Warner Bros Korea Under Massive Fire For Its Since-Deleted “Disrespectful” Posters For “Barbie” Movie
On April 12, Warner Bros Korea tweeted a string of posters for Greta Gerwig‘s live-action Barbie movie—localized in Korean…
…except K-Movie goers were quick to notice the Korean versions were missing the original versions’ iconic slogans of “Barbie is everything” and “He’s just Ken” from them.
The localized versions were simplified to show “Barbie” and “Ken,” with a few others also simplified to “Narrator,” “Mermaid Barbie,” etc.
Because the slogans have been considered an important part of the female-empowering message of the movie itself, their mistranslations—or “oversimplifications,” as some voiced—sparked an intense backlash toward the production company.
- “There’s no way they ‘didn’t know.’ From the beginning of its production, the Barbie movie had a clear message to convey. And since they’re working in the film industry, they would have well-known director Greta Gerwig’s intention. If they really did not know, it’s their incompetence.”
- “Why even bring it to Korea if they’re going to do it dirty like this?”
- “These loser men…”
- “I wonder what they found so offensive that they had to change it. Haha.”
- “I’m not even surprised because this happens all the time. It doesn’t matter if there’s a message to be conveyed. If the men don’t like it, they’ll get rid of it. LMAO. Remember when the men changed Michelle Yeoh’s speech…?”
- “Oh, wow… Korea sucks. LOL. This is so embarrassing.”
- “F*cking stupid.”
- “The original slogans were phrased carefully. And I feel like they carry so much significance. And for the Korean version to completely erase them…?!”
- “Comparing them to [other countries’ versions] makes me even more depressed.”
- “Ken is a side character in Barbie’s world. Even Ryan Gosling himself said Ken’s an accessory. Barbie is the center of Barbie’s world. The main message is that Barbie is everything and can be anything. Ken is… ‘just Ken.’ So the intention is clear for them to have removed this entire idea from the posters.”
- “I don’t get why they’re going such great lengths to be like this.”
- “Warner Bros Korea is making a fool of themselves.”
English-speaking movie fans also picked up on the online criticism commented on Korea’s “fragile masculinity,” pointing out that the localization is straight out “disrespectful.”
they removed the "she's everything, he's just ken" lmao korean men and their fragile masculinity https://t.co/pb8iSNFxny
— Paula🪐 (@syjungies) April 12, 2023
SK hates women so much they changed the “barbie is everything, he’s just ken” logo to just barbie and ken.
not long ago they censored michelle yeoh’s oscar speech empowering women because they thought her message should apply to everyone not just women.
oh this fragile country. https://t.co/FsA6dS1Ieh
— springkies (@jekkibby2) April 13, 2023
While Warner Bros Korea tried to explain that the posters had “no intentions to undermine the movie’s message” of female empowerment, the company was also quick to delete the tweet…
When the headquarter revealed the character posters, social media platforms picked up on them and ‘self memes’ were going viral. So before launching the marketing campaign in Korea, we wanted to tease the character visuals first. We chose the posters of cast who are more recognized in Korea and shared them almost like as sneak peeks.
It was our plan to release the actual posters that show the original slogans once we officially launch the marketing campaign in Korea. We had no ill intentions or special reasons [for the different translations]. The posters were never meant to [undermine the movie’s message]. We’re aware of the online opinion, though.
— Warner Bros Korea
…replacing it with posters that better captured the original slogans.
— Warner Bros. Korea (@WarnerBrosKorea) April 13, 2023
The new, “correct” posters were not enough to stop Koreans from accusing Warner Bros Korea of undermining Barbie.
- “It has not been a whole day since you shared the so-called selected ‘sneak peeks.’ You know your excuse was stupid when you have to delete and repost like this.”
- “I have feelings about how you deleted the first post and reposted these without really explaining yourselves. But I’ll watch the movie because I’ve been waiting for it. Don’t underestimate the Korean market. We’ve seen other movies. We speak English. We know what memes are. We use the internet.”
- “Please stop editing to your preferences and bring us correct translations from now on.”
- “Where’s the apology, though? You’ve disrespected the creator’s original intentions.”
- “I don’t know. You can’t even localize the posters correctly. How can we trust you to localize the movie itself?”
- “I see that you’ve deleted the first post. And now, you’re sharing these without an official apology. You even separated the Barbie ones from Ken ones. I know what you’re trying to do; You’re still trying to convolute the message. I’m worried that the subtitles are going to be of the same subpar quality. Think about the target market.”
- “Even losers who can’t translate English can get hired [at Warner Bros Korea]!”
- “This is how the posters should have been in the first place. The first versions that were shared… Those were petty AF.”
Some even shared greater concern for the subtitling and/or dubbing of the movie, though Warner Bros Korea reassured the fans that there won’t be a problem.
We put a lot of effort into localizing movies. We understand the concern, but there won’t be a problem at all.
— Warner Bros Korea