Traveling to a different continent for something is right on brand with me.Though the purpose of this trip was to be with my family, I couldn’t let the opportunity to watch Barbie pass me by. After all, when life gives you lemons, you make yourself una limonada de coco (if you’re Colombian, you know how much this drink has many people on a chokehold.)
For months, like everyone else, I watched one of the greatest marketing strategies I’ve seen in recent years. In what felt like an instant, I became consumed by all things Barbie – and I was okay with it. As someone who has been trying to fight off consumerism and its effects, I was reminded how easily I could be influenced. Well, not quite – but at least in this case it’s true. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to watch “Barbie” during its opening weekend. I had been waiting for this moment, alongside the rest of the world, and now I had to wait a bit longer.
As life will have it, it is filled with unexpected changes in plans. Also, if you’re like me, you are a bit forgetful. After purchasing the perfect outfit to watch the “Barbie” movie, I realized my weekend was packed with different non-Barbie-related events. Suddenly (not really – blame my fast-paced life on this), I was preparing to cover a music festival, setting up interviews, and packing for a trip to Colombia that I had decided before considering which weekend it was on. This was all in a span of 48 hours. At this point, even if I tried to get to the latest show time, I wasn’t going to make it – all the tickets in Miami were sold out. I claimed defeat once that became a reality and had made peace with the fact that I was going to watch it when I returned from Colombia, which was a week later. I know…first world problems.
Upon arriving in Colombia, with the makeup from the night before – don’t judge – and on two hours of sleep, I only thought about food and sleeping. But while I was in a hacienda-style restaurant, looking at the majestic mountains of Medellín, I had a lightbulb moment. Well, after getting roasted by my family for wearing Barbie pink nails and doll-like hair and still not being able to watch the movie, it only made sense I watch the movie in Colombia. And yes – in Spanish. Ah, the beauty of being bilingual. Y la queso.
My excitement as I entered the movie theater was unmatched. I was humored to see how adults outnumbered the children in the lobby. But this makes sense. Barbie the movie was made for us.
It is important to mention the props too. They were very cute and apparently better than in Miami as per my sister. Is that a developing country one-upping a first-world country? I believe it is.
O, Hail America Ferrera in the Barbie Movie
Now, the moment to watch Barbie came and it was glorious. For starters, the Spanish-language voice over was on point. Long gone are the days with the exaggerated accent. It was perfect. Beyond that, let’s talk about the creative direction of the movie: It was “chef’s kiss” beautiful. However, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention how much of an impact America Ferrera had on the movie.
Ferrera, who played Gloria, was key to the plot of the entire movie and she nailed it. Though there were plenty of mind-blowing and thought-provoking scenes, these were a few of my favorites. Please note that spoilers are ahead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Barbie Thinks of Death
Barbie is usually associated with all things positive and cheerful. Yet, there was a moment when darkness overpowered Barbie’s typical giddy demeanor. Thanks to Ferrera, we were able to see how mental health affects our reality – and the reality of others. As she was influencing her Barbie, which was played by the brilliant Margot Robbie, Barbie became consumed by morbid thoughts. However, the movie developed the topic of mental health in an elegant way. That’s all I’ll say for now.
Shining a Light on Double Standards
If there is something Latinas are familiar with is the immense prevalence of double standards in our cultures. From how we dress to how we act, being a woman in the Latino community is hard because there are so many rules we must abide by. Yet, double standards know no boundaries – it affects all women across the board. This is something Ferrera made sure we understood throughout one of the more empowering parts of the movie. In fact, she is given a monologue solely to speak about this situation.
Here is quick clip from it:
“You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass…
You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard!
You’ll come out wanting to fight the patriarchy (even more) after this part of the movie. I can confidently say this was my favorite part.
‘Gotta Kick It Up’ Reference — Maybe?
Many of us were first introduced to Ferrera in the Disney Channel movie, “Gotta Kick It Up” in the early 2000s. For many, this marked the beginning of watching Ferrera’s journey unravel. I personally remember feeling super inspired at watching Latinas, such as America, on Disney. See, the power of representation is so grand that it has followed me all these years.
— dabz (@dfelt08) July 21, 2023
So, it was nice to hear Gloria’s partner yell “si, se puede” during a special moment in the movie, which, to me, felt like a sweet homage to “Gotta Kick It Up.” A phrase coined by labor rights activist Dolores Huerta, “si, se puede” was also chanted during the Disney movie. Whether or not that was Barbie’s objective, it was still nice to hear a phrase that’s been so important for the Latino community.
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