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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘Barbie’ Oscar nominations reveal the Academy is a ‘Mojo Dojo Casa House’

Rachel Choi
Illustration Rachel Choi

Opinion editors are not responsible for agreeing or disagreeing with their writers but rather elevate each individual’s specific voice.

Like millions of others this summer, I dressed up in pink and went to see “Barbie.” The film transported me to a magical world where women could be anything they wanted. I felt empowered and reminded of the strength and resilience of women as I watched the iconic doll’s journey from Barbie Land to the real world.

As I left the theater, still teary-eyed, I remember thinking: “This better win an Oscar.”

While the movie received a nomination for Best Picture, as well as a nomination for America Ferrera as Best Supporting Actress, I was shocked that Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie were not nominated for Best Director and Best Actress in a Leading Role, respectively. 

I hoped the movie’s success meant that society was one step closer to a world that recognizes and empowers women, but the lack of recognition from the Academy suggests we remain in a “Mojo Dojo Casa House” where the Kens have power over the Barbies. This is especially true considering Robbie’s co-star Ryan Gosling received a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as Ken.

The film’s theme is exemplified by Gerwig and Robbie’s snub at the awards. As the movie points out, unlike in the utopian Barbie Land, the real world frequently ignores women’s accomplishments while praising men for doing the same things. The Academy reinforces this sexist standard by not acknowledging Gerwig and Robbie’s contributions to the film and therefore, diminishes the importance of women’s stories in the field. 

Robbie beautifully portrayed the “stereotypical Barbie” as she learned about the real, patriarchal world, the opposite of Barbie Land. She brought a piece of plastic to life as a character capable of complex emotions and growth. Her performance is essential to the movie, so it’s infuriating that the Academy has not recognized her importance, especially given Gosling’s nomination. 

There is no denying that Gosling’s comedic, musical performance of Ken as he desperately attempts to get Barbie’s attention was a highlight of the film. However, it seems to go against the entire message of the film for Gosling to receive a nomination while Robbie did not.

As Gosling said himself, “There is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally-celebrated film.”

“Barbie” was the biggest box office hit of 2023, and failing to acknowledge Gerwig and Robbie’s key contributions to the film perpetuates this long trend of sexism in the entertainment industry.

In the 96-year history of the Oscars, only eight female directors have ever been nominated for Best Director, and only three have ever won. The Academy continuously fails to recognize the contributions of female directors.

Gerwig’s filmography is both intelligent and powerful. “Barbie” is Gerwig’s third major film, following the 2019 adaptation of “Little Women” and her directorial debut, “Lady Bird,” both of which were major successes. Gerwig’s lack of Oscar wins is shocking, especially as she has now received four nominations total: three Best for Picture for all of her films and one Best Director for “Lady Bird.” 

This award season’s treatment of “Barbie” further highlights the truth of this movie. In this year’s Golden Globes, the film received nominations for nine categories but only took home two awards—Best Original Song and Cinematic and Box Office Achievement. While both were greatly earned, the film deserved more. 

The awards “Barbie” received were overshadowed in the award show’s opening monologue when host Jo Koy made a sexist joke that reduced the movie to a “plastic doll with big boobies.” 

This cheap joke fails to acknowledge the complexity and depth of the movie, which covers so many universal experiences of womanhood—receiving unsolicited sexual comments, trying to meet impossible and contradictory beauty standards, and changing behavior to appease men. 

Though the missing recognitions are upsetting, they do not diminish the nominations “Barbie” did receive, including the Best Picture nomination, which rightfully credits Margot Robbie for her hard work as executive producer of the film.

America Fererra’s monologue, where she discussed some of these impossible expectations placed on women, was one of the most powerful scenes in the film and deserves credit as such. Her portrayal of Gloria, a mother struggling to parent a teenage daughter, was sincere and beautiful. Her nomination was well-earned, particularly after she was ignored by the Golden Globes. 

Gerwig, alongside her husband Noah Baumbach, received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The script of this movie is comedic, profound, and important in acknowledging the shortcomings of our world today. 

The 96th Academy Awards will take place on March 10, and I hope that those women who did receive nominations will be awarded for their incredible work. However, the Academy’s failure to acknowledge Gerwig’s and Robbie’s accomplishments will not be forgotten. 

The positive impact “Barbie” had in uniting and empowering women—myself and so many others—cannot be denied by the Academy’s failure to adequately recognize the film. This reception serves as an important reminder of our shortcomings as a society. 

As the movie has shown us, however, if we Barbies work together, we can make a positive change by continuing to fight for equality.

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  • A

    Feb 7, 2024 at 9:31 pm

    Great article!