Warner Bros. Film Group has issued a public apology after a viral Barbenheimer tweet received backlash in Japan.
The circulated meme shows “Barbie” star Margot Robbie on the shoulders of Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer with an atomic bomb explosion behind them. The U.S. “Barbie” Twitter page responded to it with the caption, “It’s going to be a summer to remember.”
“Warner Brothers regrets its recent insensitive social media engagement. The studio offers a sincere apology,” the conglomerate wrote in an apology (via Variety).
The viral tweet garnered a community note explaining the historical context of the mushroom cloud depicted, which references the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The post ignited an online petition against Warner Bros. U.S., with Warner Bros. Japan issuing a statement about the offensiveness of the poster.
“We consider it extremely regrettable that the official account of the American headquarters for the movie ‘Barbie’ reacted to the social media postings of ‘Barbenheimer’ fans,” Warner Bros. Japan wrote in a statement published on the “Barbie” Japan Twitter page. “We take this situation very seriously. We are asking the U.S. headquarters to take appropriate action. We apologize to those who were offended by this series of inconsiderate reactions. Warner Bros. Japan.” The hashtag #NoBarbenheimer has trended in Japan, with people suggesting that conflating the two films is in and of itself offensive.
The tweet continued, “At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945 (Showa 20), an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima for the first time in human history. The particular nature of the damage caused by the atomic bombs is that mass destruction and mass murder occurred instantaneously and indiscriminately.”
Both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” were released in the U.S. on July 21. The push for a double feature has led to explosive box office numbers for both films, with “Barbie” making history as the highest grossing movie from a female director on opening weekend.
To note, “Oppenheimer” has not been released in Japan, nor does the film have a planned release date in the country. “Oppenheimer” director Christopher Nolan explained why he chose to not show the bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in the film, which is from physicist Oppenheimer’s (Murphy) perspective.
“We know so much more than he did at the time,” Nolan told IndieWire. “He learned about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the radio, the same as the rest of the world…It’s meant to feel like it’s far away enough that it’s not going to affect you.”