The movie “Barbie” with Margot Robbins in the title role made a buzz on the Internet. Some found in it a humiliation of men, others are outraged by its pomp and unnaturalness, and still others are delighted and believe that the film is “a road for other projects about feminism in cinema.” Each of them has the right to their opinion, because a person sees what he wants to see, however, it seems to me that none of these points of view is close to what Barbie actually has, except, perhaps, second (but more on that later). Let’s try to disassemble this film and understand what they wanted to talk about in it. We will also analyze the ending, which for many remained misunderstood.
The article will contain important plot spoilers.
What is the Barbie movie about?
All Barbies and Kens ever made live in the fabulous city of Barbieland. Every day there is similar to the previous one, the days pass fabulously and perfectly. All dolls are aware that they are dolls, and that there is some “real world” in which they are played with. In Barbieland, a kind of matriarchy is established, where all women occupy important positions, while men are just an appendix to Barbie.
But suddenly one Stereotypical Barbie (hereinafter I will simply call her “Barbie”) suddenly thinks about death. At the behest of Strange Barbie, together with Ken, she goes to the real world, where she must find her mistress and understand why she is sad.
While Barbie finds the girl, tries to talk to her and later falls into the hands of people from the Mattel company, Ken walks around the world and realizes that, unlike Barbieland, men rule in it. With this installation, he returns to his city and establishes a patriarchy. However, later, with the help of a cunning plan, Barbie, who returned to Barbieland, returns life to its previous course.
There comes an ending that many did not understand. Ruth Handler, the creator of the line of dolls, comes to Barbie and takes her to a white space, where they have a little conversation, as a result of which the Barbie doll becomes a person named Barbara.
The meaning of the movie “Barbie”
First, I will analyze what, in my opinion, they wanted to tell us, and then I will refute the notions about the film that I wrote about at the beginning.
“Barbie” is a big absurd (in a good way) satire in which the creators laugh at toxic muscularity, Barbie dolls, Mattel (which, by the way, sponsored the film), and even themselves.
With the device of Barbieland, in which Kens are an application to Barbie, they reflect how in the real world the conviction still lives that a woman, of course, can choose an occupation for herself, but at the same time she remains worse than a man. In the end, through the dialogue between Barbie and Ken, the creators want to show that it is terrible to consider a person of one sex as an attachment to a person of the other sex, and in this way they are trying to convey the idea of equality. This, in fact, is the main point of the film, to which others are already mixed in (for example, the idea that any girl can be a feminist; that the lifestyle that is sold to modern men is simply ridiculous, etc.)
I also mentioned at the beginning that the claim that the movie is actually quite absurd and pompous is true. However, the people who made this accusation considered it a minus, while for me it is a plus. The filmmakers already start the film with an absurd situation (a doll that has begun to experience an existential crisis decides to go into the real world and find a girl playing with her), which they then gradually develop (Barbieland turns out to be a city in Sweden; Ken establishes patriarchy in one day, changing everything foundations that have been built over the years, Mattel organizes a puppet chase, etc.) Thanks to this technique, the director can safely ridicule whatever he wants.
Why the film is not about hatred of men
According to many, all the men in the film are weak, stupid, incompetent people who, at the first opportunity to become important in their world, simply start drinking beer and wearing beautiful fur coats. The main complaint goes something like this: “Why do Barbies, having gained power, begin to build an ideal society and occupy high positions, and the Kens, having received it, just drink beer and do nothing else? Why is women’s power represented so well and men’s so poorly?
I have an answer to this: the creators wanted to show with such a fact not how terrible and stupid men are, but what ridiculous stereotypes our world is surrounded by about them. Will explain. Ken spends one day in the real world. He simply saw that men were treated with respect, that women did not dare to interrupt them, but he did not understand what this was connected with. All his knowledge of “patriarchy” comes from advertisements showing brutal men riding horses, drinking beer from mini-fridges, and wearing beautiful fur coats. From this, Ken draws a simple conclusion for himself: this is patriarchy, and he returns to Barbieland.
The creators did not want to say how stupid men are, they so wanted to ridicule what kind of lifestyle they want to sell to modern men.
The meaning of the ending of the movie “Barbie”
The scene before the very end, in which the creator takes her creation into white space, is, in fact, extremely simple. This is an allusion to a conversation with God and rebirth.
White space has been used in movies for a long time to show how an old, wise, and most likely dead mentor gives his student a final lesson (you don’t even have to look far for an example, the same technique was used in the last part of Harry Potter) . In “Barbie” this piece follows, I’m not afraid of this word, a clichéd path: a dead old woman who once saved her tells Barbie that it’s hard to be a man, then takes her by the hands and shows moments from people’s lives , thereby giving a lesson about human everyday life.
However, here it takes on the connotation of a conversation with God. Ruth Handler is literally the creator of Barbie. There is also a dialogue:
Barbie: Will you let me be human?
Ruth: You don’t need my permission.
B: But you created me! Isn’t it up to you to decide?
R: I decide no more in your life than in my own daughter’s life. <…> We, mothers, serve as a guide for our daughters.
It completely refers us to the idea that God created man and gave them free will, becoming only a guide for them.
product of its time
Many argue that “Barbie” is too progressive, they say, in it almost all the roles are played by different women and they all talk about the importance of women’s rights. However, I dare to challenge this assertion. The film is an absolute product of its time. The modern world requires that in mass works there should be a representation of different people and minorities. There is nothing wrong with this, but it seems to me that it is impossible to say that Barbie has become a revolution in the industry.