TV Party Tonight! #139

TV Party Tonight! #139

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Friday, 16 February 2024
4K/Blu-Ray

Barbie
[4K Ultra-HD]

Hey Barbie, you gotta help me out here, OK?

Look, I love Greta Gerwig. There was no chance in hell I was going to see Barbie if it weren’t for Gerwig’s involvement. The fandom behind the movie was dumb. It’s full of stunt casting and I knew it was going to be all hype. BUT… it’s Greta, you know?

Weren’t we all shocked this became suck a smash hit? Sure, Margot Robbie reportedly predicted it, but who cares what Margot Robbie thinks about anything. And yet, it struck a chord… with TONS of people. I don’t know if Barbie became huge on its own merit or on its reputation of being a mega blockbuster. I know its reputation definitely peaked my interest. So, of course I was going to watch it.

There is obviously plenty to love in Barbie: its beautiful set design, the witty rejoinders, its cute attempt at trying to teach us something, its cultural references (nice 2001 homage), the Lynchian vibe of it all. Barbie works when it keeps things light or sticks to one idea and runs with it. The problem is that it’s trying to do everything all at once, and trying to have its cake and eat it too. First, none of the performances really stand out. Yes, yes, I know. Stop yelling at me. But, you’re just plain wrong, OK? No one here was cast because of their dramatic chops. Instead, the entire cast’s purpose is to fire off those recognition neurons when we see them on screen (“What? THIS PERSON? They’re playing so-and-so in a Barbie movie? Isn’t that CUTE!). Except maybe for America Ferrera, who is allowed to play a real person is this world of over-the-top cartoons. The main struggle for the viewer in Barbie is to try and gain SOME understanding of what’s going on. Where are we supposed to be? What are the rules of both these universes? How long has everyone apparently been in on it? What does it mean to be ded or alive? Is the Barbie world the Red Room?

Yes, the message here is feminism, but in a very baby corporate lean-in kind of way. Barbie purports the kind of feminism where women are dominant. I can’t believe I’m even going to say this, because I’m such a respected journalist and proponent of social justice, but even at the very beginning we see the Kens all pushed to the sidelines and being used as accessories. THEY are the ones being oppressed and subjugated. We SHOULD be cheering them on when they revolt. Instead, we’re meant to sympathize with the Barbies who counter-revolt only to once again place themselves as the dominant oppressive force. So, again, it’s THAT kind of feminism, where women want to be in power and make the same mistaked, not a sharing of power for mutual goals.

You can’t fool me, Barbie.

There are undoubtedly smart and sophisticated moments in this movie. That’s not unexpected because Gerwig and Baumbach are smart and talented individuals. Barbie is worth a rewatch, just like Zardoz is.

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