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OPINION: Barbie snub sets back feminism

The movie about women winning over sexist standards won Ryan Gosling, the male lead, an Oscar nomination.
Photo+illustration%2C+Barbie+gear
Photo illustration, Barbie gear

The catchy song “I’m Just Ken” may have stolen our hearts, but it gives no reason for the patriarchy to suppress the matriarchy in real life.

There’s no denying the popularity of Barbie in 2023. The movie, released in July, grossed $1,445,638,421 worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. The film follows fan favorites Barbie and Ken as they leave the matriarchy of Barbie World to partake in a quest in the world of humans. Nonetheless, the film is tied together by powerful feminist elements, from a high-powered monologue that conveys how difficult it is to be a woman, to a scene where all of the female Barbies must unite to take back control of Barbie World from a patriarchy of the male Kens.

And what nominations and acclamations did this dominant movie gain from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AKA the Oscars)? A nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Gosling, the male lead of Ken.

I know what you might be thinking. Not a nomination for Best Actress for Margot Robbie, who played the titular role of Barbie and also served as a producer of the film? Or not the Best Director nomination for Greta Gerwig, who beautifully directed a female-driven film as a woman herself?

For one thing, Margot Robbie is an insanely talented actress, who was able to nearly impeccably capture Barbie’s innocence of how frightening the world can be, and her desperation in letting women know that they are enough. She showed America (and the world) how emotionally disturbing it is to not know who you are or what your purpose in life is. Robbie beautifully conveyed that being a perfect woman is an unattainable goal that can be hard to come to terms with.

It leaves me completely befuddled that the Academy analyzed her performance and decided that she would not make the cut.

The fact that Greta Gerwig, a female director in a male-dominated industry, was not nominated for Best Director is also upsetting. She is an extremely gifted and accomplished director. Her remarkable work helped propel a movie about women triumphing into superstardom.

Interestingly, many female directors were notably absent in the nominations for best director. All of the nominations were for male directors, except for Justine Triet for her directing of Anatomy of a Fall.

In my opinion, this only adds to the belief that there was some sexist discrimination behind this year’s Oscar nominations. The fact that women have to do so much to prove themselves to be considered equal to men in almost any job is horrendous, and frankly, upsetting, considering how far women have come in asserting equality to men.

Of course, a snub this huge does not come without publicity or a few celebrity reactions.

Margot Robbie’s initial response to the snub was professional and selfless. According to Deadline, Robbie addressed the snub at a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) event on January 30th.

“There’s no way to feel sad when you know you’re this blessed,” Robbie said. “Obviously, I think Greta should be nominated as a director, because what she did is a once-in-a-career, once-in-a-lifetime thing, what she pulled off, it really is.”

Additionally, Ryan Gosling praised Gerwig and Robbie’s performances, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally celebrated film,” Gosling said.

Despite my rant so far, there is still a speck of hope that Barbie’s message reached the Academy. Billie Eilish was nominated for Best Original Song for “What Was I Made For?” from the movie. Also, America Ferrera, who plays Gloria, (a Mattel employee tormented by her unachieved dreams) received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. This nomination wasn’t without controversy, though, as Ferrera still wasn’t a Golden Globe nominee for Best Supporting Actress.

Nonetheless, Ferrera is very deserving of her Oscar nomination. She gave a strong feminist monologue in the film about the trials and tribulations of womanhood that was positively received by many.

What justice does this entire ordeal do for the film’s timeless message? Ironically, the Oscars haven’t caught up to the film’s theme yet. The writers, directors, and particularly, actresses, did everything in their power to captivate and reach out to women all across the world and let them know that they are enough and that they will receive representation.

All that this snub did was knock girls over and tell them that men will always be more acknowledged than women. But we, as women, can’t believe that.

The fact that an entire female-dominated movie was able to simultaneously call out the patriarchy and inspire women all over the world, while shattering box office records, is progress for feminism in and of itself.

Women should not let this infamous snub define who we are.

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About the Contributor
Claire Salera '27
Claire Salera '27, Reporter
Claire is a freshman here at Strath Haven. She has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember, often writing in her free time. At Strath Haven, Claire is an active member of the danceline, tennis team, and dance haven. She is super excited to be a part of the Panther Press staff this year, and to be able to share her love of writing with the student body.
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