Greta Gerwig chats about Barbie’s reception

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Greta Gerwig's Barbie.
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Barbie is a smash hit, but director Great Gerwig has a few words for the vocal minority who are criticising the movie. 

Film fans everywhere are hailing the release of Barbie (along with Oppenheimer) as an important moment in cinema. It’s fair to say that these last few years have been a bit tumultuous for the movies, but Greta Gerwig’s film has helped to give the industry a greatly-needed shot in the arm.

Some are saying that the ‘Barbenheimer’ phenomenon is the dawn of a new era for cinema, others suggest it might be a glorious final rage against the dying of the light. Either way, it’s been lovely to walk into cinemas in the last week and see the kinds of hugely excited crowds that are the lifeblood of the film industry, a sight that has been far too rare over these past few years.

However, not everybody is happy. A vocal minority have predictably called Barbie out for daring to poke fun at the patriarchy. Naturally, these critics have their audiences and have been riling them up, burning Barbie dolls on camera and decrying the film’s ideology as being “anti-man” and “feminist propaganda.” Presumably they’re particularly upset because the film’s huge success has shattered the rather silly ‘go woke, go broke’ mantra that they’ve been peddling online to earn clicks.

Greta Gerwig, the film’s director has responded to the criticism, stating that she didn’t expect such fierce resistance to the film’s themes, telling The New York Times: “No, I didn’t. Certainly, there’s a lot of passion. My hope for the movie is that it’s an invitation for everybody to be part of the party and let go of the things that aren’t necessarily serving us as either women or men. I hope that in all of that passion, if they see it or engage with it, it can give them some of the relief that it gave other people.”

Whether the film’s few (but loud) critics will accept Gerwig’s invitation to the ‘the party’ remains to be seen – but we’re not holding our breath. Whether you agree with the film’s ideology or not, it’s pretty great to see a huge product-focused studio blockbuster get through the system with plenty of thought-provoking ideas intact.

We wrote a while back that the emergence of the product-focused movie could be the next big, empty framework for studios to build anodyne blockbusters around, but as we hoped it would, Barbie has defied that process by creating a huge tentpole movie that’s rich with ideas rather than blindly venerating a product. Whether we agree with a film’s ideology or not, we’d take that over an empty product movie every time.

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