Liv Talley | NYC's Premier Dating Coach and LOVE QUEEN

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Barbie: A Pithy Diatribe

Hi there babe,

It is with a TRULY heavy heart that I write this blog post today. For MONTHS, we’ve all been bombarded with the rather brilliant Barbie campaign to promote what was advertised as a light, innocuous movie about a beloved childhood memory. Based on the colors, marketing, and general nostalgia for likely the second most popular toy (LEGO is the first, I think,) you–like me–might be lead to believe this would be a fun movie about Barbie becoming sentient.

Both as a rampant consumer of the product (according to the movie itself, this is evil) and a lover of the OG “Barbie come to life” movie: Life Size–I was excited. I mean, you should see the amount of pink in my closet right now.

My original plans to watch it fell through, so somehow, I convinced my husband to watch it with me. And I must say, I was so uncomfortable watching it with him. To be fair, I absolutely expected some reliable “girl power” undertones. But the overall message of this show was so OVERTLY anti-man, that I was physically struggling. In fact, I told him that if he went home and wanted to pick me up after, that would be fine.

Now you may be reading this, thinking to yourself: dude Liv, it’s not that deep calm down. And that honestly *should* be the case. Unfortunately the writers of this movie made sure that it’s messaging took ITSELF seriously.

The movie was everything I think is wrong with the way our society is pitting women and men against each other. It’s literally the embodiment of why so many women are struggling to date. And that’s why I wrote this commentary…

At first glance:

Barbie becomes self-aware because her owner is projecting emotions onto her, and steps into the “real world” to fix herself and become perfect again.

So she heads off presumably by herself, but is tailed by Ken, who is mistreated by Barbie the ENTIRE movie. And the human world is predictably horrible because…patriarchy. My gosh. CUE EYEROLL.

What is tragically lost in this entire narrative, is that the Kens were LITERALLY filling the exact role that they proclaimed the patriarchy was evil for forcing women into: being unproductive “objects” to be mistreated by the gender in power. Or maybe it was intentional and the message was that women would do the same thing if we were in charge? Except that Kens didn’t even get to live in HOMES. Or MAYBE it was trying to show how women supposedly feel under the patriarchy? And if it was the last one (and an attempt to be clever and “stick it” to “the man”) all I have to say is that it’s not 1962 and most women I know are making significant money. Most women I know own homes.

Personally speaking, I made a million dollars before I turned 30 running my own business that I built from the ground up. I’m not a victim to anything–and certainly not to men.

Lastly, come on. I CAN’T be the only one that noticed how Ryan Gosling was there to be ogled and objectified throughout the whole movie, right? And then he sings a song about how it’s HIS FAULT, because….blonde privilege? I’m assuming it’s tongue and cheek satire, but to me it really didn’t land.

At face value, it’s a bad look.

Now let’s dive deeper…

What bothers me most, as a woman and as a dating coach: our society looooves to portray men as “bad” for how they are engineered to bond with women. (Hello, these things release a hormone called VASOPRESSIN and if vasopressin isn’t actively/regularly released throughout a connection, he will disengage and become uninterested.)

“Let them explain the whole Godfather movie to you”
“Let them teach you how to play sports”
“Let them play the guitar at you and just when they think you actually care about the song, go flirt with another Ken”
“A man can’t resist a damsel in distress”

  1. When a man is explaining something, it’s because he’s actually trying to demonstrate VALUE
  2. When a man is trying to support you in learning something, he’s attempting to show you how he can be USEFUL
  3. When a man is sharing a talent, he’s trying to show how he can be INTERESTING
  4. When a man is trying to help you when you’re in distress, HE’S CARING ABOUT YOUR WELLBEING

And listen, I know all women have at some point, been trapped into having John Mayer songs played at them for an excruciatingly long period of time…

But shaming men for how they biologically build connections is wrong. And shaming them WHILE using feminine sexuality to manipulate them and put them down (oh better not let a single man have a spot on the Supreme Court,) plus going back to being homeless, is kind of messed up. Again, maybe it was supposed to be funny, but it obviously wasn’t *entirely* a joke.

It also was not lost on me that the female utopia was a bunch of biotches to the “ugly” Barbie. Nor that Barbie was made by a woman. For girls. So the antagonist of the patriarchy didn’t even really make sense. “You’re either brainwashed or you’re ugly and weird” — Barbie. WTF. She’s then calling Gloria ugly and weird?

Honestly, the whole movie felt like fan-fiction from a scorned high-school girl whose crush asked out her best friend. For goodness sake, the heroine speech that snapped Barbie out of her hopelessness was the idea of empowering women to just be…mediocre? As a high-performing woman, that’s patronizing.

And as terrible as they portrayed the real world, with the men running everything, it actually made no sense for Barbie to choose to be human. I mean, right? Sasha literally tells Barbie that she ruined feminism and set women back, the beachgoers made fun of her and slapped her butt, the men at Mattel just try to control her, and the whole experience “corrupts” Ken. Like if the movie had the awareness to show how great the real world can be (I do give them props for showing evidently the only good thing about being human was that America Ferrera loved being a mom) but that didn’t seem like a compelling reason for Barbie since she didn’t seem to build a legitimate bond with Sasha at any point in the movie.

Final thoughts

This movie seemed very hellbent on proving that women are better off without men. Which is deeply disturbing, considering that it’s patently false. Women and men do need each other, and are better together. I just am so bored of this narrative, and as a dating coach, I see it as deeply problematic. Do you have any idea how many SUCCESSFUL, HIGH PERFORMING WOMEN come to me and ask how on earth to connect with men? Women are being conditioned to hate men, laugh at men, and to otherwise live life without them. And this movie epitomized that.

Like honestly, I can’t even tell you how hard these types of storylines have made dating for everyone. And I know this is going to get me in so much trouble to say, but I’ve personally felt more of the “impossible standards” in America Ferrera’s speech FROM OTHER WOMEN, than I’ve ever felt from men. Which isn’t to say other women haven’t felt that from men, but the concept that all women are kept down by “the man” is insane in 2023.

Like I said…if this film came out in the 60’s it would be a very different statement. Watching it now was just disinteresting.

I wanted something objectively lighthearted and nostalgic. I literally came for Margot Robbie. Yet it was Ryan Gosling who stole the show! He was the most interesting part of the movie, and the only character with actual development (or personality.) Instead, I got “man-hating,” nonsensical, colorful, throw up. It was aesthetically beautiful, and I ended up having the most sympathy for Ken’s character.

All in all, Life Size is the superior “Barbie come to life” movie.

Don’t @ me.

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