Duolingo Is A Barbie Girl, For Some Reason

It's Duolingo's world and we all just live in it.

duolingo mascot in barbie outfit next to Margot Robbie in black dress at Barbie premiere

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In case you hadn’t seen or heard, the Duolingo Bird made an appearance at the Barbie movie premiere in LA yesterday, and no one knows why. 

The pink carpet was graced by a whole bunch of celebrities including OG Barbie Nicki Minaj, Trixie Mattel, Billie Eilish, Laura Dern, and obviously the entire cast of Barbie

The confusion began when Pop Base, arguably our only reliable source of truth, tweeted a pic of the ominous bird in a pink outfit, a white cowboy hat and a blonde wig. A nod to one of Margot Robbie’s looks in the film, possibly? It’s unclear. 

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this image since seeing it, and my brain is still flooded with questions. Why was the Duolingo Bird there? Who dressed her? Why is she wearing an awful wig? Did the stars of the Barbie movie speak to her, or simply pretend she wasn’t there?

The question I kept coming back to, however, is how the Duolingo Bird has managed to rebrand itself from feared language learning tyrant to a social media influencer akin to Addison Rae.  

When the app first launched in 2012, it took the world by storm. Finally, a place where people could learn different languages at the touch of their fingers. Where else could you learn the phrase, “I like apples,” in 39 different languages? What a revelation. 

Even then, it was hard to it. For a long time, this bird was something to be feared. If you didn’t complete a lesson or ghosted the app, then you’d live in fear that the bird would hunt you down, follow you, and ultimately cause some harm to you or your family. 

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. If you search ‘Duolingo Bird’ on Google, the results are harrowing. 

Fast forward a decade, and the app has over 500 million users across 194 countries. The question is, how many of those are users trapped in the app out of fear of violent retaliation from the big green beast? And does anyone even care

Duolingo also boasts a huge following on TikTok, with most of their videos amassing over one million views. Videos range from thirst traps in bikinis (like a true influencer), popping up at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, and leaving NSFW comments across social platforms. This bird truly is a menace. 

It does seem that the Duolingo marketing team leans into the all around threatening aura of their mascot, so they get props for being self-aware. Go through Duolingo’s TikTok comments and you’ll see people either lusting after (!?) or in fear of Duo. I can’t help but wonder, are we living in the cult of Duolingo? And when will it all end? 

Duolingo, you’re a strange bird… but I still can’t quit you. Please don’t hurt me. I’m doing my Spanish lesson tonight.