Is Barbie as fun and carefree as she seems, or does it go deeper?

From the moment it was announced, the social media world has been filled with excitement for the upcoming Barbie movie. According to a CNN article from August 2023, It made a splash in theatres, becoming the top-grossing movie of 2023 at $575.4 million dollars.  Making money off of an influential brand is easy, but was the intended message delivered? The consensus suggests that Barbie is a good movie, but determining if the movie was as influential as the social consensus seems to be is a different story. Many people have different opinions on the movie and its effects on them and others. 

One of the opinions many people seem to have is that the Barbie movie was not angry enough and did not fully show the extent of the female rage. “I kinda wish it was more. More angry, more tired and more realistic to the misogynist world we live in,” said Castielle Fratangeli, Mt. A Screen Studies and Popular Culture student. Fratangeli believes that the movie was good, but not a  social awakening. To them, Barbie is simply a good, care-free, and fun movie. 

It seems that some people see Barbie as just a toy and not a social-cultural icon. Lindsay Bromley — my mother —  is one of them. When asked, she was more than happy to share her thoughts about the film: “As someone who grew up playing with them, and had a kid who grew up playing with them, why ruin it?” Bromley’s beliefs are that  Although she is yet to see it, Bromley’s thoughts are based on watching the effects and opinions swirl online.

Meanwhile, male perspectives on this film are also important and necessary. “I think Barbie was a great movie; as a guy it taught me a lot about how men mistreat women. It definitely gave me a lot to think about,” said Tristan Terris-Tupper, Sackville local, speaking to how the Kens treated Barbie in the movie. Hearing that the movie had an effect on him was a great indication of the film’s social influence. I hope that the lessons learned from Barbie help people grow and make themselves more aware of women’s issues and experiences.

 The final opinions were grabbed from two female-identifying people who grew up with both Barbie dolls and the internet. When asked what effect the Barbie movie had on them, if any at all, their responses were enlightening. Maggie Gould, second year History major shared some thoughts about the topics brought up in Barbie: “It isn’t a subtle movie in the least. When you’re trying to talk about heavy and huge topics like patriarchy and sexism and society, as well as trying to have the movie appeal to people who benefit from those systems or aren’t at a disadvantage with them, you can’t be subtle about it!” Maura Leggate, shared a striking point, saying, “Even though the concepts in the film were superficial, I believe that is the point. These are concepts women begin to understand before the age of ten. I think that is the most powerful thing about the movie: all these basic concepts of women’s struggles are not arbitrary.” These two women had very different opinions than Fratangeli and Bromley. Gould and Leggate’s opinions on Barbie are passionate and strong, and their passion makes it easy to understand what they see in the movie. What they see is an enlightening social-cultural moment that will open the eyes of many people.

Overall, the common opinion expressed by my interviewees is that Barbie was a good movie. There were more people interviewed that believed that the movie taught them something than those who see it as just a movie. After all, it is just a movie, but movies can teach lessons subtly—or in Barbie’s case, not so subtly— and help people subconsciously understand the struggles of feminism in the modern day. In the end, the movie taught lessons to people who wanted to learn.


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