Warning: Spoilers. If you have not yet seen the movie, Barbie, then you might not want to read further into this blog post. On the other hand, you might want the spoilers anyway. It is akin to sneaking into your parent’s closet during Christmas time and peeking at the gifts.
Me, in the “BB” period of my life. “Before Barbie”. Even as a pre-toddler I was trying to figure out how to open Christmas gifts before their time.
Back in 1960, I was five years old. Barbie, the doll by Mattel, was a year old. She came into existence in 1959, when I was four.
I remember the day when I acquired my first Barbie. The memory is so vivid. My parents, me and two younger siblings embarked upon a shopping trip to Green Acres shopping center, now called Green Acres Mall. My parents had a bit of shopping to do and naturally, their strategy to appease three children was to take us to the toy department.
Back then it was “Green Acres Shopping Center”. I don’t think the word “mall” existed yet.
Now, you must know, my parents were not the sort to buy toys for us during every expedition of pure consumerism—but there were times when we were pleasantly surprised by the parental generosity.
Such was the case that day. I was looking at dolls. And I spotted that thin box with the beautiful teenager dressed in various ensembles. And inside, was the most gorgeous vision I had ever seen in my young life.
The original Barbie. She changed my entire doll life. And I thank my parents for buying her when I was five years old!
She was blonde. She had tiny finger and toenails painted red. Her natural arch was higher than mine. And in the box were black mules that could slide onto her highly-arched plastic feet. Also in the box were sunglasses. I almost felt a kinship because I wore eyeglasses due to my crossed-eyes. However, Barbie didn’t have crossed eyes. She was perfect!
One of my aunts gifted me with a dark-haired Barbie simply because my own hair was black. Who cares what color Barbie’s hair is. She’s beautiful!
Time stopped for me. This Barbie who stood erect in her box was not my Thumbelina nor was she my Tiny Tears or Betsy Wetsey. She was small in stature. She could fit into my hand. I was awestruck. And with my crossed-eyes, I was able to see two of her. I wanted just the one.
And then it happened. My mother picked up a closed box, opened it, inspected it, and handed it to me. (I am starting to cry as I write this). We walked up to the cashier and Barbie was mine!
On the way home that day, we drove into Brooklyn so my parents could buy a Blackout Cake from Ebinger’s bakery. I didn’t care about the cake. I didn’t care about my two siblings in the car sitting next to me. If there was heavy traffic along the Belt Parkway, I was completely unaware because I was sitting and admiring my Barbie. Barbie was all I cared about.
Thus, began my childhood love of all things Barbie. I only side-stepped my Barbie the Christmas that I received my Chatty Cathy doll. That was in 1962. After Chatty’s string broke, it was back to Barbie.
For quite some time, Chatty Cathy knocked Barbie out of my favorite doll category–until Cathy’s string broke. Then it was back to Barbie!
Barbie coloring books, paper dolls, the Barbie game. I had them all. I do somewhat put the blame on Barbie for assisting in my purchasing of brand-name clothing but hey, everyone has their faults.
In an odd way, I blame Barbie for making me aware of brand-name labels. I didn’t want ANY other clothing for my Barbies unless they came in the iconic box for genuine Barbie clothes.
Midge, Barbie’s freckle-faced, flipped hairdo friend, arrived a few years later in 1963; Midge arrived on my 8th birthday. And as life goes on, somewhere around my 12th year, I wasn’t as interested in Barbie as I was when younger. I still loved to take her out and dress her, but in my tween sophistication, I discovered Teen and Ingenue magazines and my focus began to shift.
I had this exact same Midge. She was the best birthday present ever!
Then, one day when I was about 14, I headed down to our basement. It was a very rainy afternoon in the summer and, in a moment of sentimentality, all I wanted to was take out my Barbies, Midge, Skipper and dress them up. We had a huge toy closet in the finished basement where toys, both current, and of the past, were stored.
