The real reason Barbie was snubbed by the Oscars

The film’s most overt social message comes from America Ferrera’s character, Gloria, the main human in Barbieland. In a welcome but surprising turn, Ferrera was nominated as supporting actress, largely, it can be assumed, on the strength of her passionate monologue about the expectations put on women, such as: Be thin, but pretend it’s because you want to be healthy. “It’s exhausting,” Gloria says. “You have to have money but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass.” Did Gerwig simply make too much money? Maybe. Be a woman director, but don’t show up the men by making more than they do. That could easily have been part of Gloria’s speech.

Robbie was underestimated too. Ferrera’s angry, honest monologue has the kind of directness the Oscars often go for. What Robbie had to do was more subtle, less easily appreciated. When Gloria’s outburst awakens another Barbie’s sense of her own worth, Robbie’s Barbie wakes up too. “By giving voice to the contradictory dissonance required to be a woman under the patriarchy, you robbed it of its power,” Robbie tells her, delivering those lines in a light tone that says the idea is true but also kind of pompous. As Ferrera told Variety about Robbie’s snub: “Perhaps people got fooled into thinking that the work seems easy”. Gerwig and Robbie, both nominated as producers of the film, deftly gave full voice to that dissonance, which may be why they missed nominations that should have been theirs.

The 96th Academy Awards are broadcast on ABC on 10 March.

If you liked this story, sign up for The Essential List newsletter – a handpicked selection of features, videos and can’t-miss news delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *