Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Student News Media

The Falcon

Friends Select Community Opinion: Barbie or Oppenheimer?

Free Use Image Courtesy of Wikimedia.

The Context:

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie was released on July 21, 2023. Conveniently, so was Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Barbie carries the viewer through the trials and tribulations of womanhood, while Oppenheimer tells the tale of World War II scientists creating an atomic bomb. Quite simply, these movies are not comparable by content; what contrasts the two films is the gender split among viewers. A majority of Barbie tickets were sold to a female audience, and a majority of Oppenheimer tickets were sold to a male audience, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But what do Friends Select community members think? Does the school reflect these statistics? 

It is important to note that both films were widely well-received. Barbie received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 88%, and Oppenheimer received 93%. Though individual opinions on the movies may vary, they have both been – since their shared release date – regarded as “good” movies

According to an anonymous survey sent out to the Friends Select Upper School students and staff on November 2nd, 2023, 49% of 59 respondents identified as girls/women, 44% identified as boys/men, and roughly 7% identified as non-binary/gender-fluid. 63% reported that they only saw Barbie, 5% saw only Oppenheimer. 14% saw both, and 8% saw neither.

When it came down to the opinions, Barbie held strong with a 58% preference. 91% of respondents expressed an active affinity for the movie, and only 5% expressed an active distaste. 41% preferred Oppeheimer, with 32% expressing active affinity, and 7% expressing active distaste – that said, 66% of respondents did not see Oppenheimer at all. 


The Statements – Barbie

Sam Goldwert, ‘25, speaks highly of Barbie. “The beautiful film score, incredible acting, and directorial skill created some truly emotional and thought-provoking scenes that explore feminism and womanhood in an accessible way.

Alden Otis, ‘25, shares this sentiment. “Fantastic comedy/comic relief. This movie made me understand the experience of being a woman.”

Suzanne Morrison, Chair of the English Department, shares her likes and dislikes of the film. “It was indubitably a feminist film; I cheered, hooted, hollered, and laughed to tears. One part of the film I did not like was that Ken got too much air-time. His epiphany was a bit self-involved and tedious. I was way more interested in what the Barbies were up to in all their rebellion, witticism, [and] brilliance”.


The Statements – Oppenheimer: 

Dave Marshall, the Eleventh-Grade History teacher, addresses sections of Oppenheimer individually. “I saw it as 3 different hour-long movies. The first had powerful context and build-up; the second was one of the most powerful sections of historical cinema I’ve ever seen; and the third felt bloated and unnecessary.”

Bode Wild, ‘26, agrees with Dave. “I like the way that it was structured, but I felt that it was too dense.”

Theo Stanev Potts, ‘26, far prefers Oppenheimer to Barbie. “The theme and plot of the movie was well driven and eloquent. The struggles and triumphs of the main character were significant and relatable. The imagery of the movie invoked powerful emotions and promoted meaningful dialogue.” In comparison to Barbie, Theo says, “Overall [Oppenheimer]  was vastly superior.”


The Divide:

Of those who shared written statements in the survey (and identified themselves by name), the majority of Barbie’s glowing reviews came from individuals who either identified as girls/women or non-binary/gender-fluid. Almost all of the reviews of Oppenheimer were submitted by boys/men. These views were not consistently reflected in the multiple-choice prompts; plenty of boys/men expressed a liking, or preference, for Barbie over Oppenheimer. That being said, the vast majority of girls/women admitted to only seeing Barbie, and the only individuals who reported a preference for Oppenheimer were boys/men.


The Conclusion: 

The Friends Select Upper School absolutely reflects the statement by The Hollywood Reporter. By just a slight amount, Barbie takes first place among the FSS community, contrasting Oppenheimer’s 5% dominance on Rotten Tomatoes. An individual’s gender does not define what they will enjoy to any degree, but the data remains fascinating and universally telling.

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About the Contributor
Niamh Williams
Niamh Williams, Editor-in-Chief

Niamh Williams is a senior at Friends Select School and a co-editor-in-chief for The Falcon. Her beats are history, math, and English curricula. She is also a leader of the Quakerism Club.

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