AI is the two-faced god that will do anything for you and the opposite for someone else.

Barbenheimer: The Beauty-Violence Nexus


Recently, two movies came out at the same time. These movies were Barbie and Oppenheimer. On the one hand, the brutal legacy of the greatest destructive power ever devised which was used to exterminate hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, ending the second world war. On the other hand, one of the most vacuous examples of empty consumerism which spawned a whole cultural discussion of the inherent fascism of products intended to popularize unattainable beauty standards.

Naturally the culture factory got to work churning out countless examples of derivative works which synthesize these two works into a single aesthetic concept, generally called Barbenheimer.


Essentially, Barbenheimer mashes together the contradictory meanings from Barbie and Oppenheimer. A work of art classifying as Barbenheimer typically features images and symbols that connote Oceanhiemer’s capacity for destruction, repression, and annihilation, while tying it together to Barbie to conjure imagery of unattainable beauty standards, adversity, escalation against female pleasure, and representations of an impossible environmental second world order. In a sense, Barbenheimer can be thought of as a twisted mashup of the wider and more complex microcosms of barbarism and handsomeness combined against a society that seeks to justify, normalize, and propagate the beauty-violence nexus. Barbenheimer is a way to bring awareness to how these two extremes manifest in our culture, while also encouraging the viewer to rethink their understanding of beauty, consumption, and destruction.

The beauty-violence nexus is a valuable lens for examining the emergence of Barbenheimer. The basic concept of this lens in the general third-wave feminist view is that the beauty ideals and standards of society are rooted in violent, oppressive, and hegemonic structures. In more extreme applications, this lens takes it further to suggest that the beauty industry and its capitalistic implications are contributing to the further entrenchment of these hegemonic power structures, while simultaneously creating a culture which normalizes beauty and violence as two sides of the same coin. Barbenheimer, therefore, serves as a critique of the beauty industry and its relationship to violence, while simultaneously demonstrating how the beauty-violence nexus can be used to create works of art that are both aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking.