Barbie and The Academy: are we still missing the point?

by Ella Bleu

It's hard to put into words the phenomenal cultural shift that Barbie has brought us over the past year, from breaking box office records, to breaking an entire generation's view of themselves and their childhood. The reclamation of girlhood has transformed a generation of prior Avril Lavigne-listening tomboys into coquette-indulging, mini skirt-wearing girlies, and has, I'm sure, sent many into a total recall over their relationships with their mothers. 

This cultural shift, tangible in the melody of Billie Eilish's 'What Was I Made For', seems to have woken us up to a new and more powerful wave of feminism. That's why, when 52-year-old nobody, Jo Koy (if you don't know him, think Will Ferrel's character in Barbie...) tries to make jokes about Barbie's "boobies" and cellulite, it does feel like we're getting nowhere.

However, the latest wave of outrage surrounding Barbie's misinterpretation feels somewhat worse than Koy's disaster set, because it seems that even the female demographic that Barbie caters to, has forgotten it's message as well. This year's oscar nominations are a huge feat for women in the film industry: Barbie itself has earned 8 nominations, America Ferrera has received her first ever Oscar nomination, and Lily Gladstone is the first Native American woman nominated for best actress, just to name a few. So why is that all we have heard of from the media is how Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig have been 'snubbed?' The outcry has far overshadowed the achievements, and we have subsequently failed to celebrate women in Hollywood, and instead let our anger at men and their institutions win.

I don't want to sell you the tale that the Academy is without cause for critique. I don't want you to believe that we should accept little wins, because "some progress is better than none". There is only one female nominated for best director this year, and Greta Gerwig is not the only one who was 'snubbed'. 

May December,  Pricilla, A Thousand and One However, All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, and Saltburn, are all films with female leads or directed by women who have been under-appreciated by the academy or gone completely unrecognised.

But great things have happened in this year’s nominations, we've just been too busy focusing on the failures to realise them, and inevitably, the algorithm is regurgitating an account that we do not want, all over our screens. Please, if I see another "Ryan Gosling Carries Barbie", "Ryan Gosling's Bombshell Statement" headline, I'm going to scream. The 'snubbing' narrative has also taken up headlines that should be reading: people of colour nominated in EVERY acting category. In his Variety Article "Oscar's Diversity 2024" (which is certainly more worthy of your time than the BBC, ABC, or New York Times' "Poor Margot and Greta" articles), Clayton Davis highlights numerous other achievements that deserve celebration, such as the "refreshing mixture" of non-English language films nominated and the increase in the number of women nominated in the best original screenplay category. I'll also give a little praise to the academy for keeping Leo away from another Oscar. Hopefully, it brings him one step closer to realising he's officially (and disgustingly) double the age of his girlfriends.

The greater message here is the same one Gerwig tells us in Barbie. Stop trying to pit women against each other. That agenda is over.

So, when people ask you about the Oscars this year, please tell them about the inspirational women in film who are making headway in the industry. Tell them about how Justine Triet's COVID project got her nominated for best director. How Lily Gladstone has already made history twice this awards season. Tell them that they have to watch The Holdovers because they can't miss Da'Vine Joy Randolph's phenomenal performance. Tell them about how, in a society where re-makes are becoming musicals to scavenge some kind of 'originality', Celine Song has written a fiercely unique and beautiful love story in Past Lives. Tell them about May December, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margret, or Bottoms- anything really that can distract them from the exclusionary narrative created by those in power.

Ella studies a Bachelor of Engineering/Arts, even though she's completely unsure of what she wants to do when she graduates. She loves to travel, she's a semi-proud introvert and is trying very hard to become a runner (but new year’s resolutions only go so far...). She loves Blitz - it reminds her that students are much more than self-loathing human calculators (engineering really is THAT dull).

Blitz Editor

Anandi Ganguly

A Definitive Ranking of the Beloved Papa Louie Games

Alexa ranks our the childhood cult classic, Papa's Pizzeria games. Where does your favourite lie in the ranks?

Read More

Harry Styles Love on Tour Review / 04.03.23

Lana dotes on her experience at Harry's Love on Tour in Sydney, at Qudos Bank Arena.

Read More

Why Do We Play Life Simulation Games Over Life?

Prudence dives deep into the temptation to play life simulator games over life.

Read More

Read More