The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

The Editorially Independent Voice of The University of Akron

The Buchtelite

Graphic courtesy of Liv Ream; movie flyer from IMDB
In defense of Skinamarink
By Liv Ream, Arts and Entertainment Editor • October 1, 2023
Alternative Spring Break 2023 volunteers in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of Natalie Mowad.
Applications open for Akron’s 2024 Alternative Spring Break
By Taylor Lorence, Correspondent • October 1, 2023
The Northern Cheyenne tribe and community walking the ancient Portage Path from Portage Path CLC to the John Brown Home during a previous years First Peoples Day event. Photo courtesy of Portage Path Collaborative.
UA Holds events in celebration of North American First People’s Day   
By Shananne Lewis, Online Editor • September 28, 2023
White swan on water during daytime photo - Free Uk Image on Unsplash
The Swan's Rapture: a poem
By Emily Price, editor in chief • September 27, 2023
Desperately Seeking an Amazon Fighter, sculpture by Kimberly Chapman
"Easy Prey" art exhibit on display at Myers School of Art
By Taylor Lorence, Reporter, Secretary • September 21, 2023
“On the left, there’s me at work! I received the New Student Orientation “Gold Standard” award alongside 
and at the same time as my friend Gillian.”
Courtesy of Connor VanMaele
Fall 2023 Print Edition: Going the Distance
By Connor VanMaele, Correspondent • September 19, 2023
L to R: Steve Horner, Heather Barhorst, Haley Kuczynski, Shawna Blankenship, Brynley Harris, Jessie Redwine at the Pop-Up Pantry. Image Courtesy of ZipAssist.
ZipAssist Holds Community Resource Fair Tuesday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the SU 2nd Floor
By Shananne Lewis, Correspondent • September 18, 2023
Film critic Liv Ream and friend pose for photo (Image via Liv Ream)
My Barbie experience
By Liv Ream, Film Critic • September 17, 2023

My Barbie experience

How fantastic is life in plastic? A retrospective view of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie.
Film critic Liv Ream and friend pose for photo (Image via Liv Ream)
Film critic Liv Ream and friend pose for photo (Image via Liv Ream)

To immediately clarify, I am not “late” to writing a review of Barbie (2023) due to fundamental flaws in my character. I like being late to a party. I did not see Barbie at its premiere. I saw it two weeks later and I am writing about the experience much later. Trust me, I was late to Barbie so that I could hop on the early retrospective angle of the topic. I’m not crying, YOU ARE! 

I understand why the Barbie movie could be considered a diet feminist toy commercial, courtesy of Mattel and Greta Gerwig. While this idea is not without merit, can girls and women just please have fun before all media is AI generated? Please, I really need this, the last blockbuster I enjoyed was Detective Pikachu (2019). 

The plot: Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie), aka the original Barbie, starts having some jarring existential thoughts about life and death. These thoughts start affecting her physically, in the shockingly horrible form of cellulite and flat feet! After seeking help from Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon), she determines that the child playing with her doll in the real world is the one having these thoughts. This results in Barbie traveling from Barbie Land to the real world to fix whoever is playing with her. Ken (Ryan Gosling) is also there, stylishly riding his girlfriend’s coattails to his subplot. 

Barbie and Ken arrive in the real world and are welcomed by vastly different experiences. Barbie is leered at, cat-called, groped, arrested, leered at some more…and arrested again. Meanwhile, Ken is similarly cat-called but finds it flattering, noting that he doesn’t feel the violent undertones Barbie does. This kicks off what I have coined as The Ken to Patriarchy Pipeline. Ken becomes frustrated and resentful of Barbie, feeling underappreciated as her loyal accessory. While he is occupied searching for meaning and forming his own interpretation of patriarchy, Barbie is faced with how women truly perceive her.  

Barbie tracks down Sasha (Ariana GreenBlatt) as she believes that she is the child causing her uncomfortable thoughts. Sasha berates Barbie for encouraging unrealistic beauty standards and the disillusioned doll is captured by Mattel for remanufacturing. Barbie manages to escape with Sasha and her mother Gloria (America Ferrera). Gloria is a Mattel employee who is struggling to connect with her daughter and feel positive about herself. She reminisces about her daughter’s younger years by playing with Barbie in secret. Barbie, Gloria and Sasha escape to Barbie Land to discover it has been taken over by Ken via his new patriarchal views and brainwashing.  

It’s up to Barbie, Gloria, Sasha and a group of discontinued Barbies recruited by Weird Barbie to save Barbie Land.  

