In Barbie (2023), Barbie creator Ruth's ghost speaks to Barbie:

Ruth: Humans make things up like patriarchy and Barbie just to deal with how uncomfortable it is.

Barbie: I understand that.

Ruth: And then you die.

Is the word "you" used as generic "you" here?

  • 1
    "how uncomfortable [life] is" is just another way of saying Life's a bitch .... and then you die. Apr 12 at 21:10
  • 1
    ... I'm doubtful whether the multilayered cultural allusions and wordplay in Barbie would make suitable source material for non-Anglophones wanting to learn the basic language. But people gotta make up their own minds, I guess. Not to give away any spoilers, but Barbie's final line makes it clear this isn't a movie aimed at children! Apr 12 at 21:17
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    What do you think I've just done? (Don't answer that! :) Apr 12 at 22:34
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    @FumbleFingers - I love cartoons. I spend half my time copying them from the New Yorker onto my Facebook page. I had a lovely book of French cartoons with translated captions once in which was one with the classic 'desert island' (about 10 feet wide, with one palm tree) and on it, a single shaggy-haired, bearded man, who has somehow managed to cover his eyes, from behind, with his own hands, and he's saying 'Guess who?'. Apr 12 at 22:45
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    The conversation at that point: "That Ken of yours, he is one nice-looking little protein pot" ... "I guess" ... "I'd like to see what kind of nude blob he's packing under those jeans!" Apr 13 at 1:08

2 Answers 2


It's somewhat ambiguous. Ruth is a ghost who, as a living human, made up Barbie and then died. So she is talking about herself. But she's also talking about humanity as a whole. The things that humans do because life is difficult and senseless. So she is talking in general.

That's part of the joke. Barbie contains quite a few multi-layered jokes and observations.


If I may paraphrase your question:

When Ruth says "And then you die" does she mean people in general or Barbie in particular?

The answer is "both", but mostly Barbie in particular. It can be taken ambiguously, and it is ambiguous grammatically, but context makes it clear she means Barbie; mostly.

First, she's talking about "people in general" in the first sentence and so the second sentence is talking about people in general too. It's an echo of "Life's a bitch and then you die.", which does mean people in general. But also the whole speech is in the context of Barbie wanting to be human and what Ruth says is a clear warning that if she does that then she, Barbie, will in fact have to die. She says it at several other places in the scene.

  • I think there's a limit to how far you can take this "literal meaning" business. Brilliant as Margot Robbie is, she can't overcome the ground truth - as a doll, Barbie never was and never will be "alive". Apr 13 at 14:37
  • The whole conversation is specifically about becoming human. The point of it is that if Barbie becomes human then she will die. If she stays as a doll, then she won't have to; but if she becomes human then she will. Apr 13 at 14:54

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