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My big day out as Barbie’s boyfriend: ‘Is topless mermaid Ken a step too far?’

By Rich Pelley

13 Jul 2023 · 8 min read

informed Summary

  1. The upcoming Barbie film, starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, is expected to drive strong female leads and Barbiecore fashion. The movie's tagline, "She's everything. He's just Ken," has sparked memes and discussions about the secondary role Ken has always played in Barbie's world.

Everybody wants to be a Barbie. But who wants to be a Ken? Barbie’s on/off boyfriend has happily remained in the background since 1961, with Barbie hogging the spotlight and glory. He is there to support Barbie, listen to her laugh and cry. But he has clearly drifted into the dreaded “friend zone” and, with a lack of plastic packed down his pants, there is no chance of upgrading their relationship to that of friends with benefits. Imagine the frustration!

Even the Ken from the forthcoming Barbie film, played by Ryan Gosling, seems dutifully aware of his role in life: making Margot Robbie’s Barbie look good, with no rewards, physical or otherwise. The movie’s tagline: “She’s everything. He’s just Ken,” has spawned memes on everyone from Princess Diana and Prince Charles to Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker. The insinuation is: for every alpha Barbie, there is a beta Ken behind them, and even Ken knows it. As he says in the trailer: “I just don’t know who I am without you.” “You’re Ken,” Barbie replies. “But it’s Barbie and Ken. There is no just Ken.”

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