Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 16, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Screen ‘There’s No Ken without Barbie’

‘There’s No Ken without Barbie’

Anna Jones discusses the irony and misogyny surrounding Barbie's Oscar nominations.
2 mins read
Written by
Image: Pixabay

The Academy announced the nominations for the 96th Oscars on the 23rd of January and Barbie received eight nominations in categories such as Original Song, Costume Design, Production Design, Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. Surprisingly, and controversially both Barbie’s director Greta Gerwig and lead actress and co-producer, Margot Robbie did not receive nominations for their individual roles. They were, however, nominated at the Golden Globes.

The blockbuster of the summer Barbie was arguably one of the most eagerly awaited film releases of 2023. Making an astonishing 1.44 billion dollars at the box office worldwide, Barbie soared to become one of the highest-grossing films of 2023, securing its rank as the 14th highest-grossing film of all time. Beyond monumental financial success, the film achieved another milestone as the biggest debut ever for a film directed by a woman. As it is a rare female-led film, this certified resounding success is particularly noteworthy. 

Barbie soared to become one of the highest-grossing films of 2023, securing its rank as the 14th highest-grossing film of all time.

Following on from their snub, Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken in Barbie and earned a ‘Best Actor in a Supporting Role’ nomination from the Academy, released a statement expressing disappointment that Greta Gerwig and his co-star Margot Robbie were overlooked. Emphasising their integral roles, he stated there would be “no Ken without Barbie, and […] no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie”. Certainly, the film’s triumph owes much to its director and leading actress. Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie made invaluable contributions that have gone unrecognised by the Academy. It says a lot that the director of the highest-grossing film of 2023 was not nominated. It is an obvious oversight from the Academy that sheds light on persistent systemic issues within Hollywood. The industry must do more to acknowledge the contributions of women and to address gender disparities within the realm of film.

It is an obvious oversight from the Academy that sheds light on persistent systemic issues within Hollywood.

The film itself actively engages with the theme of patriarchy, working hard to counter criticism that accuses the brand Barbie of reinforcing dangerous, stereotypical beauty standards and narrow representations of femininity. Ironically, by nominating Ryan Gosling for his character Ken, a character embodying patriarchal sentiment within the film, the Academy has inadvertently validated the point of the film – that patriarchal sentiment is still rife. It is demonstrably clear that it is still too easy for Hollywood to simply overlook the contributions women have made in the industry. Unfortunately, it highlights the long journey ahead before gender disparities entrenched in the film industry are truly dismantled. 

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