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The Student News Site of Xaverian College

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March 14, 2022

Why the Barbie ‘snub’ at the Oscars presents a disturbing reality for the outspoken actors and directors

Why+the+Barbie+%E2%80%98snub%E2%80%99+at+the+Oscars+presents+a+disturbing+reality+for+the+outspoken+actors+and+directors
Martha Davies

The Academy Awards are the most prestigious and beloved event in the acting industry, and this year was no exception. From the cinematic phenomenon of ‘Barbenheimer’ to the thought-provoking ‘Poor Things’, it was a night to remember for the film industry. 

Critically acclaimed ‘Barbie’, however, was seemingly brushed aside in terms of nominations, causing an uproar from fans and the public alike. Many were quick to point out the irony in the lack of recognition for a film that shaped the media for months, even before its release. The Hollywood Reporter took to ‘X’ to say: ‘the optics of excluding Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie from the directing and lead actress categories- the women most responsible for a critically acclaimed film that became the biggest blockbuster of 2023- are not good’. Whilst there were nominations for Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera, these names were lost in the outrage caused by Margot Robbie’s and Greta Gerwig’s ‘snub’. 

It is clear that the irony of ‘Ken’ being awarded for his role in Barbie was not lost on Gosling who released a statement expressing his “disappointment” over both Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie being left out of nominations for their respective roles (this sentiment was shared by America Ferrera who was nominated for the award for best actress in a supporting role). Gosling questioned this idolisation of ‘Ken’ and his obsession with patriarchy with the quizzical (perhaps disapproving) look he threw at the Critics’ Choice awards upon his win for Best Song. The sheer refusal to celebrate his success and the sceptical glance at Gerwig for clarity reflected his ‘disappointment’ over the lack of recognition for his female counterparts. 

Gosling gave a stellar performance of ‘I’m Just Ken’, referencing Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend and bringing out Guns’N’Roses guitarist Slash in a true caricature of masculinity which inspired a 422% increase in streams. Interestingly, the performance didn’t have the effect that the awards desired. Instead, it was an uncomfortable reminder of the vulnerability of the ‘original barbie’ Marilyn Monroe and her tragic struggles with misogyny. It was seen as insensitive and offensive to some audiences. Interestingly, Ken’s ‘big-dick Kenergy’ still provided no match for the fellow Billie Eilish who left with the Oscar for Best Original Song: ‘What Was I Made For?’.  

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This, however, is not the only time that director Greta Gerwig has been overlooked for the most desired award of ‘Best Director’. Her ‘Little Women’ walked into the Oscars in 2020 with six nominations yet only left with the Oscar for Best Costume design.  Gerwig is the queen of feminist proclamations throughout her creations, with protagonist Jo March (Little Women) boldly stating that she’d ‘rather be a spinster and paddle my own canoe’. 

Is Greta’s omission from the Best Directors category reinforcing the films assertion that women will never be celebrated as much as their male counterparts? In the era of Donald Trump, Andrew Tate, abortion bans and #MeToo, why don’t we value Gerwig for the icon that she provides to young girls and older women alike? Xaverian student Maia Biddle-Mogg believes that ‘In reshaping Barbie as both a toy and an idea, Gerwig has provided little girls with a light-hearted yet poignant and empowering entry into feminism.’ Ferrera’s character Gloria profoundly says: ‘you have to make money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass.’ This overt social message presents the main question surrounding Gerwig’s suspicious snub. Did she simply make too much money? Be a woman director, but don’t show up the men by making more than they do? 

However, it can be argued that the film’s relationship to money and corporate culture was problematic from the start as it criticised Mattel- the company selling these Barbies, as obtuse and patriarchal. The movie itself was licensed by it. The New York Times questioned this as: ‘slickly subversive or inescapably corporate?’ Or is this just another demonstration that Barbie is the product of a patriarchal society? Piers Morgan took to the internet to denounce Barbie as: ‘an attack on all men’. However, I believe Gerwig’s pearly pink creation is not a film to be brushed over, but rather a commentary on the anger experienced by women from a society that forces women to fit into the plastic mould of the patriarchy.  

Barbie is a film of girlhood and community, and the cast acknowledged this in a beautiful farewell at the final awards show of the season by arriving in all-black ensembles. Whilst many took to ‘X’ to express their beliefs that this was a ‘rebellion against their disappointing nominations’, Ferrera made her red-carpet debut, donning the sparkly pink colours of Barbie. Ferrera was (on the night of her first Academy Award nomination) finally given her big moment. Throughout the years, no Latina women have ever won best actress. Rita Moreno (the first Latina to win an Oscar) paid tribute to Ferrera onstage before announcing the award for Best Supporting Actress. “America, your powerful Barbie monologue is perhaps the most talked-about moment in the most talked-about movie of the past year,” she said. “Your words and the passion with which you delivered them about the most impossible standards females must try to live up to galvanized not only women but everyone with a pulse.” 

Ferrera’s monologue can be used as an example to young girls and boys that anger at a society which forcibly instructs you to fit the stereotypes already laid out by past generations cannot be limited to solitary tear or uncontrollable violence. Instead, it is a demonstration of the impact of speaking out against oppression. With a brilliant farewell to the film that changed many lives, it was finally Ferrera’s turn to be Barbie. 

Films like Barbie and the reaction from the public put misogyny and oppression under the looking glass. Margot Robbie encapsulated this on the Oscars’ red carpet. ‘We set out to do something that would shift culture, affect culture and just make some sort of impact,’ said Robbie. ‘And it’s already done that, and some, way more than we ever dreamed it would. And that truly is the biggest reward that could come out of this’ 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • J

    james gibbonsJun 12, 2024 at 3:50 am

    Martha, you made me go and watch the America Ferrera monologue. I’d never seen any part of the film. Absolutely brilliant!!
    Now I’m going to watch the whole film.
    Really well-written and insightful article.

    Reply
  • J

    Jacqui Shirley - OrganiserJun 7, 2024 at 2:19 am

    I agree , can’t believe Gerwig gets so little respect and recognition

    Reply