Canadian actor Ryan Gosling (L) and Australian actor Margot Robbie (R) pose on the pink carpet at the European premiere of 'Barbie' in central London, Britain, 12 July 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/ANDY RAIN

Barbie’s replies to Barbenheimer memes ignite Japanese social media

Tokyo, Aug 1 (EFE).- The replies of the “Barbie” film’s official social media accounts to Barbenheimer memes showing nuclear explosions have sparked discomfort in Japan and prompted the local distributor of the film to issue a statement of regret ahead of its release in the country.

(L-R) Cast members Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Cillian Murphy, and Florence Pugh attend the UK premiere of Oppenheimer in central London, Britain, 13 May 2023. EFE/EPA/ANDY RAIN

Barbenheimer is a portmanteau that sprang up on social media ahead of the simultaneous July 21 release of blockbuster films “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”

Australian actress Margot Robbie signs autographs during the pink carpet of the movie "Barbie" at Parque Toreo Central in Mexico City, Mexico, on July 6, 2023. EFE/Isaac Esquivel

The phenomenon has produced numerous memes, many of them satirical, combining the two films – one about the iconic Mattel doll, and the other about American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, often credited as the “father of the atomic bomb.”

Some of the memes and replies posted by the official Barbie Movie account on X (formerly Twitter) have generated unease in some Japanese internet users during a sensitive moment for the country.

Perhaps the most discordant reply by Barbie Movie was to an image of the two films’ protagonists happily walking away from an apparent apocalyptic explosion that some considered to appear similar to the United States’ atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

“It’s going to be a summer to remember,” replied the Barbie Movie account, accompanied by emojis with kisses and hearts, a message that many Japanese considered insensitive.

In reply to another image that replaced the hair of “Barbie” star Margot Robbie with a mushroom cloud, it replied: “This Ken is a stylist.”

The interactions triggered a #NoBarbenheimer hashtag, which has been trending in Japan in recent hours, in the middle of promotion campaign for the upcoming release of “Barbie” in the country.

“Barbie” will premiere in Japan on Aug. 11, while “Oppenheimer” still does not have a release date in the country.

Such was the uproar that the film’s Japanese distributor, Warner Bros Japan, said late Monday in a statement that the messages posted by the US headquarters’ Barbie Movie account “lack consideration” and were “very regrettable,” and called on head office to “properly deal with it.”

It is common for foreign films to be released in Japan months or even a year later, but some analysts believe that in the case of “Oppenheimer,” the Japanese distributors could be waiting for the anniversaries of the bombings to pass. EFE