In addition, I wanted to check that my favorite Barbie outfit of all time was still on Barbie. I had younger siblings.
There was, however, a problem. I could not find my teenaged dolls. I searched to no avail. Then I ran upstairs to ask my mother where my Barbies were. My mother told me that she had given them to a younger cousin because I no longer played with them.
That was the defining moment in which I realized I could no longer place my trust in adults. I was betrayed. Nobody asked me if it was okay to give my property away. Did my cousin ask for the dolls. When I questioned my mother, she, and in a very annoyed manner, said that it was her decision to give the dolls away.
That’s right. From that moment on, I never trusted an adult again. I still don’t trust adults!
From that day forward, I swore that I would never do that to my children. And I’ve kept that mindset. In our garage and other closets of the house, I have Oona’s dolls, some Barbies included. I have Jake’s baseball gear and I have Roman’s action figures. The offer for them to regain ownership is open but all three tell me that I can just hold on to the stuff.
I’m not kidding. This Barbie is housed in a box in the garage. And she’s still unopened!
Back to the subject at hand. The Barbie Movie.
Greatness. Directed by a woman. Now over $900,000. in receipts globally. It’ll reach a billion. And it isn’t streaming yet!
You can just imagine how my interest was piqued upon learning a Barbie movie would be released this summer. And although Miss Barbie has evolved into a universe of Pinkdom, my childhood memories returned.
At the King of Prussia movie theatre. The lobby was decorated in Barbie!
My Barbie never aspired to be a mommy. And although she and Ken, did have wedding apparel, her teenaged wedding was not a main focus. It was just…………………………………………………………. Barbie!
My Barbie was in no hurry to walk up the aisle. Our modern Barbie isn’t ready either!
Another aspect that had me wanting to see the movie was the director. Greta Gerwig. I loved Little Women and other films she directed and to have a Barbie movie being directed by a woman made the movie even more appealing to me.
Let’s give Greta Gerwig a standing ovation! I want her to win an Oscar–either for Barbie or any future endeavors!
Then there was the cast. Margot Robbie as Barbie. Actually, Margot Robbie is Barbie. I thought she was beautiful as Sharon Tate in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” but she is even more so in Barbie! Ryan Gosling’s Ken was another bit of genius casting. Both are dolls.
Margot Robbie as Barbie was casting perfection! She IS the iconic doll!
The trailers didn’t really focus on the actual story which was a good thing because the movie was better than I could have ever expected.
Here’s the spoiler—so you can skip or read.
The movie starts out in such a profound way. Little girls playing with their baby dolls. Make believe mommies. Ironing and enjoying little tea parties with those cute little babies, gives an indication of the sign of the times. Weren’t most of us conditioned into thinking that home making and babies were all we aspired to?
From the beginning scenes of girls playing with dolls, I was hooked.
That scene seriously resonated with me. Check out the doll, playpen and ironing board and iron behind me. I was conditioned (and I was VERY conditioned on the ironing–it remains my Zen)
A moment later a structure appears on the screen. It is a giant structure. Iconic as the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. But it is a doll. A giant doll and it is Barbie (I am getting chills just typing this). Its Barbie donned in the iconic striped bathing suit, her foot arches higher than McDonald’s golden ones, and those fabulous mules.
An homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Barbie towering over all!
The girls in the film are as awestricken as I was back in 1960 when Barbie came into my life. It is an incredible opening scene and is astounding as to how times have evolved.
And then we are introduced to Barbieland. Where everything is bubblegum pink perfection. All Barbies are someone. From a Nobel-prize winning writer to an astronaut to the President of the United States. These Barbies are not waiting around looking for Ken Charming!
Good Morning Barbieland!
Our Barbie leads a perfect life in Barbieland. Women are the rulers—and they are all beautiful and have great and impressive careers and live in a pink universe. Barbie is always happy.
Barbie is President. Barbie is a Nobel Prize Winner. All Barbies have impressive careers!
