Doesn’t everyone sorta love when the Old Grey Lady digs deep into the abyss known as the “internet meme?” It’s almost like an editor says to a reporter: “Um, I heard about this thing on the internet about people using that 2004 Hitler movie to funny effect. Can you give 1,000 words on it?” The reporter no doubt is like sure boss, even though there doesn’t need to really be that many words written about funny Hitler FAIL videos on the internet.
Fire up YouTube. There you can see the Hitler figure erupt in frustration over his Xbox. He flips out because his friends aren’t going to Burning Man. And, recently, he loses it because Sarah Palin isn’t working out as a running mate. Something in the spectacle of an autocrat falling to pieces evidently has widespread appeal.
When “Downfall” first appeared in German and Austrian theaters, critics charged that it humanized Hitler beyond recognition and sapped the historical horror by turning Hitler and his henchmen into soap-operatic archetypes, transforming their undoing into an ordinary human tragedy.
In fact, the lesson of the parodies seems to be that “Downfall” was a closeted Hitler comedy. Having seen the spoofs before seeing the movie, I find it virtually impossible now to watch the film with a straight face. Ganz, the Swiss actor, takes his performance seriously. But something in the character name “Adolf Hitler” also seems to have liberated Ganz to play flat-out melodrama. His goofy, trembling, hopeless rage — in which is wedged a vituperative aria aimed at the traitors he perceives everywhere — recalls nothing so much as Jeremy Piven’s raving meltdowns as the jerk agent Ari on the HBO comedy “Entourage.”
Unfortunately what the New York Times doesn’t understand about the Hitler Fail Meme is that it is just funny. There isn’t anything intellectual about it or culturally significant. It’s funny to think about Hitler flying into a rage over his Xbox 360 or because his friends aren’t going to Burning Man.
Much in the same way that when my I ran into Greg Oden at a hamburger joint on Friday afternoon and my boss asked me what he was doing there, I told her that he runs a hamburger review blog and he was no doubt reviewing the newly opened Five Guys Burgers.
It was far more funny to think about than Greg Oden just being out for lunch with his hot girlfriend on a Friday afternoon. (Also, I would read Gred Oden’s hamburger review blog, I think he has the chops to do so) The point is that some things are just funny in both execution and conception.
End of story. Anyway, you know the Hitler Fail Meme has reached its apex when there is a video about the Hitler Fail Meme.