In a Barbie world
A sea of pink took over theatres in the city as movie-goers caught up with the Barbie fever
For girls, the colour pink makes an entry into our lives the minute we are born. In a heteronormative society that doesn’t question beyond the binaries of gender, a pink or a blue badge assigned during the birth of a child gives rise to a stereotype that the colour is associated with women or femininity. With several pop-culture references bashing men for wearing pink and brands using it as a marketing strategy targeting women to sell their products, an aversion towards the colour pink has been created. But thanks to the team of the film Barbie, the love for pink is back.
On Friday, as two anticipated movies clashed at the box office, the city — like many others across the world — was drenched in shades of pink. From social media memes commenting that TN state buses in pink were a part of Barbie promotion to shops selling pink costumes and Barbie dolls on an elevated scale this past week, pink became the colour of the weekend.
Shades of solidarity
To welcome Barbie coming to life from the pastels and plastics of Barbieland to Real World, the local theatres and multiplexes saw hordes of people dressed up in Barbie theme. We interacted with Greta Gerwig fans, adults awaiting to unpack their Mattel boxes of nostalgia, college students coming in groups, playing dress-up for fun, and families endorsing the colour at the theatres, about the movie and the popularity it has created.
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Azima Hanin who watched the first show at AGS Cinemas, Maduravoyal, shared that the movie was a cheer to womanhood. Dressed up in a pastel pink top and blue denim jeans, she watched the movie with her friend Farhat Yasmeen. “My fiancée thought that watching the movie was such a woman thing to do. So he backed out at the last minute. But that didn’t deter my spirit. I was stubborn to watch the movie no matter what,” said Azima. Both Azima and Farhat stated that the excitement factor for them was the element of the doll they grew up with coming to life. “Even though we don’t say it out loud, we do have our Barbie dolls even as adults. I think it is okay to hold on to something from your childhood even when you grow up,” commented Yasmeen.
While for some it was just about the doll, the idea of Greta Gerwig directing the movie was the excitement factor for others. Ajay, who dressed up in a white T-shirt with a ‘directed by Greta Gerwig’ print in pink fonts shared, “After loving Greta’s Lady Bird and Little Woman, I was sure that she will pull off something very magical out of Barbie. Joining hands with Mattel was a bit of a surprise considering her politics, yet I was pumped to see how she injects her usual cynicism in Barbie.”
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Cassy Rasquinha, along with her mother Jean and friends Aarthi Bakth and Amaresh, decked in florals and pink, came together at VR Mall, Thirumangalam, for her admiration towards the director. Posing near a poster of Barbie, she said, “With the movie, the whole buzz, the outfits, the pink, it’s caught people’s attention. We are huge fans of Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie but I am also a huge fan of Greta Gerwig. I expect her to hit all those emotional strings. When people look at Barbie, they cringe and say they would rather go for Oppenheimer, but Greta will surprise us.” And surprise she did.
Amid a sea of reasons to dress up, Maneesh chose to wear pink to be in solidarity with his friends and to have a feel of the ‘Barbenheimer’ fever. “It’s like the peak of celebrating cinema and I couldn’t miss it,” he said, adding that even though he didn’t have a nostalgia of playing with the dolls, he enjoyed it.
Several fans also took to social media to show their love for Barbie, with sprinkles of local culture. Two days before the premiere, Aarthi posted a reel on the social media platform Instagram, draped in a pink sari and recreating the now iconic scene of Margot Robbie stepping out of her high heels.
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Sinking into the film
However, not everyone thought the film did justice to the pink-wearing hype and trend. After watching the film, Babitha, who also dressed in pink, said that she enjoyed the film, the humour, and the critique of men (and horses). “But in the Real World, they seem to have generalised the identity of women, not every woman feels like she has to derive her identity from a man. It felt like a superficial attempt at displaying patriarchy,” she said.
According to Gouri, “Some parts were fun but there was something that didn’t fit with the entire idea. I liked the fridge, cartons, the legs, it really did bring back memories of playing with a Barbie as a kid.” She added that scenes criticising patriarchy were portrayed well.
Even though the promotion of pink was a conscious marketing strategy it was perceived in different ways by the audience. From gentleness and femininity, these shades have moved towards representing admiration and solidarity in the past few days.