Barbie (2023) | The Definitive Explanation

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  1. Great review… missed you guys since the closing of WATCH THE THRONE so very happy to randomly stumble upon this simply by searching “Barbie ending meaning” on twitter. Love the Fight Club references & totally spot on. Wished there was more complete closure for Barbie & Ken. Like what’s his next story. If anyone should go to the Real World, seems like Ken would enjoy it much more than stereotypical Barbie. Major missed opportunity to not have Nicki Manaj included in the movie. Would have enjoyed her in the President role. Something about Barbie just wanting to become Barbie & go to a gyno appointment was off-putting. Was it to presume she just wanted to be a human mom? Like that’s what she should do by going to the Real World as a human? To make sure she doesn’t miss out on those moments as Ruth kind alluded to with her own daughter? I don’t know, that whole Dr. appointment was kinda a let down. Ironically enough the best part of the film in our opinion was Ken & all the supporting Ken’s. Just don’t know what any kid aged 6-12 would think of that movie. Definitely made more for adults than kids being that it’s legit a kids toy.

    • Hope you’ve been well! Yeah, we’ve been deep into film stuff. With Ken, he did say his major interest was just in horses. Which I feel like he should be able to easily find in Barbieland lol. And it was weird Nicki wasn’t in it but Dua Lipa was? Yeah, Barbie wanted to become a mom. For example why you said—seeing the moments that Ruth conveyed caused her to want to experience the same.

      And absolutely 100% more for adults. But I think it will be instructive for kids who are like…10 and older in terms of not feeling so much pressure. I remember seeing Groundhog Day when I was like 7 and that’s not a kid’s movie but it’s one that made a major impact on me throughout my life as I’d go back and watch it pretty much every 1-2 years and feel like it really taught me more and more about life and who I wanted to be.

  2. Ruth Handler’s blue dress may also be a nod to Virgin Mary who is always shown wearing a blue cloak.

    Mother Mary comforts me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

    • I did not know that! That’s a good point. Thank you!

  3. The Catholic reference is an interesting one as I went to a Catholic (convent) school too. The next biblical plot event after The Expulsion is The Assumption when Mary becomes pregnant. In this movie the inference is that Barbie will exercise power over her own vagina and future rather than being just a vessel for someone else’s story.

    Paintings of The Assumption depict Mary in a closed beautiful garden (of Solomon) in a virginal state, so perhaps that better fits BarbieLand than Eden imho.

    The Assumption in biblical art has five sub-plot moments; 1 Disquiet, 2 Reflection, 3 Inquiry, 4 Submission & 5 Merit. All of those appear in this movie, so just goes to show some things never change.

    • Hey Paul! That’s a great bit of insight. Really does reinforce the Biblical reading and that she wants to become a mother.

  4. Hi Chris, great explanation. There’s so many references I missed in this film and now I understand why people are watching it three times or more. I thought it was a funny movie with lots of things to say.

    I loved how Sasha called Barbie “white savior Barbie”, in a line that highlights the divide between the ‘Sheryl Sandberg lean-in feminists’ and the feminists in BIPOC circles.

    I didn’t like that the only curse word in the film had to be said by the main Black Barbie, but I’m willing to let that slide because they censored it with a Mattel logo.

    However, this film established a rule in its storytelling that it broke more than a couple times.

    Cinematically, I loved how Gerwig showed the transition from Barbieland to the real world and back. I thought it was brilliant, funny, and got the point across. She established that rule and stuck with it throughout the film.

    The rule that was broken too often, had to do with the lack of self-consciousness of the dolls and their need for human intervention or human reaction to awaken them from their ignorance. Consider what we watched. When Barbie and Ken first enter the real world, and even in prior scenes in Barbieland, we see the rule established that the Barbies and Kens are ignorant to the realities of the real world. This is why when they each enter the real world they become self-conscious, as you wrote, and experience it with different vibes. Nothing wrong with that. Those early moments in the real world are an example of the rule being kept as their eyes are opened to the real world. That’s why I found it odd when seconds later Barbie tells the construction workers that she doesn’t have a vagina and that Ken has no genitals. Barbie’s a doll who just entered the real world, she’s not supposed to know she doesn’t have a vagina. She’s not even suppose to know what a vagina is, nor what genitals are. Ken shouldn’t be telling the construction workers he has genitals neither, he’s a doll. This was the first instance the rule was broken. This is minor and made for a comical scene, but they are dolls. They don’t know what they don’t know, without human intervention or human reaction

    As they continue in the real world, the rule is re-established. The more both of them see and speak with humans, the more they become aware. Barbie and Ken become aware of things on their own in some moments, but need humans to tell them things in other moments. Great, we’re back on track. Makes sense. But then the film breaks that rule again by having Ken read books and learn about patriarchy. Wait, when did Ken learn how to read? We saw no human teaching Ken how to read. How does Ken even know what a library is, let alone what a book is?

    Ken learns about patriarchy without, or with very little human intervention. He just teaches it to himself? It’s not like Ken stumbled upon an men’s rights activist group and was taught about patriarchy. Ken taught himself. What makes that even more odd, especially in a film with such an unapologetic feminist message, is that the Barbies need the human intervention of Gloria to learn about feminism. So the male doll just has it in him to teach himself about patriarchy, but the female dolls need a human woman to teach them about feminism?

    If you’re going to establish a rule in the storytelling of a film you should stick with it, otherwise your film might accidentally say something you don’t want it to say.

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