Barbie Movie Unveiled: Exploring its Political Divide

By: Sarah Offenberg  |  September 21, 2023

By Sarah Offenberg, Staff Writer

By now, unless you have been living in complete seclusion, you’ve likely heard of the Barbie movie. You have probably encountered its extensive advertising campaigns and the phenomenon that has come with it. Grossing a staggering $1.403 billion in the box office, Barbie has established itself as one of the most popular films in recent years. Despite the film initially coming across as merely a silly, simple and fun production, Barbie has caused quite a public stir and has been heavily politicized. If you were to ask around,whether it be family or friends, or google “opinions on the Barbie movie”, you would hear vastly different viewpoints. 

While it seems like most liberals who viewed the movie enjoyed its lighthearted fun and inspirational messages about feminism and women’s role in society, the majority of conservatives have had some harsh opinions on the movie, claiming it is riddled with “woke” and overly feminist ideas, branding the movie as “stupid.” In fact conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro even sat down and made a 42 minute long in depth video denouncing the Barbie movie, Shapiro tweeting beforehand “My producers dragged me to see ‘Barbie’ and it was one of the most woke movies I have ever seen. My full review of this flaming garbage heap of a film will be out on my YouTube channel.” 

However, to gain a more personal understanding of the masses’ opinions I turned to my friends for their thoughts. I asked a few of my friends, from both the conservative party and the liberal party what their point of view on the film was after watching it. 

Gabby P, a junior at Stern, who identifies with the conservative party, commented on the movie saying that “the movie had no substance, the plot was weak and the characters underdeveloped. The set design was creative, and overall artistically it was entertaining and colorful but a good movie is a lot more than pretty costumes and catchy songs. Also the message was not at all profound –  stop acting like complaining about being a woman accomplishes anything worthwhile”. Another friend who also identifies with the conservative party (who wishes to stay anonymous) noted that “while Greta Gerwig is undoubtedly a talented director and accomplished a unique and creative vision for this film, Barbie is lacking a novel message. The film relies on charming acting, meticulously designed sets and effects, and an impressive soundtrack to mask the fact that its central theme is just a poorly told rehash of struggles that may not be universally representative for women.” Both friends seemed to be in agreement, while they admitted that there were some positives regarding the aesthetic of the film, they could not agree with the overall feminist messages which were portrayed.  

On the flipside when I asked my more liberal friends what they thought about the movie I had more positive responses: Ella D, a junior at Stern, explained her take on the movie: “I loved the Barbie movie! I personally felt the Barbie movie showed not only the accomplishments of modern feminism but also the important problems with it. It emphasized the idea that while women have in theory achieved so much we still have such a long way to go. I really loved watching the roles of men and women be swapped in the “real” vs. “Barbie” world. It really puts perspective on the problems we as women and men face today.” 

The release of Barbie has unveiled the political divide in America. People on either side of the political spectrum are quick to share their opinions, or jump on whichever political bandwagon they side with. With this partial point of view, it is hard to go into anything with an open mind in today’s world. It seems as though a willingness to hear others opinions or siding somewhere in the middle is a rarity. As we move forward into the new year I urge you to be open to having respectful conversations about both the Barbie movie and other perhaps more important topics with others who may not agree with you.