Satisfied Barbie Customer

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I have a confession. I went to see the Barbie movie.

A second confession: I did so 100% of my own volition. No coercion. I didn’t do it because I wanted to see Mission Impossible but rather caved to my wife’s whims. Nope. It was a conscious choice.

Final confession: I liked it.

A lot.

Way more than I expected myself too. And I’m really glad I went.

A few things I’d like to discuss.

Maximum Entertainment


First, Barbie was a solid balance between the deeply meaningful and the utterly silly whimsical. The movie was goofy. There was so much about it that wasn’t serious and was just pure fun. Like watching Michael Cera suddenly become a ninja warrior fending off scores of attackers.

This isn’t deep. It’s just unadulterated visual stimulation designed for maximum entertainment, a goal the movie achieved plentifully.

However, underlying this intense onslaught of movement and copious pink was a powerful feminist message. Perhaps a bit too on the nose at times, but nevertheless consistently making important social commentary. And doing so in a way that could be digested by the widest audience possible.

No small accomplishment and one worthy of great praise.

I wanted to chat about a few other details today, as well.

The Barbie Age Limit Debate


First, one of the most hotly debated topics on my Facebook feed is whether or not this movie is kid-friendly.

Spoiler: My opinion is an unequivocal yes.

Now, I understand that in the States the movie is rated PG-13. And this in and of itself gives some people pause. Clearly our precious children will be exposed to something some members of society have deemed inappropriate.

Well, I say to that argument: So friggin’ what.

My guess is the average person who either steps foot out of their house or turns on a television will be exposed to less appropriate real life content than they would sitting at an AMC for two hours watching Ryan Gosling’s abs. The world is a crazy place. If you want to shelter your children, that is your choice. But good luck!

I remember being in Kansas and going to Hooters to watch some fights since it was the only place airing them. What was risqué when I was in college was basically no different than walking down the street in the 2020s. In fact, at Hooters everyone’s all covered up. Hooters is like a monastery compared to the world out there!

Everyone, do what you want. And educate your kiddos the way you choose. But don’t pretend like seeing some folk in bathing suits or the occasional innuendo is worse or even comparable to what kids are being exposed to on the daily.

Rather, if they go to Barbie, they’ll likely have an enjoyable, wholesome experience. They’ll giggle and smirk, and any dumb joke meant for adults will go entirely over their heads. They’ll be entertained, and might even walk away having learned something meaningful.

As far as I’m concerned, I’d put no age limit on this movie.

Hooters is like a monastery compared to the world out there! Click To Tweet

Marketing Genius


The second thing I want to speak about is the marketing genius surrounding this film. I feel like every few years someone cracks the code in the marketing world. They create a buzz around an event, a product, or a premiere. And it’s pretty much the only thing half the world is talking about.

Some that come to mind was the premiere of Michael Jackson’s Black or White video, the movie The Crying Game in which we were all implored to not tell anyone the secret, and the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

I love the Michael Jackson song, but the ten minutes of the video that they pretty much chopped off was an irritating abomination. The Crying Game was a ridiculous movie that’s been forgotten by most. And the boxing match was an absolute snoozefest, like most boxing matches I ever see.

The point isn’t that these things were great. They weren’t. The point was their advertising was ubiquitous, and it got to the point in which you felt like you weren’t part of the universe if you weren’t participating.

I hate boxing. I think boxing has been dull for thirty years. And nevertheless, I watched this silly fight. I was fooled into thinking I’d be the only one not there if I were doing anything else that evening. And that’s the power of exceptional advertising.

And whoever is behind the marketing campaign that is Barbie is an utter genius.

The movie is inescapable. Everyone from adults looking for nostalgia to women of all ages who seek a more empowered lifestyle to science geeks who just marveled at the cinematic excellence of Oppenheimer found themselves getting entertained by Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie.

I’m honestly not sure if I can remember a more successful marketing campaign in my lifetime.

The Great Barbie Irony


Finally, one of the greatest ironies of this film is that the male lead absolutely stole the show.

Yes, Margot Robbie did a good job. In fact, all the actors did a very good job. And the movie’s plot was very clearly centered around Barbie’s story, with a massive feminist undertone throughout the entire film.

But it is undeniable that the actor who stood out the most was Ryan Gosling. Not only was he the funniest and most entertaining part of the entire movie, but he was in many ways easier to resonate with than the lead female roles, and one of his songs is so catchy, it’s been stuck in my head since leaving the theater. And for fun, I even tossed it into my Spotify playlist.

I’m not sure what one does in this circumstance.

My wife was once in a play in which there was a fairly clear message, thus creating some characters who were supposed to be the closest thing the play had to villains. But one of these “villains” was so charming and likable, in many ways it interfered with the message. It’s a lot easier to sympathize with the perspective of someone you enjoy listening to.

But what do you do? Do you tell Ryan Gosling to do a worse job because someone out there might be bothered by the fact that a male is the highlight of a film about women’s empowerment?

I guess at that point, all you can do is remember the immortal words, “I’m just Ken, and I’m enough. And I’m great at doing stuff.”

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