Er Ist Wieder Da: The Joke is on You

M. Jaggers


Look Who's BackIn this humorous film about Hitler’s return to modern-day Berlin, Er ist Wieder Da (English title: Look Who’s Back), Germans are caught on camera saying true things about Germany that are not what our elites want to hear.  And it happens in the current year.   They are so desperate to speak the truth that they are even willing to do so to an actor playing Hitler, Oliver Masucci (Italian and German heritage).  This is remarkable, and it speaks to the desperation of German society.  There must be such an infinite longing when one cannot dare utter the most commonsensical social observation, without reasonable fear of prosecution or at least censorship; and then to proclaim it for a film crew!  It is ironic, and yet also somehow poetic.  One cannot whisper the truth, yet one may broadcast it for millions, so long as they are willing to be cast as the fool in a masque of Cultural Marxism; a fool in the Shakespearean sense, which is to say, one who utters unspeakable truisms to an otherwise intolerant authority.

At times the viewer may cringe, insofar as these civilians are being made fun of, but also the viewer may exalt, in that there is man and frau in Deutschland still capable of rational thought.  Likewise, the character Hitler is capable of speaking to taboo themes in film that would not otherwise be permitted in that diversity-whipped country.   As Gavriel Rosenfield notes in his review of the 2011 bestselling novel on which the film is based, it risks “glamorizing what it means to condemn”: readers can “laugh not merely at Hitler, but also with him.” One may call it artistic license, but in any case, it does make for interesting art.

One of the best examples of this truth-in-satire is a woman who works in a small restaurant. She responds to Hitler’s prompt as to whether she has “a say in democracy”:

No. And honestly, I don’t vote.  Out of principle.  I still think the elections are manipulated.  Nothing changes.  I come from the former east.  And we had to put our X where it belonged.  I think somebody puts the X somewhere else afterwards. Really…You can’t say anything either.  If you do, they’ll call you xenophobic.  The immigrant kids around here are just awful.  They throw things at the window.  If I say anything, the parents might stab me.

Hitler concludes, “During my absence, democracy had only left a minimal impact on people.”  Keep in mind that these are real interactions with the German public.  Now honestly, are we to think the woman is making this up in some diabolical attempt to slander immigrants?  What exactly are we to glean from this anecdote other than to take it at face value?  In this sense, the film backfires in its transparent quest to further the leftist narrative.

The plot is that Hitler has been inexplicably transported straight from the Führerbunker circa 1945 to modern Berlin.  The returning Hitler is offered a TV show after having gone viral on Youtube.  He gives an amusing and impassioned performance to the television executives.  The director admonishes Hitler, “We do agree, the topic of Jews is not funny.”  “You are completely right,” Hitler responds.  Hitler later meets an elderly Jewess with dementia whom he mistakes for a gentile, and therefore affords her misplaced cordiality: “I wasn’t harsh enough with that old Jewish hag.”  Also, contemplating the prospect of Hitler being on primetime, another executive speculates, “The Jewish Council will be all over us.”  Yet the JQ is hardly considered in all its implications.  As is the standard practice, Hitler is portrayed as having an animus against Jews as an effect without a cause.

The movie begins with withering mockery and disdain. This means slapstick humor at the level of slipping on banana peels.  We see Hitler bring in his stinky uniform to the dry cleaners.  We see Hitler being called a retard by some kids whom he mistakes for Hitler-Jungen, being zapped by an electric fence, stung by bees, und so weiter.

Because a bit of time has elapsed since its release—the film recently became available with English subtitles on Netflix, we’re able to gauge the reaction from the Lügenpresse (lying press).  The Hollywood Reporter quips that Hitler is back to “make Germany great again” (written by Euro-cuck  Boyd van Hoeij).  Yes, the timing could not be more perfect for those hoping to make fresh Trump-Hitler comparisons.

Hitler Engages the Modern World

If you can sit through that, you reach the more interesting aspects of what a Hitlerean perspective of modern day Germany would be; and that is an interesting gedankenexperiment, similar to ruminating on how the Founding Fathers would look on with contempt at America in 2016.  What would George Washington’s reaction be if he woke up in 2016 America and was brought up to speed on transgender bathrooms?  I would contend that he would not be indignant and give a well-reasoned argument against transgenderism; rather, he would be completely bemused and at a loss for words, which is how the transported Hitler reacts here.

“Turks in Berlin?” he exclaims, exasperated to find so many Arabic newspapers.  The tone is not anger; it is disbelief at a stark reality with which we are all too familiar.  In fact, Hitler interprets the presence of Turks as evidence of a resurgence of the Ottoman Empire; but still, his tone is one of befuddlement rather than rage.  So both Hitler or the Founders encountering their respective modern day countries is not a pretty thought.  When we consider the revulsion these historical figures would have towards our current societies (however hypothetical), we must take this as a repudiation of the direction we have taken.  For in divining the intent of the founders, or divining the sensibilities of other historical figures, we need only to imagine their reaction to where their countries have gone, were they placed in a comedic situation as premised in Er ist Weider Da.

Hitler’s amazement at the technology of a modern television is quickly followed by his disgust at what is actually on television.  This leads him to a profound insight into what is ailing us as a society: we are being distracted by bread and circuses while we are engulfed in utter depravity and spiritual (and ethnic) ruination. Hitler expands upon these thoughts for a studio audience during his stint as a reality TV star.  The audience is enraptured (just as they were back in the 1930s; he has not lost it).  He comes to the stage to the tune of Wagner, and gives one of his signature pauses, the anticipation growing, and after a “breathless silence”:

The television in my hotel is … a marvel of human ingenuity.  But what is shown on that television?  Just trash.  When times are bad people need light entertainment.  That’s why, in 1944, we broadcast light comedies.  But how bad can times get for the people to be bombarded with such idiotic nonsense! What kind of country is this?  Child poverty, old-age poverty, unemployment, birthrate lower than ever.  No wonder!  Who wants to have a child in this country? We are racing towards the abyss.  But we don’t see it.  Because on TV you cannot see the abyss.  You see … a cooking show.  I will keep fighting against TV until we only see the abyss, but until we overcome it!  (rapturous applause, Die Valkyrie music).

