Fashion, Feminism, and Michael Cera: How Allan Ignored Masculinity and Inspired Hope in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie
by Emily Duff
In Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, fashion, feminism, and a sprinkle of Michael Cera’s charm collide.
DISCLOSURE: OUR REVIEW OF BARBIE DOES NOT
CROSS PICKET LINES OF THE SAG AFTRA & WGA STRIKE
WARNING: SPOILERS FROM THE BARBIE MOVIE AHEAD
Surrounded by Barbies and Kens, there’s only one Allan.
Although a side character, Allan, brought to life by Michael Cera, will steal your heart - and, perhaps, shed some light on a crucial feminist message too.
Now, we’re not here to start praising men like Allan for the bare minimum. Instead, we see Allan as a symbol.
When you’re in a world of Kens who not only want to overpower you but also take whats yours with no remorse, it can be hard to see the Allan’s amongst the crowd. And that’s where blanket statements like “I hate men” come in.
But those like Allan won’t take offence. In a world of toxic masculinity, Allan's presence is like a breath of fresh air, reminding us that true masculinity lies in compassion and empathy.
Dominated by chiseled Kens, Allan is lanky and pale - far from the usual tan and muscular stereotype.
While, like the Kens, Allan is a man, his manhood does not seem to mirror that of the Kens.
When we first encounter Allan, he's the awkward guy on the side of the action, seemingly overlooked by those around him.
While Kens spend their days pining after Barbies, Allan spends his own time pining after Ken; where the others never lose their smiles, Allan pairs his beachwear with a frown - he doesn’t conform to those around him.
From the outset, he exhibits a general discomfort with the status quo - arguably, a testament to breaking gender norms.
His trademark outfit consists of navy short-shorts and a rainbow button-down. Need we say more?
The awkwardness of Allan’s first appearance is perfect.
When all the Barbies and Kens exchange their morning greetings, Allan’s sudden appearance in the group is treated like a surprise. From the narrator, Helen Mirren, we also learn, “There are no multiples of Allan. He’s just Allan.”
As we get into the plot and are amidst the power shift in Barbie World, where Barbies role has been flipped on his head, Allan remains uneasy despite the change seemingly being of benefit to him.
He's not interested in the superficial pleasures that the other Kens indulge in.
Although more gentle natured than the rest, Allan proves to be tougher than all the Kens combined when faced with an emergency.
During a confrontation with a group of construction workers, he steps up to defend Barbie and demonstrates that actual strength can come from your character, rather than your appearance.
In fact, one of the most endearing aspects of Allan is his unwavering sense of self.
As one-of-a-kind, he knows exactly who he is and what he stands for. He doesn't let the allure of notability or power sway him from doing what's right.
In the midst of the film’s discussions about toxic masculinity, it's important to remember that feminism is not anti-men.
Allan's character stands as a beacon of hope for feminists, showcasing that using the help of men like Allan can coexist with the pursuit of gender equality.
He breaks the stereotype of "not all men" being an excuse and instead shows that being one-of-a-kind and true to oneself is the coolest way to navigate a world full of ego-driven replicas.
When you know who you are and what’s right, you’re smart and empathetic enough to know that “not all men” is not actually an argument.
While he is not the focus of the movie and Allan may be just Allan, he's a powerful symbol of hope and inclusivity in Barbieland.
And with Michael Cera's magic touch, he steals the show and our hearts in 2023’s hit fashionably feminist film, Barbie.