10 ‘Barbie’ Easter eggs you might have missed

If you spotted all of these, win a pair of Camping Fun Ken binoculars

Written by
Kaleem Aftab
Photograph: Warner Bros.

By now you have seen Barbie (and if you haven’t stop, reading and go to the cinema now) and delighted in the fact that director Greta Gerwig has created a film that not only has a brilliant plot but is full of amazing pop cultural references. Fans will be searching for Easter Eggs for years. Here are ten of our favourite cultural moments we spotted from the movie, from amazing costumes to movie references, and then the more political subtexts including digs at incel culture, the fragility of men and world politics. 

Photograph: Warner Bros.

Barbie toy history

The film is full of costumes and characters that have been released in the Barbie range since the doll first appeared in 1959. The first costume we see is the original Barbie swimsuit. Discontinued toys such as Midge, a discontinued pregnant Barbie played by Emerald Fennell, Tanner the Golden Retriever, Growing up Skipper (Barbie’s sister), who went through puberty and grew breasts in 1975 is rectified, as is Barbie’s short lived little sister Tutti, and Video Girl Barbie with a hidden camera. Barbie aficionados will have a field day. 

That controversial map of China 

Barbie was banned in Vietnam and caused much controversy with some Republican politicians because of a hand drawn map depicting the world supporting disputed Chinese territorial claims to the South China Sea. The fact that this map was in Barbie Land is in fact an incredibly sly reference to many of the dolls being ‘Made in China’.

Photograph: Warner Bros.

Movies, Movies, Movies

The opening scene is a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, and then Greta Gerwig references everything from The Shining, Back to the Future, The Truman Show, The Wizard of Oz, Grease, The Matrix, High School Musical, Toy Story, The Godfather, and Pride & Prejudice. There are even references to other Barbie movies such as 2005’s Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus.  

The pretty but vacant best friend

Allan, played by Michael Cera, is Barbie’s secret weapon, but it’s also a character who has nothing to do. Gerwig surreptitiously plays on how women in movies, and culture generally, have often been depicted as best friend’s with nothing else to do. 

The Jordan Peterson take-down 

The Canadian academic and author’s book ‘12 Rules for Life’ is a guide to living that has been criticised for naturalising and rationalising the patriarchal order. When Ken goes to the real world, he buys similar books which leads to him becoming a ‘dude’ who embraces masculinity. 

Ken’s costumes and Capitol Rioters

Ryan Gosling has been rightly praised for his brilliant and ironic depiction of Ken. Many of his costumes has been inspired by actual dolls, but when he transforms into a more macho Ken, the mink coat, and Indian headgear alludes to Trump-supporting Capitol Hill rioters. 

Photograph: Warner Bros.

The symbolic horses

Horses are the ultimate symbol of elite masculinity in the real world. The Kens love of horses – a motif in the second half of the movie – nods to idea of stallions as the epitome of manhood. This is reinforced by Ken’s fur coat, a replica of the one worn by the ultimate Italian Stallion, Sylvester Stallone.  

The Barbie-fied Mount Rushmore

The four figures depicted on Mount Rushmore were originally chosen as the Presidents who have done the most to shape modern America. In Barbie they’re replaced by four Barbie dolls and four horses showing how gender remains a great divide in America, where to date there has never been a female president. Movies from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier to Team America: World Police have often changed the presidents to show a new world order. 

The Bible creation story

Barbie creator Ruth Handler (played by Rhea Perlman) gives Barbie a cup of tea, and their hands touch. A reference to Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’ when God gives life to the first man. The film itself plays with the creation myth: Barbie is created before Ken, and like in the Adam and Eve tale, her problems begin when she commits a sin. 

Barbie branding everywhere 

The film has a plethora of ‘B’ logos everywhere, on clothes and in set designs. Gerwig hasn’t revealed how many times the ‘B’ symbol appears. It’s the ultimate branding symbol and with life mimicking art, just as Barbie branding is everywhere in the movie, it’s now everywhere we look around us too, as Barbie has in fact taken over the world (in cinemas for this summer at least)

Time Out’s official verdict on Barbie

The 10 films to watch now you’ve seen Barbie.

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