• Fri, Dec 3 2010

Why I’m Not Offended By This Hitler-Anne Frank Picture

This Hitler and Anne Frank picture by Alexsandro Palombo has produced a lot of outrage. In it, Anne Frank, wearing a sassy army corset points a machine gun at Hitler’s head. It’s been called “ill-advised” and people have said that Palombo has simply “gone too far.”

Which must be absolutely fabulous for Alexsandro Palombo, but doesn’t really  make much sense.

Now, look, I realize that I am a robot who is currently learning human from a correspondence course, so I’m still a little fuzzy on the concept of “outrage.” However, it strikes me that the idea of a world where Anne Frank in a sassy corset shot Hitler as he sat there smugly in Louis Vuitton swag would only be offensive to Louis Vuitton and people who love Hitler. I’m in favor of Anne-Frank gaining the upper hand on Hitler. I find that an appealing alternate universe. And then I remember that is not what happened – of course that is not what happened – and it sort of hammers home the grim horror of the holocaust.

And don’t we do subversive things with Hitler iconography all the time? They set him on fire in Inglorious Basterds. Incidentally, this is not what happened in history, either. Meanwhile, Max sort of implies that Hitler became Hitler because he didn’t get into art school. Okay, maybe that’s a bad example, maybe I just wanted to point out that Max isn’t really a great movie. Anyhow, Here’s a video where Hitler is dubbed doing freestyle rap. Oh, here’s a video where he’s upset that Tiger Woods cheated. Doing weird stuff with Hitler imagery is seriously not new.

This is what we do. I mean, not just us, here, at TheGloss. This is what we do as humans. We take things that are monstrous and we make fun of them until they are ridiculous. In doing so, we rob them of their power to terrify us. It’s great that, as human beings we have the capacity to do that. I would like to see that life experience has taught me that, but I think I learnt this from Harry Potter.

Anyhow, I’m going to leave you with this video:

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  • MNiM

    At a guess, the outrage comes more from the use of Anne Frank’s image/memory than Hitler’s.

    Personally, I sometimes worry that the whole making-fun-of-Hitler is a bit of a bad move in terms of diminishing the visceral Hilter=massmurderingf*head (to quote Eddie Izzard), especially as we move further and further away generationally from people who experienced WW2 as it and its aftermath unfolded. But! That’s a bit off my point. Yes, you can set him on fire, well done! Hardly anyone is going to object, and the idea of an alternate universe where that happened is very appealing, no doubt about it.

    But — Anne Frank is different. She is a well known figure, but she isn’t a (I’m probably not explaining myself very well, but here goes) communal cultural property in the way that Hitler is. I can understand being offended by the mere use of her image on that basis, or on the basis that the way she’s dressed is disrespectful to her/Jewish women generally (I read her diary as a child, but I don’t know much about her, or whether she would have obeyed tzniut customs, but I can see how people who care deeply about such things would be offended), or that she was fifteen (and thus the clothing she’s depicted here wearing are even more inappropriate), or that putting her in a picture with Hitler is a priori icky to people.

    I can also understand anger at Palombo for leveraging Frank’s image for his own profit (financial or otherwise).

    But I’m probably not explaining myself very well, and I can’t say that I’m offended or outraged by the picture. Frankly, it just makes me a little sad.

    • Chandra

      I think I get what you mean there, and I agree. I’d go so far as to say that her prominent collarbones and skinny arms – oh-so-chic nowadays, but with a VERY different implication back then – are as distasteful as her cleavage.

      I think Hitler’s fair game for any mockery culture cares to throw at him though, and my family also had their share of grief because of that little creep.

  • Saskia

    I love how you brought Harry Potter into this!!

  • lindsey

    lol i love the harry potter bit at the end!

  • Grace

    Everyone needs to get over it. Ever notice how a huge chunk of people making Hitler and WW2 jokes are those whose families were subject to his horrors? Humour is a way people deal with pain and helps to shame the man. My own family members were in Auschwitz not for being Jewish but for being rebel Poles; The small number who didn’t make it to the camps were killed during bombings and/or the Warsaw uprising. So maybe I just have a family history of looking at Hitler with contempt, but I make Hitler jokes. So do the rest of my family, and my grandparents who were actually there. Pull your thumbs out guys and have a good giggle, it puts Hitler down while still keeping his victims at the forefront of our thoughts.

  • Jessica

    does anybody else see this as more of a critique of consumerism/mass media? since anne frank is so sexualized (check out that rack!) and hitler is decked out in LV.