What ‘Barbenheimer’ is actually telling us

It is being opined that the box office clash between Oppenheimer and Barbie on July 21 will tell us about who we are. The Economist summed up the perceived binary with the headline, ‘“Realism with “Oppenheimer”, or escapism with “Barbie”?’ The subheading articulated the latest civilisational dilemma: ‘What the fortunes of this summer’s blockbusters will reveal about our times’.

Can’t hardly wait! Meanwhile, the hilarity that has followed the rival releases is exactly the distraction we need from usurious vegetable prices, unpredictable weather patterns, and Elon Musk’s barrage of tweets. 

Barbenheimer, the internet trend of memes celebrating the competing films, even has its own Wikipedia page

The two productions are indeed worlds apart. Oppenheimer is, firstly, Un Film De Christopher Nolan, whose every project, every utterance and every appearance sends his vast fanbase into rapture. Nolan’s biopic of theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer’s leadership of America’s nuclear weapons programme – specifically, the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 – is based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin. The sprawling cast includes Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, and Kenneth Branagh. 

Oppenheimer (2023).

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