‘Barbie’ movie: Can viewers look beyond Barbie’s problematic past? – National

It’s no exaggeration to say that Barbie dolls have become ubiquitous.

just a little more barbie movie Since its theatrical release (July 21), it has become a non-stop Barbie blockbuster.The movie’s trailer caused endless memes, says parent company Mattel Partnered with over 100 brands to promote the film and by embracing the cinematic aesthetic, #barbie core Trending on social media for months.

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It is becoming clear. barbie The movie will probably be a big success. Even aside from the star-studded cast (Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Sim Liu, etc.) and big-name director (Greta Gerwig), the past six months of violent and over-the-top Barbie attacks show no signs of abating, and most people seem more amused than tired of the piling pink.

But the Barbie brand remains a dark shadow, and some wonder why the world is so willing to look beyond Barbie. Doll’s troubled past And watch Mattel’s onslaught through rose-tinted glasses.

The problems for Barbie started right away. The first iteration of the doll’s design in 1959 was inspired by the Bild Lilli doll, a racy, voluptuous doll marketed to German men and sold in adult stores. Lili as a cartoon character was known as a gold digger with an oversized bust and was often depicted in sexy outfits, giving drooling men a snappy comeback.

The Bild Lilli doll is based on the cartoon character Lilli, created by German cartoonist Reinhard Beuthien for the Bild-Zeitung newspaper in Hamburg, Germany.

SSPL/Getty Images

Mattel’s design team softened the Barbie doll’s face and body, but still resulted in unrealistic proportions. A woman as heavy as a Barbie doll, combined with her hip, waist and bust measurements, would not be able to stand without tipping over, nor would she be able to stand up. be able to menstruatesaid the doctors.

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For this reason, Barbie has been accused of perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards and promoting gender stereotypes. Mattel has tried to offer a more inclusive Barbie doll in recent years, but in 2019, the company launched its first line of gender-neutral Barbie dolls, the Creative World, and three years earlier released Barbie Fashionista, which comes in four body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. The company is also directly involved in the story.

One of her most scandalous moments occurred very early in her history in 1963, when a teenage “babysitter” Barbie doll was sold along with a doll-sized diet book. How to Lose Weight: Don’t Eat. In the 1990s, critics were outraged by a talking Barbie doll pre-loaded with the daunting declaration that “math class is hard.”

(simpsons Fans may also recall the 1994 episode about Malibu Stacy, the show’s answer to Barbie dolls. He famously proclaimed, “Don’t ask me, I’m just a girl!” when her leash is pulled. )

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difficult to measure Barbie dolls influence children’s body image Or self-esteem, or whether you’re incorporating into yourself the unrealistic beauty standards of a Barbie doll. Most research on this subject has been conducted in small groups of girls, with lukewarm results.

Some researchers believe that Barbie doll just one of many influences In the lives of young girls who prioritize and encourage lean figures in Western culture. Some have criticized the studies conducted on girls approaching puberty because they are skewed because this is the time when girls become more critical of their physical characteristics.

Attempts by Mattel to be more inclusive also backfired. In 1997, Mattel introduced Share-A-Smile Becky, Barbie’s first friend who uses a wheelchair.Turns out to be Becky’s chair Couldn’t get into Barbie Dreamhouse door or elevatorshe was left doomed to sleep on the porch.

In the same year, through a collaboration project between Mattel and Nabisco, massive recall When it was noted that “Oreo Fun Barbie” (a black doll with Oreo-branded clothes and a cookie purse) despises the black community because “Oreo” has been used as a racial slur.

Still, Barbie advocates, including Mattel itself, will point to Barbie’s progressive and feminist career trajectory over the years.Over the years she has held hundreds of carriersHe ran for president, including when he “break the plastic ceiling” and traveled to the moon in 1956 (four years before Neil Armstrong), and held such respected positions as computer engineer, paleontologist and rock star.

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Barbie has held hundreds of positions over the years.


But then again, Barbie as a working woman faced hiccups. As recently as 2010, Mattel faced backlash when the lead character appeared in a companion book that came with her computer engineer Barbie doll. infect her computer with a virus And I had to enlist the help of a male colleague to solve the problem.

A complex combination of failures, adults projecting stereotypes and conventions onto Barbie, and the proliferation of substitutes in the doll market saw Mattel’s sales and interest in the Barbie brand plummet by the mid-2010s.

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“In 2014 and 2015 we hit a low point and it was a question of ‘why? barbie loses relevanceRickard Dixon, Mattel’s president and chief operating officer, recently told CNN.

“She didn’t reflect the physicality or appearance of the world around us. So we set a course to achieve our true goals.” transform your brand We are developing strategies to rekindle our purpose. “

Mattel told CNN the hope is barbie The movie will boost that brand. Sales of the doll increased during the pandemic, but fell again in the first quarter of 2023.

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie attend the promotional red carpet for the new movie ‘Barbie’ at the Warner Bros. Film Studio presentation during the National Association of Theater Owners’ official convention CinemaCon at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 25, 2023.

Greg Dougherty/WireImage

And while it’s too early to tell if the movie will boost Mattel’s earnings, the company is probably happy to watch the hype around it. The internet is abuzz with anticipation for Friday’s release. Reviews are mostly positive. The movie version of the doll has sold out, and on Wednesday it was announced that ticket presales for the movie were the highest since its launch. Avatar: Path of Water.

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The film’s stars and directors also An ironic look back at Barbie’s historybrand failures, and the rhetoric surrounding dolls since her conception.

Gerwig also turned a critical lens on patriarchy, barbie It’s a world film where women are responsible. For example, Issa Rae plays President Barbie, and Barbieland’s Supreme Court Justices are all women.

“For many others, Barbie movies maintain surface level. But I knew Greta[Gerwig]would have a lot to say, and I knew she was going to cause a lot of … big problems for the Trojan Horse in a very fun world,” said Margot Robbie, who plays the title role.

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Robbie said Mattel’s long-standing strategy to make the Barbie brand more diverse and inclusive will be reflected in viewers through casting choices.

“I hope people walk away … I hope they feel good about themselves after watching this movie,” she said. “I feel like there’s something The salvation of this movie And I believe that the final message will be, “You’ll be fine.” you can stay as you are 』

No matter how you cut it, Barbie was and always will be a lightning rod. No matter how many new dolls and movies come out, the debate over her moral and social significance will continue to intensify.

For some, she will continue to represent beauty ideals and all that is wrong with capitalism, while others will continue to champion her as a conduit to the dreams and aspirations of young children.

Just like real women are monitored daily for their bodies, dreams, actions and accomplishments, so are Barbie dolls.

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TMS Daytime Exclusive: Sim Liu Discusses New ‘Barbie’ Film and His Canadian Roots

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