The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Nazi Moratorium Redux

A few days ago, DC MedialGirl, who is fast becoming one of my favorite bloggers, posted a link to some video about the Nazis.

Lifting the Nazi Moratorium
I know we’re not supposed to talk about or refer to Nazis, Nazism, or other unpleasantness, since the Third Reich analogy has been horribly overused and abused...but I can’t resist. Check it out.

Since I recently wrote about the appropriateness of discussing and referencing the Holocaust and the Nazis, I felt it worth a look. I hope you check it out. It appears to come from a German television show and consists of video imagery of the Nazis juxtaposed to Village People music. Since the Village People were an iconic 1970s gay band the joke seems clear. Nevertheless, in my opinion it crossed the bounds of good taste. What follows is an exchange in the comments section that I had with another reader of her blog.

I don’t quite understand the origin of this. College Humor was profiled in the New Yorker some months back but the video clip looks like it was ripped from a David Letterman like clone based in Germany. Hence, this is humor college students might like, but not humor generated by college students. My own thoughts on the use of Nazi analogies are posted at: There, I defended Dick Durbin and criticized the ADL. In this case I take the anti- analogy view of the ADL. The video is offensive because it equates Nazis with homosexual preeners and seems to imply that Nazism was nothing more than a homo-erotic fantasy exercise by repressed fascits. For this humor to come from Germans is doubly offensive. First, it’s offensive because there isn’t much to laugh about in from the Holocaust. Second, it’s offensive to gays to imply that you can insult Nazis by calling them gay. And third, its pretty shallow humor for Germans to generate -- it allows them to congratulate themselves on how hip and ironic they are without examining their own complicity and implication in a broader culture of denial about the events.
Comment by drkwanda--June 27, 2005 @ 14:43 pm

Wow, what a shallow view of the video itself and the nature of laughter in the face of tragedy. Yes, nobody doubts (except some random fanaticals) that the holocaust and the nazi movement represented a dark stain on the progress of humanity, yet, inherent in these events is the need for self deprication and, yes, laughter. In doing so, no only do we debase those who supported the views and actions of the pereptrators of these heinous acts, but also it allows of some respite from continual despondance. Coming from the Germans just demonstrates their ability to recognize their tragic position in this dark chapter. Not much to laugh at from the Holocaust??? Well, I seem to think The Producers has done quite well on Broadway, but correct me if I’m wrong.
Comment by Switters--June 27, 2005 @ 15:21 pm

Shallow? I’ll stay away from the ad hominem attacks and confine myself to the subject. The fact that The Producers has been a commercial success is hardly proof that laughing at the Holocaust represents the best way to denigrate those who perpetrated the Holocaust. Laughter can be powerful stuff and Mark Twain had it right on that score. But it is the quality of the joke which is at issue here. Life is Beautiful also laughed in the face of the Holocaust. I am sure some objected even there. But that was a tasteful use of humor. The offense of the video is the use of homoerotic imagery juxtaposed with the Village People to make the joke. We can laugh in the face of American racism too but the way to do that is not by telling jokes with blacks as the punchline or telling Polish jokes. The joke in The Producers, in any case, is not on the Nazis. It is on the audience seeing the show within the show. And on The Producers themselves. Laughter is vitally important and a powerful tool -- I don’t deny that. It’s the tastefulness of this joke that is at issue.
Comment by drkwanda--June 29, 2005 @ 00:24 am

If a self righteous pedastal is where you want to stand, then fair enough. But who are you, or me, or anyone, to decide what joke is quality and what joke is distasteful. The homoerotic imagery is meant to be, surprise, suprise, ironic in the face of the Nazi’s rather homophobic platform (let alone what could be mentioned about Hitler’s possible homosexuality)Twenty-two point three years. That’s how long it takes for something tragic to become funny. Enough said...
Comment by switters--June 29, 2005 @ 00:56 am

Enough said? Is this the way these exchanges go?. On and on and on without each side giving quarter? Well, strike that. I did give some quarter acknowledging that some humor in these circumstances is appropriate. But you my good friend Switters persist in personalizing this debate. First I was shallow. Now I stand on a self-righteous pedastal. You ask - who am I to decide if a joke is distasteful? Well, last I checked it was a free country. I never said lock anyone up. I merely said the joke is distasteful. That is and remains, I hope, my right in this country. Are you really so afraid of disapproval that anyone who feels a judgmental thought is told to hold their tongue? And finally, sorry, some things never become funny. My relatives are not coming back from the Holocaust and I don’t think that’s funny. Does this mean I don’t think any kindof humor is appropriate? No. I just happen to think this is a lame ass joke. DC Mediagirl -- you gonna opine here?
Comment by drkwanda--June 29, 2005 @ 17:04 pm

This exchanges tells you a lot about how these blogs and blog-based dialogues go. Most folks only read the posting but for many others, there is a whole world contained within the comments (which I tend to stay away from but when you wander in can consume you completely). Most interesting, is that no one ever concedes in these exchanges and the dialogue can often resemble the testy, personal exchange in a faculty meeting or between blind reviewers and authors in the academic publishing process.


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