Friday, October 28, 2011

Your Mental Sorbet: Hitler and the Great Pumpkin

Here is another "Mental Sorbet" that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Hitler and the Great Pumpkin
As the Nazi gang makes plans for Halloween, Hitler extols the virtues of the Great Pumpkin. Meanwhile, good ol' Jodl Brown is (accidentally) invited to the Halloween party.

This scene from Downfall (German: Der Untergang) is a 2004 German/Italian/Austrian epic war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life in his Berlin bunker and Nazi Germany in 1945, in which Hitler launches into a furious tirade upon finally realizing that the war is truly lost, has become a staple of internet videos. In these YouTube Parodies, the original audio of Ganz's voice is retained, but new subtitles are added so that he now seems to be reacting instead to some setback in present-day politics, sports, popular culture, or everyday life. Other scenes from various portions of the film have been parodied in the same manner, notably the scenes where Hitler yells at G├╝nsche to find Fegelein and where Hitler rants at Jodl after the latter rejected his plan. By 2010, there were thousands of such parodies, including many in which a self-aware Hitler is incensed that people keep making Downfall parodies.

The film's director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, spoke positively about these parodies in a 2010 interview with New York magazine, saying that many of them were funny and they were a fitting extension of the film's purpose: "The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality. I think it's only fair if now it's taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like." Nevertheless, Constantin Films has taken an "ambivalent" view of the parodies, and has asked video sites to remove many of them. On April 21, 2010, the producers initiated a removal of parody videos on YouTube. There was then a resurgence of the videos on the site.
In October 2010, YouTube stopped blocking any Downfall-derived parodies, and is now placing ads on some of them. Corynne McSherry, an attorney specializing in intellectual property and free speech issues for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, stated "All the [Downfall parody videos] that I've seen are very strong Fair use cases and so they're not infringing, and they shouldn't be taken down."

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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