Warner Bros. U.S. Responds To Barbenheimer Criticism Out Of Japan — Update

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UPDATE: MON JULY 31 @ 10.59 PM PST: Warner Bros U.S. has responded to the criticism it has received from its own studio branch in Japan and from many on social media over Tweets responding to Barbenheimer memes featuring atom bomb images.

The Warner Bros. Film Group sent us the following statement: “Warner Brothers regrets its recent insensitive social media engagement. The studio offers a sincere apology.”

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We understand the offending tweets are being deleted.

PREVIOUS STORY, MON JULY 31 @ 1.04 PM PST: Warner Bros. Japan has issued a statement in which it criticizes what it describes as “extremely regrettable” Barbenheimer tweets shared from the official Barbie Twitter account in the U.S.

The statement, posted on Japan’s own Barbie account where it has been liked 75,000 times, 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 U.S. headquarters to take appropriate action. We apologize to those who were offended by this series of inconsiderate reactions. Warner Bros Japan.”

The phrase #NoBarbenheimer has been trending in Japan in recent days as many Twitter users have been disturbed by online memes and imagery of mushroom clouds and explosions juxtaposed with more playful Barbie pictures. Many claim the imagery trivializes nuclear weapons and the devastating fallout of the bomb on the country and citizens of Japan.

Warner Japan’s frustration stems from the Barbie account’s positive responses to Barbenheimer images, including one to a viral fan-made poster shared by the film account @DiscussingFilm.

The fictional poster features Oppenheimer actor Cillian Murphy carrying Barbie star Margot Robbie on his shoulder in the foreground as nuclear flames engulf the background. In response to the post, the @barbiethemovie account replied: “It’s going to be a summer to remember.”

https://twitter.com/barbiethemovie/status/1682208852874526723?s=20

Twitter, which has recently rebranded to X, added a community note to the post highlighting the historical context of the image.

“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,” the note reads.

The initial post and its response has drawn ire from Twitter users in Japan.

One #nobarbenheimer post, viewed seven million times and liked 34,000 times, reads: “The official Barbie movie account is completely on board with the atomic bomb and mushroom cloud memes, so Barbie is a no-go as well”.

Oppenheimer doesn’t have a release date in Japan yet but its subject matter means it will be a sensitive and complex one for Universal’s local distributor Toho should it it get one.

Warner Bros declined to comment.

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