‘Barbie’ 2023: This Barbie is Excited


Margot Robbie in “Barbie” (Courtesy of Warner Bros)

By Edie Raines, Copy Editor


We are finally one step closer to “Barbie” v. “Oppenheimer,” but team “Barbie” has pulled ahead once again with possibly the best advertising campaign since “Education Connection.

What Horrors Lie Ahead?

Despite months of conversation and speculation over Greta Gerwig’s well-anticipated “Barbie” movie, the production team has done an incredible job of keeping the film’s plot vague. Obviously, the movie is going to be filled with a plethora of clothes, professions, fun, and shiny pink toys. But the high-brow cast and crew — including icons like Issa Rae, Noah Baumbach, Ryan Gosling and, of course, Michael Cera — as well as the rather cryptic teaser trailer likening Barbie to the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey” give the impression the film will be much darker than the Barbie of our childhoods. In an interview with BAFTA, Margot Robbie even said, “The first time I read the Barbie script, my reaction was, ‘Ah! This is so good. What a shame it will never see the light of day because they are never going to let us make this movie.’” Is “Barbie” the next “Happy Tree Friends,” luring in innocent children and traumatizing them for life? 

Marketing Off Nostalgia

Regardless of what horrors await audiences in July, “Barbie” proudly embraces every pink aspect of the iconic franchise, from the multitude of professions and species (fairies and mermaids included, of course), to the perpetually arched feet (yes, I gasped as well). Even the self-referential quality of Gerwig’s “Barbie” fits with the constant fourth-wall breaking and comically self-aware “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse” show from the 2010s. Barbie is a franchise that likes to have fun with itself, and this presented the marketing team of the 2023 “Barbie” movie with a wonderfully camp opportunity: character cards!

‘She’s Everything, He’s Just Ken’

If you haven’t seen the posters of each actor accompanied by a brief description of their character, you’ve certainly seen the bevy of recreations made by just about everyone on the internet with a modicum of technical ability. And, if you’re as inept with editing as I am, you can just use the official filter! While Barbie was once, and perhaps still is, associated with a cookie-cutter, white, thin feminine ideal, Mattel has worked hard to turn the iconic character from a monolith to a blank canvas, allowing children of all backgrounds to find a version of themselves in the same woman. Now, as a full-grown adult with responsibilities, you too can easily make yourself into your own Barbie!

A quick search of the hashtag “Barbie movie” on Twitter or Instagram will bring up thousands of self-inserts and edits, from people’s cats to cosplayers to characters from other movies like “Pride and Prejudice” and “Halloween” (this Barbie is about to get cut). My absolute favorite use of the trend is comparing famous couples to the taglines for Robbie’s Barbie and Gosling’s Ken: “She’s everything. He’s just Ken.” 

After watching Gerwig struggle to give her Laurie in “Little Women” any personality whatsoever, I realized the accomplished director can write the most compelling women, but her men are always a little flat. I always thought that was wonderful revenge for decades of female characters existing only to move male plot points, so who better to make a movie about the most fabulous woman in the world and her boyfriend who is sold separately, if you know what I mean. 


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