When I heard that certain members of the great white brotherhood* were throwing their Kens out of their Ferraris over the reversals of traditional narratives in Barbie, I felt called to show my (pink) solidarity. I hadn't anticipated there would be so many laughs and so many truths delivered in this wickedly witty gender satire by a superstar cast who clearly had a ball making it.
A wildly imaginative fun-packed adventure, Barbie subtly and overtly subverts mainstream movie and gender stereotypes - Barbie is driving the plot in a pink campervan-rocket-tandem-ferrari powered by Lizzo and Indigo Girls anthems all the way to real life - not happy ever after. The only nudity is Ken's peck-flexing and the only battle scene an absurd beach inflatable spoof. Whilst full of crazy comedic caricature, everyone has light and shade - the 'Emperor’ of Mattel is as soft and easily swayed by profit margins as candy floss and ‘Weird Barbie’ the archetypal mad witch emerges as a strategic, architectural mystical mastermind. ‘Stereotypical’ Barbie is herself de-centred - America Ferrera’s heroine Gloria delivers the film’s truth bomb amidst a kaleidoscope of perspectives where nothing and no one is too serious to be lovingly, playfully upended. In this mad riot of magical disruption, you get to choose your own adventure.
Personally, having spent an evening laughing and sharing pin-dropping moments with pinked-up folks of all genders on a jumping Saturday night at Peckhamplex, I came out feeling more hopeful and happy about the world. Not least because Barbie is a super cheeky celebration of everyone finding and being themselves - even Ken gets to be Kenenough ;) - it reflects and affirms that a sassy, sophisticated language is now available mainstream for everyone to decode, reinvent, challenge, subvert, escape and experiment with socialised gender conditioning. Smashing the patriarchy with a pink Barbie hammer is soooooo much fun - ;)
* perhaps the poor dears will be comforted by remembering that the anti-matriarchal movie has been running on repeat in multiple arts, media, theologies and philosophies for at least 2000 years.. and perhaps even relieved that the sexually violent content has not been reversed... that's enough to make Barbie seem quite harmless.....