Division and polarization have been a part of the human experience since the beginning of time. Infighting can occur even among those who have many of the same worldviews, such as church congregations or political parties. In 2023 it appears that the cause of recent division within the conservative movement is none other than…the Barbie movie.
To help you decide if you want to see the film or if you’re going to pass on spending your money in the theaters, we have broken down the best and worst moments of Barbie.
1. The victim narrative: It’s nearly impossible to be a woman in the modern day.
Actress America Ferrera, who plays a human woman who played with Barbie, has a monologue at the peak of the movie that revolves around the idea that it is nearly impossible to be a woman in the modern day. She laments how society expects certain things from women but women end up never being “enough.” If women meet certain expectations, she argues, then those expectations are just raised even higher. While many have found parts of this monologue to be inspiring, its overall tone perpetuates the idea that women are the victims of impossible cultural standards. In the United States of America in the year 2023, when women have more rights than ever, is this really the message that we went to be sending to young women?
2. Dismantling the patriarchy by hating men
In the movie, Barbieland is a matriarchy where the Kens have little to no rights or productive roles in society. The movie provides an interesting commentary on the difference between the “patriarchy” in the real world and the “matriarchy” in Barbieland, however, there is little to no resolution at the film’s conclusion. Rather than building women up, they focus on tearing men down.
3. Very little depiction of men and women working TOGETHER
By having all of the Barbies try to tear down the Kens to gain control, it sends the message to viewers that men and women cannot work together. Besides the single representation of a character named Alan, the film is mostly focused on the Kens versus the Barbies. In our modern-day society, men and women need to work together in school, the workplace, and within the home. It would have been great to see more resolution of men and women, or the Kens and the Barbies, working together cohesively by the end of the movie but unfortunately, this resolution is not seen. Instead, they’d rather destroy their counterparts than try to work side by side with them. This sort of messaging does not promote what a healthy society actually looks like, with men and women using their biological differences to work together. Instead, it tells the young women watching that in order for women to not be oppressed and for society to function, only women can be in charge.
1. The universality of the shared female experience
One of the film’s strong points is the message of the shared female experience that many women in the audience can resonate with and find humorous. While your male friends or boyfriend might not laugh at “anxiety Barbie” who comfort watches the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice when she’s sad, most women find these jokes both funny and relatable. These jokes, even if unintentional, acknowledge what we have always known—there are inherent differences between men and women, and that is a beautiful thing to be celebrated.
2. Positive portrayal of motherhood
Motherhood is represented in the movie not as a burden, but as a great option for women who feel called to have children. Much of the plot revolves around the relationship between a mother, Gloria, and her daughter, Sasha. It shows the ups and downs of this relationship as Sasha is going through high school and depicts the challenges and triumphs of motherhood during this time.
Throughout the movie’s feminist monologues there is often an intentional decision to express that women can be mothers if they want to, but don’t have to if they don’t feel called to that decision. Motherhood was never bashed or looked down upon, and this way reflects our culture’s positive shift into being more supportive of mothers in the home and in the workforce.
3. The phenomenal set design
It would be remiss to not come right out and say that the set, costume, and film design were all done beautifully. Since the promotion and marketing of the Barbie movie began earlier this year, it has been apparent that this film would be the Barbie Dreamhouse brought to life– and it certainly lived up to the hype! For women who grew up playing with Barbie and other dolls, it feels like the aesthetic of their childhood is brought to the big screen.
Despite some of the leftist feminist undertones, this representation of girlhood being brought to the big screen is exciting and fun. With most of Hollywood today being left-of-center, it is hard to find tv shows, movies, or media that don’t have some liberal undertones or messages. While the Barbie movie is no exception, there are fun elements that for many conservative women make it worth the watch.
This blog post was written by Franchetta Groves, NeW Communications Associate, and Peyton Smith, NeW Digital Communications Associate.