Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … And Barbie?!

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I know it wasn’t your kind of movie, but I can’t stop thinking about the Barbie movie.


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It is if I look at it as a “research project” versus pure entertainment.


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Of course, you did. But I do understand. I know Sawyer was very excited about going to the sneak preview the night before it officially opened, not only to be entertained but to watch it through the lens (pun intended) of her classes at Belmont since she’s majoring in Creative & Entertainment Industries.


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I know she was excited to see it again with us. It is one of those movies where you will pick up on different things with each viewing.


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So, does that mean you’re going to see it a second time?


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Not sure. Once may have been Kenough.

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Cute. Sawyer mentioned that she and a few of her friends tried to buy the tie-dye sweatshirt Ryan Gosling wears in the movie that says “I am Kenough,” and it’s sold out.

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The movie has been a marketing machine and I am fascinated by all the co-branding. And, how Mattel is not only trying to change how we look at Barbie, but also rebranding itself.

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Unlike you, I want to enjoy movies. Although the theater major in me can’t help but critique them. But I’m not the least bit interested in the business side.

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Well, the actors and writers strikes may change that. Regardless, all I was going to say is that most people think of Mattel as a toy company, and with the release of “Barbie,” it is becoming more Disney-like in that it is an intellectual property (IP) company managing franchises. That also happens to sell stuff. Lots of stuff.

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I guess that explains why it’s a full-blown Hollywood movie with big-name movie stars. And directed by Greta Gerwig, a “serious” and well-respected director. But what made you go see it? Growing up, I don’t remember seeing you play with Barbie dolls. I know I didn’t.

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Does hanging out with the boys next door and tying firecrackers to Barbie dolls count? But, I do have one Barbie doll pristine in her original box.

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Are you messing with me? Or are you going to say it was an investment purchase?

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Neither. When I was racing the Ferrari Challenge, my crew gave me Ferrari Barbie as a gift. I put her on the shelf next to my various racing awards and paraphernalia.

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Did they mean it as a compliment or a gag gift?

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Hard to say, as I was the only woman racing the series. But, I did not ask. What was important was how I saw it, not how they did. And, that is why I wanted to see the movie. I had been reading how Gerwig was determined it would not be some “fluff” piece but a work of art and a commentary on society and women. It is an impressive objective, and not one you would associate with Barbie.


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Based on the records being broken at the box office, millions of people wanted to see it. Although I’d guess most just wanted to be entertained.


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I was impressed with how Gerwig had something for all women – whether an anti-Barbie feminist or a Barbie fanatic. The real debate is her messaging about men and patriarchal societies.


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And that’s just it. It’s about so much more than Barbie. It’s about society and its expectations of women. And men. Women’s expectations of women. Women’s and men’s expectations of each other.


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I thought it was brilliant how Gerwig basically said, “Ken, welcome to our world,” when he started lamenting about feeling like a “second-class citizen” or being in a supporting role.


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I know! But what I found so poignant was the scene towards the end of the movie when Ken is trying to explain to Barbie how he only exists because of her, and she tells him he needs to discover who he is, that he has an identity that’s not tied to being part of “Barbie and Ken.”


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Do you think that is a generational thing? Do people still believe their identity is tied to their significant other?


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Trust me, they do. And it’s not just women. The other day Sawyer told me about a guy friend of hers who had been in a relationship with one of her girlfriends. They recently broke up, and he’s having a really hard time letting go, admitting that he has “lost himself” in her. Sawyer told him he needed to see the movie because he’s Ken.


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Interesting. I would not have thought to use the movie for relationship counseling. But, I would in terms of self-realization, especially Gloria’s monologue about the challenges of being a woman.


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That really hit home. And although I totally support all the messaging, I do wish there weren’t quite so many.


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In the movie? Or, in real life?

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock

Are you taking the Dry January challenge and not having any alcohol for the month? Or, maybe you plan to drink less (but not nothing), which makes it Damp January. Or, maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. (If so, there’s still time to start!)

Well, nothing much has changed from our approach to Dry January last year, except the one who had started drinking more last year is continuing the trend …



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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK , started Dry January , where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
Keep Reading ...Show less

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It’s January, and everyone’s probably tired of reading about New Year’s resolutions.

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Not me. Since I never make them, I never feel the need to read about them.

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Of course, you don’t. So, what should we write about?

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How about that we celebrate some of our favorite things in January?

So many “National Days” in January are fun (we’ve written about them over the years) and remind us of some of our favorite things. (Can you pick which are Red’s favorite holidays and which are Black’s?) And whether or not you make resolutions, it’s always important to have a sense of humor and enjoy the simpler things in life …

Answer: Red’s favorites are Bagels, Popcorn, and Hugging. Black’s are Clean Desk, Bagels, and Backward.

Wishing you Happy 2024 – with new beginnings and much more!