From cast to teens, 'Barbie' film's view on patriarchy resonated

March 7, 2024 9:32 am

[Source: Reuters]

Actor Simu Liu, who played one of the Kens in the Oscar-nominated “Barbie” movie, experienced a revelation when he first read the script and its commentary about the harm inflicted by patriarchy.

“We all like to think that we’re different, that we’re progressive,” Liu said in an interview with Reuters. “And then we read a scene that calls us out so fully and utterly, that I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m part of the problem.'”

The “Barbie” movie, which will compete for best picture and other honors at Sunday’s Oscars, generated a chart-topping $1.4 billion at global box offices in 2023. Co-written by married couple Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, it also changed some attitudes about men and women.
The film moves between Barbie Land, run by President Barbie and other female dolls, and the Real World – a patriarchy ruled by men who provide few opportunities to women.

Liu pointed to scenes in which the Kens try to impress the Barbies by playing Matchbox Twenty song “Push” on guitar while the women stare into their eyes. “I’ll play guitar at you,” Ryan Gosling’s Ken says to Margot Robbie’s Barbie.
“My mind instantly flashed to 19-year-old me in college,” Liu said of the scene. “Yeah, that’s definitely me.”
The actor said he felt the movie’s aim was to show that patriarchy “is just bad for everyone.”

“It affects men because it puts this weird shit in our minds about what we have to be and who we have to be,” he said. “And then, obviously, makes it really tough for women.”
Dr. Ellen Rome, head of adolescent medicine at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, sought reactions to the film from about 100 tweens, teens and their parents who visited her clinic after the movie came out.

Most of the kids “picked up on how normative society’s patriarchy is, and how it can negatively impact both women and men,” Rome said. “Kids at 11, 12 and 13 got this.”

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