The ‘Barbenheimer’ memes that have hurt (and rightly so) sensibilities in Japan

It is being a very special summer with the Barbenheimer phenomenon, the coincidence of the premiere of two highly anticipated films as they have been Barbie of Greta Gerwig and oppenheimer of Christopher Nolanboth sweeping the box office and also earning stupendous ratings from critics, spectators and prestigious filmmakers. Therefore, it was not surprising that as a result of such an event, celebratory memes would not take long to be published happily. A humorous celebration of both titles that would be totally harmless if it weren’t for one detail, oppenheimeralthough it speaks to us of horror, of the ability to create destruction, and opening the doors to a weapon capable of ending the planet, is the biopic of the scientist who developed the atomic bomb in the United States.

A bomb that in 1945 would precipitate the end of the Second World War, perhaps thereby saving thousands and thousands of more deaths, but that the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nasagaki lived in their flesh with tens of thousands of deaths due to the same explosion or secondary effects derived from radiation (and in this second point, black rain from 1989 directed by Shôhei Imamura is one of the essential films about this horror).

Among the aforementioned memes you can see images of Oppenheimer (cillian murphy) holding an elated Barbie (margot robbie) with a background reminiscent of a nuclear explosion, or a Barbie with a hairstyle that simulates an atomic cloud.

Barbenheimer meme

But if the anonymous memes, surely created without malice or desire to offend, escape the control of those responsible for both films, which has provoked a furious protest by Japanese citizens is the little finesse or view of the official Warner Bros. Twitter account.distributor of Barbie, collecting and disseminating some of these images (and with frivolous comments of the type “this Ken is a stylist” in that of Barbie’s “atomic” hairstyle).

Barbenheimer meme
Barbenheimer meme

All this, and according to information from The Hollywood Reporter, has made the hashtag #NoBarbenheimer has been trending topic in Japan and that the same subsidiary of the studies there has described as “very unfortunate” the dissemination of memes on the official Warner Bros. account in the United States to promote the film. In addition to deleting the controversial tweet, Warner Bros. has already apologized for that as well.

“Atrocious jokes” by Hollywood

Among the examples of the reactions of Japanese users on the social network, comments such as @akishmz’s could be read: “Summer to remind the ‘Barbie’ and Hollywood crew that more than 200,000 characters had died by the end of 1945 (and that would rise to half a million) by two heinous bombs and that it is something they feel is a comfortable joke to promote their gorgeous summer blockbusters”.

And the user @mankodaisuki58 also responded with an image of Barbie on the shoulders of Osama Bin Laden in front of burning buildingsin the same style as one of the Barbenheimer memes, and accompanied by the texts (in Japanese) “visiting the places of the scenes of the film” either “It’s going to be a summer to remember”.

Regarding the premieres, Barbie is scheduled to open in Japan on August 11, and we will see how these negative reactions influence its reception, taking into account the controversy and that precisely on August 6 and 9 anniversaries are fulfilled of the bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. On the other hand, there is still no date for Oppenheimer to hit Japanese theaters.

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