If you exist in the online world at all, you have probably taken note of the Barbenheimer phenomenon. Barbenheimer is a portmanteau of the titles of the two blockbuster films, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”, which were released simultaneously in theaters on July 21, 2023. The word was coined by internet users to describe the experience of watching both films in one day. Together, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” combined to make it one of the biggest box office weekends of all time.
“Barbie,” a bright pink fantasy-comedy, brings the classic Mattel doll to life, while “Oppenheimer,” tells the story of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the development of the nuclear bomb.
What does this have to do with the library? Well, for the academically curious, both of these subjects can act as entry points into a variety of different subjects and disciplines. While the subjects of these films trace their roots back to Germany, both Barbie and Oppenheimer have had a huge impact on American culture.
A scholar interested in Barbie might look into her history and development through time, the business strategies behind her success, her influence on the perception of beauty and health standards for girls and women, and the social and cultural influence Barbie has had upon children.
Meanwhile, an interest in J. Robert Oppenheimer and his work could take a researcher through the scientific aspects of his work but also through the cultural significance of the nuclear bomb and subsequent nuclear technology. Scientific discovery and development, medicine, political relationships, military conflicts, and even entertainment have all been shaped and molded by the development of nuclear energy from the time of its inception.
So, after you’ve done your double feature viewing of Barbie and Oppenheimer, bring some of the residual inspiration/creative fallout to the library to engage with the resources we have here.
Do you have an angle on Barbie or Oppenheimer we haven’t considered? Let us know! We’d love to hear about your research!