"I think of the film as humanist above anything else"- Greta Gerwig opens up about the 'feminism' in Barbie

A still from Barbie (Image via WB)
A still from Barbie (Image via WB)

Greta Gerwig's much-awaited Barbie is all set to premiere later this month. The upcoming film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Reynolds will bring the Mattel toy universe to life. It promises to offer a unique perspective by exploring the real world through the eyes of the toys, while also incorporating thought-provoking commentary.

Greta Gerwig has recently made several appearances in interviews leading up to the release of Barbie. During a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Greta Gerwig provided valuable insights into the upcoming film. She discussed various topics, including the portrayal of feminism in Barbie. When discussing whether Barbie can be considered a feminist film, Gerwig expressed her thoughts by stating:

"I think of the film as humanist above anything else. How Barbie operates in Barbieland is she’s entirely continuous with her environment. Even the houses have no walls, because you never need to hide because there’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed of. And suddenly finding yourself in the real world and wishing you could hide, that’s the essence of being human."

She also expanded on her use of the word "humanist" in the interview with Rolling Stones.

Barbie will premiere theatrically on July 21, 2023.

"We kind of extrapolated out from that that Barbieland is this reversed world"- Greta Gerwig on the power structure in Barbie

Though Barbie may feel like a light-hearted film with bright colors and brighter faces, there is actually a lot going on in the periphery of the subjects. While the film's basic premise is based on the dolls going to the real world, it is more about hierarchies, power structures, and the changing gaze in the real world.

Speaking about the humanist approach and why she did not call it a 'feminist' film. Greta Gerwig told Rolling Stones:

"Of course, I am a feminist. But this movie is also dealing with [the idea that] any kind of hierarchical power structure that moves in any direction isn’t so great. You go to Mattel and it is really like, “Oh, Barbie has been president since 1991. Barbie had gone to the moon before women could get credit cards.”
"We kind of extrapolated out from that that Barbieland is this reversed world [where Barbies rule and Kens are an underclass]. The reverse structure of whatever Barbieland is, is almost like Planet of the Apes. You can see how unfair this is for the Kens because it’s totally unsustainable," she said.

Greta Gerwig also spoke about the hierarchical structure, saying:

"It felt like we had to give the counterargument to Barbie, and not give it short shrift, but give it real intellectual and emotional power. And Mattel was incredibly open to it. I said, “We have to explore it, because it’s a lie any other way. And we can’t make it a lie.” I think they heard it."

So fans can expect a lot of clever things from the upcoming Margot Robbie film. With Mattel announcing that it intends to make an entire universe based on toys, Barbie may get more sequels or spinoffs in the future.

The film stars Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Emma McKay, Issa Rae, Dua Lipa, Simu Liu, Will Ferell, Ana Cruz Kayne, Scott Evans, and Ncuti Gatwa, among many others.

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Edited by Vinay Agrawal