While “Barbenheimer” — the combination of Barbie and Oppenheimer, which premiered in American theaters on the same day — became a viral meme in the West, this giddiness didn’t necessarily translate to Japan, where the real Oppenheimer’s atomic bomb killed thousands when America detonated it in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Backlash against the meme led Barbie distributor Warner Bros. to apologize to Japan in a statement.
In one tweet, a Japanese fan criticized Barbie’s marketing team for making light of Oppenheimer’s actions, likening it to an advertisement drawing up the events of 9/11 in shades of hot pink. As such, Warner Bros. Japan took to Twitter to assure viewers said memes were not official, and chastised the American Barbie account for playing along, calling a since-deleted post “inconsiderate” and “extremely regrettable.”
“We take this situation seriously, and we are asking the US headquarters to take appropriate action,” the company said, translated from Japanese. After posting the apology, the American Barbie tweet referencing Barbenheimer was deleted (per Vice). Check out the company’s full statement below.
Barbie is slated to premiere in Japan on August 11th, two days after the 78th anniversary of America’s attack on Nagasaki. Oppenheimer has no scheduled release date in the country.
— ?????????? (@BarbieMovie_jp) July 31, 2023
#Barbenheimer ?What do you Americans who use this tag to make jokes about the atomic bomb feel when they see this image? What you guys are doing is exactly the same as this. shame on you.#Barbie #NoBarbenheimer pic.twitter.com/ELqTmkNDwm
— Dorothy (@Dorothy35091534) July 31, 2023