Photo: 'Barbie' still via Warner Bros
Look, I loved Barbie. I loved it so much I saw it twice in the cinema and sobbed around 80 percent through the whole thing, both times. (Coming off my antidepressants could’ve had something to do with that.) I cried again when watching it later on Prime. I did not see it as just some toy commercial. I found it profound and truly moving – as well as fun, obviously.
I am, in other words, the target demographic for people kicking off online about Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig not receiving Oscar nominations for Best Actress and Best Director. Barbie stans say that Ryan “I’m Just Ken” Gosling receiving one for Best Supporting Actor is an example of patriarchy in all its unfair glory, and that the whole thing is an outrage to feminism. “It feels like something happening in the Barbie movie to further illustrate the point of the Barbie movie,” tweets one user. It’s not just online fans, though. Ryan Gosling released a statement suggesting disapproval of the lack of Robbie and Gerwig nominations. “There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig & Margot Robbie,” says Gosling. “No recognition would be possible for anyone on the film without their talent, grit and genius.” The LA Times went as far as to suggest Barbie might’ve been nominated had Barbie been a sex worker, the survivor of a mass murder plot, or if she threw Ken out of the Dream House window – referring to other films with glowing Oscars recognition. Even Hilary Clinton chimed in on X, telling Gewig and Robbie that they’re “both so much more than Kenough”.
But can we be real for a second? Gosling was fucking hysterical. He stole the show. He was the obvious standout role and his performance that took that film to the next level – as theoretically frustrating as that may be for a film so focused on the female experience. People seem to be conflating a commercially successful film – Barbie made $1.4bn after all – with being deserving of the best director and actor Oscar.Yes, making a Barbie movie was Margot Robbie’s idea. She bought the film rights with Warner Bros, and invited Greta Gerwig on board to direct and write. Robbie was a producer for Barbie and played a vital role, as co-creators from Ryan Gosling to Mark Ronson attest, but that doesn’t mean she deserves to be nominated for Best Actress. In fact, Robbie did get nominated for an Oscar. Most audiences don’t know this, but Best Picture is traditionally seen as the category that honours producers – it’s why that infamous 2017 Oscars moment of La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz holding up the correct results envelope shows the names of Moonlight’s producers, not its director Barry Jenkins or anybody else.
Let’s not forget Barbie has been nominated for a total of seven Oscars, including two nominations for best original song and costume and production design. America Ferrera is even nominated for best supporting actress, which was generous – and that comes from someone who wept through her speech, despite the cringe factor. If you want to get pissed off, get pissed off at the fact that the Oscars seem to only ever be able to nominate one female director at a time – this time, that honour goes to the (deserving!) Justine Triet for Anatomy of a Fall. Triet is only the eighth woman to ever be nominated. Only three women have won over 97 years. It’s not just about Gerwig, either: What about Celine Song for Past Lives? Maybe we’re so bruised by all the years of unfairness that we are desperate for Barbie’s apparent snubs to be unfair, too. But Robbie missing out on Best Actress is not an outrage to feminism. If this film unlocked levels of deep, complex pain in women and made us all believe in the power of sisterhood, why undermine the category that might finally award its first Native American actress – Lily Gladstone for Killers of the Flower Moon?Look, I back women and female representation to a fault: I don’t even read books by men! But, honestly, it’s fine that a woman wasn’t the standout hilarious role in Barbie. If the main message of Barbie was that a better world is only found when men and women support each other (AKA it shouldn’t be “girls’ night every night”), we can’t push men down to get to the top, even if they did it first. So can’t we just let Ken have his moment? He really did do beach well.@beckyburgum