In the real world, people suffer hardships, injustice, inequality, and an ever-looming threat of annihilation by an atomic bomb.
In Barbieland, “the colours of life turn pink”, as Soad Hosny famously sang. Like Marilyn Monroe, Hosny was the poster girl for beauty, the epitome of a “complete” woman inside and out — the dream girl.
In his famous tale, “The Adventures of Pinocchio” (1883), Italian writer Carlo Collodi had drawn a clear border between the world of his imagined marionette and our real world.
His opening line: “Once upon a time, there was a piece of wood”, is a telltale sign that the novel is set in a fictional realm that could not be farther from the real world.
It also serves as a warning that the fusion of the two worlds cannot but entail dire consequences for both universes, like Pinocchio and his “father” the carpenter would eventually realise.
For Soad Hosny and Marilyn Monroe, the end was tragic, because they belonged, indeed, to the real world.
Both women had to deal with people in power — which is arguably one of the world’s most difficult challenges. Though mystery still shrouds the death of the two divas, we know for a fact that they paid dearly for these relations during their lives.
When Barbie first meets real men in Gerwig’s movie, she must decipher the enigmas underlying their lust-driven statements and tell them she has no uterus and can never carry a child.
In the real world, too, actresses are also turning into Barbies in a way. In erotic scenes, they often don protective plastic guards, to ensure that the sex scenes look real but not too real.
Representation of life
Ever since Barbie was created in 1959 and throughout this fictional “life” of hers, the doll remained safe from the evils of this world. After all, she isn't real but is merely a representation of life.
Her looks, skin colour, job, and role in life are constantly changing, but she has always been an idea: the idea that young girls imagine about her and themselves. Everything she does is, in fact, commanded by the hands of those young girls, who often aspire to become a Barbie when they grow up.
While Collodi had the fairy turn Pinocchio into a real child, Barbie remained an idea in the hands of young girls — transporting them to her imaginary universe and serving as their imaginary friend, playmate, and confidante.
That is until Greta Gerwig had Barbie decide that she no longer wants to be an idea: she wants to be a real person of flesh and blood.
Before this conscious moment of truth, 'Barbie' (Margot Robbie) stuns the other Barbies with a subconscious existential crisis. “Do you guys ever think about dying?”, she had asked them.
As the movie unfolds, we learn that a child and a grown woman in the real world are responsible for Barbie’s crisis.
In the eyes of co-writer and director Greta Gerwig, lead actress and producer Margot Robbie, and co-writer Noah Baumbach, the movie is a story about Barbie’s transformation from a doll that has no control over herself, her feelings, and her thoughts, to a “complete” woman who refuses to be just an idea in someone’s head.