The release of the Barbie movie this summer caused wailing and gnashing of teeth from conservative critics like Ben Shapiro and Matt Walsh who found a problem with its supposed “anti-man” messaging. While every movie is going to have someone who doesn’t care for it, the backlash against the film for this specific point caught even the writers by surprise.
Director Noah Baumbach, a co-writer on the film and husband to its director Greta Gerwig, admitted in a new interview with 60 Minutes that he didn’t think the jokes about patriarchy in the movie would strike such a nerve with men everywhere. “I felt men could take it,” Baumbach said of the patriarchy jokes. “I mean, come on!”
Gerwig, for her part, reiterated that Ken (played by Ryan Gosling) wasn’t meant to be a punchline or punching bag, but a critical part of the story who gets his own lesson that men who watched the movie could take home. “This sounds so silly to say out loud but I love Ken. We love Ken,” Gerwig emphasized. “We also take Ken’s position quite seriously. He has no identity outside of [Barbie].”
“The movie is meant to be a big-hearted thing, even though it’s poking fun at everyone,” she noted.
Barbie smashed records at the domestic and global box office after it hit the big screen on July 21. It had the biggest opening weekend of any movie this year, bringing in $162 million in just three days. This also means that Gerwig holds the record for biggest opening weekend for a woman-directed film in history, as well as the honor for highest-grossing movie directed by a woman. By bringing in more than $1.4 billion at the global box office, it stands as Warner Bros.’ highest-grossing film ever.
Not bad for a lifeless doll.