Moving Pictures
Jul 28, 2023, 05:57AM

When Barbie Attacks the Kendom

If you write about hating the Barbie movie, you’re just admitting to your male fragility. 

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Just what the Internet needs, another Barbie review, eyeroll. But as a resident Splice woman writer among few, raised with a (second-hand) Barbie dream house, and as a mother who raised three daughters and therefore spent a few grand on Barbie and all her swag, at least I bring some non-male perspective here at Splice. 


Reading the mansplaining pieces that have been written so far has been a bit agonizing, as though one of the Ken characters featured one of those see-through vinyl visors, sweater vest with paid polyester pants, 1976 little plastic Smith Corona typewriter, and was quickly discontinued by Mattel because nobody bought one. I don’t need to point out the patriarchal irony.


I saw the film on a whim (it was playing in 6 out of 8 of the Delaware theaters) on way home from a New York trip this week with a friend. 

Since you’ve probably already read so many reviews of the film already that you have pink oozing out your eyeballs, I’ll just jot down a few spoiler-filled thoughts. 

Reviews: They either gush on about how it’s the best or the worst film ever made, or somewhere in between. Yawn. Mediocrity is generally the sweet spot in life; take what you like and need, leave the rest. Even after a horde of angry conservative men with threatened masculinity swamped Rotten Tomatoes with whiny reviews, the score stands at 90%. Personally, my favorite review is the “find the queer hidden Easter eggs” piece from Them

Sex and gender: Femininity, masculinity, sexuality and gender are approached and dealt with blond-head-on in the film. In general, people who have hated this film have a problem with that either due to their homophobia, male fragility, issues of being threatened by the concept of matriarchy, or discomfort around gender roles. The character Allan, based like all dolls in the film on a real doll in Mattel history “Ken’s friend who could fit into all his clothes,” is a celebration of gender neutrality and of course is being heralded by the right as one more example of their imaginary “grooming” woke conspiracy theories. Hilarious in the film: Barbie asking Ken “To do what?” when he asks to sleep over. 

Script: Although the writing itself is generally good and the movie has many hilarious moments (check out this list of the best), it could be argued that the script is at times a bit messy and tries to do too much. There’s a lot going on in the Wizard of Oz-like journey of Barbie and her friends and the the script has a hard time focusing on what it wants to accomplish and how to wrap up the plot neatly. Life is messy too so this wide-net, haphazard effect doesn’t ruin the film, it just feels a bit schizo at times and honestly with everything the film has going on, just made me want to see it again when it streams to figure out what I missed the first time. I’d also love a sequel, we need to see more of Depressed Barbie, who I think we all identified with the most, and frankly, I’d buy that doll from Mattel today along with a few others I can think of in a “Real-life” line.

Acting: Also I would see the film a few more times just to see Director Greta Gerwin’s Barnard roommate the incredible actress Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie. With her wacky hair and outfit reminiscent of every one of our kids who ever cut the hair off and drew the things on the Barbies, McKinnon offers both the (now selling outeverywhere) pink Birkenstocks as an alternative to the uncomfortable heels that no longer fit Barbie’s un-high-heeled feet, and the best comedy in the film. Enough has been said about Margot Robbie as Barbie (she’s fine, could have been given more of a comedic arc) and Ryan Gosling as Ken (hilarious).

Cinematography: Oscar-nominated Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto asked Director Greta Gerwin “how pink do we go?” and clearly no pink was left un-pinked, but the fantasy world of the movie goes far beyond color and in Wizard of Oz reverse, we are brought from Dream House world to the real world (and back again) in an incredible cinematic Katy-Perry-video on crack journey that is quite sight to behold. 

Politics: Really, Ben Shapiro? You don’t think you’re actually casting yourself as one of the horse-riding Kens in the film by burning Barbie dolls and crying fragile masculinity tears at the thought of a matriarchy? You’re a mockery of yourself. Mattel should make a BEN doll, the accessories would be hilarious. Tiny right-wing books, a miniature plastic Fox News TV, an adorable bottle of douche. The response of the conservatives has been so hilarious, paranoid and unreasonable, not to mention the irony in the obvious: already fictionalized in the film. Go ride a “male extender” horse and lighten up, Francis Kens.

