Experts say ‘Kenough’ and ‘I’m Just Ken’ are fueling discussions of masculinity

I think, by now, most of us have seen Barbie or are at least familiar with the impact it’s having on pop culture, popularizing new catchwords like “Kenough” and “Kenerg,” a phrase which we first heard from Gosling in a 2022 ET interview. If you haven’t watched Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken” music video yet, I highly recommend it. It’s so delightful.

“I’m Just Ken” was written and produced by Mark Ronson (of Mark Ronson fame) and Andrew Wyatt, who is the frontman of the Swedish electronic pop band Miike Snow. Ronson and Wyatt were also co-composers of “Shallow” from Lady Gaga’s version of A Star is Born. The “Ken” catchwords along with the sentiment behind “I’m Just Ken” have become such a cultural phenomenon that experts are now weighing in on how it’s sparking discussion about a new model of masculinity.

“I think ‘Kenergy’ is about claiming your basic space, meaning the right to feel reasonably good about you as you exist within the confines of your own body,” Andrew Wyatt says of Gosling’s Ken. “It’s a simple appreciation that being you is ‘Kenough.’”

Since seeing the film, audiences have found catharsis in Ken’s journey, using terms like “Kenergy” and “Kenough” to help define what masculinity can look like. Nicholas Balaisis, a psychotherapist in Toronto who wrote about the terms for Psychology Today after seeing Gosling’s performance, says “I’m Just Ken” strikes a chord on the “various crises of masculinity in the culture right now,” which is evident in lyrics like:

“Wanna know what it’s like to love, to be the real thing
Is it a crime?
Am I not hot when I’m in my feelings
And is my moment finally here, or am I dreaming?
I’m no dreamer.”

“Most men know that the older models of masculinity are no longer available or desirable,” Balaisis tells Yahoo Entertainment, “but there is now a new model ready-made to step into.”

That’s where Ken steps in, explains Sally Spencer-Thomas, a suicide-prevention advocate and co-founder of the campaign Man Therapy, who says the dance sequence featuring the various Kens in the film, choreographed by Jennifer White and Lisa Welham, offers a compelling exploration of societal norms.

“The choreography acts as a portal to an alternate realm, and the dance transcends mere physical movement; it escalates into an emotional catharsis,” she tells Yahoo Entertainment. “The very essence of the dance aims to liberate the Kens from the constricting boundaries of traditional masculinity. It’s a profound notion that these individuals, previously embroiled in emotional turmoil and frustrated by their own masculinity, find their emancipation through the language of dance.”

The song’s bigger theme, say Balaisis and Spencer-Thomas, is the freedom of expression, which is articulated through Gosling’s unapologetic performance as well as the song’s lyrics. Indeed, Balaisis adds, being unafraid of “letting go” is a gift Wyatt, Ronson and Gosling may have unknowingly bestowed on younger generations of men.

“Men often experience really high levels of shame in relation to their personal appearances of feeling judged and scrutinized on their looks or for standing out,” he says. “The capacity to risk expression in fashion or clothing can be a sign of inner esteem, of being ‘Kenough,’ and thus able to withstand the judging glares we perceive from others.”

[From Yahoo]

I like this analysis and the explanation of a new model of masculinity. Margot Robbie said in an interview that she considers Kenergy to be a play on BDE and Kate McKinnon interpreted it as “a recognition of the ways in which masculinity under patriarchy is limiting.” I agree with both of them! If Barbie can have so much impact that it leads to more men feeling comfortable to release their inner Kenergy, then LFG. Let’s embrace that the traditional expectations of masculinity no longer apply. Embrace that Kenergy!

Photos credit:, Cover Images and via YouTube

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