Barbie movie: Warner Bros sorry for replying to atomic bomb memes
Warner Bros has apologised after an official Barbie Movie account replied to Barbenheimer memes featuring atom bomb images.
Some images showed Margot Robbie with a mushroom cloud hairstyle. The official Barbie movie account replied: “This Ken is a stylist”.
Barbie is scheduled to be released on 11 August in Japan – five days after the 78th anniversary of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima.
#NoBarbenheimer has been trending.
Other meme images that enraged Japanese social media users include one showing Cillian Murphy, who played Robert Oppenheimer – known as the “father of the atomic bomb”, carrying Ms Robbie on his shoulder through a burning city. The Barbie movie official account replied: “It’s going to be a summer to be remembered”.
In a statement posted on Warner Bros Japan’s own Barbie account, the firm said it was “extremely regrettable that the official account of the American headquarters for the movie ‘Barbie’ reacted to the social media postings of ‘Barbenheimer’ fans.”
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A day later, its US headquarters told the BBC: “Warner Bros regrets its recent insensitive social media engagement. The studio offers a sincere apology.”
Twitter, which has recently rebranded to X, has since added community notes to original posts to highlight the historical context of the atomic bomb attacks on Japan.
The recorded death tolls are estimates, but it is thought that about 140,000 of Hiroshima’s 350,000 population were killed in the blast on 6 August 1945. At least 74,000 people died when Nagasaki was bombed three days later.
The radiation released by the bombs caused thousands more people to die from radiation sickness in the years that followed.
One social media user posted: “My grandfather was in Hiroshima until a few days before the atomic bomb was dropped. Among those who died under that mushroom cloud were many children who were at the age of playing with Barbie dolls.”
A spokesperson for the city of Hiroshima told the BBC that 78 years on, it will “continue working to spread the knowledge and understandings of the physical and psychological impact of nuclear bombs as well as a-bomb survivors’ hope for nuclear disarmament”.
The distributor of Oppenheimer has not yet announced a release date for the film in Japan.