Emotions/Motherhood: Yes, I cried. I know I’m not the only one. I cried because of Rhea Perlman’s depiction of Barbie inventor Ruth Handler; I knew as soon as Margot Robbie walked into the room at Mattel that this was the backstory we were going to get involving the beautiful relationship development of motherhood (as combatant of misogyny and protector of all that is sacred in femininity), highlighted between mother and daughter depicted by America Ferrera’s Gloria and Ariana Greenblatt’s Sasha. It was Perlman’s line “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they’ve come” that finally brought me to tears as it well should any mother who has bought her daughter a brand new Barbie doll for Christmas. 

  • This is a fine example of the "If you don't like something I love, then you're a (expletive of your choice) argument, which is not a legitimate form of criticism.

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  • As for the many women who dislike this movie, what is their sex related shortcoming?

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  • I don't give a shit who doesn't like something I didn't even say I love, so I'm not here to criticize any oversensitive Kens, especially since it's already clear what their sex-related shortcomings are.

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  • I didn’t ask you to “give a shit" about my opinion, but I’d expect better than this dull temper tantrum of a response from an editor of Splice Today, and more than this juvenile, name-calling piece full of eye-glazing jargon. Such a total bore to read. Also, I asked about the women who don’t like this movie, and what sex-related deficiencies you ascribe to them, not about any “oversensitive Kens.” You say, “Mediocrity is generally the sweet spot in life,” and you’ve just demonstrated your commitment to your mundane principle here. Bravo!

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  • I was supposed to respond politely to rude criticism because I'm am editor, or because I'm a woman who doesn't agree with you? I don't usually quote myself but 'Reading the mansplaining pieces that have been written so far has been a bit agonizing... the patriarchal irony." I would not ascribe sex-related deficiencies to women who don't like the movie, but I'm allowed to have opinions about their intellectual and probably political deficiencies. If you think my writing is boring don't read it. My mediocre life will continue unscathed.

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  • Splice Today editor responds to legitimate, not rude, criticism with specious claims of sexism, and "If you don't like my writing, don't read it." Okay, lightweight.

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  • You have just demonstrated why your previous policy of not quoting yourself was a good idea.

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  • Anyone who read your insults/comments would agree they’re rude; textbook low-level bully crap, yawn. I’m not a lightweight, you’re a troll. I’ve been writing professionally for 30 years, not my first time at the rodeo of this BS, so my skin is a bit thicker than to have my feelings hurt over a man upset about a Barbie movie article. You have just demonstrated why you comment on articles instead of writing them.

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  • Maybe I should start writing articles then, because almost anyone could do better than this "review," if that's what you want call it. It doesn't even live up to your gold standard of mediocrity. You don't even understand how embarrassing it is to point out the 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating, right? Anyway, let me know if you want a list of "professional" writers who produce a steady stream of garbage. Most of them, at least, wouldn't whine about being bullied by a mansplaining "man" who gave them some negative feedback. Fact: your feelings are definitely hurt over a response to your "Barbie movie article," and you do not have thick skin. That's why you're pretending to be a victim here.

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  • Not facts actually. As mentioned in my very first comment, I don’t give a shit; far from claiming victimhood, my only mistake here was breaking one of the “gold standards” of Internet writing and feeding a troll. Though again, you do serve nicely as a boo-hoo angry-Barbie-movie-hater patriarchy example (“man” as you have in quotations, and honestly, regardless of gender; you’re just a mean, bitter person for some reason- the motivation for that is not my problem) for the purposes of the lighthearted BARBIE piece you seem so dedicated to passionately criticizing, so thanks.

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  • This isn't personal for me, as it is for your fragile ego.

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  • For a "professional writer" who doesn't give a shit, you sure are "dedicated," at least as much as I am. Plus, you're willing to sink much lower than I am by making this personal, and calling me silly names. I suppose that makes you feel better about yourself, but it's not a good look. I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. Funny how it's always the ones who love dishing it out who can't take any heat. Also, does putting Barbie in all caps somehow strengthen whatever case you're trying to make?

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