When Ken (Ryan Gosling) leaves Barbieland in the movie Barbie, he finds that he is not at all prepared for what he’ll find in The Real World, where men rule all. So, the character, whose main concern in life has thus far been Beach, heads to the Los Angeles public library system to broaden his horizons. We see him pulling inspo off the shelf—big, hardcover man books. (“Unfortunately, he only has book. Books are better,” explains Gosling in a GQ list of “Ken Things Ryan Gosling Can’t Live Without.”)
The books … do not seem to be actual objects in this world in the sense of being intellectual property with a Library of Congress catalog number. A peruse of Bookshop.org and the archives reveal … nothing, leaving me to imagine the contents of the material that sends Ken on a bit of a mojo dojo tear.
Horses, by Ryan Bessin
This plausible-looking book appears to have been “authored” by someone who shares a name with a second assistant camera operator on the set of Barbie. Inside, we assume it’s got lots of pictures of horses running and whinnying and generally functioning as man-extenders. The kinds of horses you might print onto a duvet covet or paste onto your saloon doors. Lots of ideas!
The Origins of Patriarchy, by Haggarty or Hoggarty or something.
We assume this hardcover classic, which is shaped and fashioned like the kind of enormous book you’d check out as a 6-year-old learning about the solar system, is a kind of “Everyman’s guide to the atomic bomb,” explaining to Ken the rudimentary elements of asserting the male gender as superior to all others (at the expense of other men), and painting a picture of men (who in fairness are often the nephews of a female aunt) running the show. We assume it’s got some Henry Kissinger, some Jordan Peterson, and some Hemingway all rolled into one toxic textbook.
Man Wars, by ???
Incredible that they could fit all the man wars into one single book, since … all of the wars ever have been man wars, seemingly? Obviously, these stories are all told by the victors. Love that this is part of Ken’s vision board for life in the patriarchy. Bone up!
Notably missing from the pile? Real world books The Power Broker, A Time to Kill, Iron John, The Pale King, and Scar Tissue, all of which we think Ken would enjoy staging on the bedside table.
What did I miss?