'Barbenheimer' memes spark anti-nuclear anger in Japan
Internet memes referencing the films ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ have sparked anger online in Japan, the only country to ever have been attacked in wartime with nuclear weapons.
One film is about a wildly popular children's doll and the other is a biopic about J Robert Oppenheimer, one of the creators of atomic weapons.
Memes shared on social media combined images from both, with one showing a cheering Barbie on the shoulders of Oppenheimer, against the backdrop of an apocalyptic blast.
"Do they know how many people died when that mushroom cloud appeared?... Don't have fun with the atomic bomb," said one irate Japanese social media user, using the hashtag #NoBarbenheimer.
Around 140,000 people died in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki when the United States dropped atomic bombs on the two Japanese cities days before the end of World War II in 1945.
"We just want (the US) to know what kind of devastation the two atomic bombs caused before speaking, not just for Japan but also for the world," wrote another user.
The official account of the ‘Barbie’ movie on X, formerly known as Twitter, replied to one such image, saying: "It's going to be a summer to remember" accompanied by a blowing kiss emoji.
The message, which on Tuesday was no longer visible, prompted Warner Bros. Japan, the local distributor of ‘Barbie’, to apologise.
"We apologise to those who were offended by this series of inconsiderate reactions," Warner Bros. Japan said in a statement.
The distributor also said the replies by the US official account were "extremely regrettable", adding they are urging the headquarters to "take appropriate action".
‘Barbie’ is due to be released in Japan later this month, but no date has been set for ‘Oppenheimer’. Both films have been major box-office successes in the United States.