Don't shoot the messenger is cliché, but I think it applies to many people who have either watched or avoided the Barbie movie. Many people were quick to criticize it - many who haven't even seen the film. My daughters and I went to see Barbie. There were messages in this movie that I feel were important for men and woman to learn. I don't know if the writers and director intended these perspectives but these are thoughts I walked away from.
Women Don't have to be perfect
It seems as if women have to be perfect in everything. We have to look good, be good, and be successful or people won't like us. That should not be our motivator. I believe we (men and women) need to treat others with dignity and respect but that doesn't always guarantee you'll be "liked." The scene that really highlighted this was when the mother, Gloria, talks about the struggles of being a woman. It's a long quote but here's the ending part:
I'm just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don't even know (Barbie, 2023 Movie).
Women are not objects
In the movie, when Ken returns to Barbie Land to spread patriarchy and misogyny, some of the Barbies fall into accepting the lie. Barbie has to rescue these women. Women were not created for the sole purpose of fulfilling whatever a man wants. The same goes for men. We have pornography, sex trafficking, domestic abuse - terrible fruits of how we have dehumanized women and people in general. These might be too big for one person to solve, but one person can learn to be respectful of all the people around him or her. Respect the person blending your coffee drink. Respect the cashier. Respect the teacher working with your children. Golden rule - treat others as you would have them do to you.
Though I enjoyed the movie (especially Weird Barbie), there were a few things that bothered me. The first thing that felt odd was the opening scene with the girls smashing the baby dolls. It felt as if motherhood was being painted as a terrible thing. My daughters disagreed with me. They said that the idea behind it was that girls were forced into playing the parenting role by being given baby dolls. Maybe. I do think the role of parenting involves both mother and father. I do think we need to work with boys to help them learn and appreciate the value of parenting - that it's not just a girl thing. Smashing dolls, however, just felt wrong to me.
Men are not all bad
I absolutely loved Ryan Gosling as Ken and Michael Cera as Allan. Will Ferrell, as the Mattel CEO, was predictable Will Ferrell, but still funny. I think the movie used hyperbole - exaggerating the flaws of men - and did it fairly well. I was hoping, however, that Barbie would set the bar a little higher. Allan was probably the closest to being a decent man but because he was Allan, no one paid too much heed to him. There are many men who are respectful of women. Those are the quiet ones that are not in the news. If we want a fair and just world, we can't paint one group as completely evil, dumb, or useless.
There you have it - my take on Barbie. I know you've all been waiting to read my opinion... Another great movie to watch is Sound of Freedom. I had watched that before Barbie, so I was feeling super-sensitive to the plight of victims of human trafficking. Barbie highlighted in many ways the attitudes that perpetuate the evil of human trafficking.
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