Barbenheimer memes cause fury in Japan as social media users say it trivialises Hiroshima attack

Credit: AP / Universal studios

People in Japan have slammed the Barbenheimer social media phenomenon, saying it is trivialising the 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima.

Barbie film maker Warner Bros apologised on Tuesday, according to US news outlet Deadline, for the "insensitive" way it has used Twitter, now known as X.

This summer the release of films Barbie - an all singing all dancing pink spectacle - and Openheimer - the inner turmoil of the creator of the nuclear bomb - has created cinema mania.

Both movies came out on Friday, July 21 and this led to 'Barbenheimer', where hordes of cinemagoers vowed to see both in the same day.

Excited film fans have been sharing their opinions on social media since watching, many have included memes combining visual elements from Barbie and Oppenheimer.

Edited images of Barbie stars, Margot Robbie, as the titular character, and Ryan Gosling as Ken, singing as they drive a pink convertible away from a nuclear explosion have spread across social media.

One meme even shows Barbie with a mushroom shaped atomic bomb plume in the place of her bouffant hair.

The Barbie US Twitter account commented on a selection of these posts with positive jokey messages about the film.

But social media users have said the imagery trivialises nuclear weapons and, in the lead up to its anniversary, the devastating fallout of the atomic bomb attack over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945.

It has led to the phrase #NoBarbenheimer trending on Twitter, now known as X, in Japan in recent days.

The Japanese Warner Bros studios has hit out at its US counterparts with a social media statement, which has received over 87,000 likes since Monday.

Its statement reads after translation: “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. …

"We take this situation very seriously.

"We are asking the US headquarters to take appropriate action.

"We apologise to those who were offended by this series of inconsiderate reactions. Warner Bros Japan.”

The Warner Bros. Film Group responded on Tuesday morning with a statement to Deadline: “Warner Brothers regrets its recent insensitive social media engagement.

"The studio offers a sincere apology."

ITV News has contacted Warner Bros US for further comment.  

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