When Jodie Foster announced she was planning to shoot a biography about Leni Riefenstahl, whom Foster was quoted as saying has been “libeled so many times” about the dark deeds of her role in the Nazi Party, I wrote:
Whitewashing Leni Riefenstahl’s place in history was only a matter of time I guess, as all the films airbrushing Che’s reputation are becoming old hat.
There’s apparently a significant kerfuffle over two 13-year-old singers who are gushy about Nazism, and I find myself strangely unable to get excited about it. Not because I have anything nice to say about Nazism, but because I’ve been watching the entertainment industry speak endearingly of vile totalitarian ideologies for most of my life.
This is the same entertainment industry that lionizes Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. The same industry that made heroes out of the mass-murdering Sandinistas. That to this day pretends that the McCarthy era in America was nothing but one long paranoid nightmare wherein nobody, not even people like Alger Hiss, Julius Rosenberg, or Harry Dexter White, was guilty of anything but being a bit too liberal.
A couple of years ago I was in a Denny’s when I spotted a kid wearing a bright blood-red shirt with a big yellow hammer and sickle. I wanted to walk over to him and slap him in the face. But instead I shrugged. He was 21 or 22 at the oldest, maybe more like 18 or 19. He couldn’t possibly have known the depths of the evil his shirt represented. The Soviets, when they invaded Afghanistan, murdered a million innocent Afghans. This out of a country of only 6 or 7 million people. That was going on as recently as the 1980s. You think those Afghans today would find Nazi chic more offensive than Communist chic?
I also, a year or two before that, got into an argument with a friend in his early 20s who actually thought I was “melodramatic” when I pointed out that Stalin had killed, by the most conservative estimates available, about 20 million people in cold blood. (Others place his body count over 60 million.) Yet you can go around the world and find restaurants, drinks, and music that extols the virtues of him and communist dictators just like him.
It’s all sick of course. Depraved even. If I were Jewish I’d be particularly stung by “Prussian Blue.” If I were Ukranian or Chinese or Vietnamese or Cambodian or Afghan, on the other hand, maybe it would all seem just sadly familiar. Hitler not so bad? Why not? Next up: pop songs about the glories of the Laogai!
By all means, let’s kick around “Prussian Blue.” Let’s especially kick around their parents and their producers. These 13 year old twits likely have no idea what they’re talking about, but the adults in their lives have no such excuse. But while we’re doing it, let’s remember all the other cases of covering up for, even romanticizing, hateful totalitarian ideologies. I think we’d be doing more good in the long run that way.
It can’t hurt, but as all of the examples that Dean includes in his post illustrate, it’s asking far too much of the entertainment industry to be that self-policing.
(H/T: Murdoc Online.)