Big Jim, the great missing character from the Barbie movie

Neither superheroes nor Indiana Jones succeeded. It was the film “Barbie” directed by Greta Gerwig with the famous Mattel doll in the title role that really brought moviegoers back to the cinema after the pandemic.

The film, on top of everything else, not only became a blockbuster (at the time of writing, its fees worldwide exceeded a billion dollars), but also caused a heated discussion about the relationship between a man and a woman.

And to say that in some ways the film can only be considered “The Last Action Hero” to have made it.

In the 1993 film, an obscure meta-narrative from critics and directed by action master John McTiernan, little boy Danny Madigan (Austin O’Brien) first entered the world of Jack Slater (the ironic Arnold Schwarzenegger), the great action hero, and these in the so-called a “real” action movie in which bullets can be fatal even for the hero.

Here the protagonist is a blonde stereotype Barbie (Margot Robbie) who lives with all the other Barbies in Barbieland, a matriarchal society in which the Kens are only their appendages, but the stereotypical Ken Barbie (Ryan Gosling) begins to question the goodness of this social model.

In addition, the depressive thoughts of a former child who played with her (Gloria, played by America Ferrera, but her name and the fact that she is now an adult will be revealed later) cause changes in her ideal body, and so she travels (with Ken ) stalks Gloria around the world and first runs into her daughter Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt), who instead hates what Barbie symbolizes and calls her “fascist”, upsetting her.

In the so-called “real” world (in fact, on closer inspection, this is our parody version), Ken discovers the power of patriarchy, develops class consciousness, and, back in Barbieland, makes a (quick) revolution along with the other Kens. But the return of the Stereotypical Barbie with Gloria and Sasha fails, and the Restoration ensues.

It’s a controversial film, perhaps also intentionally: Ken’s Revolution is too simple, the Counter-Revolution happens through the use of Barbie’s seductive powers, those that in (genuinely) patriarchal eras were called “women’s arts” and the bow. the narrative of many characters (such as the doll Allan, played by the always very good Michael Cera, who is supposed to be Barbie’s gay friend, but it’s not very clear) remains unresolved.

And how does Barbie know that the word ‹‹fascist›› is an insult? Among other things, here the term is used quite desemantically: even under the influence of LSD (whose psychedelic properties were not discovered until 1943, two years before his death), Mussolini could imagine something like Barbieland.

However, many children have always understood the theme of the film.

Ken, at least to most girls of the past, was never really seen as Barbie’s boyfriend: even if the term “friend zone” only became popular thanks to the comedy series Friends in the late nineties, the boys saw him as a classic friend Song by Max Pezzali ‹‹ Rule of a friend>>, his discontent is destined to remain so.

And in fact, at least until the late eighties, Barbie’s ideal partner was not Ken, but Big Jim, in some ways the great missing from the film, a kind of third side of the triangle, also produced by Mattel in the early seventies. and late eighties.

Big Jim was everything that Ken isn’t: heroic, brilliant, adventurous rather than sporty, with an A-Team mobile base camper (a camper that at least two generations of kids have been drooling over).

Of course, he had a disadvantage in size: he was much shorter than Barbie (but at least in this case, size mattered relative).

For years, kids have made Barbie “borrow” Big Jim; they were the heroes of their worlds, like the alliance (sometimes realized in the comics) between Superman and Wonder Woman.

This may no longer be the case, but in the ideal female world of little girls, the men of the past are secondary characters, Ken-style pieces of furniture. While women simply do not exist in a male universe, adventures in which the hero is a James Bond-style womanizer are most likely teenage fantasies. It is no coincidence that comic book editor Sergio Bonelli, when writing the stories of his character Zagor, an avenger in early 19th century America, did not include women for years (he did this only at the urgent request of readers): in the script, his adventures were a way to return to games in childhood (and in fact In fact, he put in a lot of ideas from movies and comics that he liked).

Although his other famous character, the pilot Mr. No, is a seducer, he drew on himself at an older age when creating him.

The success of ‹‹Barbie>> leads to new films about the company’s toys, perhaps a universe of related films such as Marvel is born: who knows if we’ll ever see a crossover between Barbie and Big Jim.

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