From satire to empathy: male reactions to the Barbie movie

In today’s world, where gender issues and the battle for equality persist, the Barbie Movie stands as a satirical yet thought-provoking cinematic experience. Directed by Greta Gerwig and based on Mattel’s iconic Barbie doll, the film serves as a candy-coloured feminist fable that celebrates, satirises, and deconstructs the very toy that has been praised and criticised for its portrayal of femininity. Through clever narrative and engaging characters, Barbie sheds light on gender stereotypes and inspires empathy, allowing both men and women to see the world from each other’s perspectives.

The movie opens in a pastel pink haven called Barbieland, where Barbie dolls can be anything from lawyers and doctors to physicists and presidents. This utopian world claims to have solved all problems of feminism and equal rights. However, beneath the surface, the story unveils the struggles Barbie faces, feelings of sadness, anxiety, and self-doubt, breaking the facade of perfection imposed on her by societal expectations.

Barbie Movie still

Barbie versus the real world

In this world, men are portrayed as Ken, an appendage without an appendage, reinforcing the idea of male dominance and privilege. Barbie’s experiences contrast with Ken’s obliviousness to being a woman, prompting the audience to explore gender disparities. The introduction of a magical wormhole connecting Barbieland to the real world sets the stage for Barbie’s transformative journey.

As Barbie ventures into the real world accompanied by Stowaway Ken (Ryan Gosling), the film satirises patriarchal norms and male dominance. Barbie’s encounter with Sasha, a gothy teen, highlights the unintended consequences of her influence on young women. It prompts viewers to question the impact of cultural icons on society’s perception of gender roles and raises awareness of harmful societal norms.

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie carries the rebellious spirit of empowerment, akin to Todd Haynes’s cult classic “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.” By deconstructing the stereotype of a perfect Barbie, the film liberates women from the pressure of conforming to societal norms. It encourages viewers to embrace their uniqueness and reject limiting expectations, irrespective of whether they align with societal norms or not.

What a few men think about the Barbie Movie


“The Barbie Movie was a refreshing take on gender roles and stereotypes. It offered a clever blend of satire and heartwarming moments that made me question my assumptions about women. Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Barbie was spot-on, and the satirical references to pop culture were entertaining. It’s a must-watch for everyone looking to understand gender dynamics better.”


“I wasn’t sure if I would connect with the Barbie Movie, but it pleasantly surprised me. The movie’s satirical humour was well-executed, and it was both lighthearted and thought-provoking. It made me reflect on the societal pressures women face, and I appreciated the message of empowerment it conveyed. The cast, especially Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, delivered stellar performances.”


“Barbie is an incredible social commentary on what it is like to be a woman living In a world dominated by men. It employs wit, great humour and a tender burst of various emotions to show us the realities of our world. It also subtly describes humanity as a whole, the idea of purpose, fairness, love and friendship. The entirety of being. Ultimately, it holds up a mirror to us all, Barbies, Kens, Humans.”


“While I admired the film’s ambition and clever storytelling, some of the satire might be lost on younger viewers. Nevertheless, I resonated with the Barbie Movie’s underlying message about self-acceptance and breaking free from societal expectations. It serves as a reminder that men and women should support each other in their pursuit of happiness and fulfilment.”


“I was sceptical about watching a movie based on Barbie, but the Barbie Movie surprised me with its depth and relevance. The satirical elements added humour while highlighting gender issues that persist in our world. The movie created empathy towards women’s struggles in a male-dominated society, and it can contribute to fostering better understanding between genders.


“As a young man, I appreciated the witty humour and pop culture references in the Barbie Movie. It made me think about the pressures women face to conform to societal standards of beauty and perfection. The movie’s message of embracing individuality and challenging gender norms is crucial today. It’s a movie that leaves you with a smile and something to ponder on.”


“Beyond being just a doll, Barbie emerges as a symbol of boundless possibility and potential, reminding us all that we, too, are capable of greatness. The movie’s key takeaway is powerful – to love ourselves unconditionally and always remember that we are “Kenough,” deserving of all the love and respect in the world.”

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Why did we ask men? 

 In today’s complex and ever-evolving society, gender issues are not solely a concern for women but also impact men. Men’s interpretations of gender-challenging films offer valuable insights into their attitudes on equality and women’s empowerment. By involving men in discussions about feminist themes,  we foster an environment for more inclusive dialogue and encourage allies in the fight for gender equality. 

Diverse Nigerian men’s perspectives offer a comprehensive view of the film’s resonance across different demographics. Each man found something unique that resonated with him, illustrating the film’s ability to connect with a wide range of experiences and perspectives. 

Younger men found joy in the movie’s clever humour and pop culture references relating to their own cultural experiences. Barbie’s emotional journey moved middle-aged men as it reminded them of their struggles with self-doubt and societal expectations. Older men resonated with the film’s powerful message of self-acceptance, empowering them to challenge gender norms.

Relatability and empathy for all

The Barbie Movie’s relatability lies in universal themes, forging emotional connections that resonate across diverse audiences. This allows us to identify areas of consensus and potential areas of improvement in addressing gender-related topics through cinematic storytelling. Involving men in these conversations is crucial for dismantling stereotypes and promoting a more empathetic and equitable society where both genders can coexist harmoniously.

The Barbie Movie, through its satirical lens, offers a refreshing perspective on the current state of gender dynamics in society. It cleverly dismantles stereotypes and encourages viewers to embrace their uniqueness while challenging the notions of masculinity and femininity. The film fosters empathy, bridging gender gaps and promoting inclusivity for a more equal world. As the movie’s catchy tune “Hi Barbie/Hi Ken” stays in our heads, so does the message of self-acceptance and empowerment, resonating long after the credits roll.


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