Since the captivating images of Barbie and Ken rollerblading along the vibrant Venice Beach boardwalk emerged in 2022, the excitement surrounding the upcoming live-action Barbie movie has skyrocketed. In recent weeks, the anticipation for the film, helmed by acclaimed director Greta Gerwig, has reached unparalleled levels. Margot Robbie’s stunning vintage pink carpet ensembles and a social media frenzy over a clip showcasing her perfectly arched, tip-toed feet have only intensified the fervor.
Barbie, the timeless doll that has enchanted generations of children since her debut in 1959, has become an iconic cultural figure. While she has already graced screens in numerous films and TV shows, Gerwig’s fresh take on the beloved character has propelled Barbie mania to new heights. With the movie’s tagline, “She’s Everything. He’s Just Ken,” Barbie stands as a feminist symbol in a world where women reign supreme. Actor Ryan Gosling, who portrays Ken in the film, was inspired to join the project by his own children. Reflecting on the sudden influx of Barbie-related items in his home, Gosling shared, “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, and 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.”
The level of anticipation surrounding the live-action Barbie film is rarely seen in recent times. It may even surpass the fevered anticipation for Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond, which faced multiple delays. Rumors of a global shortage of pink paint due to the film’s influence have circulated, and media outlets have fixated on Robbie’s mesmerizing feet. Additionally, the film’s release date coincides with Oppenheimer, a historical drama centered on the invention of the atomic bomb, setting the stage for an intriguing box office clash.
For Greta Gerwig, the acclaimed writer-director behind celebrated works such as the 2019 adaptation of Little Women and the Oscar-nominated Lady Bird, taking on the Barbie movie has been a thrilling yet daunting endeavor. Gerwig shared her mix of emotions, stating, “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 continues to captivate audiences worldwide. Sixty-four years since her introduction, the iconic doll continues to generate substantial sales for Mattel, her creator. Gerwig commended Mattel’s willingness to take risks, saying, “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.”
Over the years, Barbie has evolved and inspired countless fans. Apart from physical toys, she has influenced video games, TV shows, and films. British artist Emma Gibbons, known for her “Barbiecore” artworks, incorporates Barbie elements into her pieces. Reflecting on Barbie’s impact, Gibbons said, “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 from nostalgia, aesthetics, and the empowerment she represents. Gibbons emphasized, “Barbie allows people to be their extravagant, exuberant selves. Anything goes.” As the highly anticipated live-action Barbie movie prepares to hit the screens, it is clear that Barbie’s iconic status will endure, captivating a new generation of fans and leaving an indelible mark on popular culture.