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Hoda and Jenna defend the ‘Barbie’ film from critics: ‘It opens your eyes’

The Greta Gerwig-directed movie is “teaching women to use their voices,” Jenna said.
/ Source: TODAY

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager have Barbie's back.

On Aug. 4, the TODAY co-hosts defended the Greta Gerwig-directed "Barbie" movie from critics who blast it for being "too feminist."

In their conversation, Hoda cited a recent feature story about how the movie, which stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as her trusty sidekick Ken, is inspiring women to end unfulfilling relationships with male partners.

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling star as Barbie and Ken in 2023's "Barbie."
Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling star as Barbie and Ken in 2023's "Barbie."

"They say that the movie is ending relationships left and right ..." Hoda said on TODAY. "Because women are realizing they have a voice. They can speak. They don't have to say, 'Well, that's good enough.'"

The live-action “Barbie,” which is based on the popular Mattel doll, follows Barbie’s journey of self-discovery after she leaves the seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land and becomes a real human. The movie was co-written by Gerwig and her partner, screenwriter and director Noah Baumbach.

Jenna, who plans to see "Barbie" a second time now that her 10-year-old daughter Mila has returned home from summer camp, said the movie, which has grossed more than $900 million worldwide, has helped women speak up about their needs.

"You know what I love? That a doll that never said one word is teaching women to use their voices," Jenna said.

Referring to the feature story about relationships, Jenna said, "One woman wrote (on social media) that she actually dumped her boyfriend when he complained about the movie's feminist tone."

"Actually," Jenna added, " I would have dumped my boyfriend then, too."

Though Hoda hasn't yet seen "Barbie," she said anti-feminist criticisms of the movie can serve as a kind of "window" into a person's beliefs.

"If you're bothered by the fact that women are empowered, then probably, there's a problem," she said.

Hoda then read from another social media post written by a viewer who said the movie "empowered" her to realize she deserved better in life.

"I think it's good," Hoda said. "I think if anything it opens your eyes and makes you think to yourself, 'Wow. I don't need to settle for this.'"

Jenna guessed that the "Barbie" movie's influence extended beyond romance.

"I bet it's also empowering women to ask for more money and to change jobs," she said.

"Listen, you only get one ride," Hoda responded. "If you're not going to say, 'I deserve that,' without feeling sheepish, or 'This is not enough for me.'"

Hoda and Jenna's conversation about "Barbie" comes after Jenna revealed that she cried "multiple times" when she saw the movie with her younger daughter, Poppy, 7.

“I cried, and I know I’m an easy crier,” Jenna said.

"It's beautiful," she added of the film.

The movie, explained Jenna, illustrated “what it means to be human, what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a mother, all of those things."