Since the captivating photos of Barbie and Ken rollerblading around Venice Beach in matching neon attire surfaced in 2022, the anticipation surrounding the live-action Barbie movie has been nothing short of extraordinary. In recent weeks, the excitement surrounding the film, directed by the esteemed Greta Gerwig, has reached unprecedented levels. Margot Robbie’s impeccable vintage pink carpet outfits and a social media obsession with a clip highlighting her perfectly arched, tip-toed feet have further fueled the fervor.
Barbie, the world’s most iconic doll, has been a constant companion in the lives of countless children since her introduction in 1959. While she has already graced the screens in various films and TV shows, Gerwig’s rendition of Barbie has taken the excitement to new heights. With the film’s tagline, “She’s Everything. He’s Just Ken,” Barbie stands as a feminist symbol in a world where women reign supreme. Actor Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken, revealed that his own children inspired him to take on this momentous role. Reflecting on the sudden influx of Barbie-related items in his home, Gosling shared, “All things Barbie landed in my house at the same time – Barbie the doll and also the film. It was just sort of like a Barbie avalanche, I had to reckon with it. I just one day picked up a Ken doll in the backyard – and the next moment, I was him.”
It is rare to witness such overwhelming anticipation for a film in recent memory. The buzz surrounding the new Barbie movie may even surpass the long-awaited final installment of Daniel Craig’s James Bond, which faced numerous delays. Reports have emerged of a global shortage of pink paint attributed to the film’s influence, while media attention has been fixated on Robbie’s captivating feet. Furthermore, Barbie shares its release day with Oppenheimer, a historical drama centered around the invention of the atomic bomb, setting the stage for a captivating clash at the box office.
For Greta Gerwig, the accomplished writer-director renowned for works like the 2019 adaptation of Little Women and the Oscar-nominated Lady Bird, taking the helm of the Barbie film has been both daunting and exhilarating. Gerwig expressed her mix of emotions, stating, “It’s so exciting, but I also feel this ever-present wave of like, ‘oh no, I’m going to cry.’ And then I’m like, ‘don’t cry, it’s only amazing.’ But it is – it’s a lot, it’s incredible, but it’s a lot of energy.”
Barbie’s enduring popularity remains unparalleled, solidifying her status as an iconic figure in the toy industry. Even 64 years after her debut, Barbie continues to generate significant sales for Mattel, the renowned toy manufacturer. Gerwig commended Mattel for their boldness and willingness to grant creative freedom, stating, “I honestly can’t believe they let us make this movie, but they were really brave and they really allowed us to have creative freedom with their beloved brands.”
Over the years, Barbie has undergone various transformations, leaving an indelible mark on popular culture. Alongside physical toys, Barbie has inspired video games, TV shows, and films. British artist Emma Gibbons, who incorporates Barbie elements into her “Barbiecore” artworks, highlighted Barbie’s impact. Gibbons remarked, “Barbie had loads of really cool jobs when I was a kid – pilot, firefighter, doctor; she was the ultimate feminist back then, which I really liked. She was a housewife as well but very quickly took on these different careers, giving kids more scope to invent their own games.”
The allure of Barbie stems from nostalgia, aesthetics, and the empowerment she embodies. Gibbons explained, “Barbie allows people to be their extravagant, exuberant selves. Anything goes.” As the highly anticipated live-action Barbie movie approaches its release, it is evident that Barbie’s iconic status will endure, captivating a new generation of fans and continuing to leave an indelible mark.