The Student News Site of Brophy College Preparatory

Brophy Roundup

The Student News Site of Brophy College Preparatory

Brophy Roundup

The Student News Site of Brophy College Preparatory

Brophy Roundup

Follow Us on Twitter

Opinion: What men can learn from ‘Barbie’

What Barbie Has To Say About Masculinity

On the 21st of July 2023, two massive blockbuster films hit the theaters for the very first time, “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.” These two polar opposite movies both became box office juggernauts pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars, shattering earning records in several categories, and receiving critical acclaim along the way.

However, in some strange contortion of events, the movie about the popular line of dolls became a greater point of contention than the movie about the guy behind the creation of the atomic bomb. 

Of course, the majority of “Barbie’s” critics offered genuine pieces of criticism or fairly stated that it simply wasn’t their kind of movie. However, for the months following the film’s release, it was hard to go anywhere without hearing the loud cries of the minority. A small but vocal group of Barbie-haters explained their distaste for the film saying that it fundamentally hated men, pointing to the over-the-top portrayal of Ryan Gosling’s Ken as a naive buffoon as proof.

This controversy grew so large that it prompted American sweetheart Ben Shapiro to craft two different videos, each nearly an hour in length, tearing into how “Barbie” is fundamentally “woke” propaganda.  

This way of thinking has become increasingly popular among detractors with even several Brophy students holding this opinion. Criticism like that boggles the mind and makes me wonder if we even watched the same movie. Even upon a surface-level examination of its themes “Barbie” definitely does not attack men. 

It is worth mentioning that “Barbie” is a movie made both for and by women first and foremost but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is devoid of anything for men to take away. 

In the movie the Kens are empty of any and all personality, the only time they feel any sort of fulfillment is when a Barbie recognizes them. That, in fact, is their only role, none of them hold jobs and as Ken points out that his role is simply “beach” we understand that there is nothing more to the Kens than standing in place and looking pretty. 

This is, of course, until Ryan Gosling’s Ken stows away on Barbie’s journey to the real world where he discovers the existence of all sorts of fun ideas like patriarchy and horses. He then brings these ideals to Barbieland, taking over the world with these new ideas and turning any Barbie dreamhouse into a Ken mojo dojo casa house. 

Ken is, of course, ultimately defeated by the counter-ideology expressed by Barbie and the human mother. At first glance, Barbie makes the simple statement that a patriarchal society is harmful to women. However, it says a lot more when you look into the more significant subtext. 

After the Kens lose the presidential election Barbie confronts Ryan Gosling’s Ken and he finally expresses his frustration. He relents that he feels stuck having to play the same role every day of lusting for Barbie and being unable to be anything. After all, Ken has always been Barbie’s greatest accessory. This is where the true message of the film comes out. Barbie tells Ken that his identity is not reliant on vanity, he isn’t his girlfriend, his clothes, his casa house, or his belongings, he just has to be Ken.  

In a patriarchal society, men are unable to hold an identity. They have to fit into the mold of the controlling and dominant head. The patriarchy only gives an illusion of power as men become slaves to that kind of lifestyle. Barbie argues that men deserve better than to live in the shadow of others and base their whole identity on either trying to impress or dominate those that surround them. 

How can you say that Barbie hates men when this is what it has to say about them? What “Barbie” is saying is simple: you are Ken-ough.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Brophy Roundup

Your donation will support the student journalists of Brophy College Preparatory. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Charlie Richards
Charlie Richards, Staff Writer
Donate to Brophy Roundup

Comments (0)

All Brophy Roundup Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *