Opening up the ‘Barbie’ movies through a queer Marxist lens with YouTuber Alexander Ávila

The Barbie cinematic universe began in 2001 and, at the time of writing, has so far produced 43 films. While some of you may consider Barbie’s legacy to be small, the franchise helped pioneer the media of the early 2000s and spread the use of audio-visual animation. Barbie has introduced millions of children into the red universe that has put our beloved protagonist in a variety of professions: doctor, teacher, writer and Vice President candidate. For an entire generation, Barbie the ideal form of escapism.

Until now, the films, although appreciated by many, have not called for much critical analysis or academic discussion. However, a YouTuber has taken it upon himself to reveal and reveal different themes from within the franchise.

Hi Alexander Avilais an undergraduate student at Boston University concentration in science, with interests in sociological science, critical theory, political sociology and media. He is also the brain behind the YouTube channel (now called AreTheyGay and now named after the creator) which now boasts over 365,000 subscribers.

Ávila has a literary style: “Social analysis… but gay?”, as he explains. His latest invention? To analyze and research the various challenges and contextualisation of the Barbie film franchise—the final summer project.

Queer YouTube for the masses

Avila The eponymous YouTube channel hosts many videos He thought of two TV or movie characters—for example, the cartoon characters Sherlock Holmes and John Watson—and asked himself one question: “Are they Gay?”. Although following this specific method has been successful in the past, the YouTuber decided to change his approach, experimenting with long-term content in order to provide deeper sociological perspectives.

After all, Ávila has been running the video sharing platform for seven years now, which explains why he wants to publish different topics in his mission to find important issues and cultural events that have an impact on the LGBTQIA+ community. .

His latest video, released on 30 August 2022 and titled How Spotify Created Gay Culture, Try this new content. Always putting a lot of time and effort into his videos in order to present anthropological arguments through a queer sociological lens while simultaneously entertaining his viewers, in this particular video, Avila addressed the question: “Why is music better than other music. ?”

The YouTuber conducted a detailed study in which members of the LGBTQIA+ community were presented with two anonymous playlists, one containing LGBTQIA+ music (Playlist 1) and the other music from Spotify’s top playlist (Playlist 2). They were then asked to choose a list that they thought had been put together by an LGBTQIA+ person.

When the votes were tallied, 69.9 percent of people believed that Playlist 1, which was edited by a stranger, was perceived by the community as “gayer.” Avila went into further detail as to why certain types of music are recognized, noting that many of the so-called ‘queer’ songs simply represent different segments of society. , such as white men.

And it seems Avila’s new diet was not injured.In most of his video comments, viewers shared messages praising the YouTuber’s work and dedication, thank you. to him for helping to rekindle their interest in queer academia and the creation of unique and important experiences.

Below How Spotify Created Gay Culture, One person wrote: “Thank you for another amazing video. The way you make these difficult and educational concepts accessible, fun, and easy to understand is amazing. I really appreciate it. in all the work you are doing.

Barbie, from a new angle

While Ávila’s videos are successful in educating and educating viewers, there is one thing that stuck out to me. In January 2022, the thinker uploaded a video to his channel called Analyzing Barbie Movies with Queer Marxist Theory. The 48-minute long video has received more than 800,000 views.

In it, Ávila touches on many topics that are left before animated films. Most notable is the way in which Barbie films subvert conventional film conventions by avoiding, or undermining, the ‘male gaze’.

As you already know, the ‘male face‘ is often criticized, particularly by feminist film critics, for prioritizing the needs and desires of the heterosexual male. Audiences are forced to look at women from a male perspective, resulting in a high standard of movie theater that devalues ​​women’s identity.

However, when it comes to the Barbie cinematic universe, the most important relationships shown in the movies are the relationships between Barbie herself and her female friends. Although heterosexual relationships exist in the universe, they are not the main focus of the films or the driving force behind Barbie’s actions and decisions.

But the films promote self-determination and female friendships. As Avila explains, they are also an important place where young women can move from a male gaze, to a female gaze to validate their knowledge and feelings.

Referring to SCREENSHOT, Ávila shared his first work on the idea of ​​the They Are Gay video series at age 15 or 16. After starting to read The great gatsby in class, Avila recalled, “I was immersed in fandom culture and ship culture and I was pretty good at picking up gay words in all kinds of media. But for some reason, in my while in class, debating whether or not Nick loves Gatsby, I really enjoyed picking out specific words and textual evidence of Nick’s queerness.

The YouTuber explained: “I’m good at making a case. I thought, like me, reading gay words in the media but it’s worth the time to tell/explain done in a clear manner.’ So I started down the path of being a voice for others.

After posting 28 videos in the They are Gay series, the YouTuber decided to take a new approach. He explained, “I was already thinking about changing the channel They Are Gay to have a more queer sociological perspective, and I think Barbie is a good time for that because the Barbie brand is a cultural phenomenon everywhere and it’s easy to make fun of.

He continued, “I didn’t realize the video was a Marxist genre at the time until I started reading the top book on Barbie and realized the sociological power of watching Barbie movies. Then I jumped at the chance to teach my people about Antonio Gramsci.

In his description of the Barbie movie franchise, Avila points to a bed of academic literature on this idea: “I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to use Neo-Marxism to talk about Barbie, and I’m not surprised to find a large group of cultural activists working on Barbie . However, my main takeaway is that sociological theory doesn’t have to be boring, useless, esoteric, or cold.

“By analyzing the cultural objects that are closest and dearest to us, and with a little humor, it’s really easy and fun to get involved in science! I think this video shows us that it is possible to have a strong social opinion in a wide and appealing way.

When asked if he had any concerns or doubts about closing the They Are Gay chapter, Avila stood by his decision, saying, My audience has grown with me, and I think they will appreciate the change as their opinions and interests mature. And it’s bringing in new viewers who might not find queer sociology anywhere else!

And if there is any confusion about which movie Barbie is really ‘the gayest’, Avila has the answer for you, “That’s it Barbie and the Diamond Castle. Cottagecore lesbians!”

By the manufacturer The conclusion stated at the end of her recording is clear: Barbie is a “floating symbol.” The brand doesn’t have a unique or fixed meaning — while we can appreciate and appreciate the ways in which Barbie honors certain women’s bodies and styles, we can see how style has a significant impact on fashion. helping young people find their identity.

As for what’s to come, Avila ended the interview with one promise: “The next video might be Marxist or post-structuralist…

The future of Barbie

Innovations in the universe of Barbie have increased the company’s commitment to different shows within the brand. In May 2022, Laverne Cox made history by helping to inspire the The first transgender Barbie doll. At that time, the Orange is the New Black actor with Today parents She’s thrilled to help inspire this movement toward full inclusion, “Barbie was a really healing experience for me as an adult, and I hope it can be for all Barbie fans.” of all ages to find healing and strength in this baby.”

In other events, the manufacturer of Barbie, Mattel, has worked to create dolls that are not only physically fit, but also maintain professional qualities. In 2018, she launched a series of dolls with the theme ‘woman in space‘—a move the company hopes will encourage young girls to pursue careers in aerospace and STEM.

As it turns out, Barbie continues to resonate with children and adults to this day. The importance of this brand, and the film franchise associated with it, cannot be denied. In 2023, Barbie will be adapted into a live-action, star-studded Hollywood movie. With A-listers like Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling and Simu Liu in attendance, it’s sure to help maintain and increase the Barbie’s legacy.

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