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How the Barbie movie reinvigorated commentary on patriarchy

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Collegian | Trin Bonner

On July 21, the highly anticipated “Barbie” was released in U.S. theaters and has been receiving mixed reviews as it continues to succeed at the box office.

The film, directed and written by Greta Gerwig, features Margot Robbie as Stereotypical Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Beach Ken. Additional big-name celebrities star as other Barbies and Kens, including actress Hari Nef as Doctor Barbie and Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie.

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Fox News recently released a segment and an online article recapping the Christian movie review site Movieguide’s review of the film. The review said that the movie “forgets its core audience of families and children while catering to nostalgic adults and pushing transgender character stories.”

The film discusses topics related to gender roles and feminism, which is part of the reason it is receiving so much backlash.

Andrew Grant, a fifth-year international studies and political science double major at Colorado State University, saw the movie July 27. Overall, he said he liked it a lot more than he expected to.

“I think it had a lot more of a resonant theme than I had anticipated,” Grant said. “I think that it does a good job at poking holes into the socially constructed ideal of femininity because I think that’s what a lot of people associate Barbie with.”

Grant commented on the fact that the film didn’t affect him in the way it may have impacted others.

“As a man, the sentiments didn’t necessarily represent my experience,” Grant said. “I thought it was still super powerful, but I recognize that not all stories will be, or should be, about only my experience.”

Amber Rogers, a junior at the University of Northern Colorado, said she saw the movie about two weeks after the film was released in theaters.

“I absolutely loved the film,” Rogers said. “As a woman, obviously, it was very women-empowering, and I literally cried just the whole way through.”

Rogers said she thought Gerwig did an interesting job of putting the film’s point of view opposite of how things are today in regard to the patriarchal real world and matriarchal Barbie world.

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“She was trying to get a perspective that maybe men could be like, ‘Oh, I see that,’” Rogers said.

Rogers added that she liked seeing an opposing perspective, and in contrast to the Movieguide article’s opinion, she thought it appealed to a bigger audience than just women.

There were some scenes that hinted at LGBTQ+ relations in the film, and the casting of Nef, a transgender actress, was another point of criticism in the Movieguide review.

“I think that at the end of the day, we’re in the 21st century, and inclusion is very much a part of Hollywood … no matter what you are,” Rogers said.

Rogers added that she believes inclusivity in the entertainment industry is very crucial at this moment in time.

“You’re going to have to get used to the fact that directors and producers are creating films where those people are included,” she said.

Despite the mixed emotions about the movie, it has been doing well at the box office, grossing over $1.3 billion internationally as of Aug. 23, surpassing The Super Mario Bros. Movie as the highest-grossing movie of 2023, according to The Direct.

“If you get mad at the Barbie movie, there’s other things to focus on,” Grant said.

Reach Daryn Whitmoyer at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Trin Bonner
Trin Bonner, Illustration Director
Trin Bonner is the illustration director for The Collegian newspaper. This will be her third year in this position, and she loves being a part of the creative and amazing design team at The Collegian. As the illustration director, Bonner provides creative insight and ideas that bring the newspaper the best graphics and illustrations possible. She loves working with artists to develop fun and unique illustrations every week for the readers. Bonner is a fourth-year at Colorado State University studying electronic arts. She loves illustrating and comic making and has recently found enjoyment in experimental video, pottery and graphic design. Outside of illustration and electronic art, Bonner spends her free time crocheting and bead making. She is usually working on a blanket or making jewelry when she is not drawing, illustrating or brainstorming.

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