Ben Szymanski

Software Engineer • πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ & 🐊

barbie and ken, margo and ryan gosling

Freshly arrived is the latest expression of the Millennial condition. It's portrayed in a film, came wrapped up in a cardboard and cellophane box, and it's nearly as much of a stinger as that Star Wars film from a few years ago.

Yes, yes, today we are discussing the Barbie movie.

I don't watch movies regularly, either at home or at the cinema, but I was dragged to this one with friends. I expected to roll my eyes, and I did, but I was also genuinely surprised at how much of/how targeted toward adults this film was.

It acknowledges the issues that have plagued my generation for the last decade or so, cuts a wound deep, but ultimately provides no answers or actionable solution.

I wasn't the only one who felt this way, although I admit that the only other voice expressing this same sentiment was another man who was also in the friend group.

This movie addresses the two crises plaguing the Millennial generation - the gender wars end of the culture wars (expected), and the crisis of aging that many Millennial's find themselves in today (unexpected).

You Look Like You're 26! a common observation from both those older and younger than I am. And if it's not 26, it's usually 28. However, I am 32. And if I may say so, I do look younger and healthier than many of those actually younger than I am.

Sure, I have lines in my forehead setting in, crows feet around the corners of my eyes when I smile, and that does weigh on me. I am getting older, I am seeing that I'm getting older, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I feel some sort of internal crisis. As isolating as it can feel, I expect that I'm hardly alone.

What we're all lacking, I'd wager, is that feeling of having a "moment in the sun."

Perhaps I'm being ungrateful. Things could be worse.

The Movie Nails Some Things

The movie absolutely nails some things, depicts the goriest casualties of the gender war in the most plastic of ways, but ultimately offers no solution for me or my cohort.

The outer world has failed me and my cohort, this movie has glamorized the catastrophe, and I sit here inebriated, writing a html blog post well after those younger than I have stopped drinking, and tucked themselves into bed.

Perhaps I should grab another? (Editors Note: he did.)

Themes of Millennial Failure

There's two phenomenon explored by this film - masculine and feminine power, and the existentialism of aging.

I went through the whole phase of red-pilled manosphere world in the late 2010's, so I'm probably better acquainted with it than most of my irl friends realize. While I was later to the party, I was still around to see the likes of Roosh turn from duplicitous man-whore to a born-again christian, Neil Strauss get divorced, and see all the same shit rollo tomassi was saying ten years ago get regurgitated in Joe Rogan-esque podcasts like Fresh&Fit. Bitch, I was in the trenches of the gender war.

If you know what to watch for, if you lived through the 00's and 10's pick-up/redpill culture, this movie is actually quite juicy, and I recommend. Screw that TFW No Girlfriend movie from a few years ago, cause Barbie delivers!

Masculine vs Feminine Power

This movie asserts, probably because it was directed and produced by women, that female power is superior. This is both pedestrian and expected, otherwise I imagine the film wouldn't have gotten funding for production. Gotta keep those ESG scores up for manhattan bankers!

And, and... Men ruling things is just horrible! Even though the female dolls were pleased and willing to go along with it until they were de-conditioned using basically the same (toxic) tactics used to condition them in the first place.

Who is exactly that mom character to tell these female dolls that they're unhappy? If anything, it demonstrates the power of suggestion, the grass being greener, and how delusions get spread around.

Except, the female dolls are just as toxic and marginalizing when in power as the male dolls are.

It's like that line from that Lilly Allen song that I increasingly appreciate - "To look in the sun, and look in the mirror."

Eventually Barbie realizes this, but all too late and only after the damage is done. And even when she does, the sisterhood/matriarchy is still celebrated. What goes unsaid in the movie is that it's always fun to attack the system and rip its guts out, until the attackers become the system. Then it all feels so greasy.

Barbie ultimately realizes that she doesn't know what to do after all her problems are seemingly solved, a condition that I'm sure many women today find relatable. The jobs, the equitable pay in corporate America, yada yada. But why do women today still feel so unsatisfied? Conditions of modernism and the resulting loss of self-worth it has reamed on society, I'd argue (in another blog post), but the producers of this movie won't examine that, even from ten feet away.

And Ken? He should give up go find other things to do with his time. Ken should just live his life and be happy. A very self-centered message for men.

