From the studio that brought you “Ledger’s Widows,” comes to you “Oppenheimer is better than Barbie.” Because yes, comparing two movies whose cast, genre, story, and even length are different seems to make muuuuuch sense.
But no, hater friend, don’t lie, you didn’t like Oppenheimer, you were just uncomfortable with Barbie and we’ll tell you why.
How Little the Barbenheimer Phenomenon Lasted
The sympathy for the alliance called Barbenheimer that caused so much hype since it was announced that Barbie and Oppenheimer would share a release date was short-lived. It is not the first time something like this has happened; it happened with Mamma Mia and The Dark Knight or Matrix and 10 Things I Hate About You, but of course, this time, the internet did its thing and made it the main topic of the movies during the last months.
Whether we would buy tickets to see Barbie and then watch Oppenheimer, whether we would see it in IMAX or normal screens; well, even the cast made jokes about it by taking pictures with both tickets purchased.
Frail Masculinities Could Not Stand It
Anyway, the day came, and of course, the reviews were not long in coming, although not everything was very even. At first, it was honey on flakes, the scores on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb were similar since only a few people had seen it, but like most things in this life, nothing lasts, and as soon as it reached the hands of the general public everything changed.
Criticisms of Barbie as to whether it was feminist propaganda or furthering a misandric discourse began to gain weight after the premiere, and people couldn’t stand it. The networks were flooded with comments saying that they expected something different from the plot or that they were offended by Greta Gerwig’s script, so it was no surprise that they turned to her “competition,” Oppenheimer.
They Were Not as Successful
Did the same people who saw Barbie really see Oppenheimer? Let’s look at the numbers. In its first weekend, Nolan’s film grossed 174 million dollars in total, and in the case of Barbie, it was 344 million, almost twice as much as Oppenheimer, which makes us think that the physicist’s film did not receive nearly as much public attention as the doll’s film.
But of course, in terms of projection, we can’t leave aside that Barbie received more theaters with more schedules in the movie complexes than Oppenheimer. Just in the theaters I visited over the weekend, Margot Robbie’s film had 10 screenings a day in theaters with 250 seats on average, against 4 traditional and 2 IMAX with approximately 400 seats than Cillian Murphy’s; so it was obvious that a smaller audience was going to attend the latter.
You Didn’t Like Oppenheimer; You Were Just Uncomfortable with Barbie
Despite knowing all this, why are so many people comparing them and dismissing one from the other? The answer is as simple as saying that you go to a soccer team just because you dislike the rival. Since Barbie was not what they expected, but also offended masculinities and internalized misogynies, the immediate response was to praise Oppenheimer, even without having seen it.
And it is not that I say that Nolan’s film has no merit, no, but it is curious to know how it is that a speech as clear and direct as the one presented by Greta Gerwig is less accepted and disqualified than one full of complex technicalities and whose story takes about an hour and a half to unfold.
Throughout his career, Christopher Nolan has built a solid entourage of fans just like other directors such as Quentin Tarantino or Tim Burton, who maintain a stamp that makes their audience be on the edge of their seats every time they release a film, but I did not see any stir as I did this time three years ago with Tenet or in 2017 with Dunkirk whose film and technical characteristics are similar to Oppenheimer.
So no, dear hater, you didn’t like Oppenheimer, you didn’t scream with emotion with the performances of Cillian or Robert Downey Jr, you weren’t moved by the dialogues of physicists whose names you’ve barely heard nor much less the story took you on a carousel of emotions for three hours, you were just annoyed by Barbie‘s plot, you were offended by her direct criticism and that they raised a real problem explicitly; you were turned off by the sight of people dressed in pink crowding theaters as they do at superhero premieres, you couldn’t stand seeing happy people, or you just didn’t understand Barbie, so don’t lie, you didn’t like Oppenheimer, you were just uncomfortable with Barbie… and with that, it served its purpose.
This story was written in Spanish by Vanessa Farías in Cultura Colectiva