The “Barbie Snub” Isn’t Misogyny—Here’s Why

Every year, there’s talk of which films have been “snubbed” at the Oscars. But this year’s nominations set the internet ablaze when fan favorites Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie were shut out of their respective categories.

By Jillian Schroeder5 min read

Despite topping the box office by a high margin and becoming the go-to topic of conversation in 2023, Barbie didn’t bring in all the nominations it was expected to. Greta Gerwig, considered a shoo-in nominee, failed to make the Best Director list, and Robbie’s performance as Barbie failed to receive recognition – and their fans really aren’t happy about it.

The critics of this year’s Oscars have been crying that the snubs are an example of misogyny and sexism in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s yet another example of the woke narrative of oppression, wherein men supposedly control women and put them down to maintain power. But here’s the truth: The Barbie snubs aren’t an example of misogyny, and the resulting backlash reveals everything wrong with the woke narrative of history.

The Barbie Backlash Shows That Not Even Woke People Are Woke Enough

Imagine women made a movie to empower women to be their best selves, and people loved it – spent literal billions to watch the film over and over. Then imagine that the women who made the film got passed over for the biggest movie award in the industry, and, worst of all, the film’s male star received recognition. Whether that’s actually what happened at the Oscars nominations, that’s what most fans took away, and they took to the internet to express themselves.

Yes, you read that right. Even former presidential candidate and First Lady Hillary Clinton took to social media to console Gerwig and Robbie over the perceived slight – a slight which, to be clear, neither woman has expressed they feel. Videos of girls crying to the tune of “What Was I Made For” were circulating TikTok faster than you can say “Barbie’s Dreamhouse.” It’s the typical woke response – the failure to nominate Gerwig and Robbie must indicate a systemic oppression of women.

It’s not that Barbie wasn’t snubbed, exactly. Any time a deserving film or artist fails to be nominated, it can be considered a snub. From Alfred Hitchcock’s failure to ever win Best Director to Judy Garland’s and Cary Grant’s failures to ever win Best Performance, Oscar snubs are hardly new. In this case, I personally do think that both women deserved a nomination in these categories, even more than some who did receive them. While I share the disappointment with Barbie lovers, it’s certainly not new. I’m still smarting from Top Gun: Maverick losing Best Picture last year.

Here’s the problem with the Barbie outrage: It assumes that only misogyny could explain the exclusion of Gerwig and Robbie in the nominations. Misogyny means disdain for women, and yet this year’s Director category includes Justine Triet, a woman nominated for her film Anatomy of a Fall. All five nominees for Best Actress are, in fact, biological women. Even America Ferrara, who gave the monologue that feminists were obsessed with, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Barbie. She's also a woman of color who isn't the stereotypical beautiful thin blonde like Margot that they would typically be upset about being nominated. Misogyny would mean the exclusion of women because they are women, which, clearly, is not the case. If Gerwig and Robbie weren’t nominated, there were reasons – maybe even bad ones – but plain old misogyny can’t be one of them.

But then the Barbie backlash spun even further out of control when people online started criticizing the backlash for not being woke enough.

Barbie lovers themselves came under fire for caring more about the “exclusion of white nominees” than that of other contenders, such as Greta Lee in Past Lives, Fantasia Barrino in The Color Purple, or Charles Melton in May December. Turns out, feminist outrage isn’t enough, and outrage over “white snubs” is a snub in and of itself. Does this criticism sound familiar? It should. In 2015, a series of similar criticisms trended under the hashtag “OscarsSoWhite,” claiming that the Oscars were biased in favor of white artists and films.

The backlash resulting from the Gerwig and Robbie snubs is a mess of ironies and inconsistencies because, ultimately, woke criticisms are about creating division, not equality. The critics who are trying to resurrect calls of racism are ignoring this year’s incredibly diverse slate of acting nominations. Those who are censuring the Academy for misogyny are overlooking that more female-directed films are nominated for Best Picture than ever before in the Academy’s history. Many of the same critics who are decrying Robbie’s snub for Best Actress are the same who are pushing to dispense with gendered acting awards at all. Ironically, the Academy erasing gendered awards altogether and making Best Actor for men and women a combined category would be the most misogynist thing yet.

The problem with oppression narratives is that every honor given to one person is considered a slight to someone else. It’s a cycle of antagonism designed to be impossible to break out of.

The biggest irony behind the whole backlash, though? Both Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie are, in fact, nominated for Barbie. Gerwig is nominated with her husband and co-writer Noah Baumbach for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Robbie is nominated (also with her husband Tom Ackerley) as producer for Best Picture. That means that both women still have a chance to win an Oscar for Barbie – and when push comes to shove, an Oscar is an Oscar no matter what category.

Ryan Gosling’s Response Proves That Nobody Wants Men To Be Ken

If there’s one good thing to come out of the Barbie backlash fiasco, it’s Ryan Gosling’s response to all the drama. After the initial rush of tweets and comments criticizing the Academy’s choice to nominate Gosling for Ken but not Robbie for Barbie, people started calling for Gosling to forfeit his nomination in protest. Instead, the actor responded in the least Ken-like manner possible.

After expressing gratitude for his nomination, Gosling then expressed his respect for Gerwig’s and Robbie’s work on the film: “No recognition would be possible for anyone on the film without their talent, grit and genius.” He then expressed disappointment in their lack of nomination, but did so without criticizing those who did receive recognition: “Their work should be recognized along with the other very deserving nominees.”

Gosling’s response reflects the calm professionalism of a man who is confident in his masculinity. No accusations of misogyny or oppression – just a statement of his personal disappointment and his deep respect for the women with whom he worked. Gosling responded like a masculine man should – by showing honor to women without belittling himself or his own achievements. In fact, when it comes to nominations, Gosling has further made it clear that “he is not going to be swayed by what people are saying online.” Gosling’s response is respectful without being ingratiating and is the factor most missing from the “Oscar snub” conversation so far. 

Interestingly, this balanced response comes from a man who is devoted to his own partner and children. Gosling met actress Eva Mendes on the set of The Place Beyond the Pines, and has stated that he knew Mendes was the one because “I wasn’t thinking about kids before I met her, but after I met Eva, I realized that I just didn’t want to have kids without her.” 

Since that time, Gosling has continued to express pride in being both a husband and the father of their two daughters. In 2017, Gosling dedicated his Golden Globe to “my lady who was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second, and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer. If she hadn’t taken all that on so that I could have this experience, it would surely be someone else up here other than me today.” It’s no surprise that a man who has shown such commitment and public devotion to his own family would model a respect for his female co-workers that does not diminish his own achievements.

Women Make History at the Oscars and They Always Have

Cries of systemic misogyny at the Academy aren’t just out of place in 2024, though. They reflect a poor understanding of the role women have played in forming the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the history women have consistently made in the movies

In 1927, actors and filmmakers were viewed as cheapskate artists and immoral people (a perception they, to this day, haven’t quite shaken). A group of movie moguls discussed creating a film Academy to award excellence in film as a way to elevate the status of filmmakers. A group of the most important people in the movie business signed the Academy into existence, among them film star and producer Mary Pickford and screenwriters Bess Meredyth and Jeanie McPhearson.

There’s no better example of women’s importance in the movies and the Academy than plucky actress Mary Pickford. Winner of the second Best Actress award ever presented, Pickford is sometimes considered the first real movie star. Yet her importance lay not only in her fame, which she shared with her action star husband Douglas Fairbanks. Pickford was a shrewd businesswoman who helped to found her own production studio, United Artists. Pickford’s inclusion as a founding member of the Academy wasn’t lip service. Her voice was one of the most powerful in Hollywood throughout her career, shaping her own stories and career just as she helped to shape the Academy.

Neither is Pickford an exception to the rule. Academy Award nominations since the early days of the Oscars indicate the important contributions women have made in moviemaking. The person with the most acting nominations of all time is Meryl Streep, a woman, and the person who has won the most acting awards is Katharine Hepburn, again a woman. Only one person, Emma Thompson, has ever won an Oscar for Best Screenplay and Best Acting. These are but a few of the award statistics that illustrate a simple fact: The Academy Awards have consistently recognized women’s excellence in film. 

Closing Thoughts

Women have been making history at the Oscars since the Academy was formed, and the snubs of Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie this year have not changed that fact. Instead, the resulting series of internet backlashes reminds us of woke criticism’s inherent inconsistencies. Ultimately, looking for misogyny and discrimination isn’t about giving credit where credit is due – it’s about sowing division to support the woke narrative of history.

Evie deserves to be heard. Support our cause and help women reclaim their femininity by subscribing today.