While Ken could certainly stop being a simp, I admired his tenacity to continue to pursue Barbie even in the face of adversity and repeated rejections. A condition that I, and certainly other men of my age can find relatable.

Millennial Aging

I'm no stranger to this. I'm acutely aware of what's happening to me, where I stand in life milestones, and often reflect about what I've done wrong or could have done better.

I'm unmarried, not even in a relationship, living alone, solid career, but I "Ken'd Out" years ago. I repeatedly have other men comment about how they really liked the way "that girl" looked or what she said or ... but I do not care. I decided instead to bury myself in electric hydrofoils, consumerism (Apple gear), senseless productivity, and simply moved on. My heart is not open, but it's not because I have been hurt or harbor hatred, it's because I'm tired of waiting and giving chance a chance.

As I watch my friends divorce each other, I console myself by saying "well statistically I skipped my first divorce!" It may be objectively true, but it's also a cope and I know it. Like Ken, I have no solution except to make myself happy, enjoy life, even if it means aging out without finding "my person" or starting a family.

As harsh as all that sounds, I can only imagine this is worse for women. The pain of Millennial women who were sold on false promises and false ideals, bled out through this film, and it was almost too painful to watch.

Can you have it all? Sure! Men who are six foot in height, command a six-figure salary and pack a six-inch dick will just magically show up on your doorstep! Disney implores it!

Will most women be able to have it all? Not unless they're privileged or luck out. This second part seems to be elusive for most women, but it shouldn't be a surprise to women. It's the same as it ever was.

In the movie, this delusion is manifested through the mother character, who can't quite accept what's happening to her. The delusions are no longer working for the mom, as they are no longer working for many women who failed to find their "666."

Rollo and Aaron Clarey were right - there will be a reckoning, and I'm sure that if they're not too distracted analyzing the man-hating thought in this movie, they'll be reveling in the protest that only serves to prove their predictions are coming to pass.

What prediction? The one that says that there's going to be a lot of delusional cat ladies in the near future as millennial women become increasingly infertile and unattractive.

Who looks forward to that shit? A: The salty manosphere.

Where both millennial men and women can relate though, is that is supposed to be the glamorous future we were promised, but the reality/scam is that it's only on paper. Or I guess it's not on paper, it's in millions of glamorous pixels force-fed to us by Instagram.

There is No Solution

The movie offers no solution. Barbie and Ken are left separated and adrift, co-existing without a future, and the problem hasn't really been resolved. Can't learn how to get along, or to give and take? Don't solve those problems! Just give up, remove yourself from the situation and find solace in new-agisms!

Are women better under men's leadership? In some ways, yes. Shit, this movie admits that! Are men wiser to consider to women? Absolutely! It takes two to tango, and the fact that this movie has been made suggests that something has seriously gone awry in our culture and that this has been forgotten. Somehow we've become that stupid that this isn't commonplace thought.

It also feels like the everyman is the wrong target for this discontent. Why are you attacking me? Go get those asshole bankers who reduced your standard of living and sucked you into a meaningless existence fueled by vapid consumerism instead.

Also, oddly, is how the film depicts the wonderland that women live in, created by men, who hate their own existence in reality. Barbie may be an escape for the misery of being a man, as much as Barbie is a role model for young girls.

What The Movie Got Really Right

This is easy. They may not present solutions for the men-vs-women gender war, but I think the movie is owed a great deal of credit for diffusing and demilitarizing things. Men should stop obsessing over women and live their truth. Women should realize they are becoming everything they hated. But how to bring everyone together? Are we just supposed to give up on each other? I guess that'll be for the sequel, but you're free to play a game of chance in the meantime.

Final Thoughts

I hated the photography and color in this movie. It's intentional, but that doesn't make it any less awful and garish. Margot Robbie seems to play well in these overly-fake looking productions, this one reminiscent of the "too-squeaky-clean" PanAm tv series she starred in years ago. Ryan Gosling was an awkward pick for Ken, even though everyone insists otherwise (I don't think he did a bad job in this role, however).

Barbie is fake, so this movie must look fake. Accepted.

While I genuinely enjoyed the social commentary of this movie, I don't know that I'd re-watch because it doesn't offer much else to think about. I'd still turn to MTV's The Hills if/when I seek mindless feminine escapism. If I want to watch a movie with more productive commentary about male-female relations, I can re-watch "He's Just Not That Into You."

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