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Greta Gerwig’s Barbie: White Feminism to the Rescue

Barbenheimer: The Christmas-NYE duo of films. The antithesis of each other’s existence united by their birthday, 19th July was the most anticipated day of 2023. We witnessed a historic resurgence of cinema with the numbers both the films were accumulating at the Box Office. All from around the globe flocked to the theatres to celebrate Barbie & Oppenheimer, and Summer 2023 was like no other.


Greta Gerwig’s Barbie: White Feminism to the Rescue. The nominations for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie are overwhelmed with women nominees. But this occasion of jubilation was spoiled by self-proclaimed warriors of white feminism to the rescue. Their focus was entirely on painting Robbie as a victim of systemic misogyny for not being nominated in a category inundated by other women with equally admirable performances.

The infamous internet phenomenon of Barbenheimer began with the circulation of their cinematic release date as a doubleheader. The juxtaposition of Barbie and Oppenheimer provoked a friendly fire between the two films, fanned by Twitter users themselves. A diametric contrast of genres, star-studded casts, and acclaimed directors, all united by one single date, and a portmanteau. Taking over the internet world by storm, Barbenheimer was cemented as an unforgettable historical event in film culture, pop culture, and twitter culture.


The movies’ successes can be attributed partly to the unrelenting complimentary marketing they received with the internet spectacle. Barbie surfaced as the highest grossing film of 2023, and the highest grossed Warner Bros movie in its 105-year history; And Oppenheimer as the most successful biopic film in the history of Hollywood.


Fast forward to the Awards season, Barbenheimer joined hands once again in sweeping nominations across the main categories. But Oppenheimer was abandoned in stacking the shelves with wins. Barbie may have won in our hearts, but their Award wins were comparably diminished. The diverging achievements were blatantly exposed with the unveiling of the Oscar nominations. Oppenheimer led with 13 nominations, and Barbie with 8. Despite the insurmountable level of accomplishment with multiple Academy nominations, many left their bubble of 'live, laugh, love' to express their disappointment with the categories at the expense of shadowing deserved nominees.

Their sorrows stem from Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie not being nominated for Best Director and Best Actress respectively for their tremendous efforts in the making of Barbie. Their comments berate Gosling’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor as a mockery of the Barbie movie by catering to the Kens of the world, labelling the Academy as misogynistic for not supporting the success of a feminist movie by failing to nominate the women who put their minds and souls into its creation.


Although, an adequate glimpse into the Oscar nominations refute the ostensible ‘snubbing’ of Robbie & Gerwig. Both of their names are actually nominated for the Oscars. Robbie is nominated under Best Picture as one of the producers of the movie, and Gerwig for Best Adapted Screenplay. And surely, both were elated to receive their nominations in unconventional categories, and to witness the triumphs of other women who partook in this movie. America Ferrera received her first ever Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and Billie Eilish, for the second time, for her song ‘What Was I Made For’, as is Jacqueline Durran for Best Costume Design, and Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer for Best Production Design.

The nominations for Barbie are overwhelmed with women nominees. But this occasion of jubilation was spoiled by self-proclaimed feminist warriors on the internet. Their focus was entirely on painting Robbie as a victim of systemic misogyny for not being nominated in a category inundated by other women with equally admirable performances. Surely such manifestations of feminism are shallow and superficial; and they have a name: White Feminism.

White feminism movement revolves solely around the issues white women face, barely scratching the surface of misogyny women from other marginalized communities are subjected to. Their exclusion from acknowledging intersectional oppression enables the centering of their personal experiences as a woman to be the only truth of misogyny, often weaponizing their whiteness to erase and belittle women of colour while simultaneously hiding under their inefficacious efforts in fighting for women liberties. Hence why their activism begins and ends with the adversities they become victims of, like not being sufficiently nominated.

The most glaring example of white feminism was elucidated with the Barbie-Oscar incident. The ridicule was largely received by women of colour like Lily Gladstone and America Ferrera, despite their first nominations. The deliberate ignorance to anchor the fallacious lack of nominations of two successful women while refusing to address the plight of women in Palestine, Congo, and Sudan suffering immensely from unfettered violence, undergoing mass miscarriages, dying of infections from lack of access to sanitary products, of mass rape and femicides, is the epitomical description of where the priorities of white feminists lie.

The feud going as far as Hillary Clinton throwing in her two cents as a woman who persevered through endless misogynistic campaigns as a politician. While she was indeed a victim of sexism, she was also a person with power who constantly failed to protect the well-being and safety of other women. Her support for harrowing domestic and foreign policies actively harmed millions of women all around the world. Clinton’s ‘you are more than kenough’ message hangs as a backdrop for her inflexible support for Israeli campaigns against a ceasefire in Palestine, placing the lives of thousands of women in jeopardy.

Inclusivity is the core of feminism. Inclusivity was the core message of the Barbie movie. But along the passing of the story, the message was convoluted. The Academy nominations this year are incredible and unprecedented. If all were well, we would be celebrating the pinnacle of cinema that was the year 2023, alas is blighted. But through it all, Oppenheimer continues to rest in solace of its immortalized supremacy. As it turns out, Oppenheimer was more than Kenough! White Feminism to the Rescue