I don’t often write about upcoming movies. In fact I rarely follow Hollywood news these days. Before college when I still subscribed to American Cinematographer, People, TV Guide and Us Weekly I followed the gossip a lot closer.
Right now I am in a weird phase of extreme fangirlism. Two days ago I heard they cast Ryan Gosling to play Ken along side Margot Robbie in the upcoming live-action Barbie film. Forget GB: Afterlife, put Snake Eyes aside, move over Avengers, this is the cinematic dream come true I’ve been waiting for my entire life.
Of course I wish I was joking. A movie about two extremely beautiful people living presumably outrageous lives is sure to be Hollywood fantasy at its best. We all know the fetishizing of celebrities is near cult-like in this country so a film that puts two celebrities on a pedestal is sure to bring out the worst in us. But don’t care I will pay a premium to see this opening night!
I haven’t been this excited for a film since The Force Awakens. That was before Star Wars films became so cliche they just stopped making them. I have enjoyed many of the toys to movie adaptations thus far. Clue was a fun romp through the early 80’s creativity. The Transformers films have been all fairly entertaining for me, Bumblebee being my absolute favorite so far. Then there were all those TMNT movies. Oh sure TMNT was technically a comic book but we all remember it for the toys.
Why does Barbie excite me so much when I know Gem flopped so hard? It’ not like Mattel has a better track record of bringing toys to life than Hasbro right? Even putting that aside there’s a lot to like about Barbie getting the spotlight. One it’s all about the girls. The toyline has always been a staple for young girls of all shapes and sizes, including trans girls like myself. It is not without it’s detractors and rightfully so as all products of American Capitalism are rife with issues. But the toyline has traditionally been produce by women in an industry typically dominated by men. Not to mention the fantasy aspect, Barbie has always encouraged girls to imagine themselves being anything they want. It has issue with body image but when it comes to if it can be done a girl can do it aspirations, in that regard nobody does it better than Barbie.
It is also exciting for me because Barbie was the first girl-marketed toy I ever bought since I started my transition journey. It was such a huge deal for me I made a YouTube video, in full boy mode, declaring how meaningful it was to me.
I have since amassed decent Barbie collection. I only have three dolls, two of the standard Blonde and one of the Fashionistas. But I also have several playsets and the convertible because she has to ride in style. The toys have always been important not only to me but young girls everywhere. Of course men are going to be dismissive of this film which is one more reason I will be lining up to offer it as much support as I can. If it flops it will send a message to Hollywood, and girls everyone aspiring to break into that industry, we still don’t matter. After the Ghostbusters Answer The Call debacle of 2016 we learned our lesson and it’s that boys make the decisions when it comes to films we see. Even the Black Widow movie was put doomed from the start, treated as an afterthought and released as a filler movie while the world recalibrates. It didn’t matter to the studio if it flopped because it was a girl movie.
That’s why Barbie has to succeed. It has to unite all females, female leaning and femme identifying people. Even if it’s something we have to put side our feminism for a day to achieve, the greater good outweighs any harm this movie could impose on girls body image, and that’s why we HAVE to ensure it’s financial success. The fact they picked an attractive female actress popular with boys and arguably the hottest male alive according to what I’ve seen, tells me the studio is banking big on this movie to succeed. The fact it barely gets any media coverage when it should be a hug deal reinforces the male-dominated world we live in.
This movie isn’t about empowering women and girls, it isn’t about uniting us under the banner of feminism it is about representation, showing the world we’re here and we matter damn it. This movie is likely to suck, there’s no doubts there. That alone shouldn’t stop all women from coming together to make it as damn visible as we can simply to prove to the boys are stuff is as important as theirs. The fact Barbie is one of the most lucrative toys on the planet should be enough to convince the boys to take girls more seriously, if this movie succeeds then the world gets that much more inclusive for women in the future.