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This Blog’s Everything. He’s Just Ken.

By Kallie Stahl 

To quote the band Aqua, “I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie world.”

If you’ve read Shawn Proctor’s blog, or you’ve seen the numerous memes surrounding this summer’s biggest rival, then you know it’s Oppenheimer vs. Barbie. Proctor covered Christopher Nolan’s film on Wednesday, and I felt Barbie deserved equal coverage. After all, she’s everything. He’s just Ken.

"Barbie" film poster. Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Short Review:

Both films hit theatres Friday, July 21. I didn’t score tickets to an early screening of Barbie (as Proctor did with Oppenheimer), so I’ll leave the review to Manohla Dargis of the New York Times:

“Like Air, Ben Affleck’s recent movie about how Nike signed Michael Jordan, as well as other entertainments tethered to their consumer subjects, Barbie can only push so hard. These movies can’t damage the goods, though I’m not sure most viewers would want that; our brands, ourselves, after all. That said, [director] Greta Gerwig does much within the material’s inherently commercial parameters, though it isn’t until the finale — capped by a sharply funny, philosophically expansive last line — that you see the Barbie that could have been. Gerwig’s talents are one of this movie’s pleasures, and I expect that they’ll be wholly on display in her next one — I just hope that this time it will be a house of her own wildest dreams.”

View Barbie showtimes here.

The Story Behind the Movie:

Fast facts courtesy of and USA Today:

  • Barbie was created by Mattel in 1959 (Ken joined her in 1961).
  • Barbie was invented by Ruth Handler (Mattel was co-founded by Handler and her husband Elliot).
  • The initial idea for Barbie came to Handler after watching her daughter play with paper dolls.
  • Barbie was modeled after the Bild Lilli doll (Mattel bought the rights to the doll and made their own).
  • Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts (named after Handler’s daughter, Barbara. Ken is named after her son, Kenneth).
  • Her birthday is March 9, 1959, the day she was unveiled to the toy industry during New York Toy Fair.
  • Barbie is from (fictional) Willows, Wisconsin.
  • Her first outfit? Black-and-white striped swimsuit.
  • Barbie’s signature color is Barbie Pink (PMS 219).
  • She’s had over 250 different occupations.
  • It takes more than 100 people to create a Barbie doll and her fashions.
  • Barbie is the most popular fashion doll ever produced and the No. 1 fashion doll property.
  • More than 100 Barbie dolls are sold every minute.
  • The best-selling Barbie doll? The 1992 Totally Hair™ Barbie.
  • Over 18 billion minutes of Barbie user-generated content is created every year.

Further Reading with Falvey Library Resources:


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Library. Some of her favorite Barbie dolls of the 90’s: Bead Blast Barbie Doll, Olympic Gymnast Barbie Doll, Movin’ Groovin’ Barbie Doll, and Dorothy Barbie Doll (The Wizard of Oz). 



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Weekend Recs: Black Independent Film

Happy Friday, Wildcats! Falvey Library is delivering you another semester of Weekend Recs, a blog dedicated to filling you in on what to read, listen to, and watch over the weekend. Annie, a graduate assistant from the Communication department, scours the internet, peruses the news, and digs through book stacks to find new, relevant, and thought-provoking content that will challenge you and prepare you for the upcoming week. 

Wednesday marked the beginning of February, or Black History Month, a month dedicated to sharing and honoring the histories of Black Americans and the African diaspora. One such history is that of Black independent film in the United States.

Movies are a large and enduring cultural staple in the U.S., and Black filmmakers have been a vital yet underrepresented (and underappreciated) force in the film industry. In fact, Black independent film companies have been driving forces since the 1920s, a history that is often overshadowed by the (very white) studio system images of early Hollywood. This weekend’s recs will shed some light on some key moments in Black independent film history.

If you have 10 minutes…and want the sparknotes on Black independent film history, read this article.

If you have 15 minutes…and want to learn about an anti-Hollywood Black film movement from history, read Ntongela Masilela’s “The Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers,” the seventh chapter in Black American Cinema, available at Falvey. This 1970s movement dubbed the “L.A. Rebellion” was heavily inspired by Third Cinema and largely utilized black and white film.

Bonus: if you’re into indie and art-house cinema, watch Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep from the L.A. Rebellion movement, available in Falvey’s DVD Collection.

If you have 18 minutes…and are asking yourself what counts as a “Black film,” read Tommy L. Lott’s “A No-Theory Theory of Contemporary Black Cinema,” available online through Falvey. It brings up some thought-provoking dilemmas on how scholars conceptualize and study Black films.

If you have 30 minutes…and want to read about one of the earliest films to tackle racism and lynching, in response to the horrific Birth of a Nation, read Jane Gaines’s “Fire and Desire: Race, Melodrama, and Oscar Micheaux,” the third chapter in Black American Cinema, available at Falvey.

Bonus: if you want to check out one of the earliest Black independent feature-length films, watch Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates, available through inter-library loan.

Photo from Pamela Ferrell on Wikimedia Commons

If you have 1 hour and 30 minutes…and enjoy the mockumentary style, watch Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman, available online through Falvey. The film follows Cheryl, who plays a version of herself, as she makes a documentary film trying to find the identity of a Black queer actress from the 1930s, dubbed “The Watermelon Woman.” This Black queer classic is genuinely enjoyable and, as a bonus, is even set and filmed in Philadelphia.

If you have 1 hour and 52 minutes…and are a fan of artsy period pieces, watch Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust. This film, the first film (ever) directed by a Black women to get a general theatrical release in the U.S. in 1991, dedicated by Dash to Black women in particular, tells the story of a Gullah family during the Great Migration who is faced with the choice to stay on Saint Helena Island, their familial home, or leave for mainland America. Daughters of the Dust also features non-Western storytelling techniques, Gullah culture and language (I would recommend subtitles to get the full experience), and absolutely gorgeous cinematography.

Bonus: If you’re a fan of one of the most iconic Black independent filmmakers of all time, Spike Lee, watch Do the Right Thing (a personal favorite of mine) and BlacKkKlansman, both available online through Falvey.

Annie Stockmal is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Library. 

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Last Modified: February 3, 2023

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