Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Power of Humor

This weekend we watched the subtitled Er ist wieder da (Look Who's Back), a German movie that is based on a 2011 book.  The movie has recently been released on Netflix. Over the last two years, I've caught several snippets on German media about the book and then film. The idea explored in the movie is what happens when Adolf Hilter wakes up in modern day Germany. Mostly, I'd heard the book (and the movie) were good satires. I also understand that the significance of Germans laughing about Adolf Hitler. Because basically, they don't laugh about him. At all. Until now. In the current times, Hitler finds his audience as a comedian.

So.... I found the movie PROFOUNDLY disturbing. I haven't read the book, so I can't tell you if they are basically the same or if the movie expands where the book left off. But the movie definitely mixes the fantastical storyline that somehow Hilter just wakes up 70 years later in modern day Germany with recent film footage of non-actor Germans interacting off-script with the actor playing Hitler. It's not reassuring; I, as the viewer, had no idea sometimes where the lines between humor and entertainment and and ratings and politics and reality were.

For all the comparisons between Hitler and the apparent Republican US presidential candidate this year, this movie, for me, drew disturbing parallels. The parallels were not about two people and their fascist ideologies. Rather the parallels were about the way we equate entertainment with being a leader. I think most scholars would agree that in Germany of the 1930s, the aspect of entertainment that lead to Hitler's rise was not humor. But watching this movie and thinking about our current political scene in the US, humor might very well be an aspect of entertainment in which we are still vulnerable. I started to think about how many times I've been sucked into a reading an article about the presidential candidates because, he said/did what now? You can't be serious! Are we separating the ability to entertain from the ability to be a good leader? Even if it makes us laugh?

I sure hope so!

And for me, I hereby refuse to read (click on) on any more political articles for the sake of entertainment.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

That's a very interesting point. It's also a good one. I don't necessarily "read" the articles, but I do like to do the quick read option on Huffington Post.