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Barbenheimer: The Rainbow Connection of Existential Dread

By Frances Baker

I couldn't miss the opportunity to experience the biggest movie event of 2023: seeing BARBIE and OPPENHEIMER back to back. Of course, to experience the internet craze, but also because a girl loves some good cinema. One cannot overlook the chance to witness the return of the historical drive-in double-features, a genuine sign of the changing world of media consumption. But the question was, which one first? Barbie showed at 3pm and Oppenheimer at 6pm. Which probably was a good idea, seeing as Oppenheimer was very long... and I mean long. (What day is it again?)

The general description for "Barbenheimer" - An Internet sensation that emerged before the concurrent theatrical premieres of two highly praised blockbuster films with starkly contrasting genres - Barbie and Oppenheimer.

But how contrasting are they?

Images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures. and Universal Pictures

Barbie is an unabashed, fun, colorful wonder of spectacular imagination with bright musical scores. Pink, pink, and more pink. Every little girl's ultimate nostalgia trip of the #1 doll wrapped up with a (you guessed it) pink ribbon. But it's much, much more. There's a surprising amount of hidden innuendos and clever themes of "becoming" and accepting yourself. Barbie brings us together to realize the real world.

Oppenheimer is the real world. This shit actually happened. It's a three-hour immersive journey into the grim realities of war and the potential annihilation of humanity by the making of the first atomic bomb. It features dreary imagery captured on 35mm film (and a lot of men smoking) and a drone-toned score that adds a hauntingly authentic touch to the narrative. Oppenheimer brings us together to realize the real world.

These two films have a more common thread that plays through people's minds, causing us to have a mental breakdown.

While the Barbie meme is a perfect example of humanity's dark humor, the underlying contemplation comes after; in the vastness of the universe, we are mere specks of stardust, infinitesimal in comparison to the grand cosmos. We find ourselves pondering our significance and purpose amidst the cosmic dance of celestial bodies.

Barbie's perfect Barbieland world collapses, forcing her to confront the reality of the Real World and the shrinking of her femininity by patriarchy. Throughout her hero's journey in the realization of the real world, she meditates multiple times, realizing the importance of embracing and adapting to change. Even though there is obstructions in your path, there are ways to find the true meaning of womanhood. I found myself reflecting on the same nature of change and identity and the power she gave me to look inside my own heart and reflect on who I am; truly. Rather than avoiding these feelings, we can use them to reflect on our lives and gain deeper insights about who we are, to understand and grow from the experience.

When considering Oppenheimer, we witness a darker aspect of human nature. Although the universe is vast, it feels insignificant when contemplating the devastation caused by war and the desire for power. When Oppenheimer reaches a breaking point and realizes the gravity of his actions, it is impossible to fully grasp the magnitude of the consequences. The world will never be the same, dead or alive. Despite attempts to suppress feelings of existential dread, the inevitable outcome remains beyond our control. "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Images courtesy of Universal Pictures

We hear Barbie talk about existential dread while Oppenheimer shows it to us.

BoxOffice Pro said this week it is projecting a $200+ million weekend at the cinema. It has already produced $103.5 million combined since Thursday.

Barbie and Oppenheimer are in theaters now.


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