‘Barbie’ or ‘Oppenheimer’? We asked senators what movie they were watching.

It was only a matter of time before the “Barbenheimer” speech made its way through the halls of Congress and into the political corners of the twitterverse.

The phenomenon began as a joke among online terminals, when the studios behind the candy-colored “Barbie” movie and the visibly darker atomic bomb origin story “Oppenheimer” announced that the films would be released on the same day. Then came must-have memes, clothing inspiration, and wall-to-wall coverage.

Now the US Senate has been dragged into the debate.

“Which of your state senators sees the Barbie and which one sees Oppenheimer? (You have to choose),” a Twitter user posted late Wednesday night, racking up 1 million views the morning of release day.

Senators and their constituents have publicly pondered the subject: A “Barbie” ticket for Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.)? “If you say so,” he says. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)? “Neither Barbie nor Oppenheimer. i am a ken.” Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona)? A legislator whocan do both— fittingly on the fence for the former Democrat-turned-Independent.

To end speculation, POLITICO asked each senator which – if any – of the two films they intended to see this opening weekend. Here is what they said.

Dual Features

Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.) told POLITICO he plans to see both and is taking people from Capitol Hill to see “Barbie.” And while he said he wouldn’t be able to see them back-to-back, he has some strong opinions about the viewing order.

“You need serious, then dessert,” Booker said. “You don’t see ‘Barbie’ and then ‘Oppenheimer.’ You see “Oppenheimer” then “Barbie”.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) was one of Booker’s guests, although exit details were yet to be set as of Thursday night, according to a spokesperson for Cardin. Either way, the Maryland Democrat is interested in seeing the “Barbie” movie with his granddaughters.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said he and his wife agreed to watch the two. Although he’s more of an “Oppenheimer” fan himself — he got Oppenheimer-approved legislation — Markey said his wife is passionate about “Barbie.” But he is a firm believer in doing a double header.

“Why make a choice when none is required?” Markey said. “You are asking me to choose between two films that I can see on the same day.”

“The question would really be: what would I eat between films? he added.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) plans to do the double feature, but likely not this weekend, according to a spokesperson.

“I will see both,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in an email. “I loved the ‘American Prometheus’ bio that ‘Oppenheimer’ is based on. I wouldn’t see ‘Barbie’… except for the Greta Gerwig directing. She can make cinematic gold from straw. As for when? Who knows?”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) will also see both — but not back-to-back, according to his team.

The ‘Barbie’ Team

For Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), it’s a no-brainer. She’s a “Barbie” girl in a Capitol Hill world.

“How could you not be part of the ‘Barbie’ team?” Warren told POLITICO. Although she probably won’t have time this weekend, she coordinates when to watch with her granddaughters.

Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) also plans to see “Barbie” next week, a spokesperson said.

The ‘Oppenheimer’ team

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are on the “Oppenheimer” camp, as are the Senses. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), both history buffs, according to their teams.

Sen. Thom Tillis (RN.C.) is definitely for ‘Oppenheimer’ and would “probably see ‘Barbie,'” a spokesperson said, though he’s not doing the double feature.

“After learning that Oppenheimer contained numerous scenes of Senate committee hearings from the 1950s and three hours of American history, Senator [Michael] Bennet is looking forward to leaving,” a spokesperson for the Colorado Democrat said. “His wife and daughters will be watching ‘Barbie’ tonight without him.”

“As one of the key senators responsible for vindicating J. Robert Oppenheimer,” Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) “looks forward to seeing Oppenheimer again with his family in the future,” a spokesperson said. Heinrich was one of four senators who urged President Joe Biden to rescind the Atomic Energy Commission’s designation of the physicist as “untrustworthy and unfit to serve his country.”

And Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) wants to see “Oppenheimer,” but the new “Indiana Jones” movie is at the top of his list.

Uh, no thank you

Sens Chris Coons (D-Del.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) don’t plan to see either, their teams said.

The senses. Kevin Cramer (RN.D.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) have a different movie in mind: “The Sound of Freedom,” based on a former government agent’s efforts to rescue trafficked children.

“I had planned to see neither, but this meme made me wonder if I now need to see both,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said, referring to a photo that dubbed him “Oppenheimer” and Sinema, who he was talking to, as “Barbie.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) also doesn’t plan to see either film; but is currently reading “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” a spokesperson said.

A spokesman for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) declined to comment.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this report misrepresented the state represented by Senator Sherrod Brown.

Leave a Comment