The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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“I’m Just Ken” Okay, well, I’m just Ken-fused

The “Barbie” movie was the sensation of the summer, sweeping moviegoers and awards alike. Pink outfits and over-the-top accessories graced nearly every storefront for months. In total, the film grossed $500 million more than its release-date-twin Oppenheimer in its theatrical release alone—everyone has seen Barbie, and those who haven’t, can’t escape it. 

So how did “Barbie” become all about Ken?

Ken’s role in the film is, arguably, one of comedic relief. Even if one acknowledges the “antagonistic” role he plays, he is not the true villain of the plot—he is, at most, merely an interlocutor. At the core of it, his role is to (and I can’t believe I’m saying this with a straight face, out loud) introduce patriarchy to Barbieland, although the patriarchy turns out to be mostly horse-based and thus easily abandoned. 

But the “journey” of Barbie, choosing the realities and hardships of “real-world” womanhood in order to experience the true joys of authentic living (I personally would go for Barbieland, but I understand the message), is completely overshadowed by this role of Ken. Part of this could be because of Ryan Gosling’s charisma in the role; I’ve heard many say that he wasn’t the “right pick,” but honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who could do it better and demonstrate half the dedication. Ken’s own journey was one of the main B-plots (it was given, from what I can recall, a similar amount of screen-time as the arcs of America Ferrera and Ariana Greenblatt’s characters), so appreciating his character is completely warranted! It’s the overshadowing that’s odd. 

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What gets me about it is the irony. The “Barbie” movie, a very straightforward application of an iconic female-esque toy to create a “feminist narrative,” has become all about Ken. A cursory Google shoves forward a dozen recent articles about Ken, or Gosling’s role, or Ken’s song, but a search for Barbie turns up half as many—and half of those are just picking up on the title of the film and are still talking about Ken. 

Gosling himself seems to be the only man on Earth (speaking with great hyperbole, of course) to understand the point of the film, if we take his expressions at award shows (“I’m Just Ken” winning over “What Was I Made For” at the Golden Globes, for example) or comments in interviews (“Whatever Barbie says is exactly right,” etc, to paraphrase an interview Gosling did early on in the press junket) at face-value. He’s quite zealously embraced the “Kenergy,” and the Kenergy is all about Barbie. But the average consumer appears to have missed that.

Just by writing this article, I’m contributing to the “Ken craze,” if you will—continuing to attribute aspects of the Barbie movie to the presence of Ken and focusing on him and his catchy little song above all else. Is “I’m Just Ken” a banger? Absolutely. Should it be everyone’s main takeaway from the baby’s-first-feminism movie? No!!

Don’t misunderstand me. I was Ken for Halloween. I appreciate him. But at the end of the day, this isn’t about him. It’s supposed to be about Barbie— it’s in the title! 

The “Barbie” movie is supposed to be fun. It is not the highest and most great art piece ever created, but by God will I defend it until my last breath to anyone who says it isn’t. It’s “Barbie,” for the love of all that is holy. Calm down! Take a breather! And remember: It’s not about Ken! 

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Lyndon Beier, Assistant News Editor

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