‘Deeper than expected’: Barbie film’s female empowerment theme resonates with Singaporean youth, leaves some craving more women-led content

by Anna Munhin Jul 30, 2023 News
‘Deeper than expected’: Barbie film’s female empowerment theme resonates with Singaporean youth, leaves some craving more women-led content

As a child, Ms Sri Vidya was exposed to the toy dolls through various animated series, so she had low expectations for the Barbie film.

The 25-year-old senior digital marketing analyst said she didn't see Barbie as what she wanted to be.

She would not have been surprised if the Barbie movie had a childish or lighthearted theme.

She was surprised that the movie wasn't worse.

From the beginning, I was amazed. The set was beautiful, the cinematography was beautiful, everything was beautiful, and the soundtrack was great. It wasn't what anyone thought it would be.

It was the fact that the film had been made by a female director and was centred around the theme of female empowerment that struck a cord with her.

This was what led her to post a Tiktok featuring a scene in the movie that she found particularly touching, in which America Ferrera's character, Gloria, delivers an emotional monologue about the challenges of being a woman.

In two days, this post received more than five million views and thousands of supportive comments from all over the world.

There was a whole community that felt the same, not just women, but men as well. Many people were interested in watching this.

Many other young people, both men and women, who TODAY spoke to agreed that the movie was a refreshing twist on the usual blockbusters and that they would love to see more of such content.

The 20-year-old university student dressed up in pink and watched the film with her friends.

She thought the movie would be fun, chill and entertaining, but it wasn't. Barbie addresses male domination in a society.

According to new media experts and sociologists, the film is unique because it explores the serious topic of feminism while attracting both male and female audiences.

The success of Barbie could lead to more mainstream films about women.

The success of Barbie could lead to more mainstream feminist films.

Content created by women about issues faced by women is nothing new, and many have achieved critical success, but they often struggle to achieve mainstream success at the box office.

One example is Sarah Polley's film "Women Talking", which features a full female cast except for one man.

A group of women are shown in a black-and-white film. The film shows them having a lengthy discussion about whether or not they should stay in the colony after a number of sexual assaults.

The film has a strong message about female empowerment and agency, but it is not mainstream because of it.

Barbie is a film that starts women talking. You can see that by looking at the box office figures.

For its opening weekend, Barbie made US$356.3 million, more than any other film that opened the same weekend.

Eternality Tan said that audiences here are tired of seeing superhero movies and want something different.

Mr Tan, who is also the vice chair of the Singapore Film Society, said that the superhero genre has shown some strains of audience fatigue after Covid and Franchising.

The audience wants fresh, interesting content or experiences.

Barbie has an advantage over other female-led films because of its mass appeal, according to him.

He said that Barbie may be one of the few more prominent examples of women in film going mainstream.

The movie can pave the way for similar movies in the future according to Dr Soh.

She said that films like 'Nomadland' and 'Women Talking' are for a different audience than Barbie is for.

There will be more Barbie films in the future, where it is more accessible and led by women.

Barbie has been successful.

Dr Soh said that the film was able to address common criticisms of the brand and its icon, the doll head.

She said that the film shows how the conversations have shifted within this generation.

The demand for films like Barbie is caused by the persistence of gender inequality.

In Singapore, the gender pay gap has narrowed over time, but there is still more work to be done.

He said there is a wage gap, expectations to conform to traditional gender roles, and a lack of representation of women in C-suite positions.

The World Economic Forum placed Singapore 49th in the world in terms of gender equality.

According to Dr. Soh, quality still exists in many forms. In her monologue, Gloria showed us how invisible inequality still exists in our society and how it's ingrained in us, especially towards working mothers.

In addition to its success in marketing and representation of women's issues, there are other aspects, such as the nostalgic value of the Barbie brand, the intergenerational themes that attract both adults and children, and the popular actors.

The young audiences want more.

Young audiences and fans of the film said that watching Barbie made them want to see more of the same.

Jade said that she was still thinking about the film a week after she watched it.

The 29-year-old said that having grown up in a household that did not have any male figures, she could not relate to the struggles of having to operate within a patriarchy.

She said she could see how women felt when some of the struggles they face are echoed in the film.

The men who watched the film said they learned something.

The juxtaposition ofBarbieland in the film and the real world showed him how entrenched patriarchal power is.

Mr Wong, who works in the tech industry, said that one point that was highlighted was the privilege of men in the real world.

The depiction of Ken's character in the film was crucial to the film's depiction of female empowerment.

He said it was hard to understand Barbie without Ken and Ken without Barbie.

She doesn't just want to see more women represented on screen, but also women taking a leading role in the film.

Increased female representation doesn't always count as female empowerment because it may not be women who produce the films.

She said that female directors and a female cast are more empowering than just women acting in movies.