Then something happens to our lead Barbie. She mentions the word “death” and asks if anyone ever thought about it. Everything stops. Barbie realizes she said the wrong word. And the next day her death thoughts recur.
The sentence that changes the movie.
And thus begins the journey.
Without giving too many details because I really do not want to spoil this for those who haven’t seen the film, what ensues is an entertaining, enlightening and socially important movie.
I will go on with some details.
Barbie embarks on a journey to the “real world” where she finally meets up with Gloria and her teen daughter, Sasha, played with full teen angst and misery by Ariana Greenblatt
Barbie, with stowaway Ken, embarks on a journey through road and sea and universe.
America Ferrara’s monologue was incredible food for thought for every woman. Please read every word of it below!
Barbie’s disturbing thoughts are the result of a certain human woman’s emotions morphing into our favorite doll. The character that America Ferrara plays, Gloria, a Mattel employee, should win an Oscar for her monologue alone:
“It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.
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. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.”
I sat in the movie theatre and cried when this monologue was spoken. It rang true. One hundred percent true. And I felt it in my soul and heart.
And that was one of the great things about this movie. It had plenty of humor—Kate McKinnon as “Weird Barbie” was the wise one. Her looks were unconventional because she was that Barbie your younger siblings may have confiscated and somehow used permanent markers to “improve” upon her already made-up face. Weird Barbie’s hair was chopped into a hair style that any punk rocker may have been envious of. And we all had a Weird Barbie somewhere in our collection or at the bottom of a toybox.
The funniest character was Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie. We all had one!
Will Ferrell as the head of Mattel was, as Ferrell always his, hysterically funny.
Ferrell had some of the best lines in this movie!
Rhea Perlman was touching as Ruth Handler and there is a scene toward the end of the movie that was incredibly moving.
It was hard to ever imagine Rhea Perlman as “Carla” from Cheers. She was so sweet in Barbie!
Ryan Gosling—as Ken. He was epic and his song “Just Ken” should win an Oscar.
Ryan Gosling as “Just Ken” was epic! A showstopper of a musical Number!
Margot Robbie—as Barbie. She IS Barbie. There could be nobody else.
Cowboy Ken. Studying up on how to be misogynistic.
If you are of the ilk that feels men are superior to you, please do not move on reading this blog and do not go to see Barbie because it will anger you and your man will keep you barefoot and in the kitchen. Just sayin’.
John Cena as Mermaid Ken was more man than the Kens!
Ken. When Ken enters the realm of the “real world” with Barbie, he becomes obsessed with “real men” and the patriarchy and misogyny of today’s insecure gender.
Barbie and Ken enter the real world. And Ken soon changes his attire!
Upon Barbie’s return to Barbie Land, with Gloria and Sasha in tow, they see how this ultra-pink, perfect world with women at the lead has shifted to Ken World. All the Barbies have turned submissive and dismissive of their brilliant careers. And with Gloria and Barbie’s help, the Barbies are rescued.
It’s rescue Barbie time. With Barbie and friends!
Honestly, Greta Gerwig did such a remarkable job with this movie
Greta Gerwig = Director Barbie. And another career young girls can aspire to!
It’s got all the elements of a successful film. Nostalgia. Humor. Laugh-out-Loud moments. Wipe-the-tears -away moments. Pathos. The movie is original! And I do believe that is what audiences want.
I’m Gam Gam Barbie!
Or…Old Lady Barbie. My high arches make me feel very much Barbiesque!
Personally, I am sick and tired of the same old same old rehashing of romcoms, superhero and Disney movies. Give me a movie of adult nature—even if it is about a doll!
And I demand a sequel starring Bubble Cut Barbie!
Oh yeah. We need this movie to remind us of just how important and empowering we women are. Women are the backbone of every man out there. And any man who does not like this movie, or who has made negative remarks about it, especially not even seeing it, feels threatened by women.
So get your pink on. Do your makeup and hair and saunter out to see Barbie!