The entertainment industry has witnessed a significant shift in recent years as the influence of marginalized communities has grown, and their voices have become increasingly heard. Most notably, the gay movie audience has emerged as a powerful force, capable of driving success for films that resonate with our unique experiences and perspectives. To that point, one thing is for sure, this summer’s billion-dollar-earning “Barbie” movie starring Margot Robbie owes much of its box office success to …wait for it…THE GAYS!
Representation matters, and more than a month before the “Barbie” movie was released, the gays were representin’ — through festive clever, hot pink marketing gimmicks that began popping up at popular gay bars, clubs, and events across the country. Simultaneously, first-look images of a shirtless Ryan Gosling reimagined as a platinum-haired Ken doll sent boys’ hearts fluttering on multiple gay social media sites.
Early in the summer, there was an online barrage of Barbie photo filters and hashtags, excited fan-generated content from top LGBTQ+ influencers, and a buzz-worthy rumor of a transgender doll in the film, which signaled this would not be your grandma’s Barbie movie. All this digital word-of-mouth amplification contributed significantly to the film’s successful historic opening weekend.
Also, I would be remiss not to mention the mere casting of Margot Robbie as Barbie — seemingly an immediate home run with the gay male audience right out of the box. Robbie became a favorite with the boys in 2018 when she wowed us in her Oscar-nominated portrayal of disgraced ice skater Tonya Harding. In what had the potential to be a high-camp, over-the-top performance, Robbie approached the role with cerebral depth and skill, making Tonya a far more sympathetic character than she was known to have been at the time of her downfall.
But back to “Barbie” and why this film has resonated deeply with the gay audience, Barbie’s history is that of a girl with a limitless imagination, a bit like every contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race. And for so many gay men of a certain age, we can remember playing with our sisters’ or cousins’ Barbies until someone hurled the word “sissy” at us. At which point, we’d promptly drop the Barbie and pick up a G.I. Joe instead. Ironically, G.I. Joe turned many of us gay much faster than that damn Barbie doll ever could.
By exploring themes such as self-acceptance, gender identity, and breaking societal norms, “Barbie” the movie speaks directly to the feelings of misplacement and struggles often faced by LGBTQ+ individuals or even those who feel inadequate or flawed in a society that celebrates physical perfection. That dynamic was not overlooked in the film, most effectively presented by the character of “Weird Barbie,” hilariously portrayed by Kate McKinnon.
From a fashion standpoint, many boys are always looking for a reason to rock hot pink anything, from sneakers to hair highlights and everything in between. So the mere idea of hanging with Barbie for an hour and a half, adorned in a fashion palette of pink everything was an irresistible proposition.
On a more tangible note, the gay movie audience has repeatedly proven that its support can lead to commercial success. Recent examples such as “Call Me by Your Name,” “Love, Simon,” and “Rocketman” drive the point home. These films have not only received critical acclaim but have also performed exceptionally well at the box office. The “Barbie” movie follows suit with the gay consumer audience, as it proves the invaluable contribution of underrepresented communities in shaping the landscape of modern cinema.
So if you haven’t seen “Barbie” yet, get to the theater, represent, and have a gay ol’ time! But if you don’t want to, that’s fine. According to every trade paper in Hollywood, the movie is already a certified blockbuster, so our work here is done.
It’s like our girl Samantha Jones said on “Sex And the City,” as she acknowledged the power of our pink influence, “First come the gays, then the girls, then … the industry!”