In his recent appearance on Lex Friedman’s podcast, Yuval Noah Harari makes this point again and again: storytelling is the most powerful tool we have. For example, Harari says, “If you go to Jerusalem, it’s an ordinary place. But then you have the stories about the place. And it’s the stories that people fight over.”
"The story of the two films combined speaks to a frivolous, consumer-based lifestyle lived out in the context of an overshadowing impending doom. It’s the experience of scrolling through Instagram and seeing hot models in bikinis juxtaposed with war images from Ukraine. It’s a fancy cocktail served poolside juxtaposed with an image from a funeral."
Suzanne Collins flipping through TV channels and seeing war reporting next to frivolous game shows inspired her to write Hunger Games. Barbenheimer is another iteration of that it seems.
Maybe the best we can do is embrace the pairing ironically? Otherwise we don't acknowledge it at all. Also AMC Stubs making puns in their marketing emails like offering "explosive bonus points" for Oppen tickets is pretty dystopian given the implications of the movie and all.
Oppenheimer first. Once you've done that job, reward yourself with a light dessert.
You might say the connection between the two is that the grim 40s-based Oppenheimer paved the way for the economic explosion and consumer society of the 50s-60s, which birthed Barbie.