South Asia and Beyond

No Kidding! One Barbie, Many Takeaways

 No Kidding! One Barbie, Many Takeaways

I had a school girl Barbie who wore a red tunic and white shirt. I still have her shoe!

NEW DELHI: For my generation, Barbie still holds a special spot in our hearts. It was about personalization. Barbie was always about the power a girl possesses inside her, also the idea that ‘you could be anything’, which the variety of Barbie dolls represented.

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

The movie has triggered a lively discussion among friends, prompting recollections about their treasured Barbie collections and the experiences of each.

It’s intriguing to note how the movie has brought the focus on the colour pink. People were wearing pink, something I noticed among my friends. My colleague Prerna Singh went for the movie wearing Barbie style merchandise and pink accessories.

“I grew up playing with Barbie dolls and pink is my favourite colour. The movie is like the realisation of a dream for me,” she said.

Others shared interesting experiences of witnessing guys wearing not just pink shirts and T-shirts, even pink skirts!

When I asked a coeval, Bedotroyee Bhattacharjee, if she wore pink to the movie, she replied “I did! And surprisingly so because I hardly have any pink clothes……it made me realise the deep misogyny that’s within, because I grew up not opting for pink as it represented femininity.”

But it seems the craze for the movie has brought out people expressing their individuality by defying traditional gender norms associated with clothing choices.

For many of us, the excitement of watching Barbie was to see our childhood doll come alive on the big screen. For others, it was to see what the feminist take on it would be although the move is many layered. One can watch it simply as a pink-filled Barbieland story, whereas the movie carries great satire as well.

Mini Anthikad Chhibber, film critic who writes for The Hindu said: “The movie is a satire on society’s gender roles, also a satire on the doll. The movie was smart, clever and it fun. The Barbie movie shows you can deal with very serious topics in a fun way”.

“I think it is super subversive. How Ken (played by Ryan Gosling) is treated makes a lot of us uncomfortable, and that basically shows how without equality it’s always going to be like that” said Bedotroyee Bhattacharjee.

The movie has brought many global discussions to the table, such as feminism, individuality and self-discovery among others. However, it’s hard to say anything beyond that.

“I think it’s too soon to say that the movie is shaping the attitude of the young audience in India. As a woman we are conditioned, whether we live in China or America or India, we are conditioned to be people pleasers” says movie critic Shubra Gupta.

By all accounts, the movie was a great success in India. It stirred considerable excitement by tapping into a vein of nostalgia. Like it or not, the Barbie Movie has rekindled collective memories of childhood, harkening back to a time that was technologically simpler, and perhaps more innocent.


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