UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | June 18, 2024

OPINION | The message of ‘Barbie’ emphasizes women—not toys

Maika Sekiguchi, a freshman population health major from Chiba, Japan, poses in the pop-up Barbie box after watching the “Barbie” movie in the local theater. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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The movie “Barbie” was entertaining and heartfelt, but that doesn’t mean society needs more movies about toys.

With the release of “Barbie,” Mattel and other toy brands are creating their own toy cinematic universe. 

This includes the announcing and casting of films about American Girl Doll, Polly Pocket, Hot Wheels, Barney, Magic 8 Ball and Uno.

The Polly Pocket film has even cast Lily Collins in the upcoming movie. The main themes for the Barney movie and the premise of the Magic 8 Ball movie have been released as well. 

There comes a point where one asks themselves, “How much is too much?”

“Barbie” mania was admittedly overwhelming, but the point of “Barbie” wasn’t the toy itself. 

While some of these movies may have similar themes to “Barbie,” some of them may not. These movies that are using the toy to create a wild story are completely off base for what “Barbie” promoted.

The Magic 8 Ball film is going to be a horror-comedy that pushes an R rating. Why is a Magic 8 Ball being turned into a horror-comedy? It’s a rushed idea. There are plenty of horror-comedy movie ideas that don’t involve a Magic 8 Ball.

Randall Park, an actor from “Fresh Off the Boat” and “WandaVision,” said it better than anyone in an interview for “Rolling Stone.”

“‘Barbie’ is this massive blockbuster, and the idea is: Make more movies about toys! No — make more movies by and about women,” Park said.

The point of “Barbie” was to shine light on women’s and men’s traditional roles and emphasize women’s relationships. He added in his interview with “Rolling Stone” that “Barbie” was made by Greta Gerwig, who is essentially the epitome of shining a light on women’s lives. 

With “Barbie,” Gerwig has created the best-selling movie from any female director—breaking records with more than $1 billion dollars made at the box office.

I guarantee Gerwig would not want “Barbie” to promote movies about toys. Gerwig would want more movies about women because that was the entire point of “Barbie.”

Instead of more toy movies, companies and writers should learn from “Barbie” and make more stories about women. 

While the Magic 8 Ball movie will be a horror-comedy, the Barney film producer, Kevin McKeon, said the film will be about “millennial angst.”

I don’t want a Barney movie about millennial angst. There are more original ideas and movie scripts about angst that do not involve Barney. While “Barbie” screams women, Barney does not scream millennial angst because Barney is a purple dinosaur. How does one go from purple dinosaur to millennial angst? It feels that the Barney film would essentially be ruining the childhood figure.

“Barbie” displayed how thoughtless traditional gender roles are. The movie didn’t express hatred toward any one gender; it simply pointed out that traditional gender roles are flexible. Individuals do not have to fit into one singular box. There are infinite ways of living life.  

“Barbie” also highlighted the relationships between mothers and daughters. The ending beautifully described the feelings that flow through those relationships. It was a tear-jerker. 

Toward the end of the movie, the actress portraying Ruth Handler, the woman who created the doll, said to Barbie, “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they’ve come.”

Ruth tells Barbie about mothers and daughters.

It’s especially heartfelt when one knows that Handler created the Barbie doll after her own daughter, Barbara Handler. 

I love how Barbie depicted the mother-daughter relationship. One simple quote gave perspective into those relationships and helped others who don’t have those relationships understand that specific part of women’s lives. 

It’s important that people understand “Barbie” wasn’t made to emphasize toys—it was made to highlight women and their relationships with other individuals—especially depicted between a mother and daughter. 

The future of the toy cinematic universe will be a failure if there is no connection between the themes present and the toy. I don’t want a Barney movie about millennial angst or a Magic 8 Ball horror-comedy.

While thinking about the sentimental value of “Barbie,” don’t ponder on what other toy movies are possible. Think about the women, who without their brilliance, “Barbie” wouldn’t even exist.