With the release of Warner Bros. Pictures’ big summer blockbuster ‘Barbie’ right around the corner, it seems as though the studio and the stars of the movie are sending conflicting messages about the theme of the film.
‘Barbie’ releases in theaters worldwide on July 21st, and the film is currently tracking to pull over 100 million dollars in the film’s opening weekend at the box office. So it is easy to understand why Warner Bros and Mattel don’t want to give audiences the wrong message that could chase fans away from the theaters.
However, that memo has not been given to the stars of the movie who are adamant about highlighting the film’s feminist messaging as the release date draws near. The film stars actress Margot Robbie in the lead role in a story where after being kicked out of Barbie Land for being less-than-perfect dolls, Barbie and Ken (Ryan Gosling) go on a journey of self-discovery together to the real world.
Director and writer Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie (who also serves as the film’s producer) spoke out, reiterating the upcoming kids’ film is a feminist movie.
“Well, it most certainly is a feminist film.” Gerwig said.
When asked to elaborate what she meant by that, Gerwig explained: “When we talk about this stuff it almost sounds silly because you start talking about Barbie and Ken, and then you’re having very serious discussion about Barbie and Ken. “
“It’s also a humanist film because it’s like the humanity in so far as you can call it of like Barbie and Ken is what’s paramount in the film and at the beginning of the movie, you know, Ken is a person with no status in this world so in this kind of reversed world that person who has no status is in a completely untenable place long term,” Gerwig explained.
Robbie then interjected to help clarify Gerwig’s point: “I think some people hear the word feminism means that doesn’t mean men. Anyone who believes men and women should be equal is…feminist. It’s that simple.” she explained.
Robbie and Gerwig aren’t the only ones who believe this film will change the audience’s opinion on gender role. Barbie star Simu Liu is counting on it. The actor who is notable from his 2020 role in the Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” praises how the film puts the final nail in the coffin of society’s current concepts of gender.
“I didn’t really have a relationship with Barbie in the past, but I grew up in a society where traditional gender norms were pretty heavily enforced and pretty prevalent, and so I think we, maybe you, were taught from a very young age that ‘Boys don’t play with that’. ‘Boys don’t wear pink’.” Liu said.
“Barbie was always like, ‘Oh that’s not my toy. That’s on the other toy’. And I’m so glad that this movie exists because I think it puts the final nail in the coffin of that very heteronormative idea of what gender is, and what is or is not gendered. How can you make a color gendered, you know?” the Shang Chi actor said.
While the stars of the movie are celebrating the film’s feminism, some are apparently not down with the feminist branding of the film and that is Mattel.
Mattel Films’ Executive Producer Robbie Brenner told TIME magazine that the film is not a feminist movie. Studios executives don’t want audiences to hear the word feminist and associate it with negative connotations.
Warner Bros is in no position to lose big money after the long-awaited and heavily marketed ‘The Flash’ movie released with disastrous results at the box office. That film is likely to cost Warner Bros over 200 million dollars as the studio frantically looks to save it’s DCEU franchise from complete collapse.
The feeling internally is that Barbie will be a big hit for the studio, and they do not want any bad press deterring audiences from going to theaters, even if the creative heads behind the movie believe otherwise.
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