Barbie Girl in a Barbie World
The holiday season of red and green has received a fun splash of pink since the teaser trailer for Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie has been released. The sneak peek made its way onto people’s radar after a patron recorded the trailer, as it was part of the previews for the new Avatar: The Way of Water Movie, and tweeted it to the public on Thursday, December 15th. Even though the footage was low quality and Margot Robbie’s smile could barely be seen, the internet went absolutely wild with “Barbie” trending on Twitter shortly after the clip was shared. The same day, Warner Bros. Entertainment shared that they would release the trailer the following day, Friday, December 16th. If the public’s reaction to advertisements surrounding this movie is any indication of its success, we can definitely say that the film will be an absolute smash hit.
The trailer opens with a parody of 2001 A Space Odyssey, showing little girls playing with baby dolls in a barren environment accompanied by a narration implying this act is extremely outdated. The play session is soon disrupted when a blonde girl looks up in awe at a tall barbie (played by Margot Robbie) looking stunning as ever, posing in Barbie’s iconic black and white one-piece bathing suit that the doll wore when she was first released to the public in 1959. We get a close-up of Barbie lowering her retro sunglasses, smiling dazzlingly with her classic red lips, and then winking, showing the audience she knows exactly who she is and what impact this movie is going to make. Shortly after, the little girl smashes her baby doll, mirroring the famous scene in 2001 A Space Odyssey where an ape repeatedly flings a bone against a skeleton smashing it into smaller fragments.
This a fantastic metaphor for the evolution of dolls and the incredibly impactful impression Barbie has made on the minds of young girls. When she flings one of the baby dolls in the air, the camera follows the toy as it suddenly disappears from the screen and is replaced by the word “Barbie’ in the vintage font that originated in the 70s. Shortly after, we are given a montage of footage, including a shot of Barbie from behind looking over pink buildings and attractions, as well as Ken with his glistening bleach-blonde hair surrounded by supporting characters. The trailer ends with an announcement that the movie will be in theaters on July 21st. So, with all of this colorful promo, what are we to predict regarding what the Barbie movie will be at its core? Well, the trailer aligns with a more contemporary angle of the Mattel brand.
The TV show Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse aired from 2012 to 2015 on Nickelodeon. This show was animated and centered around Barbie and her friends having adventures in her Malibu dreamhouse. The show was unique as it constantly broke the fourth wall and made satirical jokes that are only effective with a brand that has existed as long as Barbie has. The trailer plays into this sense of humor with its self-awareness and iconic imagery. As a part of this self-reflection, Barbie also launched Project Dawn in 2016, a venture where Mattel released a line of dolls of varying sizes and body proportions, and even created a Youtube channel for Barbie where she addresses heavy topics such as sadness, racism, and the sorry reflex.
These are all examples of something that has been admired about the brand, which is how they have grown to not compromise femininity for meaningful discussion and intellectual topics -something that is amusingly reflected in having a Stanley Kubrick film referenced in a Barbie trailer. While the intentions of this change are rightfully called into question, there is no doubt that Barbie is growing to be more reflective of a wider audience, making Greta Gerwig an interesting choice for this film’s director and co-writer.
As mentioned before, Barbie as a brand is making a push for diversity surrounding its topics and representation. This is no doubt why so many people of color have been cast in this project, including Issa Rae, America Ferrera, Simu Liu, and more. This makes Barbie Gerwig’s most racially diverse movie yet. While Greta Gerwig has undoubtedly made an impression on audiences by writing and directing female-centered stories, she has drawn criticism from the fact that her body of work is overwhelmingly white, as is the work of the co-writer of Barbie, Noah Baumbach. While this isn’t to say that they are unable to write/direct a film with people of color properly, it is interesting that the two most prominent people in Hollywood that have lacked racial diversity in their work are taking on a project for a brand that has been pushing for it for years. Regardless, the latest trailer definitely showcases that they have done their homework on Barbara Millicent Roberts and intend to make this movie a cherished addition to the franchise.