From one Barbie Girl to another

The author in a Barbie theater booth. Courtesy of Tracy Dizon

By Tracy Dizon

It had been almost a year. Yes. I have been anticipating this movie for a long while… I knew since then that this is going to be HUGE!

As an artist, I think I have this “Instinctive Spider-Sense” of trends and forecasting those hints of this phenomenon! The  Zeitgeist  had been leading to this  Pink Revolution  also known as  Soft Girl Era  and the much powerful Aesthetic Trend called the“BarbieCore”. You better buckle up! It’s going to be a Pink Universe!

We are now in an era where Hyper-femininity, Kindness and Soft-Energy are considered cool and the  Machismo-Tough-Guy-Energy is considered lame. Even the Pantone Color of the Year for 2023 is Viva Magenta,which the company describes as “powerful and empowering.”

We all need this kind of light and joy after a few years of heavy crisis and just so many problems in the world! If you walk around the city, for sure your eyes will catch a Hot Pink / Magenta / Fuchsia window display whether it is a fashion boutique, an art gallery, a cafe bar and clubs. I won’t be surprised if a hardware store is all in pink! Barbie had covered the town pink – and definitely not only New York City but every town subscribing to pop culture. I have not seen such strong marketing and branding since“Star Wars” and may have even exceededThe Force for that matter.

To the Barbieland!

I read one quick review that irked me. Something to do with how shallow the story plot is. Ugh? Why would you expect something dark and heavy on this such sweet and nice flick?! Another popular feedback is that: “It is not for kids!” – At first I thought, “Is the movie going to be obscene?” No. It was not. There are just deep undertone ideas to ponder after watching the film. But it is a feel-good movie; that I will say.

A collage of Barbies evoking childhood memories.

Greta Gerwig created this fantasy world of “Barbieland” where all kinds of Barbies are successful in their careers: From President to Astronaut to Supreme Court Judge, a role portrayed by  our very own Kababayan  Ana Cruz Kayne. The functionality of the Barbie Dreamhouse brings such nostalgia to women and girls who played with their own Barbies.

I love the parody and satirical humor of director and writer Greta Gerwig. The campiness and the irony of dance numbers are camp all the way!   The plot of the story is how Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) needed to cross over to the Real World on a mission to save her owner human girl, Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt) and mother Gloria (America Ferrera); putting them through a chase misadventure with the Mattel CEO (Will Ferrell) and Mattel executives. All the while Ken (Ryan Gosling) tagging along discovers how the Real World  is so dominated by men.  

Are Barbie Girls anti-men?

It is not a complex storyline indeed, if you want a complex storyline, you should line up for “Oppenheimer!” It is no rocket-science  “Barbie” is a feel-good movie, a celebration of what the Barbie Pink represents to each and every one of us!

The author and son Atreyu twinning in Barbie Pink.
Margot Robbie as Barbie. Screen shot from WB trailer

I like the subtle and discreet take-away of the movie. Does Barbie belittle Ken? No! The funny thing is there is always a balancing act in anything and any cause.

Whether we are in the  Real World  or stuck in our own little  Barbieland Bubble  there is always a balancing act that we have to find our equilibrium. Kens are   not enemies!   I actually for a brief moment felt Ken’s struggle. I find myself remembering all sad break-ups and how I felt that kind of existentialist confusion. Imagine that: A Barbie Girl like me feeling the Ken energy and struggles!   

Not to be a spoiler but  I love the ending that is coming full circle of Barbie becoming a real woman. The thing is I believe that is such a powerful ending. No matter how perfect Barbieland is, no matter how perfect and successful each Barbie Doll is, it is no replacement for real life. Yes, Barbie is a role model, but lest we forget, Barbie is a manifestation and an idea made by a Strong Independent Visionary of a Woman named Ruth Handler who was not perfect at all but powered through the juggling act that is the Real World. 

I must say as a proud middle-aged woman, this movie poked my heart in a deep and special way. Mostly about the film montage of memories playing with Barbies. It made me so sentimental of my youth and my childhood memories! Indeed, Barbie became my first role model and until today had been my muse as a fashion designer. She made me believe that I can be whoever I wanted to be. It reflected with the first Barbie dolls I was gifted by my Mom, my favorite Aunt and Godmother, all strong women of their own accord.

It is a love letter to my childhood self. You may not have been allowed to wear pink then. Now you are living your childhood dream having all the pink dresses you want without being restrained. I did you good, K.T. (my childhood nickname from Karen Tracy). Thank you Barbie for being my childhood heroine. I hold in myself the power of pink bravely and shamelessly radiating my inner joy that pink represents to me.

© The FilAm 2023

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