How The Giver Inspired Kate McKinnon’s Character In Barbie

“The Giver” is a 1993 YA dystopian novel about Jonas, a 12-year-old boy who’s picked to basically take on the memories and emotions of his entire society. Everyone else in the town is seemingly happy with their lives, but that’s only because all their real-world concerns have been taken away from them. Sure, it might seem good that nobody has to deal with hunger, pain, war, and so on, but they also don’t get to experience anything like desire or love or independent thought. Much like Neo in “The Matrix” again, or probably like Barbie in this new film, Jonas ultimately finds that leading a full life in harsh reality is preferable to being half-alive in a comforting dream.

Undoubtedly there’ll be plenty of differences between Lois Lowry’s YA novel and “Barbie,” but the big one will be when each story chooses to end. “The Giver” concludes with its main character leaving behind his emotionally-numbed community, unsure if he can survive outside of it. “Barbie,” meanwhile, looks like it’s going to have its main character leave the commune by the end of the first act.

For Kate McKinnon’s Barbie’s sake, let’s hope this isn’t the only difference between the stories. The Giver spends his whole life stuck in this dystopian society, choosing to stay behind at the end and buy time for Jonas to pursue freedom; hopefully McKinnon’s character won’t suffer the same fate. The trailers indicate she’s not traveling with Barbie out of Barbieland, but maybe she’ll still get to properly experience the Real World by the end.

“Barbie” opens in theaters on July 21, 2023.

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