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The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Op-Ed: Women can only achieve everything in Barbie land

Barbie+and+Ken+getting+arrested.+Barbie.
Warner Bros
Barbie and Ken getting arrested. “Barbie.”

As an avid film geek, Oscars nominations day is my Super Bowl. On January 23rd, I joined the livestream to hear all of the new names.

My face lit up during Best Picture with titles like “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” “The Zone of Interest,” and of course,Barbie”. After that came Best Director and Justine Triet (“Anatomy of the Fall”) got a well-deserved nomination, but then I got confused when they announced Martin Scorsese (“Killers of the Flower Moon”). Oscar nominations are announced in alphabetical order, and for best director, they go by order of the film title. So Greta Gerwig (“Barbie”) should’ve been announced after Triet. I thought, Maybe they changed the nearly 100-year-old tradition? Before I could make any more random explanations in my head, they started announcing Best Leading Actress.

Greta Gerwig didn’t get a Best Director nomination for Barbie. What. The. (Expletive)?!

Aside from the horses and mink coats, the Academy Awards is like Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House. Just like in the movie, women are allowed to (temporarily) stay and enjoy the so-called glam of the house, but they are not welcome to stay. In the previous year, not a single woman received a nomination in the Best Director category, even though so many of the best films of the year were directed by women. Not just that, but only eight female directors have even ever been nominated in 95 years!

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On top of the Greta Gerwig snub, Margot Robbie, the actress who served as the heart of the film through her outstanding performance as the Barbie and producer of the film, didn’t get a nomination for Best Leading Actress. But don’t worry y’all, Ken did. The fact that the two women who were responsible for creating the most successful movie of the year and reviving the film industry are being neglected and under-appreciated is ironic and downright embarrassing. Despite the indispensable contribution of female labor, in this society, it is often the first to be overlooked.

Barbie Careers Assortment dolls are displayed at the New York Fair in 2016. (Diane Bondareff)

In Barbie land, women can be whatever they want to be. An astronaut, an engineer, a mother, a film director, you name it. Anything can be accomplished. However, in the real world, women can dominate the stage and still simply be ignored.

However, it’s not just about the Oscar snub. I still haven’t forgotten about the Jo Koy Golden Globes incident, where the inability to take women seriously was the punchline of almost every one of his jokes. Then just a week later, “I’m Just Ken” beat all of the other songs at the Critics Choice Awards, yes that included “What Was I Made For?”. It all just feels like a punch to the gut where critics and men are trying to prove that no matter how hard women work to get to the top, we’re still just girls.  

Throughout the history of the entertainment industry, men have consistently enjoyed greater financial backing, more opportunities, greater access to cool gigs, and are even given more chances for redemption. I grew up feeling utterly alienated when watching movie after movie centered around men conquering worlds while women watched from the sidelines. 

Each Academy Award is voted on differently. For example, Best Picture is a category voted on by every member of the Academy while Best Director is only voted on by members of the directing branch. Honestly, the Oscars are known for having a history of mismatches between the nominees for Best Picture and Best Director given these differences in voting systems. Best Director has a voting committee of directors that tend to favor the more pretentious, artsy films rather than those that were largely labeled as more commercial entertainment. My theory is that a lot of the judges saw Barbie’s  glamorous connection to a top-selling toy brand and success at the box office, and figured that Gerwig didn’t exactly need a directing nomination. 

Greta Gerwig, Margot Robbie, and Ryan Gosling behind the scenes of “Barbie.” (Warner Bros)

However disappointing this may be, let’s get one thing clear: the ones to be ashamed of here are the Academy Awards. Just because a predominantly white, male voting body overlooked the message of 2023’s biggest film doesn’t mean we should embrace their distorted perspective of the world. 

By attempting to deem Barbie and its creators as irrelevant, they’re instead solidifying their own irrelevance. Similar to how many viewers switched off their screens during Jo Koy’s sexist monologue, I think there’s a big chance that the Oscars ceremony might once again face a decline in viewership. When old institutions refuse to change, they just end up eroding the trust of those who once believed in them.

Recently, Margot Robbie spoke on the Oscar nominations, and instead of fixating on the snubs she focused on rejoicing the movie’s eight nominations. So why don’t we try to do that as well for a minute?

For the first time in Oscars history, out of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture, 3 of them were directed by women (“Anatomy of a Fall,” “Past Lives,” and “Barbie”). Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) is the first Native American acting nominee for her remarkable performance. Emma Stone (“Poor Things”) was nominated for Best Leading Actress and as a producer for her astounding work. French director, screenwriter, and editor Justine Triet (“Anatomy of the Fall”) is the eighth woman to ever be nominated in the Best Director category.

Fererra with Ariana Greenblatt and Margot Robbie in Warner Bros. “Barbie.” (Warner Bros)

And even though Robbie didn’t get a nomination for her performance, America Ferrera was recognized by the Academy for her phenomenal performance on “Barbie” as Gloria. That alone helps us remember that no one could deny the importance of her monologue, even if a lot of the Academy forgot about the message behind it.

It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.

In this world, it’s all about taking the small wins and trying to look past the losses and injustice. But women are taking over the world, sooner or later they will get the recognition they deserve.

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About the Contributor
Katheryn Consuegra, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Katheryn is a senior at CVHS and one of Upstream News’ talented Arts and Entertainment editors! It is no surprise that Katheryn is a reviews editor because most of her world revolves around consuming art and media. You will often find her listening to her favorite records, exploring new literary worlds through reading, and even creating her own films. Katheryn has a naturally inviting personality and is a really bright person. If she was stranded on an island the three things she would take with her would be: her camera, a Red CD, and a one-gallon jug of coffee.  
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    Lorena ChavezFeb 5, 2024 at 1:54 pm

    Love this article and your thoughts on this topic, I couldn’t agree more

    Reply