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  • Arhana Ramamurthy

The Barbie Movie : Exploring the Depths of Barbie

Flashy dolls, incredible fashion, huge penthouses, and of course : a million shades of pink. For decades, Barbie has been known as the doll who lives in her pink paradise, in her own little world.

But have you ever wondered, is Barbie more than just a plastic toy? Have you ever pondered over the nuances that come with the existence of such an unnatural phenomenon : a girl living in her pastel universe?

With the release of Greta Gerwig’s directorial BARBIE starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, each of us need to revisit Barbie. The REAL barbie. It is time to re-explore a toy we have each played with.

I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world:

Barbie-land has for decades been associated with a bright pink paradise. A perfect world with dollhouses, perpetual happiness, synchronized dance numbers and Ken dolls waiting on Barbie hand and foot. Life in plastic really is fantastic.

But can such degrees of perfection exist in the 'real world'? Can we see the incredible irony of having a utopian dream house in a world that has varying shades of darkness and imperfection?

In 'BARBIE', Gerwig walks the tightrope of her carefully crafted metaphor and focuses greatly on this 'real' world .When certain things go wrong in Barbie-land, Barbie ventures into reality. This plot introduces elements of pragmatism so that those of us actually living in the harsh and cruel 'real ' world can relate to the varying shades of pink. It adds some depth to the Barbie universe that some of us still think is childish and unreal.

What was I made for? Just something you paid for?

Barbie at its crux, is a plastic doll. But one that has been molded by the imaginations and needs of millions of children. She is exactly what others want her to be. “Imagination, life is your creation.”

But what If Barbie was a real person? One can’t just be a tool for the imagination of others, can they? So Where would she truly belong?

The 'BARBIE' movie dives into the existential crisis experienced by Barbie as she enters the “real” world. What was she made for? Was she just something people paid for? Well, she doesn’t know.

Such deep questions explore the idea that perhaps Barbie isn’t just a plastic doll, but maybe, the doll represents the grueling in-between of knowing you can’t feel anything to hoping that if you try, maybe one day you’ll be your own person.

The harsh reality:

In stark contrast to bright pastels and blinding shades of pink that Barbie is accustomed to, she discovers the sad reality of the “real” world in the “BARBIE” movie. She uncovers the patriarchy of the people and the capitalist approach of Mattel inc. : her creators.

This plot confronts the intrinsic issues of a company that for decades has made dolls. It addresses the fact that it is not the doll itself that is the issue , but it is us : the “real world", that makes the doll demeaning and oppressive . It is us who have turned Barbie into a plastic toy with unrealistic beauty standards and an aloof personality.

In the movie, problems of patriarchy and of insecurity are further introduced when Ken, Someone who was just an accessory to Barbie's life, on returning back to Barbieland, introduces all the Ken dolls to the idea of patriarchy, and of breaking free for the clutches of barbie. Perhaps, this shows that Barbie isn't the only one who's confused : maybe Ken needs love too. The movie finally ends with Ken and Barbie separating ways and being their own people.

In the movie, The self doubt experienced by Barbie has previously been mentioned.

However, after deliberation, confusion, and after experiencing (throughout the movie) her very own "tears" for the first time : Barbie perhaps realizes that she needs to make her own choices. She must “make her own kind of music and sing her own special song.”

This is a reflection of Mattel's concept of "Barbie can be anything" : a doctor, a teacher, a pilot, etc, but maybe it isn’t really possible for a person to be everything for everyone all the time.

If you love barbie, this movie is for you:

If you hate barbie, this movie is for you :

Instead of garnering hate for a toy that has for decades excluded certain body types and ethnicities and has been considered demeaning and oppressive, Gerwig’s movie “BARBIE” captures the hearts of people by showcasing a new Barbie: one that is empowering, innocent and inclusive. This movie is comedic, witty, fun, bright and it subtly conveys a message that one cannot escape.

The BARBIE movie is more than just a large commercial for Mattel. It pays homage to a toy that has brought happiness to millions around the world, a nuanced perspective of the feeling of the doll, and : a witty, fun celebration that includes EVERYONE.

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