One of the stars of The Barbie Movie, Michael Cera, defends Greta Gerwig from accusations of compromising her artistic integrity and becoming a ‘sell-out’.
Gerwig, who is behind many critically acclaimed films such as Lady Bird and 2019’s Little Women, co-wrote and directed the Barbie movie featuring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as the iconic Mattel dolls, Barbie and Ken, who explore their identities after a crisis of meaning.
The movie has been a huge box office hit, earning $344 million worldwide in its debut weekend. Despite receiving positive reviews for its treatment of the Mattel fashion dolls and the film’s underlying critique of patriarchy, Gerwig has faced some backlash for allegedly betraying her vision.
In a conversation with GQ that took place before the SAG-AFTRA strike, Cera expressed his views on whether Gerwig collaborating with Mattel on the Barbie movie amounts to “selling out.”
The Barbie movie star, who portrays the comically mismatched Allan, dismissed the criticism, arguing that a movie is essentially “a product” and “a capitalist venture.” See Cera’s answer below:
A film is a product. A film is a capitalist venture, isn’t it? I mean, they don’t put them out for our health; they’re trying to make a return on them. That’s a bit confusing.
Barbie marks Gerwig’s debut with a popular franchise, but it’s unjust to label the director as a sellout. Despite the Warner Bros. movie being a joint venture with Mattel, Gerwig didn’t shy away from challenging conventions under those constraints.
The movie features a scene where the adolescent Sasha confronts Barbie for perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards. The pivotal scene raised alarm among Mattel executives, who disputed with Gerwig about eliminating the scene that could potentially harm the brand, but Gerwig stood her ground.
The Barbie movie is far from a compromise of artistic integrity or a franchise-driven money grab, which is actually a serious issue in Hollywood. Despite being inspired by an iconic brand, Barbie now holds the record of being the biggest opening weekend ever for an original, non-sequel, non-remake, or non-superhero property.
Cera acknowledges that “film is a capitalist venture,” and the Barbie movie certainly succeeds in that aspect, but with its exaggerated portrayal of all-male Mattel executives like Will Ferrell’s CEO, it’s also a commentary on the very capitalist system that it operates within.
About Barbie (2023)
Barbie is a 2023 film directed by Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote the screenplay with Noah Baumbach. It is based on the eponymous fashion doll line by Mattel, and serves as the franchise’s first live-action film adaptation after several computer-animated direct-to-video and streaming television films.
The film stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as Barbie and Ken respectively. Barbie released in the United States and United Kingdom on July 21, 2023, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.