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Barbie Takes Japan by Storm: From Box Office Glory to Social Media Outrage

Saturday, August 12, 2023 • Tamil Comments
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The summer blockbuster, Barbie, has taken the global box office by storm, crossing the $1 billion mark and etching Greta Gerwig's name in history as the first female director to achieve this milestone. Dedicated fans are flocking to theaters for multiple viewings, while others around the world eagerly await their chance to enter the enchanting world of Barbieland. The movie's release in Japan, however, has been surrounded by controversy, particularly related to the "Barbenheimer" memes.

In Japan, Barbie tickets have become a hot commodity, coinciding with a national holiday that marks the beginning of an extended summer break. This opportune timing prompted many to choose a movie night to celebrate. The "Barbenheimer" trend, which paired Margot Robbie's image with that of Cillian Murphy portraying Oppenheimer, sparked a furor in Japan.

The country had recently observed the solemn 78th anniversary of the tragic atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Warner Bros.' marketing account for Barbie faced backlash for posting these fan-made memes, which combined Robbie's image with depictions of nuclear explosions. The controversy escalated to the point where a petition demanded that Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures cease using the #Barbenheimer hashtag on social media.

Amidst the uproar, #NoBarbenheimer gained traction in Japan, leading Warner's Japanese division to criticize its U.S. counterpart. This ultimately prompted an apology from the U.S. branch. Despite the tensions, Japanese moviegoers remained undeterred in their eagerness to experience Barbie on the big screen.

As Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling dazzled audiences, a parallel situation unfolded for Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer. The film's release date in Japan remains undisclosed, with criticism surrounding its portrayal of the atomic bombings' devastating impact on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which claimed more than 200,000 lives.

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