Warner Bros. Issues Apology In Response To Massive Japanese Backlash Sparked By Studio’s Endorsing Of The #Barbenheimer Movement

Warner Bros. Japan has condemned Warner Bros. U.S.'s endorsing of the Barbenheimer movement, labelling it as "extremely regrettable."

Warner Bros. has issued an apology in response to their endorsement of the viral #Barbenheimer trend propelled by the simultaneous releases of Universal Pictures’ Oppenheimer and the Warners’ very own Barbie, which sparked outrage in Japan.

MARGOT ROBBIE as Barbie in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “BARBIE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

RELATED: ‘Barbie’ Director Greta Gerwig Reacts To Criticism Of The Film Being Described As “Woke”

Prior to the release of the aforementioned films, fans made the #Barbenheimer social media phenomenon to encourage people to see Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s biopic Oppenheimer. The viral trend consists of memes featuring atomic bomb explosions to represent Oppenheimer mashed up with pictures of the Barbie movie.

Oppenheimer poster

After the movies’ respective debuts, what initially was perceived as a harmless trend that combined the names of two contrasting movies transitioned into flat out atomic bomb-related jokes.

The controversy began when DiscussingFilm shared a poster by professional designer Steve Reeves, which plays into the #Barbenheimer trend, that would later be endorsed by Warner Bros. via their official Twitter account for the Barbie movie.

“It’s going to be a summer to remember ,” replied the official Barbie Movie account in a since deleted tweet.

Archive Link Official Barbie Twitter account replies to Discussing Film via Twitter

This led to Japanese Twitter users boycotting #Barbenheimer under the #NeverBarbenheimer hashtag, who claimed the memes trivialized the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

According to information collected by History, “It’s estimated roughly 70,000 to 135,000 people died in Hiroshima and 60,000 to 80,000 people died in Nagasaki, both from acute exposure to the blasts and from long-term side effects of radiation, both from acute exposure to the blasts and from long-term side effects of radiation.”

barbenheniemer poster
@StrangeSJP Twitter

RELATED: Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz Reveals ‘Barbie’ Film Made To Create “An Experience With Societal Impact”

“A tweet without a shred of intelligence. An insult to the Japanese people,” tweeter Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable character designer Nishii Terumi.

Nishii Terumi Twitter

“Memeification of the atomic bomb sucks, but we were hoping that the official, and only the official, would say, ‘We do not want this kind of memeification and will never support it’,” @zara1q84 noted (translated via DeepL). “We were eagerly awaiting the release of the film, but we can no longer truly enjoy the movie Barbie.

barbenhiemer 2
@zara1q84 Twitter

“The summer you SHOULD remember is Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945,” @2Gsahoko declared. “Over 200,000 ppl were killed by two A-bombs by the end of the year, and a number of ppl did and do suffer the after-effect. STOP PLAY WITH THE SICKENING MEMES.”

barbenhiemer 3
@2Gsahoko Twitter

“So…is my grandfather, my family’s history of cancer, my mother and I’s chronic health issues just a meme to you?” purported descendant of A-bomb survivors @shibootie rhetorically inquired.

barbenhiemer 6
@shibootie Twitter

“#NoBarbenheimer I’d like to think that it’s just something the official social networking person in charge of the home country does on their own and has nothing to do with the aspirations of the director, cast and crew, but if that’s the case, please don’t leave this tweet out, at least the official Japanese @BarbieMovie_jp should respond in some way,” @kmsk55 encouraged.

The user further demanded, “Please do some honest publicity for the people and for the movie.”

barbenhiemer 5
@kmsk55 Twitter

Oppenheimer had lost interest in going in the first place, and now Barbie is getting in on the act like this. My summer is going to be nothing but Transformers. Oh well,” @kmsk55 added in a follow-up tweet.

barbenhiemer 4
@kmsk55 Twitter

Responding to the massive backlash, Warner Bros. Japan used the Barbie movie’s official Japanese twitter account issued a statement  which condemned their American counterpart’s social media endorsement of #Barbenheimer (translated via @seri3ma).

Margot Robbie as Stereotypical Barbie in Barbie (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

“There is currently a movement (#Barbenheimer) by international fans to encourage people to watch both ‘Barbie’ (distributed by Warner Bros.) and ‘OPPENHEIMER’ (distributed by Columbia Pictures), which were both released in the U.S. on July 21.  This movement or activity is not an official campaign,” Warner Bros. Japan stated.

“On the other hand, we consider the inconsiderate response of the official U.S. account of the of ‘Barbie’ to the social networking postings by fans resulting from this movement to be extremely regrettable, and we take this situation very seriously and demand that the U.S. headquarters take appropriate action,” the statement continued, concluding, “We apologize to anyone who was offended by this inconsiderate response.”

barbie japan
The Barbie Movie JP Twitter

As previously mentioned, and in response to the controversy caused by the post, the Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group issued a formal apology and deleted the tweet endorsing the #Barbenheimer movement.

“Warner Brothers regrets its recent insensitive social media engagement,” Warner Bros. declared in a statement issued to Deadline. “The studio offers a sincere apology.”

Barbie (Margot Robbie) is arrested in Los Angeles n in Barbie (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures
Barbie (Margot Robbie) is arrested in Los Angeles n in Barbie (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

Reports have indicated that Oppenheimer still doesn’t have a release date in Japan, leading to speculation that Christopher Nolan’s biopic of the theoretical physicist often referred to as the “father of the atomic bomb” has been banned altogether in the Land of the Rising Sun.

NEXT: ‘Joker’ Actor Marc Maron Calls Right Wing Men Criticizing ‘Barbie’ “A Bunch Of F***ing Insecure Babies”

  • Categories

  • Leave a Comment