Maybe life in plastic is not as fantastic as "Barbie Girl" by Aqua originally claims it to be. The upcoming live-action "Barbie" film, directed by Greta Gerwig, may reveal the harsh reality of living in a "perfect" world with "perfect" peers.
The PG-13-rated film is set to be released on July 21 and will tell the story of how Barbie, played by Margot Robbie, is kicked out of Barbieland for her imperfections. After Barbie's expulsion from Barbieland, she embarks on an adventure to the real world in search of a happier life.
The Barbie doll, which debuted in 1959, had, of course, blonde hair styled in a ponytail. The original Barbie also wore a black and white striped bathing suit. Barbie's creation is credited to Ruth Handler, the first president and co-founder of Mattel, Inc.– the toy company that manufactures Barbie.
Handler recognized the limited toy options her daughter had to play with, according to Barbie Media, and was then inspired "to create a doll that showed girls they had choices" and "that they could be anything."
Throughout the years, Barbie has witnessed major historical events and has had many careers – the first being her time as an astronaut. Barbie became an astronaut four years before anyone landed on the moon, according to Barbie Media, which means the history books need some updating.
Barbie has also starred in 41 movies. The first Barbie movie was "Barbie in the Nutcracker" (2001) and "Barbie: Mermaid Power" (2022) is the most recent. Some students at Ohio University remember growing up with Barbie movies and dolls.
Hannah Scholes, a freshman studying nursing, said, "Barbie and the Diamond Castle" (2008) was always one of her favorites.
"I heard a rumor that they were going to put them on Netflix," Scholes said. "I don't know when it's happening. I don't know if it's true."
Netflix currently has some of the newer Barbie movies and TV series. If the older ones were to be put on Netflix, Sienna Podraski, a freshman studying marketing, said it would be a "good strategy" before a new one gets released. "The Hunger Games" film series was put on Netflix as people anticipate the series' prequel "The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" release on Nov. 17. After putting the original movies on Netflix on March 1, the service has already taken them off.
While some people are looking forward to the live-action "Barbie," the doll's past has been "the subject of protests, usually because of her unachievable figure," according to Time Magazine, but the company has also evolved.
"There was just one Barbie and her friend was still white," Scholes said. "I think there was a Black (Barbie) in the show, she's still skinny."
In 1968, Barbie released Christie – the first Black doll. Christie had a '60s hairstyle and wore a mod-inspired swimsuit, according to Barbie Media. Until the 1980s, non-white dolls were not named "Barbie." During that decade, the first Black and Hispanic dolls became known as Barbie.
On Barbie's website today, the company listed that they have dolls of 35 skin tones, 97 hairstyles, nine body types "and counting."
Barbie's boyfriend, Kenneth Sean Carson, known as Ken, was first introduced in 1961. In the live-action "Barbie," Ken is played by Ryan Gosling. Some other members of the star-studded cast include Emma Mackey, who plays a nobel-prize-winning Barbie, Dua Lipa, a Barbie mermaid, Issa Rae, the president Barbie, Kate McKinnon, the Barbie always in the splits and Nicola Coughlan, a diplomatic Barbie.
Simu Liu and Ncuti Gatwa play some of the other "Kens" in the movie, and Ken's best friend, Allan, is played by Michael Cera. Will Ferrell will play the CEO of Mattel Inc. Anna Skapoulas, a junior studying anthropology, criminology and forensic studies, said they think the film could be more of a comedy with actors such as Cera.
"I think it'll be really funny if (Cera's) in it," Skapoulas said. "They're making it funny."
The production and directing of the new movie are important to people such as Podraski. Gerwig has been responsible for women-centered movies in the past, having directed the seventh "Little Women" adaptation in 2019. Handler created Barbie to empower young girls, and a women director for the live-action movie may carry on that role.
"I think if a man directed that movie, it would be way different," Podraski said. "It would be so different."