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I Must Not Think Bad ThoughtsDrive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams$
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Mark Dery

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677733

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677733.001.0001

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Endtime for Hitler

Endtime for Hitler

On the Downfall Parodies and the Inglorious Return of Der Führer

Chapter:
(p.101) Endtime for Hitler
Source:
I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Author(s):

Mark Dery

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816677733.003.0013

This chapter focuses on Adolf Hitler’s afterlife on YouTube. Hitler’s wild-eyed apparition keep materializing online, in homemade parodies that graft topical subtitles onto a scene from Downfall, a 2004 movie about the der Führer’s last days. The reason is that Hitler left an inexhaustible fund of unforgettable images; Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will alone is enough to make him a household deity of the TV age. And the media like Hitler because Hitler liked the media. Hitler prefigured the postmodern annexation of politics by Hollywood and Madison Avenue, the rise of the celebrity as a secular icon, the confusion of image and reality in a Matrix world. His psychopathology is a queasy fun-house reflection of the instrumental rationality of the machine age. At the same time, Hitler endures because he puts a human face on an evil so incomprehensibly monstrous it confounds psychological analysis or historical contextualization, inviting us to make sense of it in theological, even mythic, terms. He continues to mesmerize us because he flickers, irresolvably, between the seemingly inhuman and the all too human.

Keywords:   evil, Adolf Hitler, YouTube, parodies, Downfall, media, Hollywood, psychopathology, machine age, celebrity

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