"Barbie": Problematic Doll or Feminism Icon?

Opinions have been divided on the cult doll Barbie for more than five decades.

"Barbie": Problematic Doll or Feminism Icon?

Opinions have been divided on the cult doll Barbie for more than five decades. For some, she is the epitome of toxic gender norms and impossible ideals of beauty. Others see them as an alternative to traditional baby dolls, which should prepare girls for their later role as mothers. Or a role model for young girls that should show them: you can be anything - whether policewoman, president or astronaut. Director and co-author Greta Gerwig (39) and her partner, screenwriter Noah Baumbach (53), advocate the latter in the new "Barbie" film (from July 20 in cinemas).

For Barbie (Margot Robbie, 33) and all the other Barbies (Issa Rae, Hari Nef, Dua Lipa and more), every day in Barbieland is the best day ever. And when it's Girls' Night at Barbie's pink dream house every night, Ken (Ryan Gosling, 42) and the other Kens (Kingsley Ben-Adir, Simu Liu, John Cena and more) have to see what they're doing with themselves. In "Barbieland" the matriarchy rules: Barbie is president, Barbie is a federal judge, Barbie is a doctor. And Ken? It's really just for fun.

But then little imperfections appear in Barbie's previously perfect toy world. Not only does her morning milk go bad and the breakfast waffle burns in the toaster, the doll suddenly thinks about dying and develops flat feet in the other Barbies, causing them to gag. There is only one way to get the problems under control again: a trip into the real world. In Los Angeles, both Barbie and Ken quickly realize that men are in charge here. Patriarchy still rules the world.

"Barbie" is one of the most hyped movies in recent times - and not without reason. Director Gerwig and her team transport the audience to a pink plastic wonderland where tongue-in-cheek artificiality and kitsch reign supreme. The humor is present from the first second, but over the course of the film the smart screenplay also provides plenty of food for thought in the form of feminist thoughts. The satirical social criticism questions widespread gender roles and norms in a hilarious way, and the topic of the toy doll, which seems so perfect and flawless, is the pressure to be perfect that women everywhere have to deal with.

With the stunning Margot Robbie, the role of Barbie couldn't have been better cast. Ryan Gosling as Ken, however, almost overshadows her with his incredibly humorous portrayal of the Barbie appendage.

Director Greta Gerwig has already demonstrated her talent for conjuring up complex, multidimensional female characters with depth, humor and authenticity in "Lady Bird" (2017) and "Little Women" (2019). That's exactly what she manages to do once again with "Barbie".