And why we needed more Issa Rae.
Did you miss this speech by Gloria (America Ferrera)? I think it answers at least some of your points...
"You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining.
"You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood. But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.
"I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us," Gloria concludes. "And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know."
Great read. You already know my thoughts. I think my take comes from a sense of resignation. Corporate filmmaking has been here for a very long time. Barbie just feels like a kick in the shins to me. It's weird and is taking swings all over the place. Not all of it lands. But, it's so rare that movies have any sort of moment, any voice in the cultural conversation. It sucks that we finally have a FOMO moment for movies, and it's around a doll movie. But, I'll take it. I'll take anything at this point.
I actually really enjoyed the movie. I follow greta gerwig for a while. Her peculiar, absurd, ironic humor was clearly present throughout the movie for me. It made me laugh. For example the high heels detail contrasting with the Birkenstocks 🙌🏽.
I really resonated with the paradox monologue towards the end. It could have been cliche, but in the moment it felt right, not too superficial, not too elaborate for an entertainment piece.
I agree with some comments above. Its hard to make a subversive piece for mass audiences. I think gerwig and baumbach did a great job considering it was a movie for mass audiences. And within that reality I think they pressed the right buttons.
I didn't comment on Barbie up to now because I wanted to see it in English at the cinema and yesterday was my first chance to do that. So here are my comments:
I didn't mind Barbie's biggest fear being cellulite. I mean her only fears are ageing and death and cellulite is the earliest sign of both, so it's something really trivial which stands in for something very existential.
I agree Ken's arc totally worked. He was just naive enough to openly admit, unlike the exec he tries to persuade to give him a job, that he thought the patriarchy was the better option.
The brainwashing of the other Barbies was a bit glib, but it was explained: they had no immunity against it, like indigenous people in the Americas against European diseases. Barbie herself was immune because she had already been in the real world. So she was no longer innocent. The others were too innocent because they had never had to fight for freedom, it had always been that way. So rather than being stupid, they were naive, and fancied a break from leading all the time, which is one thing both sexes ultimately agree on: leading is hard.
Good spot on the 'China Line', I never would have seen that. I did wonder why USA was so big but seemingly no Canada.
If Issa Rae had written, directed, and produced this film, and there were no ads smuggled into it, you and I might be having this conversation, but almost nobody else would. Finally it's a tradeoff. I think Gerwig did very well overall in keeping quite a bit of moral fibre in a film which after all is called Barbie and is produced by a toy company.
I loved Ken's songs and never got the impression they were filler. But I agree the president could easily have had a song, and if Robbie can't sing she could have lip-synced.
When I saw the poster for the forthcoming Ken movie, I thought, 'ok that's definitely happening in The Real World'. I suppose they might call it Barbie The SeKenD or something.
I thought it ending with her at the gynecologist was perfect. Because had they done a token 'Barbie suddenly becomes president of Mattel' it would have come off as super-fake. The point is there is still work to be done in The Real World. She has chosen, as Joseph Campbell said, to 'participate fully in the joys and sorrows of the world.' She even chooses real death, ageing and cellulite to a fake paradise. Essentially the opposite ending to Solaris, which is very depressing, when one really thinks about it.
I skipped over the spoilers because I really want to see Barbie. I will come back when I have. I have enjoyed Greta Gerwig's other movies. Overall, are you glad you went or sorry?
I haven't seen it but, wow, great analysis. Probably the best that will ever be written for this movie. It's wonderful to get your insights—job well done!