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Film & TV

But what would a ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ mashup actually look like?

‘Barbenheimer’ is trending — and maybe it should be its own movie

As Aqua once famously sang, “we’re all just Barbie girls in an Opie world.”

For reasons of a shared release date — and a funny juxtaposition — the internet is now denser than the hot pink core of an atom bomb with “Barbenheimer” memes. Many are planning their double features for July 21. That’s when Christopher Nolan’s flick about the pork pie-sporting theoretical physicist who gifted mankind the ability to destroy itself and Greta Gerwig’s well-branded look at the Mattel icon turned existentially awakened material girl, both arrive in cinemas. 

But few have imagined what a proper mashup of these films might look like, perhaps because a crucial common denominator is being overlooked: Jewishness. Enter me, who is just enough of a visionary to imagine the full potential of the Barbenheimer-verse.

Title: Barbie Boom

Tagline: Blonde, meet bombshell.  

Synopsis: Sometime in the 1930s, Barbie, who can’t be pigeonholed into any one era, meets Oppenheimer when he’s teaching at UC Berkeley and Ken is one of his students. Enjoying Opie’s martinis and his erudite company, Barbie asks the future father of the atom bomb for help supporting the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Her cousin Moe is a volunteer.

Oppenheimer cuts a check and together they cruise around in Barbie’s convertible on a road trip in search of enriched uranium and Ken’s missing Bermuda shorts. He chain-smokes, she drives in heels. Their madcap adventure — cameos include Neil deGrasse Tyson, Guy Fieri, Kylie Jenner and Yahoo Serious as Einstein — takes them from sunny California to the New Mexico desert where, on ‘shrooms as part of a psychedelia Seder, Barbie imagines herself boxed into a plastic-screened chamber. Opie dreams of fissioning atoms and a mushroom cloud blossoming on the Los Alamos mesa. Their trips intermingle: Oppenheimer sees a Malibu dreamhouse peeking through the head of the explosion; Barbie, looking out onto an endless aisle of shelved doppelgangers, confined to cardboard chambers, sees the glare of flashbulbs reflecting from their prison cell windows. 

Cut to the 1950s. Barbie appears before an Atomic Energy Commission hearing on Oppenheimer’s security clearance over his alleged communist sympathies. She’s now a respected veterinarian/lawyer/rocket scientist, having abandoned the radical activism of her youth for the finer things in life, like dreamplanes the color of Pepto Bismol. (She also knows the AEC chair Lewis L. Strauss through her work with Jewish causes.) 

Barbie testifies as a character witness, insisting that Oppenheimer, in their travels, was the picture of American loyalty and an avid consumer of American goods. Will this satisfy the committee? Will history change forever? Does it end with the duo riding a fuchsia bomb down toward the San Fernando Valley? Is this film an indictment or a celebration of consumerism and nuclear proliferation?

I, of course, can’t reveal any of this until the end of the writers’ strike, but once a fair contract is inked, I feel like we’re ready to enter pre-production. I expect lines around the block and hope for JCC screenings throughout the country and popularity within all four quadrants.

Thank you, Mr. Zaslav, for your consideration.

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