Did you know that you can be anything? Anything you could ever possibly want to be? Do you want to be a bee keeper? Great, do that. You’re hoping to make money from your writing? Wicked, try it. You want to be an accountant? YOU CAN DO IT MY FRIEND. One lady trying to spread this inspirational mantra is Barbie.
Barbs is a woman who knows a lot about work. According to Wikipedia, she has had illustrious careers in education, medicine, politics, the public services, in the transport industry, in business, and in the arts, whatever they are. She has also been employed as a Princess, a Cowgirl, a Babysitter, and a McDonald’s Cashier – despite the headgear. If there is any figure to drive the “Realise your dream” movement, its Barbs. This girl wakes up in the morning, grabs her track gear, and says “I can be a Track Star.”** Or, she grabs her glasses and her takeaway coffee, telling herself, “I can be an Engineer.” Hopping in her F1 car, Barbs grips the steering wheel as if to say, “I can be a Race Car Driver.”
Hell yeah she can.
Over the years, Barbie has been breaking ground, establishing herself as a leading expert in various careers – some of which are often usually driven by, or associated with, Ken or Action Man. She now turns to Hollywood. But not to star in your usual romcom, like the 2009 Confessions of a Never Been Kissed Wedding Planner in the City. Oh no. Barbs has come to Hollywood to become a Stunt-Person-Woman.
Breaking the boundaries set by the informal title, Stuntman, Barbie truly hammers home the idea that she CAN be ANYTHING. We join Barbie on the set of her one of her most dangerous stunts.
The room is cold, the air conditioning a little high.
“Chilly isn’t it? I think that’s making me more worried. I know how it feels to have my name up in lights and all, but this stunt opens up a new world for me, and I want to get it just right.
“All Stunt-People-Men and Stunt-People-Women are nervous before they start they’re work. No matter how long you’ve been doing it for, or how skilled you are. Stunts are, well, dangerous.”
And Barbs has just about every reason to be nervous on this job.
“The stunt involves a very flammable gas called butane, which will be sprayed inside a special chamber. Inside this chamber, the butane is able to mix fully with the oxygen that’s in the air around us. Then, a spark will light the butane, causing an enormous explosion.”
Oooooh. Sounds pretty dangerous. What is your role in all this Barbie?
“The explosion created by the butane will be powerful enough to move an object out of this enormous cannon. I’m going to be that object!”
Holy Cow Barbs.
And she’s right, the cannon is ENORMOUS. Covered in sparkly stars and stripes, the cannon looks almost friendly. But taking a step back into the safety zone, it is easy to see why Barbie is so nervous. Butane?? She sets herself up with all the necessary safety gear and points to a wall on the other side of the room.
It’s a target.
“So that’s where we are aiming!” She says brightly.
Erm, okay. Rather you than us.
Barbie’s crew help her climb inside the nose of the cannon. With her arms raised high, she looks nervous but excited. Cameras are ready. She’s ready. The butane is ready. The room is really ready. A countdown begins, and some eager supporters shout cries of, “Fly, Barbie, Fly!”. As the countdown reaches two, Barbs closes her eyes.
The explosion comes out of nowhere: a sudden and violent release of energy. We see a whoosh of blonde and pink. A jet of orange streams out of the back of the cannon. A thud follows the initial bang.
A member of the stunt team ensures any flames are safely extinguished, whilst another helps Barbie stand.
“Amazing!” Barbie cries. “That was utterly exhilarating – I can’t catch my breath – I have no words!”
As she makes her way over to the safety zone, we all burst into a round of applause. We give Barbs a minute while she takes a drink of water and sits through quick medical checks with one of the stunt team. The girl is all good.
She joins us for some final words, before we leave her to her amazing work.
“I guess my inspiration has to be the Bond films. They are just chock-full of stunts. And danger. My favourite is probably the ski chase in The Spy Who Loved Me. I’ve done lots of ski and snowboard work myself, and I’d love to combine this with dodging bullets and a fabulous Union Jack parachute.”
Well, we’re pretty impressed with the cannon stuff to be honest.
“Explosion work is amazing. And I can’t thank the team enough. They have done so much research in preparation for the stunt, and as a result I’ve picked up on some great science: you need a fuel, a heat source, and oxygen. And explosions can have such good uses too – I’d like to think that the cannon stunt really demonstrates that.”
Needless to say, we leave inspired, in awe.
Barbie flew. If she can fly, maybe we all can too. But you know, metaphorically. She is the ultimate demonstration of the dream that a person can be anything. If she can be, then you can be. I can be.
Move over Bey. Here comes Stunt Barbs.
**The term ‘track’ in this instance refers to athletics and sports things. Not music ‘tracks’.