The Most Impressive Feat in the ‘Barbie’ Trailer Is Barbie’s Feet
Exactly seven seconds into the second teaser trailer for Barbie, something truly breathtaking happens: Barbie’s feet (played by Margot Robbie’s feet) walk into frame and step out of a pair of pink high-heeled shoes. And then her feet retain that inhumanly graceful downward slope; the permanent Barbie-foot shape that ensures her teensy feet will fit into every pair of plastic high-heels manufactured by Mattel. It’s the same shape we see when a little kid goes up on the balls of their feet to mimic wearing high-heels; an endearingly naive pantomime of adult womanhood.
It is at this exact moment that I let out an audible gasp. I showed the trailer to my sister, who is seven years younger and inherited many of my Barbies. When she saw Barbie’s feet step out of the heels and retain their impossible shape, she, too, audibly gasped. I’m almost certain that if you are a sentient human being with even the slightest conceptualization of Barbie, you gasped at her feet, too. The moment is so brief and seemingly small, but in those fleeting seconds, Greta Gerwig asserts that she is the only person for the job. Not that we needed much—if any—persuading.
In that tiny moment, Gerwig, who wrote and directed Barbie, seizes on something so incredibly essential about The Doll. She understands our cultural fascination with Barbie and the spellbinding power she has on children. She captures our preoccupation with Barbie’s body parts, which defy biology and lack any sort of practicality. Barbie isn’t an aspirational figure, but she is awe-inspiring. If you needed any proof that Greta Gerwig fucking nailed it, look no further than Barbie’s feet.
In approximately two seconds, Greta Gerwig did for Margot Robbie’s feet what Quentin Tarantino could never. I love Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, for what it’s worth, but the point stands: There’s only one movie starring Margot Robbie as an historical icon and complicated object of cultural fascination that successfully presents her feet as a symbol of our personal obsession.
Never in my life have I felt so seen and understood. Greta Gerwig didn’t have to struggle to pry open our collective consciousness to see what we see when we gaze upon Barbie’s exaggerated vinyl form. It’s the opposite of the visceral feeling you have watching David Cronenberg’s body horror. It’s body wonder. As in “I wonder how the hell she does this.”
Oh, and Ken is also there.
(featured image: Warner Bros.)
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