The plot acknowledges how Barbie portrays unrealistic body proportions to the detriment of women, young girls and herself. Even in Barbie Land, among all the impressively employed Barbies, Stereotypical Barbie feels lesser when she no longer resembles her original blueprint. This was surprising to me since the opening scene of the movie explained the history of dolls, boxing little girls into motherly roles with baby dolls as their only toy. Barbie shook up that narrative by providing girls with a choice. It was a little devastating to hear that she only saw herself as valuable if she remained pretty. Perhaps I am looking too far into it, but it made me think about how women’s minds and bodies are ever-changing in a society that is obsessed with youth and beauty. It’s an impossible game to win, and we never agreed to play. This sentiment is perfectly encapsulated in Gloria’s monologue detailing the conflicting standards women are expected to meet. 

The role of Mattel in this film, I believe, attempted to show the audience that they know how to poke fun at themselves. In terms of hit or miss, for me, this was a miss. I think Will Ferrell is fantastic as Mattel’s ignorant CEO. However, this doesn’t translate to a relevant character. Similarly, the (completely male) board of directors working under him ultimately serve no purpose to the overall plot. I assumed that Gloria would end up taking the role of CEO or at least have a seat on the board of directors. The film doesn’t even establish what Gloria’s job title is. She could be a toy designer since she is shown sketching different types of Barbies, but nothing is made clear. Overall, I think the role of Mattel as a company could be completely scraped and it would not change a thing about the story. 

Photo illustration courtesy of Liv Ream

I’m still kind of surprised that I enjoyed everything surrounding the film. As a red head, pink is not my color, but seeing so many women online coordinate Barbie themed costumes inspired me. The idea of girls creating a fun, inclusive, display of femininity warmed my icy heart. Plus, when your best friend, Arie, is a fashion student at Kent State University, you seize the opportunity to do entirely too much. After scouring every fabric store within a 50-mile radius to find the flashiest fabric, all I had to do was get my friends on the same page. This wasn’t about Barbie, Mattel or consumerism. This was about sisterhood. Getting a group of friends together to dress up and support the experience of the theatre is time well spent. 

It wasn’t easy, it took well over a month of convincing, but I like to think I made them see the light. My friend Mae was my most challenging opponent since she didn’t see the point in such a spectacle. Even so, she relented largely due to my relentlessness. The hard part was over for me, but for Arie, it was just the beginning. Her face was horrified as she inspected the metallic fringe I bought,  

“This will be so difficult to work with!” she said. 

Due to the condition I found the fabric in, (rolled up in a ball at the bottom of a 50% off box) the fringe stuck out in every direction when it should hang downward. Arie was radically against my chosen fabric and outright refused to work with it.  

I negotiated a deal in which I would film and edit all fashion videos for her portfolio, starting with the Barbie movie outfits. This seemed to sway her, so I continued describing my vision for the fabric. I made grandiose promises about the endless compliments this fabric paired with her design would inspire and served as a walking advertisement to her talent. Also, I live above her so she probably knew I wouldn’t give up. We started by shaking it out as much as we could, then got to work straightening the fringe by hand. It took hours. In comparison, her outfit was much more agreeable. Arie transformed an extra-long, white, men’s tank top with fabric dye, scissors, fishnet, chains and safety pins. Mae refused to have an outfit made and insisted on putting something together herself.  

Photo illustration courtesy of Liv Ream

Everyone at the theatre was attired in their best Barbie-core outfit, filling the entire space with a positive energy only women can generate. It was as if we turned the entire building into a women’s restroom at a night club. The compliments received and given that night is the stuff of legends, the most memorable of which went unspoken. Arie, Mae and I stood in line for our tickets as an earlier showing of Barbie was ending. Attendees began trickling into the lobby when I observed an older woman with (I assume) her husband, taking in the sight of all the different Barbies existing in the same space. When her gaze fell on my group, her jaw dropped.  

The woman tugged on her husband’s arm and excitedly pointed at us.  

Arie turned to me and asked, “Do you see that woman? She loves our outfits!”  

I seized the moment to ask if it made all her hard work worth it, and she confirmed it did. As lame as it sounds, it made me emotional. Even though we didn’t speak, the genuine appreciation and awe I saw on that woman’s face remains the best compliment I have ever received. With every, “Hi Barbie! I love your outfits!” that our trio received I made sure to remind Arie and Mae, I told them so. 

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About the Contributor
Liv Ream, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Liv Ream is the Arts and Entertainment Editor for the Buchtelite and is majoring in Public Relations. She spends her time writing, painting, and forcing her friends to participate in her experimental horror projects. Liv plans on pursuing a career in journalism and the arts.

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