Vlog Post – Barbie (2023)

Last weekend, I saw the Barbie Movie (2023) directed by Greta Gerwig. Gerwig has been my favorite director since I saw her directorial debut, Lady Bird, in 2017. I was 16 years old when this movie was released, and I was floored by how perfectly Gerwig encapsulated the experience of a teen girl growing up in a small town, desperate to escape and see the world for herself. The gray space between girlhood and womanhood; the first loves and heartbreaks that make the world tip on its axis; the emotional bonds girls have in female friendships that are impossibly strong and fragile at the same time. Gerwig also directed Little Women (2019), based on the book by Louisa May Alcott. Gerwig uses her own stories and witty humor to make women feel validated in their feelings and experiences.

This method of writing and directing was perfectly translated into Barbie. This movie has been described as “the most anticipated movie of the year… and the most surprising.”

I, like most viewers, went into the movie not knowing what to expect other than an abundance of glittery, pink, girl power themes and a fun soundtrack. While all of that was delivered, the movie also tackled important themes of feminism, misogyny, and capitalism. Furthermore, Barbie reaches deep to discuss the complexities of mother-daughter relationships and how, as women, both stick together and tear each other apart in the face of a patriarchal society. I left the theater feeling like everything I’ve ever wanted to say about the female experience was perfectly articulated in a 2-hour film. Knowing that Gerwig has largely been a champion for women in the film industry made this film even better.

The film (like other pieces of Gerwig’s work) has been criticized for being too “basic” in its feminism, pandering to a mainstream, predominately white audience. While there is validity to this criticism, I would argue that this is what we need at the moment. Given the ways that women’s rights have rapidly been diminishing in the United States over the past decade, we need more media that provides mainstream audiences with insight into the real struggles women go through every day.

For more experienced feminists, this movie may not meet the mark. However, I feel that the brilliance of the film comes from its more introductory approach to women’s issues, as more people are willing to listen if things are put in terms they do not feel intimidated by. This movie is heartfelt and touching. I, like many others at the theater opening night, was moved to tears throughout many parts of the movie and was able to laugh at the clever jokes made in between. While I’ve already heard some of the messages put into the movie a million times, this movie showed them in a new, refreshing light that made me feel moved.

I haven’t felt as transformed by a movie since I saw Lady Bird and Little Women when they first came out. Gerwig truly puts what women think and feel into words when we cannot. The things we feel ashamed of or isolated in are reflected back at us through Gerwig’s lens, and that helps us feel less alone. She takes known stories and shows them in a new light every time, and returning to her films feels like returning to an old friend. I love this movie, and I am so grateful it was made.

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