At both ends of the world, the joint release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenhiemer has plunged society into slight mania, triggering a Barbenheimer war for the ages.

Let’s start with the doll. Based on the Barbie trailer and the viewpoint of the Vietnamese government, a crayola Barbie World map honours China’s controversial claim over shared international waters in South East Asia. Outraged by what appears to be a blue splatter of paint drawn by a child, Barbie is somehow banned in Vietnam for almost 100 million people.

Equally, Hipsters are outraged that for Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan casted a slightly-older looking 26 year-old female actor (Florence Pugh) in a loving relationship with the slightly younger-looking 46 year-old (Cillian Murphy). This isn’t really an issue given that the couple they play had a ten-year age gap in real life—but it illustrates a wider point. We’re ready to get angry about almost anything. 

But forget about all that for a second and get back to the movies. There’s an existential dillema looming. Which movie are you going to watch first? Barbie? Or Oppenheimer

Now fast-forward to July 21st. 

Unable to participate in the latest viral trend, Vietnamese protestors take to the streets to demand the right to a free and fair Barbenheimer marathon. Fresh disputes break out between the embittered Asian nations’ borders. Taiwan blinks. Xi Jinping panics. Putin takes a chance. Emotions spiral—silos open.

And a screaming comes across the sky.


In the twilight of the Barbenhiemer nuclear holocaust, I’m convinced survivors will still ask the same question, this time with a religious urgency: which movie would you watch first? Barbie? Or Oppenheimer? It might even develop into its own crude model of language; a Cloud Atlas-style greeting as normal as hello. 

I’m confident the Barbie-last response group will form the greatest part of this new society, but will also be totally out of their depth. Many might not have even watched Oppenheimer or just closed their eyes through the hard bits. Without any time to think, they’ve patted themselves on the back for dealing with the serious movie, then gone straight to the Barbie comfort zone with pink mimosas akimbo. It’s ironic that Barbie‘s motif seems to be escapism, because it operates like a mother-figure; a gigantic feel-good panacea you grope towards at the end of a scary movie about even scarier possibilities. The Barbie-last group—sickly, irradiated and with hippy smiles—fundamentally can’t cope with reality. They need something to hope for.

They’ll be at death’s door by the first winter. 

I’m certain the Barbie-first response group will flourish in this strange new world—it’s the perfect rorschach test for unveiling psychopaths. Timing is everything. And when you prefer to start your morning watching a wry children’s fantasy and end your evening navel gazing as Japanese civilians get vaporized, you like seeing good things burn. You’re the kind of sado-masochistic doomsday-prepping sandcastle-kicking condom-needling ingrate that’s at home in a Mad Max special. And now, in an irradiated hell-hole—you’re thriving. 

Luckily, we still live in the timeline where we haven’t yet killed each other over buzzfeed personality quizzes. But it seems every year we inch closer to glassing our planet and falling at each other’s throats for the most spurious reasons. While the Vietnamese and parts of the US government are still continuing to scream bloody murder over the Barbie Map, Europe peers into WWIII. We’re stubbornly stuck at 90 seconds on the doomsday clock. In this post-modern sequel to the Cold War, the Barbie-first camp might be on the money: but only because it encapsulates the cynicism of watching things get worse by the minute. 

Like most people, however, I’ve long given up trying to make sense of this world.  The little I can gather from Barbie is that reality is insidious but necessary, and childhood is powerful. So I’d like to really raise my glass to the Barbie-last people; the tribe I’ll happily be joining tomorrow. Because if things do go tits up and we turn Oppenheimer into a modern documentary—then who truly wins? Our flesh is weak. We’ll be snuffed out. But love survives death. And when we go bravely into that good night, there’s still a memento. Outlasting the flowers, landmines and our rotting bones, will be hot-pink garbage and cute fucking dolls.