top of page

Come on Barbie, let’s go party! Barbie movie night on campus

By Elizabeth Van Pilsum, Arts and Culture Editor

Originally Published November 14, 2023

Movie-goers and Barbie fans alike united in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) on Wednesday, Nov. 8 for a showing of the Greta Gerwig-directed movie Barbie. Hosted by Campus Life and Women’s Leadership, the movie began at 6:00 p.m.

Campus Life hosted a Barbie movie night in the PAC. (SOURCE: SVC INSTAGRAM)

The PAC was decked out for the event, with a sparkly pink carpet leading inside, pink lighting, and tables with props for the photo booth and free Barbie-related stickers. On the stage, there was a table full of Barbie-related prizes, given out before and after the movie showing. The audience was encouraged to come wearing pink, and a prize was given to the person with the best Barbie-themed outfit.

Once the movie ended, Dr. Melinda Farrington, associate professor of communication, Sara Stewart, freelance film and culture journalist, and Theo Garland, screenwriter, discussed the film’s enduring impact on a panel. Barbie broke many records when it came out, making it the highest-grossing movie of 2023 and one of the highest-grossing movies directed by a woman. The panelist pointed out the important choices Gerwig made while directing the film.

“I think one of the really great things about Greta Gerwig is that she has such an affinity for girlhood and adolescence as an exciting creative time,” Stewart said. "I see this movie as a culmination of a lot of the ideas that she’s exploring in Lady Bird and Little Women.[.. She is] not trying too hard to push away the visceral joy of girlhood and what Barbie meant to us, while at the same time working in these very topical ideas like Kens taking over the constitution.”

After the movie, a panel discussed the movie’s impact and questions the audience members had. (SOURCE: SVC INSTRAGRAM)

Stewart claimed that, “[Gerwig] packed so much in here in a way that she’s satisfied even Mattel.” She explained that Gerwig was able to “glide past some of the roadblocks that other people would encounter, in an industry that is still hugely dominated by male filmmakers.”

The members of the panel also thought it was crucial Gerwig's characters were nuanced and defied stereotypes.

“[Gerwig] manages to see the human in each character, she seldom reduces anyone to a two-dimensional stereotype. Even in a world where she has Stereotypical Barbie, she manages to make Stereotypical Barbie so nuanced,” Stewart said.

Garland agreed with Stewart and spoke about the male character in terms of nuance.

“It’s really important that she delved into Ken being this emotional person because it’s nice to show the emotions of people [rather] than just [showing] how terrible some of the things they do are.” Garland. “I think she really subverted a lot of tropes.”

Stewart spoke highly of the film’s themes, describing it as having a “huge heart” and treating all characters with “real generosity”.

“It treats Kens also with so much generosity and it comes to this place of understanding between the genders. You could call it a girl-power movie, but I think in a more fundamental sense it’s a very humanist movie and a very optimistic and forward-thinking movie all wrapped in hot pink,” Stewart said.

Farrington emphasized Stewart’s point by speaking to the presentation of its characters and themes.

“Talking about a feminist perspective or saying the word feminism can be hard, and I found that the film handled [the topic of] binaries and the pressures of identity well, whatever that identity might be, and appearance and gender and power. I think it’s more of a human condition film with a lot of pink set in the realm of Barbieland,” Farrington said.

The panel concluded with questions from the audience, and prizes were raffled off to the crowd. The event ended with pink snacks and drinks outside the PAC for all the movie-goers. Ultimately, the movie night provided an entertaining way to build community and dissect the importance of female-centric stories about the human condition.


bottom of page