Linda Beail, Danielle Hanley, Shuchi Kapila, and Susan LiebellAug 23, 2023
The Barbie Movie
A Conversation about a Cinematic and Cultural Event
New Books Network 2023
Today’s episode of POSTSCRIPT explores and examines director Greta Gerwig’s film, Barbie. This Warner Brothers’ movie has been in theaters for under a month but has crossed the $1 billion dollar mark during that time, breaking all kinds of box office records and making Gerwig the first solo female director to enter this rarified realm. Barbie is now Warner Brothers’ most successful film, surpassing Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which had held that position at Warner Brothers. Barbie has hit a kind of cultural and cinematic sweet spot—with a marketing campaign around the movie establishing pink as the new black, bringing in Barbie-connected products across almost all consumer platforms, from Barbie-themed furniture to holiday home rentals, from lunchboxes and tee-shirts to new Mattel Barbies reflecting characters in the film. Barbie has also received positive reviews in the United States and globally, with audience members attending the film in pink clothing and accessories, often accompanied by friends and family members. Thus, Barbie is more than a summer tent-pole release, though it certainly has fulfilled that particular role. Barbie is more of an event—driving theater attendance, conversations, and in-person community experiences.
In this episode, I am joined by four scholars and experts to discuss “all things Barbie” as we examine the narrative of the film itself, the questions of gender and feminism, patriarchy, and sexuality. We also dive into the marketing campaign, the tensions between capitalism, neoliberalism, postfeminism, and an original intellectual property based on a consumer product. Dr. Linda Beail (Point Loma Nazarene University), Dr. Shuchi Kapila (Grinnell College), Dr. Danielle Hanley (Clark University), and Dr. Susan Liebell (St. Joseph University and co-host of the New Books in Political Science podcast) take up all these dimensions of this brightly colored film as we explore our thinking about this movie event that has landed in the post-Covid landscape of 2023.
We all found the experience of seeing Barbie, in a movie theater, to be one filled with joy and fun, for ourselves, and among those in the theater with us. Join in our conversation about Barbie, since this is both a delightful cinematic experience and a film with something to say to its audience and the world around us.
Lilly J. Goren is a professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-host of the New Books in Political Science channel at the New Books Network. She is co-editor of The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (University Press of Kansas, 2022), as well as co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012). She can be reached @gorenlj.bsky.social