Ever since the captivating images of Barbie and Ken rollerblading together on Venice Beach adorned in vibrant neon attire emerged in 2022, the anticipation has been soaring to unimaginable heights. In recent weeks, the excitement surrounding the forthcoming live-action Barbie film, directed by the talented Greta Gerwig, has reached unprecedented levels. Margot Robbie’s stunning vintage pink carpet ensembles and a viral social media clip showcasing her gracefully arched, tip-toed feet have only fueled the frenzy further.
Barbie, the world’s most famous doll, has been a cherished playmate for millions of children since her introduction in 1959. She has graced the screens in numerous films and TV shows, but Gerwig’s Barbie project has taken the excitement to a whole new level. The film’s tagline, “She’s Everything. He’s Just Ken,” positions Barbie as a feminist icon thriving in a world where women reign supreme. Actor Ryan Gosling, who portrays Ken, shared that his own children inspired him to take on this remarkable role. Reflecting on the sudden influx of Barbie-related items in his home, Gosling confessed, “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.”
Rarely has a film garnered such fevered anticipation in recent memory. The buzz surrounding the new Barbie movie might even surpass the long-awaited final installment of Daniel Craig’s James Bond, which faced multiple delays. Reports have surfaced about a global shortage of pink paint caused by the film’s influence, while media outlets have fixated on Robbie’s captivating feet. Additionally, Barbie shares its release date with Oppenheimer, a historical drama revolving around the invention of the atomic bomb, setting the stage for a captivating box office clash.
For Greta Gerwig, the accomplished writer-director celebrated for her works like the 2019 adaptation of Little Women and the Oscar-nominated Lady Bird, helming the Barbie film has been both daunting and exhilarating. Gerwig expressed her mix of emotions, sharing, “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, making her an iconic figure in the toy industry. Sixty-four years after her inception, Barbie continues to achieve impressive sales for Mattel, the toy manufacturer. Gerwig commended Mattel for their willingness to take risks, 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.”
Throughout the years, Barbie has evolved and diversified, leaving an indelible impact on popular culture. In addition to physical toys, Barbie has inspired video games, TV shows, and films. British artist Emma Gibbons, whose art incorporates Barbie elements in her “Barbiecore” pieces, highlighted the significance of the doll. 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.”
Barbie’s allure stems not only from nostalgia and aesthetics but also from the empowerment and liberation she represents. Gibbons elaborated, “Barbie allows people to be their extravagant, exuberant selves. Anything goes.” As the highly anticipated live-action Barbie movie prepares for 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.