Wednesday, August 23, 2023
Pulsating with excitement, the theatre was swarmed with moviegoers in pink, devoid of the limitations gender imposes on one. Women wore power suits in the shade.
But men, too, caught my attention sporting rosy polos and shirts channelling their ‘Kenergy’. What I witnessed reflected the movie's universal charm.
As the lights dimmed, an electrifying energy filled the air. The crowd was brought together by a shared enthusiasm about discovering the world of Barbie's latest adventure through the eyes of filmmaker Greta Gerwig, an American actor, filmmaker, and screenwriter.
Little did I know, we would be transported beyond our wildest imagination.
Barbie's quest for a cure led her to a jarring reality, one that starkly contrasted with the estrogen-fuelled paradise she had left behind.
As she stepped into the real world, her heart sank at the sight of a society that fell short of her lofty ideals. Gone were the dreams of a female president, women Nobel laureates, and a world where gender equality was the norm. Instead, the real world was a complex tapestry of progress and setbacks, a reflection of both aspirations and limitations.
The devastating truth began to settle in. She wasn't the omnipotent role model she had imagined herself to be. The challenges women faced here were immense, deeply entrenched and not easily conquered. Barbie's journey took an unexpected turn as she grappled with the reality that change was a gradual process, requiring unwavering determination and collective effort.
But it was Ken, perhaps surprisingly, who found himself invigorated by the dynamics of the real world where he discovered a power structure favouring his gender. He drew towards the allure of this new paradigm. As Barbie confronted the disillusionment of her fantasies, Ken embraced the privilege he found, inadvertently carrying these newfound ideals back to Barbie Land.
The atmosphere in the theatre crackled with a mixture of empathy, understanding and a dash of discomfort. It was as if the very essence of the story had transcended the confines of the screen and reached out to touch the hearts of those watching.
Amna Khan, a 21-year-old cinemagoer, excited to watch the movie like most girls, said: “As I watched this narrative unfold, I found myself caught in the undertow of empathy, a current that carried my emotions in collaboration with Barbie's. Her journey from idyllic innocence to grappling with the gritty unknown struck a chord that resonated deep within.
Recalling her experience, she said it appeared as though the screen was a reflection of the times in her own life when she faced the unexpected or ran into unanticipated detours. “In that theatre, a link between Barbie's struggle and my own experiences emerged.”
Over and above that, women have weaved a story of victory and tenacity into the fabric of our modern world, breaking down barriers and gaining recognition in every field. These tremendous steps are unquestionable evidence of the strength of will and the uncompromising spirit of womanhood. However, a web of deeply ingrained societal biases and preconceived notions, nonetheless, persists relentlessly, throwing shades on the road towards progress underneath the sparkling surface.
Sharing her views on the Gerwig directorial, Farah Hassan — a 26-year-old admirer of Barbie — said the irony transformed into a potent mirror by using clever humour and sharp wit, exposing the outdated concepts that still pervade our modern world.
Hassan’s perspective on life, however, is as deep and enchanting as the stories unfolding on the silver screen.
“By daring to challenge these conventions, the movie entertains the audience while creating awareness and provoking important discussions on gender equality and women's empowerment,” she added.
Gerwig, too, claimed about her wish to create a Barbie movie that would be “inclusive and representative of the world we live in today” while also challenging the traditional stereotypes associated with the doll — white, thin, doe-eyed and beautiful.
The film took a daring twist leaving pin-drop silence in the entire theatre when America Ferrera, who plays Mattel employee, Gloria, poured her heart out, unleashing a torrent of emotions that had long been suppressed. Her words resonated with a powerful authenticity, stealing the spotlight and captivating the audience's attention. Gloria challenges women to stop trying to be someone they’re not and to embrace their true selves.
Another spectator, Hiba Anjum, had a different perspective.
“Barbie needed a woman from real life to tell her that she’s worthy enough. She was not resilient, empowered as a woman or brave until Gloria bucked her up, or gave her support,” she said.
Anjum spoke about Barbie already living in a bubble where everything was perfect. “She then started experiencing an existential crisis when she encountered problems of the real world because she was not used to it.”
The views obviously differ as Barbie has always been considered a symbol of unblemished perfection and has been cocooned in a world devoid of the real struggles that define human existence. Her yearning for a guide from the gritty reality of life, especially from a woman's perspective, stemmed from her ignorance of the harsh truths that evade a facade of flawlessness. The narrative begged for the touch of someone who could peel back the glossy layers and reveal the raw underbelly of existence.
As the weight of these revelations settled in, a hushed silence blanketed the theatre. Minds raced, thoughts churned and the moment's truth resonated deeply within each viewer. It was a pause in the narrative that transcended the screen, coaxing the audience to peel back their own layers and consider the intricacies that define their lives. In this eloquently crafted scene, the film transforms from entertainment to introspection, leaving an indelible mark on the audience's collective consciousness.
“When we came out of the theatre, faces started to appear, each a canvas of different emotions. Some were stained with tears, some were beaming with pure delight, and a few had the look of someone who had been emotionally exhausted by the journey they had just taken”, mentioned Sarah Madni, who flocked to the cinema to watch the rosy spectacle.
The journey of self-discovery, the clash of ideals, the slight sarcastic take on patriarchy and the unexpected role reversal took everyone on a rollercoaster of emotions. The impact was profound, leaving a lingering resonance in the minds of all who had witnessed the captivating drama unfold.
Mishkaat Vohra is an undergraduate student pursuing psychology.