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Ellie Doering / Gavel Media

Six Months Later, Barbenheimer is Still Captivating Us All

Anyone who interacted with me this summer knew that there was one thing on my mind: Barbenheimer. The memes of Barbie and Oppenheimer, the contrast between the two films, the content of each, the mystery, and the actors, all coming to theaters on July 21st. Well, it’s crazy to believe, but it has been six months since the fated release of Barbie and Oppenheimer, and the two films more than lived up to their hype. Both shattered high expectations and the box office, Oppenheimer grossing 954 million and Barbie grossing 1.4 billion, making the latter the highest-grossing film of 2023. Six months later, amidst awards season, the two movies are still making headlines. 

First, a brief review. As a Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig fan with no idea what Barbie was about, I eagerly saw it opening weekend and absolutely adored it. Between the fun, amazing, pink aesthetic I translated to my summer mood and the powerful, realistic perspective, Barbie showed us about the truths of womanhood. I was a huge fan. 

While I was enthusiastically anticipating watching Oppenheimer, in all honesty, I did not commit three hours to watch it until last weekend from the comfort of my dorm room – and boy was I missing out. As a political science and international studies major currently geeking out in her Cold War class, my roommates can attest that as much as the movie was a powerful, educational, cinematic masterpiece, I was a complete nerd the entire time. Safe to say, the next day, I listened to the Grammy and Golden Globe-winning soundtrack and read my book on President Truman Sunday with glee. 

As the “Barbenheimer” pop culture moment was seemingly coming to a close, six months later, the two strikingly different movies were up for comparison in the media again for awards season. As was expected, both films were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, received similar numbers of Golden Globe nominations, and took major awards in their respective categories. Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie received Oscar nominations for writing and producing, but they were snubbed for their groundbreaking work as Best Director and Best Actress despite Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera receiving nods for their supporting roles.

Let me be clear, Ferrera and Gosling were amazing, and while the movie was a feminist commentary, Gosling’s Ken was admittedly outstanding. Even more, he handled this situation with grace. In a disappointed statement, Gosling said, “There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie, the two people most responsible for this history-making, globally-celebrated film.” Many praised his Kenergy, and most were at least confused as to why Gerwig and Robbie weren’t even nominated for the highest nods in their respective categories, especially considering no other major awards program excluded the two.

While the snub of the two leading women behind the groundbreaking female empowerment movie enraged much of the internet (Hillary Clinton posted about it), there was, of course, the backlash to the backlash. Do white women need to be praised every time they discuss feminism? Aren’t there more important things going on right now in the world? Being angry over two women missing out on two categories for an award does seem ridiculous. 

Both sides to this debate hold some weight here, but somehow, I can’t help but be amazed by the beautiful irony of this whole situation. Months before watching Oppenheimer, in anticipation of the event I successfully assumed would revive the movie industry, I was obsessed with the mere image of the Destroyer of Death Robert Oppenheimer shaking hands with Margot Robbie in a pink Barbie outfit. Once I watched both films, in their unique ways, I felt personally attracted to each of their brilliance. Even more, in almost parallel fashion, Oppenheimer was about one of the most, if not the, most important events in history that many people today don’t know the complexities behind; Barbie was a beautifully real testament to challenges from the perspective men don’t wholly understand. Six months after the fated “Barbenheimer,” the Academy nominated Oppenheimer in almost every category and recognized the leading man behind Barbie for his work but snubbed the two leading women.

So yes, six months later, both of these movies and the concept of their relationship still bring me an unexplainable sense of interest and joy, so I agree with those mad about Gerwig and Robbie’s snubs. Nevertheless, after both of the movies’ successes in and out of the box office, it’s 2024, do we still really care what the Academy has to say? 

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