was no queer representation, except maybe for Alan and Weird Barbie. However, that’s even building on toxic stereotypes of gay men and women being bizarre, unnatural and commonly ostracized.   

An important concept that the film did not consider is intersectionality. This explains that there must be an acknowledgment that experiences of discrimination within classism, sexism and racism overlap. This means that a group’s or individual’s marginalization can depend on many social aspects that interact with each other. The Barbie movie did not care to show the experiences and hardships that different types of women go through within a patriarchal society. I will admit it did have some diversity within the cast. But realistically, the plot centered on the classic white Barbie and her struggles.     

Lastly, it did not give voice in how the patriarchy affects men. Instead, it turned them into idiots who did not know better, which is not a constructive message to our society or the children watching. It shows that men do not know how to use reason or rationality, which perpetuates the idea of “boys will be boys” and strives for no further conversation. By making Ken the embodiment of patriarchy and ridiculing men’s decisions, it closed any kind of constructive or progressive discourse. As a society, we should be able to enjoy a piece of art and equally critique it where its intentions fail.  

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