Maybe White Supremacists Should Lighten Up
Everyone is going to need to learn how to laugh or we’re gonna be in big trouble.
In 1967, Mel Brooks made a movie called The Producers. Within that movie was a musical called Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden. Unsurprisingly, this pissed some people off. It was only twenty-three years after the liberation of the camps, and I guess you could say it was too soon.
But it was funny. The plot centers around two Jewish producers who conspire to make the musical flop — Brooks started from the premise that a flop makes more money than a hit — so they could steal investors’ money. (And yes, Brooks made the central characters two Jews planning to steal money. No one was safe from Mel). In an effort to make sure their play tanked, the producers found a terrible script by a neo-Nazi, cast a strung out hippie as Hitler (“that’s our Hitler!”), and had dancing stormtroopers make a formation of a swastika. Plot twist: the production was not a flop; the audience loved the musical, thinking it was satire. Hilarity ensues.
To put it generously, The Producers had mixed reviews, although it ultimately won an Oscar. People were disgusted by the idea of turning Hitler into a farce, they were disgusted by Jews working with a neo-Nazi. Stephen Kauffman wrote in The New Republic that the movie didn’t even rise to the level of tastelessness.
But others were in on the joke. The Producers became a cult classic in part because people saw the subversive power of making fun of the utter stupidity of the Nazis. Brooks knew that laughing at Nazis ensured that we remember them as the ultimate losers of World War II, undermining any of their remaining cultural power.
Likewise, laughing at neo-Nazis now reminds us that they are all vitamin-D deficient losers who live in Mom’s basement. I thought about this when I watched the mouthbreathers march on Charlottesville, chanting “Jews will not replace us.” It freaked me out, of course, but I also couldn’t stop laughing at how stupid they looked.
Were these idiots…holding Tiki torches? From, like, Home Depot? Why? There are plenty of things that scare me, but not a dumb frat-like white guy holding a large bamboo stick designed…