Barbenheimer, a perfect storm with the keys to patriarchy and ‘barbiarchy’ for ‘dummies’


It is not the first time that the two films of the moment and of the season have been released at the same time, but it is the first time that much depends on the success of the two, even the future of the film industry itself.

Ryan Gosling in a moment of ‘Barbie’.Warner Bros. Pictures

What does a movie about the atomic bomb have to do with the most bombastic toy ever? What unites Oppenheimer, a pompous and prestigious film exhibition, with Barbie, a pink joke for the comfort of parents, children and social reformers with or without children? On paper, nothing. Or if. If we look at the certainly false theory that says that the doll in question is called what it is called because the name of the wife of the head designer of the Mattel company, Jack Ryan, was none other than Barbara, then we find the first point of union. Mr Ryan, in fact, previously worked for the aerospace giant Raytheon which played a pivotal role in Cold War military development. Conclusion: without making an effort we are capable of justifying anything. Look at the electoral campaign if not.

Put to speculate, it would not be difficult (or yes) to find more lines of contact. Come the most esoteric of all: the two films, attention, are two missiles against the patriarchy. It sounds surreal and indeed it is. But let’s analyze it, if only in a symbolic way. Or not so much. The movie of Christopher Nolan is the story of many men obsessed (including the director himself) with being the first to build a kind of giant soccer ball that looks like an inflamed testicle about to explode. And all this as a preamble to a conflict littered with rockets in the shape of phalluses ready to, excuse me, fuck each other to the goddess Cibeles, who is mother Earth. And what is Barbie? Well, exactly the opposite. That is, the perfect complement. Seen without any distance, the film places a man at its center (ryan gosling) that after having lived in a kind of barbiarchy he suddenly discovers the advantages of being a foolish man and succeeding. That is to say, something that only happens to men in what is called patriarchy. Take the last two sentences as a hasty summary and not as a proven thesis. For the contrasts, the x-rays and, again, the electoral campaigns.

Cillian Murphy in a moment of 'Oppenheimer'.
Cillian Murphy in a moment of ‘Oppenheimer’.Universal PicturesUniversal Pictures

That is to say, with little insistence and without the intention of respecting the truth, two completely different films can end up being exactly the same. We will give one more example. In oppenheimer, its protagonist is accused of being a communist. His friends were, his wife was, and he contributed his money to the cause. I mean, he might not have been fully aware, but he was a communist. In Barbie, the protagonist discovers with astonishment as soon as she leaves Barbieland and steps into the real world that women have to work twice as hard to achieve the same as men, they have to strive to be pleasant at all times on pain of being accused of social dangers and they cannot raise their voices because right at that moment they are marked as hysterical. That is, Barbie may not verbalize it with all the letters, but she is a feminist. Are communism and feminism the same thing? We don’t get wet here. But both are in pink.

And up to here the circumstantial parallels.

On paper too, everything indicates that it is not a good business decision to bring together two of the most likely highest grossing films of the year and put them in competition. And even more so if we take into account that one of them, Nolan’s, lasts three hours and has the same effect on the viewer as putting their head in the washing machine would. Understood in a good way, which, believe me, has it. However, this is not the first time something like this has happened. If you review the history of cinema, it is not difficult to see that what happens now has happened before.

On July 15, 1988, for example, The jungle of crystal and A fish named Wanda They went out looking for their respective audiences, which were largely the same, at the same time. None of them fared badly and, most certainly, rather than opposing each other, the two films complemented each other. Worth the tension of one for the laughter of the other and worth the good sense of humor of both. Somewhat later, in November 1995, Pixar revolutionized animation forever with toy story at the same time that Martin Scorsese made things explode in the adrenaline casino. And this case is quite similar to today’s. Nothing to do between them and there was room for both. There are many more examples: blade runner and the thingtwo masterpieces of science fiction and with exactly the same type of audience, coincided in 1982 and ghostbusters and Gremlins They did the same two years later. And so.

Let’s say that the preceding paragraph is there to show that you can love two movies at the same time and on the same day and, as the bolero would say, not be crazy. However, it is not ideal. And that any seller of things knows. If you scatter the attention, the attention is lost. For months we have been witnessing an endless trickle of ‘blockbusters’ that have been appearing one by one so as not to run over each other. We saw spider manwe saw transformerswe saw Flashwe saw Indianawe saw the seventh installment of the prodigious series Mission Impossible‘ and we even saw Santiago Segura in a line and respecting the seat. Until, suddenly, what happened happened and, moreover, it happened at the same time that a strike by actors and writers broke out in Hollywood.

And here the key. Hollywood, it is a fact, needs to be rethought. Since the end of the pandemic, he has lived on the brink of endless anguish unable to decide what he wants to be when he grows up. Deliver all the ‘oscars’ to a fricad like Everything at once everywherethe success indie of the moment, but those who continue to pay the bills are all those who make Avatar. The rooms are recovering little by little, but they do so at an extraordinarily tiring pace. After the ‘boom’ that took place just before the coronavirus appeared, all the studios are walking like headless chickens unable to decide between betting everything on their platforms or continuing to insist on what makes the platforms work: success in theaters. And meanwhile, the superheroes, that last great magnet for the masses, are dying little by little. And meanwhile, only sagas with more than five installments get financing. And meanwhile, nobody knows anything about what will happen.

For all this, what happens this weekend is so important. Warner and Universal offer two of their most expensive and least obvious movies. They are two great bets for the future that, from any of their approaches, look to the future. oppenheimer turns the movie theater into a sanctuary with a double version in IMAX and 70mm that rediscusses from its most radical originality the role of the movie theater. Barbie it deconstructs the most obvious of commercial tools (making a movie of a global consumer good) and proposes a comedy that is as provocative as it is intelligent and supposedly profitable. We will see. Right now everything is in question: the patriarchy, the barbiarchy and the cinema itself. And in the middle of election weekend. The atomic bomb is definitely much more than a simple metaphor.

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Barbenheimer, a perfect storm with the keys to patriarchy and ‘barbiarchy’ for ‘dummies’