Maurizio Pesce from Milan, Italia, CC BY 2.0

Why Greta Gerwig’s BARBIE Is A Marketing Win For Queer Visibility

Remember the viral “Sabi Ko Na Nga Ba, Barbie”? We’ve finally responded: the new Barbie film, directed by Greta Gerwig, has the potential to be a major win for queer visibility.

For many queer people, Barbie was a symbol of possibility and freedom. She was a doll that could be anything she wanted to be, and she didn’t have to conform to traditional gender roles.  Barbie’s exaggerated femininity was also a source of inspiration for many queer children. She showed them that it was okay to be feminine, even if they were not a girl.

The new Barbie film, directed by Greta Gerwig, has the potential to be a major win for queer visibility. In an interview with Out, director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Little Women), she made sure to craft the Barbie universe with the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people at its core, and casted them very well: Hari Nef, Scott Evans, and Alexandra Shipp . She has said that she wanted to create a world where “everyone feels welcome and seen.” 

“Since Barbie has had a long history, we had to confront the criticisms head on,” Gerwig says in her interview with Out. “We needed to get there before anyone else. Barbie has been equal parts painted a villain and a heroine. We point out and engage with the critics, and at the same time, we celebrate Barbie. She was the first adult doll people could play with. Barbie went to the moon before women could have credit cards. Barbie represents a lot of different things, but in a way, she was a stealthy advocate for women in the workplace and our achievements in society. There are definitely complications with Barbie, but it’s undeniable that she was at the vanguard of moving other things forward.” (Out)

Why is Barbie a crystal-queer marketing win for queer visibility?

  • The film’s director, Greta Gerwig, is known for her progressive sensibilities. Her films, such as Lady Bird and Little Women, have been praised for their portrayal of complex and nuanced female characters. This suggests that she is likely to take a progressive approach to the Barbie character, and to challenge the traditional gender stereotypes associated with her.
  • The film’s cast is diverse and includes a number of queer actors such as Kate McKinnon. Get them plus some amazing bops from pop queens like Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj, Charli XCX, and Ava Max and you get an absolute queer party.
  • Well, Barbie could be gay in the film, the fans think. 
  • So many references throughout the film is peppered with queer IYKYKs: Will Ferrell’s ‘‘call me mother” posterDua Lipa as mermaid BarbieHari Nef as a Doctor (and could she be championing gender-affirming medical procedures?) etcetera, etcetera.

The Barbie brand has a long history of being associated with traditional gender roles. However, the new film could challenge these stereotypes by showing Barbie as a strong, independent woman who is not afraid to break the mold. 

The film could help to normalize queer identity and make it more visible to a wider audience. This could be especially important for young queer people who may not have many other positive representations of themselves in the media. The film could inspire young queer people and give them hope for the future. By showing that queer people are welcome and visible in the world of Barbie, the film could help young queer people to feel more accepted and less alone.

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