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Don’t Blame The Patriarchy For Ryan Gosling’s ‘Barbie’ Oscar Nomination

Next to Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig’s milquetoast feminism, Ryan Gosling was a breakout star who deserved a nomination.

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The 2024 Academy Awards nominations were announced Tuesday morning, and two significant women were missing from the nominations list.

“Barbie” stars Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig did not receive nominations for Best Actress and Best Director, respectively. Robbie and Gerwig’s nominations were assumed to be locked down given the universal buzz over this summer’s blockbuster feminist film. This omittance was met with much criticism — even the film’s “Ken,” Ryan Gosling chimed in with his disappointment.

“Barbie” wasn’t left empty-handed, receiving eight nominations. Ryan Gosling, who played Ken, earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and America Ferrara earned a nom for Best Supporting Actress in her role as Gloria. The movie also earned not one but two nominations in the Best Original Song category.

Writer and director Greta Gerwig isn’t even completely forgotten as many claim, for “Barbie” received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Much of the outrage stems from disbelief that the movie’s main character and renowned director were snubbed nominations for their female empowerment film, paired with the irony of the Academy nominating Ken’s goofy, patriarchy-loving side character.

Critics and fans fail to comprehend these nominations are for performance, not the social justice issues they stand for. The Academy did not snuff feminism and praise misogyny. Competition across all categories was tough this season, and the Academy simply recognized Gosling for his performance in an arguably harder role to pull off.

We are set up to love Barbie and be annoyed by Ken. As the movie progresses, Barbie’s character arc follows a basic structure: She starts perfect but shallow, faces a problem, and transforms into a woman who is … still perfect but somewhat less shallow.

Ken, however, was the harder role to pull off. Ken was framed to be a “himbo” following Barbie around like a lost puppy. When Ken literally discovers “the patriarchy,” viewers are meant to be disgusted by Ken and the other Kens for basking in masculinity.

Instead, Gosling created a breakout role that engaged audiences and served as a refreshing reset button when the film became oversaturated with milquetoast feminism. Whether Gerwig intended it or not, Gosling’s performance as Ken proved more memorable and entertaining than anything Robbie could’ve produced with the material she had to work with. Compared to Barbie’s pretty standard character arc, Ken’s story made audiences ponder the complexities of the male experience in a world that penalizes their inherent maleness.

After six months, can we finally admit that “Barbie” was not a groundbreaking piece of feminist commentary, but a fun, colorful ad for Mattel with surface-level feminist talking points? The entire internet agreed Barbie was great before the movie came out, and people have only started admitting it wasn’t all that.

And no, the movie doesn’t fall short for reasons of political outrage on either side. The film didn’t lose because the casting directors cast a man to portray Doctor Barbie or audiences had to be hit on the head with a feminist monologue about women in society. 

“Barbie’s” lead actress and director ultimately lost out because they didn’t hold a candle to the other nominees during this fiercely competitive film season. 

Compared to nominees Emma Stone, who portrayed Bella Baxter in “Poor Things” — a role for which she recently received a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy — or Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart in “Killers of a Flower Moon” — a role that won her Golden Globe for Best Actress in Motion Picture Drama — Robbie’s heartfelt performance as Barbie proved not “Kenough” for the Academy.

As for Gerwig, competition in the Best Director category was no easier. Historically, directors of comedic and lighthearted films don’t earn nominations in this category, let alone win them. 

Gosling’s Ken subverted all expectations we were told to have about his character. When the framing tried to tell us Ken was a one-dimensional “straight white man,” Gosling injected soul and complex emotion into this character set up for failure. For that, he was rewarded with a coveted Oscar nomination.


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