05 January 2009

Can Hit**r be humorous?

You may note the asterisks in the title. I have learned from the posters on my previous post (in re A*n R*nd and Alan Gree**pan) that there are individuals whose goal is to keep constant track of specific names and swamp the web sites that mention them. My innocuous and domestic little blog is not used to these sorts of attentions.

This post is in reference to another blog, one which I have been reading after having read his wife's blog. This blogger (who I will reference if he oks it) recently posted a video which, specifically, used a clip of a movie about the fall of Berlin, starring Hit**r, to mock Clinton. When I commented that I found that offensive and misogynistic, it was explained to me by other posters that this is a meme which has been used in reference to other topics, such as the real estate market or football. My response was that when used in reference to an individual, this was horrifying. I went on to discuss my general feelings about the trivialization of Hit**r's crimes by using him as a figure of fun. The general response was that 1: 1st Amendment rights so allow, 2. that laughing at horror allows one to be in control and 3. that other Jewish people find this funny and therefore that I have no sense of humor.

Looking further back, the blogger notes that this arose once before and that a similar discussion arose. True, and I was part of it. I had 1. forgotten that it was this individual's blog- that was early enough in my blogging that I did not feel comfortable discussing personal things openly and 2. forgotten how uncomfortable I had grown at the tone and lack of understanding that I saw in that discussion. The same discomfort that I feel now and the reason that I have unsubscribed from comments on that post, the first time that I have ever felt that necessary to do so.

Let's start with my lack of sense of humor.

I guess that's the same lack of sense of humor I have when I don't find other misogynistic "jokes" and comments amusing. I am offended to be told that I need to have a sense of "humor" about trivializing the man who murdered the majority of my family and destroyed our way of life. I am also offended to be told that putting a woman in that space, and one who has spent over a year being viciously attacked, not for her actions or beliefs, but because of her gender, is funny and that I "just don't get it" when I feel the deep nastiness that really resides behind that action.

I saw that "meme" used with the destruction of the real estate market and I was not terribly offended by it. I thought it tasteless (and actually knew what the German meant), I knew that it was illegal here and was fine with that, but was not heartily offended. There is a real difference when such a heinous figure is used to mock an individual rather than a state of affairs. The latter is tasteless, the former is sick/misogynistic/disgusting. But looking back and thinking about it for more than the three minutes I spent on it last time, I can say that I disapprove of both. But I was not offended enough to post a remark to the individual who used this clip in re real estate.

Let me add that I am also offended, as a woman and a Jew, when someone uses the word JAP around me. As I mentioned before, the fact that another woman and a Jew, uses that derogatory term simply means that she has been so indoctrinated that she is comfortable using self-hating terms.

Looking at position 2, that mocking and belittling a monster renders it amusing and no longer "aweful": I just flat out disagree with that. I believe, with every study that I have ever read, that using awful things in a trivial manner normalizes them. This is why violence, profanity and obscenity as well as sexualization of children, have all become "acceptable", unremarked and normalized in American culture. This is extremely clear here, in Europe, where violence is generally unacceptable to display to children, whereas naked bodies are fine. (By the way, I think this is a better way of protecting children than exposing them to violence and hiding breastfeeding!). I don't think making mock of Hit**r does anything other than mock those who suffered at his hands. And if one could argue to use such mockery, in limited ways, I would argue that it could work only as parts of works of art, infused with an actual meaning, rather than in the hands of the ignorant (as when Prince William and his brother found it amusing to dress as N*zi party members).

And lastly, 1st Amendment rights. I actually think that the 1st Amendment should not cover certain things (as it does not). I would be fine with making it illegal to disseminate and use pictures and images of the Th*rd Re**h and Hit**r , as it is here and in Austria. Allowing their use leads to terrible results such as the poor little child in Union Township named A***ph Hit**r (with his sister Ar**n N**ion and other sibling, Hinnler) being irretrievably scarred by the idiotic and racist actions of their parents. I think it is harder for fools to be "seduced" by the dark side when one can only read about it in dry tomes rather than look at the sexy jackboots and tight jodhpurs.

So there you have it. I may add more later.


egan said...

I've seen that Hitler video used for so many different things on the internet. Heck they used it in the Seattle area for a college football game. Lame if you ask me. You're right to be annoyed with it.

Charlotte said...

I haven't seen the video and I don't want to. I agree with what you say, that trivializing things doesn't make then better or heal in any way. I think there are some things about which there are no jokes.

As for America depicting violence but hiding a breastfeeding, you're spot-on. I do think the European attitude is much healthier.

honeypiehorse said...

I agree with almost all your points but it seems a lot of things offend you, which can't be good for you. I recently found a picture of a cat that looked like you-know-who that I thought was funny but I agree about the risk of normalizing horror with inappropriate humor. I believe it's important to be able to laugh at bad stuff without ruffling people's neck hair but I also read in a historical documentary that because most Germans laughed at you-know-who in the early days, no one took him seriously until it was too late. Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between.

G in Berlin said...

Hi Egan, Charlotte: Thanks for stopping by.

@ Honeypie: Perhaps I am coming off as easily offended here in my blog. Remember, there are very few people with whom I can actually share my feelings in "real life". I can't tell my friends and family in the US because they just say"So come home then).
On the other hand, perhaps I come off as easily offended because here in Germany (and in blogs everywhere) people are so freely offensive. For me, one of the biggest differences between Germany and the US is that where I may believe that people in the US are also racist and anti-Semitic, there it is completely unprofessional and inappropriate to display those feelings either in the workplace or to acquaintances (you have to wear a hood together to be comfortable sharing that if an ordinary person) whereas here quite normal people seem to be comfortable sharing their "outlanderhatred" with people who (like myself) are themselves auslanders (but perhaps we appear to be the "right sort" of auslander.

My days of allowing slurs to go unchallenged and unremarked upon are gone.
When I was young and more easily cowed I allowed myself to be silent in the face of racism and misogyny. It's far better for me to be clear where I stand than allow myself to be included in groups where these things are tolerated. If ignorance of offense is the plea, then the individual should allow oneself to be educated.

honeypiehorse said...

No argument from me. I'm a big fan of saying what you think and I have also (on occassion;-) noticed and blogged about rudeness here.