Asaka Mae
Under the Rock
E1 DEMO: This Barbie is Catching Up - w/ Gabe Salazar, Social Media Strategist
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E1 DEMO: This Barbie is Catching Up - w/ Gabe Salazar, Social Media Strategist

Maybe I’ll practice what I preach: Turn your biggest liabilities into your biggest assets.
Transcript

No transcript...

Join Asaka Mae, a brooding, tryhard journalism undergrad, as she catches up on her never-ending to-watch list with a little help from her friends. What ensues is a spirited discussion about culture, psychology, and the age-old question: does art imitate life? Meet them Under the Rock, every month, for movie spoilers that don’t stink.

Hi friends! As you might’ve guessed, life has been hectic. I’m doing so many things I thought I’d never do last year… One of them being “starting a comedy-ish podcast.” Under the Rock is a celebration of the wicked possibilities I’ve uncovered by playing the hand life has dealt me — and making it my bitch. Thank you to Gabe Salazar for being my first guest, and to Alec McLeester and Kyla Ramos for voicing the opening skit! If you’re interested in working with me for further episodes, HMU on asakamae@gmail.com (I still need more people to assist me with the audio editing bit!)

Transcript:

FRIEND 1:

The entire cast of Sex Education was for some reason just randomly in the Barbie movie.

FRIEND 2:

Yeah, that was pretty wacky.

FRIEND 1:

It's, like, very strange. And also they weren't British in it and I was very confused about that.

FRIEND 2:

Yeah, that's also weird. Yeah.

ASAKA MAE:

I don't watch—

FRIEND 1:

Isn't Margot Robbie not British either, or not American either?

FRIEND 2:

No, she's Australian. She's Australian.

FRIEND 1:

Wait, who's the only American person in it?

FRIEND 2:

Ryan Gosling? Ryan Gosling?

FRIEND 1:

Oh, yeah!

FRIEND 2:

Isn't Will Ferrell—?

FRIEND 1:

—Wasn’t Haley Steinfeld?

FRIEND 2:

No, that's not Haley Steinfeld. That's America Ferreira!

FRIEND 1:

Oh my god, I was confused!

FRIEND 2:

Hahaha. Oh yeah, that and Oppenheimer, that was such a summer event, man! Barbenheimer went crazy!

ASAKA MAE:

Yeah, I don't watch movies a lot, but I'm seeing a lot of, like, memes about it.

[SOUND EFFECT: CRICKETS CHIRPING]

FRIEND 1:

Hmm? Oh—

ASAKA MAE:

I know— I mean, I know my sister watches it… [*whispers*] Idontknowwhereiwasgoingwiththat

ALL:

[AWKWARD LAUGHTER]

FRIEND 2:

Oh, okay then…

[CASH REGISTER SOUND]

DISTORTED INTERCOM VOICE:

Sorry, we ran out of fresh tea. But we can let it spoil until it's a nice and brewed kombucha. But unlike kombuchas, there's everything for everyone.

[SOUND EFFECT: LARGE CROWS CHEERS]

[SOUND EFFECT: DOOR SHUTTING DOWN AND WALKING IN HEELS]

ASAKA MAE:

Hi there! I'm your host Asaka Mae. I'm a writer, a journalism student, and a content creator. Here's how this is gonna work. Every month, I'm going to have a guest come over to explain the hottest movie or TV show to my oblivious [donkey] Am I going to know anything? No. But am I going to be asking silly questions, tripping over my words

[SOUND EFFECT: CRASHING]

—and then having my then everyone claps moment?

[SOUND EFFECT: CROWD CLAPPING SOUND]

You bet. And who knows? Maybe I’ll practice what I preach:

[THEME SONG: BRIGHT HAPPY PUNK ROCK MUSIC (PUNK PARTY) BY BRIGHTESTAVENUE FADES IN]

Turn your biggest liabilities into your biggest assets.

[THEME SONG: BRIGHT HAPPY PUNK ROCK MUSIC (PUNK PARTY) BY BRIGHTESTAVENUE FADES OUT]

ASAKA MAE:

Around April when Warner started promoting the Barbie meme template, I remember just swearing it off because I was never the pink girlie, you know? I would probably describe my taste in fashion as indie sleaze, former-scene-queen-turned-rockstar-girlfriend which is, like, so millennial coded.

You know, when I was growing up, I never had a Barbie. My mom graduated art school in the Bay Area. She’s always been a little bit of a granola mom or a crunchy mom — whichever that's not the anti vaxxer or a science denier because that's not the vibe. But yeah, she was never big on commercial toys. So when everyone was like, Barbie this, Barbie that, I was like, “eh, not my thing,” right? But I'm pretty online and I just couldn't escape.

VERSE 2 OF DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY BY DUA LIPA:

Lately I been movin’ close to the edge

Still be lookin’ my best

I stay on the beat, you can count on me

I ain’t missin’ no steps

Without further ado, I am ready to learn more about Barbie. So, I have enlisted Gabe Salazar, a former journalism student and a current digital social media associate for the Rockefeller Foundation — savvy!— school me on Barbie.

ASAKA MAE:

It's so great to have you on here Gabe, thank you so much.

GABE SALAZAR:

Thanks for having me, I'm excited.

ASAKA MAE:

I was looking for the Wikipedia for Barbie! The story sounds really interesting and I also now see why it was so critically acclaimed because I mean— I honestly thought it was, like, a Disney-esque live action children's toy sort of movie, but it does at least seem to make an attempt to send a deeper message.

The Wikipedia entry says that the story takes place in Barbieland, which is, quote, a “matriarchal society”, and amongst the side characters are these continued models who are treated like an outcast.

Immediately I found that interesting because the idea of peer rejection from women is such a common movie trope. Like, we talk a lot about, you know, being a “pick me girl”, are you a “girl's girl”, and a “mean girl” archetype right? Like, a lot of those quote unquote chick flick movies will pose female solidarity as an antidote to the patriarchy.

So, I'm wondering, like, what does peer rejection — women rejecting other women — look like in Barbie land where presumably the male gaze is already taken out of the equation? Like, how is that different or similar to, you know, what happens in Mean Girls or like John Tucker Must Die? Again, have not watched those movies, but I know the narrative arc and stuff.

GABE SALAZAR:

Oh, so you've never seen Mean Girls?

DIALOGUE FROM MEAN GIRLS:

So you've actually never been to a real school before? Shut up. Shut up!

ASAKA MAE:

I have not. I was not kidding when I said that I have a very, very extreme case of under the rock syndrome.

GABE SALAZAR:

Highly recommend it. Same with John Tucker Must Die, I remember like, being, when those came out, it was just crazy, like a huge phenomenon, and a great resurgence, honestly, I feel like in the last few years.

Going over the early plot, because they talk about this like, the discarded models, or discontinued models. Early on in the movie, when Barbie's walking around her neighborhood, she narrates like, oh, this is whatever Barbie, and then she's like, oh, this is Midge, the pregnant Barbie, but like, we don't really talk to her. But they talk about Weird Barbie, which is played by Kate McKinnon, and she lives in this kooky postmodern house. It's kind of chic. On like a top of a hill, like way outside of the confines of where all the other Barbies are.

ASAKA MAE:

Oh yeah, oh my gosh, I think I know who you're talking about. The weird Barbie is like the one with the cut up hair, yeah?

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah, she has cut up hair, she has drawings on her face—

ASAKA MAE:

So I know this because well, the other day I was making like a problem solving exercise for a workshop I was running and I made a case study that was based on me. But I didn't want to say that it was like about me right away and I also couldn't come up with like a fake name that like just stuck. So I referred to the character as This Barbie and I went on Google images hunting for like a funny stock image. And since this was like about someone who was struggling, I was just looking for images of Barbies that were like clearly losing it, and I was looking up things like depressed Barbie, disheveled Barbie, and then that's when Kate McKinnon came up.

GABE SALAZAR:

Exactly. And just to go back to Weird Barbie, Barbie, though, is like, kind of isolated outside of everyone because she's been like, played with too roughly and that's why she looks like that. But what's interesting, though, about like, the kind of the idea of peer rejection is that I didn't really get that when I was watching the movie because it didn't feel like the other Barbies were rejecting Weird Barbie until this higher being, which is Mattel, discontinued it, right? Or like, the owner of Weird Barbie played with her too much and now she looks like that and she doesn't fit that stereotypical look. Another interesting thing, though, is like, in like the first half hour, they have like a dance scene, which is great. With Dance the Night by Dua Lipa in the background — fabulous, love it.

ASAKA MAE:

I know right?

GABE SALAZAR

And it doesn't even feel like peer rejection is a thing in the Barbie world because most of the time when people think of that it's like if you don't fit whatever status quo — that is, whether you're white, you're blonde, you're able bodied, you're neurotypical, whatever — it's like, you see a Barbie in a wheelchair dancing, and, you know, you see Barbies of color, and you see Barbies with different hair textures, and so it's— I think they tried to make it seem as utopian as possible in a way that like, no one really cares what you look like, or if you have a disability or not.

And so I think the rejection comes from like these like higher kind of… not beings, it's like Mattel corporation trying to sell you what is perfect — or what isn't perfect. And that's where the weird Barbie comes in. Later on in the movie, they look at the other discarded or discontinued models like Sugar Daddy Ken. Which is like, Sugar Daddy Ken, but the dog is like, whatever… Um yeah, so it's an interesting thing.

And then when you look, compare it to like, Mean Girls, or like, John Tucker Must Die. In Mean Girls, it's like their peer rejection — at most times — is very overt, where you clearly do not fit within these molds, you are ousted. And it's not just like The Plastics, right? It's like, the Asians and then the black girls were sequestered and like showed that it's not just one person; like you can be rejected and then you can also be the person rejecting others.

ASAKA MAE

So it’s like, what’s— what’s the word? Oh! “Ingroup/outgroup” kind of mentality.

GABE SALAZAR

Right.

ASAKA MAE:

And you're saying that like this othering is not done by Barbies themselves necessarily. But it's being done by the higher being, which is the Mattel and the human characters.

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah, yeah. Right.

ASAKA MAE:

And that makes me wonder, how do they represent the human characters in relation to the Barbie microcosm? Because you described them as higher being, which was what I was also about to suggest. But those higher beings: are they more God or Godzilla to the Barbies?

GABE SALAZAR:

The humans are like kind of omnipresent in a way, but they're quietly omnipresent, as most beings are when they're described as such; you'll see that with Margot Robbie's Barbie, the stereotypical Barbie.

The opening scene is literally Lizzo's song and she's talking about how beautiful and pink everything is. And then the next thing you know, she starts having these thoughts about— like: oh, have you guys, you know, ever thought about dying?

ASAKA MAE:

Yes, yes! I recognize that.

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah, and like everyone pauses and she's like, wait, hold on, you mean, like, dying to have some fun? And she like changes it up; the next day, Lizzo's song, again, is playing, but instead of being upbeat and positive, it's about like life being dreadful, right? And so, this is when she goes to the weird Barbie, and she's like, “Okay, I have this issue, you know, what's going on?”

And weird Barbie explains to her that the owner of Barbie, in the human real world, is essentially imbuing these negative thoughts onto her. There's a scene where she takes off her shoes and the Barbie’s feet are always, like, pointed up, they're on tiptoes, and then when she has these negative thoughts the next day, like, her feet are, like, flat footed, and everyone is, like, screaming and crying, and basically the explanation is, is that her owner is having negative thoughts, and this is why she's having these feelings. And so it's like, it is present, but only when the human being that owns the Barbie apparently has these [bleep] thoughts, or, like, you know. Right.

ASAKA MAE:

I feel like the script is being flipped in many ways, both metaphorically and literally, because you would think it's the owner of the Barbie who does not like herself, because she looks at Barbie and doesn't feel like she's good enough. This is maybe the other way around in a way? Yeah?

GABE SALAZAR:

I don't know if it's like the other way around, but they delve into the fact that Gloria, played by America Ferreira, was actually the one that had these thoughts, not her daughter, Sasha. And when Barbie goes into the real world, she wants to find Gloria to figure out, like, why is she feeling like this? Why do you have negative thoughts? Like, everything's supposed to be perfect. Like, Everyone's supposed to be having fun, women are supposed to feel good about themselves no matter what.

Then the real world obviously is like too real for Barbie and she like cries and feels all this pain from Gloria as she tries to find her. Gloria’s feelings make Barbie feel like that, therefore, Barbie wanted to go try to find her to, like, fix everything.

ASAKA MAE:

I see. There's like a little bit of, I don't know, this thing where Barbie seems like she has a perfect life, but in reality she has those internal strifes… Like that music video, She's All I Want To Be by… what's her name? I'm getting old! I don't know. Do you know what I'm talking about? I'm trying to remember the singer's name, but it's called like She’s All I Want to Be. Yeah… See I can’t remember!

GABE SALAZAR:

Oh, Tate McRae?

ASAKA MAE:

Yeah. Yeah.

GABE SALAZAR:

Oh, I love her!

ASAKA MAE:

—And the music video like depicts a group of girls in a dance competition You know pageant-esque competition.

SCENE FROM THE MUSIC VIDEO OF SHE'S ALL I WANT TO BE BY TATE MCRAE:

Judge: I'm looking for one star. Who's it gonna be? 5, 6, 7, 8! 

Chorus:

Stupid boy makin’ me so sad

Didn’t think you could change this fast

She’s got everything that I don’t have

How could I ever compete with that?

ASAKA MAE:

Like, everyone wants to be each other because the grass is always greener from the other side.

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah, obviously in Barbie land, none of them have these thoughts outside of, like Stereotypical Barbie because, because she was the one being impacted by Gloria's thoughts and negatives.

ASAKA MAE:

The stereotypical Barbie, that's the main character?

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah, that's Margot Robbie's Barbie, yeah. It's interesting, because Barbie, on the way to trying to find Gloria, finds Sasha at her school and she approaches them and she's like so happy to meet them and Sasha, the Gen Z character, moody and broody and wearing all black, is like “You’ve like ruined so many girls self esteems, like you are like a consumerist product, you fascist” and you see Barbie crying and she's like, “I don't control the railways or like the flow of commerce,” which I thought was like a really smart and funny joke.

ASAKA MAE:

So this movie was essentially created to promote Barbie, and I'm seeing a lot of dramatic irony and there's just a lot of, like, poking fun at itself, right? Like, self deprecation. It's really interesting because I don't think I've really seen like these legacy toys being promoted in such an… edgy… way.

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah. I mean, yeah, like you said, this movie is like, full of jokes. Mattel, like, booking fund itself. Like, when Barbie goes to Mattel headquarters and she barges in, she sees that the whole boardroom, the president all the way to the C-suite and everyone all the way down is a man, right? And it's funny because Mattel's CEO right now is a man but if you don't know that, then it's kind of just like a, you know, it may have flown over your head. But they poke fun at themselves and sometimes it pays off; sometimes I'm like, okay, like this is… fine.

ASAKA MAE:

Self-awareness is such a tricky thing, right? So out of all the jabs and the reference and whatnot, what would you say is the most cringy scene, and the least cringy scene in this movie?

GABE SALAZAR:

The most cringy scene? Oh, I had two in mind, for two different reasons.

ASAKA MAE

Okay. I wanna, I wanna hear both of them.

GABE SALAZAR:

Okay. The first one is kind of a general kind of umbrella, which is like any scene with, like, Will Ferrell in it, I was just like, okay, this is kind of ridiculous.

ASAKA MAE

Uh, uh, Will? Wait, I'm sorry. Can you say that again?

GABE SALAZAR:

Any scene with Will Ferrell, the CEO or the president of Mattel, I just found it to be like, I don't know. I was like, I guess you're trying to prove a point that men are always kind of in control no matter what. A lot of men are behind the decisions that, um, kind of go behind businesses.

And then the second one, which is maybe a hot take, but I talked to my girlfriends about this and we all kind of like agreed in certain degrees. And it was the scene with America Ferrera and she is doing her iconic scene, or as people have said her iconic scene about feminism. Where she's in the weird Barbie house and she's talking about how— sorry, let me backtrack—

At this point in the movie, the Kens took over after Ryan Gosling's Ken found out about like misogyny and the patriarchy and brought it back to Barbie land and made all the other Barbies cater to men. So they're now in a weird Barbie house staging like a coup against the Kens to get back land, basically.

Right, and in that, in part of that, right, trying to rally people together, America Ferrera has this really emotional scene where she's talking about the double standards that women face, like, “you can be bossy, but you can't be a bitch” “you have to work and provide for your family, but you have to be there for your family all the time” so these like these double standards that are like very much like, kind of like Feminism 101, as I call it, like these are things I would find on like a mug being sold on Etsy after, like the pink [meowing sound effect] hat things.

ASAKA MAE:

So it’s basic.

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah, exactly. And then my friends were like, you know, this is really, like, entry level, right? I remember watching the movie and 30 minutes before the movie ends, I was like, “Where is this amazing speech that people are talking about?” And I didn't realize it was the one that America Fair had. I thought it was like a little bit cringe because it was like, this is super basic.

Like we could have went a step and above, you know, but then, right, I realized this is backed by a corporation. Like they are not going to go super like left wing and like go into fully detail about the plights that women have under the PGRD and you know, I realized that like, for this to work for a general audience, this kind of messaging is effective, right?

Cause this could be some young girl's awakening if they're not fully, always immersed in it, right? So, it's cringe, but at the same time, necessary cringe for like, the majority of people, you know?

ASAKA MAE:

Yeah, so obviously there's this like, role reversal, battles-of-the-sexes thing going on, which is like the main talking point of the movie, but can you elaborate on how it got to that point? Because so far I know that there was a pilgrimage to Venice Beach with the main Barbie, but when does Ken enter the picture exactly.

GABE SALAZAR:

Well, when they get to Venice Beach for the first time, he sees how Barbie's being treated and how he's being treated. Like, he thinks that someone asking him for the time is them, like, respecting him, which I guess he doesn't get in Barbieland.

The real world, the way people interact with Barbie, they're more patronizing and condescending and like, “Oh, you sweet girl, they were getting arrested because they stole outfits, because they didn't know that you had to pay for anything”. Barbie keeps getting catcalled. Ken gets ogled at, and they stop by, like, a bunch of construction workers, and Barbie is like, “Oh, I'm starting to feel kind of conscious, but not about others, but, like, myself.”

And she's basically talking about, like, feeling self conscious, but she didn't know the words to it, because she's never felt that in Barbie Land. There's another funny scene when they're, like, walking in Venice Beach, and Barbie looks up, and there's a billboard for, like, Miss America or Miss Universe, and the women are wearing, like, bikinis, and she's like, Oh my God.

They have an all female Supreme Court, not realizing it's like a Miss America, like, billboard. Oh my gosh.

ASAKA MAE:

So, Projection 101, basically, because I'm assuming a lot of people were like, No, you dumb blonde. Supreme Court justices will never dress like that. But, but the thing is, Barbie doesn't see a woman in a bikini and automatically discount the possibility that they're Supreme Court justices.

When society frames her as this, I couldn't quote, dumb blonde character, What they're putting up is a mirror to their own self fulfilling prophecies about how women should be.

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah, right. Like, we have such, like, distinct and kind of rigid understandings of, like, how a woman should dress, depending on her occupation, or, like, You know, most of the time Supreme Court justices are much older, and like, there's an expectation that like, a woman who's older should not wear revealing clothes, and so like, it kind of, Barbie's own thinking, right, and she's like, no, anyone can be a Supreme Court justice; doesn't matter what you wear.

ASAKA MAE:

Yeah, and I liked that. I liked that this movie doesn't equate traditional femininity, like, Wearing pink and glitter being dumb. It's like yeah, you can do that and you can also be in power I know there's like the other side to it Which is like how about like those of us who are not conventionally attractive or like hyper feminine Why do people want to see us in bikinis so badly in the first place?

But I guess that's, that's beyond the scope of the movie.

GABE SALAZAR:

Right, exactly. As much as we want everything to be representative of the world, ultimately this is like, by a huge corporation that always has to think about the bottom line. Setting realistic expectations about these movies is always great. You should not always look at the media that you consume to be kind of the lighthouse that guides your, like, thinking, writing.

ASAKA MAE:

Oh, yeah, completely. And, sorry, back to the plot lines. Okay, like, what, what does Ken think of all of this right off the bat?

GABE SALAZAR

Ken, on the other hand, is like, whoa, this is a great world goes to like a corporate building and sees businessmen like talking to each other and like fist bumping and then he goes to the library in the school and he sees like all these books about patriarchy, misogyny, horses. He, like, loves horses now which he like ties in with like masculinity.

ASAKA MAE

So, Barbie and Ken both go.

GABE SALAZAR

Essentially. And he like he's like, I want to like bring this back and like he's so he goes back to Barbie land. Tove all the other 10s about, you know, masculinity and like misogyny and all that stuff and They're like, oh yeah, now we can like, it's a men's rights activist moment, which is like gross, but, you know, it helps with understanding what they were trying to do with the film, which goes back to this coup that they're staging.

Also, I've been cursing out the wazoo, so if you can't have cursing, I will control myself.

ASAKA MAE:

Well, I don't think I noticed. I mean, if anything, I was like, You know, you work in a non profit, how PG should I be? But yeah, I don't mind

GABE SALAZAR:

And no, like I don't. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Wonderful.

ASAKA MAE:

And I do still want to get a better picture of how Greta Gerwig plays around with like the physical realm. ‘Cause yeah, you were saying that there are human characters and the doll characters and the human characters have higher power here and they're interacting in Venice Beach. But how, how exactly do the. Do the Barbies begin in like Sasha's childhood bedroom in her dollhouse?

GABE SALAZAR:

I think from the start there's supposed to be just like normal like human size because when she gets to Venice. It's not like she goes from like small to like big. It's not like in Life Size that movie with Tyra Banks, I don't know if you've seen it—

ASAKA MAE:

No.

GABE SALAZAR:

—Lindsay Lohan's character does magic and she grows in size I don't think that's what happened as far as I can remember. She's just automatically human size and running around. I'm about like the literal physical space. Every house is a Barbie dream house; all the Barbies live there and they point out, like, when Gloria and Sasha go into Barbieland to try to fix everything, but it's like, everything's open, people can see into each other's houses and it's like, yeah, well, it's a Barbie house; you open it, and you see the cross section, and that's what you get. So it's really cute, it's really fun, it's like, super bright and pink, obviously.

So the way the Barbies go into the human world, Barbie has to drive a car, and you see her going from like a car, to like a boat, to a spaceship, to like, a camper van. It's a really cute montage that basically goes through like the different kind of Barbies, like there's space Barbie, like sea, you know, ocean Barbie, I don't know the exact names of it. And then eventually you get to the real world.

ASAKA MAE:

Wow, so, so it's symbolic. Like, I mean, it's already symbolic, obviously, but like very, very, very symbolic. I feel like that is such a difficult thing to pull off, when there's two different realms and you're trying to infuse that into big human playing with little dolls, but you were saying that there's none of that.

GABE SALAZAR:

There's no, like, human, rational, scientific explanation on how to get there. You just see this, like, cardboard ocean wave or something, and then, plop, she's there, the human world, already human sized.

That's the same way that happens, what she brought Gloria and Sasha. Into the Barbie world. It's interesting how they did it. But I was like, I feel like this makes sense. It seems like a pretty seamless kind of transportation into both worlds.

ASAKA MAE:

I feel like that's also better, because I don't know. If I was like going to make a movie, that would be the first thing that like I would think about. But that's really cliche. Like the idea of those little figurines coming to life. Becoming like human size? Isn't that, isn't that what Toy Story did? Because I'm not kidding, I have not watched Toy Story either.

GABE SALAZAR:

Oh, okay. Well, Toy Story is just like the toys are the toys. They only grow in size. It's just like they come to life when their owner is not anywhere in their presence. Yeah, I'm trying to think if there's like any equivalent to it, but I don't know.

ASAKA MAE:

Well, thank you so much. You just filled in the blank for me.

Okay, so now I'm gonna try to summarize what you said and you tell me if I'm like remotely getting it right: So the movie starts in the Barbie world. The main character is just Barbie, everyone else is some sort of adjective Barbie and everyone seems to be coexisting peacefully. And then Barbie just starts having malaise. She goes to the weird Barbie who's like a sage. Which reminds me of the stray dog in any movie about dogs; they’re like “Oh, I've gone through so much under humans, but now I'm free. I'm not naive and I can tell you a thing or a two about societal whatever.” Is that what you’d say— that's accurate?

GABE SALAZAR:

I don’t know. I don't know. Like, I guess in a way, she basically says you can either fix this or don't and be Barbie — and she has like a high heel in her hand — or you can go into the real world — and it's like a Birkenstock. And then at the end of the movie, you see Barbie after she decides that she wants to be human and feel the pain and, like, the throes of life. Which I was like, “Girl, wrong choice. Wrong choice.” I'd rather not just be cute and pretty all day and, like, do nothing.

ASAKA MAE:

That's kind of based, though. I don't know, like, I've just been thinking about my own journey.

And yeah, this is the part that I'm gonna get personal. Just last week, I finally went off this one pill that I've been taking for a decade, and I was, like, holy [bleep], not only was it not helping me, it was actively making me worse. So, I've struggled with severe ADHD my whole life, which resulted in like a lot of emotional baggage that I'm still working through to this day. It used to manifest as really bad anxiety. The treatment options that were given to me growing up were band aid solutions. Like I had people pulling wool over my eyes, shoving antidepressants down my throat, willy nilly. My brain fog continued to dictate what I could do. I only felt a little bit better because I could make myself numb. There were certain points where I just couldn't cry and I could've sworn I lacked empathy.

My current medication cocktail, on the other hand, is amazing for keeping my cognitive issues under control. It's, it's easier to read, write, listen, even just speak. But there's a trade off, right? I cry more; it’s like my mind is still enough to sit with my pain instead of, like, carpooling into outer space. And I—, I still prefer that. I prefer this a hundred percent. Because it’s like, yeah, I could be absolutely [bleep]ing shattered, a total wreck, but I'll pick myself back up in no time. Whereas before, my cognitive issues just made it so much harder to make those practical, tangible changes in my life.

GABE SALAZAR:

I appreciate you sharing your own personal story because I think it's super important. Life— You know, I always talk to my friends about this and even like my uncle who's like a priest and he's like, listen, “Life is just pain.” I grew up Catholic, suffering is the name of the game, but it's just like, how do you go through life?

They try to put Barbie in the box, which is the box like famous because it's a way for like restraining the Barbies and like sending them back to Barbieland. But she runs away and stumbles upon like this floor where the creative Barbie, Ruth, is just sitting there in a beautiful kind of like home kitchen, which is like juxtaposed with like the very corporate building that she's in. She talks about how she has cellulite, she has these thoughts and Ruth goes, “I think you're just right.” That's a catalyst that makes her start thinking about whether or not she wants to be in Barbieland or you know, be in the real world.

And so she, like, after the whole debacle with Ken and they reclaim uh, uh, Barbieland, goes sees Ruth again. And Ruth asks her, like, “Do you really want to do this? There's a lot of pain in being human. Humans all die. Is this really what you want?” And there’s this beautiful montage, and this was really emotional, where you see flashbacks and scenes of girls and their mothers, like, being young. There was this hopeful feeling to it when you're seeing this flashback, and, you know, her choosing to be human, that she'd rather go through pains of humanity and misogyny and patriarchy than live in this plastic, cellophane kind of world. There's a scene later on where it pans down from her head to toe and the shoe that she's wearing is like a pink Birkenstock so I thought that was really cute of like, calling back to that moment in the beginning of the movie.

ASAKA MAE:

Right, because I think everyone, regardless of who they are, like at some point in their lives, will have to ask themselves, “Do I want to feel, do I want to feel alive and very sad sometimes or do I want to feel dead and never sad?” Like maybe you're choosing your carrier path, maybe you're choosing who you hang out with… Maybe you're just talking to your psychiatrist, which is far from, like, the quote unquote “easy way out” that some people assume it is. Like, I've been crying so much this month, but I still mean it when I say that I'm happy.

GABE SALAZAR:

You gotta find the, the good stuff, whether or not it's new, you know, medication cocktail, or if it's wearing the color pink. Whatever it is you can choose whether or not you can be happier, or find those little joys, and you know, you spoke on that, like there is a trade off, but at the end of the day, if I'm happier, then I'll take it.

ASAKA MAE:

Yeah, this really is an existential odyssey for Miss Barbie, but let me retrace the steps to there, because I want to make sure that I have the plot lines right, so that I walk away less oblivious than I was. When Ken comes along with Barbie to the human world, it's Ken's Barbie's friend, or is there something more going on?

GABE SALAZAR:

No, they are not dating, like, throughout the whole movie, like, Ken tried to, like, make a move on Barbie, and she was like, no thanks. Like, there's a point, there's a part where Ken is in Barbie's house, and I think Barbie's like, you don't live here, like, go home. And, yeah, essentially, and there's also another question that, like, Gloria asks, and she's like, “Where do the Kens live?” And Barbie goes, “I'm not sure” and so there's a clear feeling that the Barbies don't need them.

ASAKA MAE:

Okay, so Barbie and Ken both go to Savannah's beach and Barbie is doing that to comfort her human owners. But in their way, they're exposed to downfall of human society. So then Barbie and Ken goes to Benny's Beach kind of having learned a lot of things You know, that's that's when Ken started to replicating all the a hole men in Benny's Beach and, you know, Barbie and Ken hashes it out and then Barbie is given the option to go back into the human world. And she chooses to stay because of what she learned about being human.

GABE SALAZAR:

Yeah.

ASAKA MAE:

Well, amazing. Thank you so much for finally getting me up to speed on Barbie.

GABE SALAZAR:

Thanks for having me.

ASAKA MAE:

Thank you again, Gabe, taking the time to demystify Barbie to me.

GABE SALAZAR:

That was fun! Thank you!

ASAKA MAE:

THEME SONG: BRIGHT HAPPY PUNK ROCK MUSIC (PUNK PARTY) BY BRIGHTESTAVENUE FADES IN

Alright, that's a wrap for the first episode of Under the Rock. I don't know about you guys, but I am entering my Pink Birkenstock Era! If you are also Based and Humanpilled, this podcast is for you. Make sure to follow us at @UnderTheRockPod on Instagram for more details to come. Thank you for tuning in and hope to see you all soon!

THEME SONG: BRIGHT HAPPY PUNK ROCK MUSIC (PUNK PARTY) BY BRIGHTESTAVENUE FADES OUT

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Asaka Mae
Under the Rock
Join Asaka Mae, a tryhard journalism undergrad, as she catches up on her never-ending to-watch list with a little help from her friends. What ensues is a spirited discussion about media, psychology, and the age-old question: does life imitate art? Meet them under the rock, every other Friday, for movie spoilers that don’t stink.
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