So… it’s just Ken?

Jasmin Linton (she/her) // Contributor
Chelle Lussi (they/them) // Illustrator

This year we witnessed an injustice first hand as the nominees for the 96th Academy Awards were picked. Barbie, a profound, critically acclaimed feminist movie about the plastic doll, was nominated for an array of awards—but its leading actress and director were left out. The outcome of these nominations illustrated the commentary and criticisms Barbie made on today’s patriarchal society throughout the film. And though I am anything but surprised, I can’t help feeling disappointed by this news. 

The movie provides valuable life lessons and messages, inspiring and educating viewers of all ages. From themes of empowerment and self-discovery to challenging gender stereotypes, promoting environmental consciousness, and celebrating friendship and collaboration, it covers a diverse range of impactful narratives. The movie works hard to prove that Barbie is more than just a toy, but a dynamic, thoughtful individual. 

The masterminds behind this ingenious take on the surface level understanding of what Barbie represents started with director Greta Gerwig and lead actress/producer Margot Robbie. As one of the most anticipated movies of 2023, the cast was studded with the likes of Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Simu Liu, Kate McKinnon and even Michael Cera. So much time and thought went into this movie it’s disappointing to see the two largest influences left out of the success that it so rightfully garnered. 

To dive deeper into the Oscar nominations Barbie received, the film amassed an impressive eight nods making a resounding impact. Ryan Gosling secured a spot in the Best Supporting Actor category, while America Ferrera earned recognition for Best Supporting Actress, even including a notable Best Picture nomination. The film’s excellence also reached beyond just performances, with nominations in Best Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design and Production Design.

These nominations not only highlight the film’s storytelling and acting skills but also acknowledge its meticulous craftsmanship in both its visual and thematic elements. Though this success is definitely a testament to the collaborative efforts of the entire cast and crew, Gerwig and Robbie, the two that started it all, didn’t receive any comprehensive recognition. Even Ryan Gosling had something to say about his win and expressed his disappointment that Robbie and Gerwig got snubbed. His exact words being “there is no Ken without Barbie.” 

The Oscars serve as a prestigious platform that celebrates excellence, and acknowledges contributions from various filmmakers, actors, writers and other industry professionals. It represents the pinnacle of recognition within the film industry. It’s not keeping up with the times, choosing neither to acknowledge or honour individuals so obviously deserving of just that. 

Barbie marked a milestone in femininity in the public eye and we can see its visceral impact on millions of little humans who identify with the doll. The Oscars failed to recognize the people behind such an immense impact in the way that mattered. In a way that would have a systemic impact. The film’s journey, though marked by disappointment, underscores the ongoing need for the industry to evolve and truly honour those deserving of recognition.

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