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Quotes / Adolf Hitlarious

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In her post about the profusion of “Downfall” parodies that turn up on YouTube, my colleague Amy Davidson asks, "Can Hitler be a proper object of humor?" I’d say that the evidence suggests a slightly different question: Can fictional representations of Hitler be anything but funny? The parodies have proliferated precisely because the footage they’re based on is already unintentionally ridiculous ... So it’s not all Hitler’s fault that he’s become a regular riot.

But there’s a still more important reason for the silliness that’s inherent in the parodies. It is, of course, what Charlie Chaplin got at in 1940, in his performance as Adenoid Hynkel in “The Great Dictator” and what Ernst Lubitsch made clear in "To Be or Not to Be" from 1942, which opens with a scene involving a Hitler impersonator. What’s most important about Hitler is the fact that he is, in fact, ridiculous—and that people nonetheless adulated him as a political leader. In Chaplin’s film, Hynkel is a joke, but there’s nothing funny about the anti-Jewish pogroms he instigates; in Lubitsch’s film, the comedy is darkened by the threat of death. The real story, and the real horror, starts with the people who voted Hitler in, who carried out his program, who welcomed his troops and collaborated with his agents ...

The representation of Hitler was, already in 1940, the face of a horror that defied representation and therefore, like images of the devil or of vampires, became instant camp.
Richard Brody, Heil, Hynkel

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Leo Bloom: "...Elizabeth?"
Franz Liebkind: "Jah. Dat vas his middle name. Not many people know zis, but der Führer vas descended from a long line of English qveens."
(Beat)
Max Bialystock: "Is that right?"
Leo Bloom, Max Bialystock: (shrugging) "Adolf ELIZABETH Hitler."
The Producers (2005)

New Who has given us a number of celebrity historicals, and treated each as a sort of love letter to the historical character featured. Even Nixon earlier this year was treated with respect and joviality. But you can't do that with Hitler. Nor can you really use him as a villain. To defeat him means changing history, and to use him at all threatens to trivialize the Holocaust. The solution here: Treat him as the butt of a joke and move him about like you would a coat rack. There is something incredibly funny and satisfying about having Rory punch him out, tell him to shut up and throw him in a cupboard (where I'd like to see him again later in the season). The show can't "kill Hitler", but humiliating him is the next best thing.
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