The Public Reaction

We don’t know whether the Germans who posed for selfies with pseudo Hitler giving the Roman salute were being ironic or earnest, or perhaps some combination of both.  But it is inevitable that we seek some meaning in the public reaction to Masucci as Hitler, which was much more positive than negative.  According to actor Masucci, “I didn’t really have to perform—people felt a need to talk, they wanted to pour their hearts out to a fatherly Hitler figure who was listening to them.”  He claims to have been horrified by the reaction.  Hitler also met with Alternative für Deutschland and NPD members, though it’s hard to imagine why they would agree to such a bad photo-op, given the MO of these right-wing German parties is to disassociate themselves from Nazism.  To all appearances, the NPD members gave Hitler a respectful hearing in a spirit of irony.

There are also, however, some Euro-cucks who are simply too triggered to countenance a Hitler impersonator on the loose. (Keep in mind these are real-life public interactions with the actor playing Hitler.)  Says one such gutmensch while Hitler has, in a nod to his early career aspirations, set up a business drawing portraits on the street:

And today, in the year 2014, if someone comes to the central square in Bayreuth, impersonating Hitler, and if that is tolerated by the general public, then I have to say: That is bad for Germany.  And if it were up to me, I would have chased you off.

Yes, he actually said, “in the current year.”  The gutmensch  gets himself so worked up that all he can manage to utter is this is bad for Germany” (Das ist Schlecht fur Deutschland).  Even his condemnation is weak and flabby.  He puts himself forward as a potential vigilante hero, implying that if he were around in the 1930s, things would have gone quite differently.  And we all know how much moral courage is required to oppose Hitler these days.  But if one is so eager to follow the current zeitgeist unquestioningly, does that not prove in fact that he would not have opposed National Socialism in its zenith?  We all would love to ascribe to ourselves such moral heroism, but somehow I really doubt very many have it.

On the other hand, most of the public seems either amused or openly grateful for encountering pseudo Hitler.  One soccer enthusiast youth yells, “Deutschland ich liebe dich” (“Germany, I love you”), before hugging Hitler affectionately, whereas another youth says, “Fuck Germany, you’re all Nazis.”  Hitler asks the patriotic soccer fans, “Are you going to take that?”  They quickly accost and assault the anarchist.  “That’s what happens to parasites,” comments Hitler.  An Aryan-looking blonde in a camouflage jacket with a German flag patch looks on with a look of near ecstasy at the escalating fracas.  Reportedly this is all real and spontaneous, even the violence.

If so, the filmmakers were willing to go far in order to make a point — their point being, apparently, that German patriotism equals Nazism and vice versa.  I’m not sure what else one is supposed to get out of the movie thematically.  As the Daily Mail put it, the film “cast uncomfortable light on tensions and growing support for far right-wing extremism in Germany.”  While ‘extremism’ is obviously a weasel word, the film does in fact show that on the street, your average German is much more amenable to right-wing policies than you would otherwise be inclined to believe by the manufactured consensus of the media.  And though the intent is to raise alarms among more “moderate” and “sensible” citizens, in fact, one may draw the opposite conclusion, which is that the same elements which made Germany fertile for Nazism are once again manifest.  In other words, it’s not the “right wing extremists” that should raise alarms in and of themselves; but rather the conditions to which those individuals are reacting, i.e., a media and political class hostile to the interests of the German people.

Conclusion

From the filmmaker’s perspective, the joke is on the average Germans who articulate right wing views. Caught on film, they prove that the Nazi bogeyman is real.  It’s the old Jon Stewart routine of heaping scorn and derision on those with non-liberal opinions in order to “make the white gentry feel morally superior,” to quote John Derbyshire.  In this metaphor, the actor playing Hitler can be seen as a Jon Stewart correspondent who entraps his interviewees into saying something shockingly unacceptable in the current year.

Yet the situation on the ground is such that mockery cannot contain it; the horrible truth bubbles up to the surface and blows up in the face of the conniving filmmakers and audience alike.  The resentment of immigrants expressed by these average Germans is so visceral, and so self-evidently justified, that they defy this snarky satire altogether.  The closing credits feature footage of various PEGIDA demonstrations and other skeptics of mass Islamic immigration such as Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, with a kind of Clockwork Orange symphony happening in the background, as if to say, “Behold: fascism is happening once again.”

One clip shows the PEGIDA protestors chanting, “Wir Sind Das Volk.”  We’re taken back to Hitler, and he comments, “I can work with this.”  Couldn’t they just as easily put together a montage of the dastardly acts of immigrant crime and made the opposite appeal?  If the point of the film is that that the public is infinitely malleable to propaganda, they were correct, but in the opposite direction.  To ferret out that truth requires more than the Daily Show style of spurious analysis to which this film aspires.

So the joke is on the filmmakers themselves because they fail to realize that the common sense views expressed by these people, and the scathing analysis provided by the farcical Hitler, hit much closer to home than they might have suspected.  They did not smear PEGIDA by associating them with National Socialism; they merely associated Hitler with a righteous backlash currently percolating in Germany.  This could be a classic case of unintentionally creating a hero out of a character meant to be the villain.

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