June 6, 2019

OLD AND BUSTED: When it Comes to WWII, Document Everything, and Never Forget.

The New Hotness? YouTube Pulls Triumph of the Will For Violating Hate Speech Policy, left-leaning film industry Website IndieWire reports:

On Wednesday YouTube revealed extensive new policies around hate speech in a move to “reduce more hateful and supremacist content from YouTube,” as the company announced in a blog post.

The policy also meant the removal of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 Nazi propaganda epic “Triumph of the Will,” which left the site hours after YouTube announced its new standards. After all, “Triumph of the Will” falls under the rubric of “videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory,” as YouTube explains one prohibited category. The movie is also regarded as one with major historical value, raising essential questions about the nature of the film medium. Does it belong in the same category as Lunikoff, a German Neo-Nazi band whose channel also got the boot?

Riefenstahl’s harrowing depiction of the Nuremberg Rallies remains an essential look at the ideological power of the moving image, and how it can be co-opted on a mass scale. Despite the film’s aims, it has been taught in universities for decades — and not because film professors hope to advance the horrific mindset of the Third Reich. The movie uses the singular power of the medium to glorify Adolf Hitler in visceral terms: From the moment the filmmaker’s camera advances through the clouds, tracking Hitler’s descent to the rising crescendo of Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” it elevates the rising dictator to god-like stature. Similarly, montages of soldiers saluting their leader — and, later, children in a Hitler Youth parade — illustrate the capacity of the Third Reich to convey the deranged euphoria of subservience.

A few paragraphs down, the moral equivalence begins:

As a matter of pure formalism, the movie exists on the same continuum as Sergei Eistenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin” in its capacity to galvanize a sense of national pride through the language of film. However, that deeper understanding is essential when considering these films; without it, their capacity to enchant continues to grow unchecked. North Korean media cranks out its own variations of “Triumph of the Will” on a regular basis; Fox News, in its lowest moments, has been guilty of similar charges.

Is that you, Ted Turner? Everybody has been declared guilty of similar charges. I remember a profile in the sports section of a Philadelphia paper on Cherry Hill, NJ-based NFL Films around the mid-1980s, which described their dazzling slow-motion telephoto footage of football plays and their hagiographic profiles of NFL players as being akin to Riefenstahl’s filmmaking techniques. But I missed the memo when Roger Ailes approved of mass murder. Indeed, during his reign, the network ran programming explicitly condemning revolutionary socialism in all its forms.

As Glenn wrote in timely new book, The Social Media Upheaval:

In bragging about how he manipulated the political news media, Obama foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes described them this way: “Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Knowing nothing makes you easy to manipulate. Lack of relevant life experience makes you easy to manipulate. So maybe people should know more?

It’s an idea so crazy, it just might work — not least of which, for those who wish to become future curators of YouTube, wishing to avoid repeating history.


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