UPDATE: Der Fuhrer Don’t Like iPad and Other “Downfall” Parodies Removed by YouTube for Copyright Infringement

There were a whole lot of these on YouTube. Now they are gone.

Adolf Hitler, for years a vessel of frustration in a popular Internet meme, has been quieted.

Since its release in 2004, the German film about Hitler’s last days, Downfall, has been adopted for wildly popular YouTube parodies.

Every spoof is from the same scene: A furious, defeated Hitler unleashes an impassioned, angry speech to his staff huddled in an underground bunker.

The scene takes on widely different meaning when paired with English subtitles. Most any subject could be substituted. It was made even funnier by the scene’s intense melodrama, artful staging and timely cutaways.

It was the meme that refused to die — until it did.

On Tuesday, the parodies began disappearing from YouTube. The company that owns rights to the film says it has been fighting copyright infringement for years.

The director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, loved the parodies and said that they extended the whole idea of his film. This, as late as this year. So why the volte-face? Or did he really own the film?

They only used one scene. Jeez.

I hate to say this, because I fully understand. But I enjoyed these parodies. They made me want to see the whole film with Bruno Ganz. They were a homage to every motherfreaking thing Der Fuhrer wanted to destroy.

I will miss them.

There’s a whole string of these–around 600–on You Tube, and they are fcking hilarious.

They’re based on a bunker scene in the film Downfall (Der Untergang), in which the voice of Bruno Ganz, who plays Hitler, is used over and over again. The scene varies, but the voice hardly does.

One scene in the film, in which Hitler launches into a furious tirade upon finally realizing that the war is truly lost, has become a staple of internet viral videos. In these videos the original audio of Ganz’s voice is retained, but new subtitles are added so that he now seems to be reacting instead to some setback in present-day politics, sports, popular culture, etc. One parody implied that Hitler had been angered by his being banned from Xbox Live. This video accumulated a vast number of YouTube views and was posted on video game related sites, including IGN, Joystiq, and Kotaku.

One video released during the 2008 American presidential campaign imagined Hitler as Hillary Clinton, enraged by Barack Obama’s victories over her in presidential primaries; in February 2009 the New York Times described this as the best-known of these videos within the United States. Another video featured Hitler as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, outraged over the NDP–Liberal Coalition.

In February 2009, a Downfall parody video protesting parking problems in Tel Aviv, Israel sparked a heated debate with Holocaust survivors about the legitimacy of jokes involving Hitler and the Nazi regime.

The film’s director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, spoke positively about these parodies in a 2010 interview with New York magazine, saying that many of them were funny and they were a fitting extension of the film’s purpose: “The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality. I think it’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like.”

An article in The Times said of these parodies, “The dramatic weighting of the scene itself makes it endlessly versatile. Hitler is given bad news, dismisses it with a counter-suggestion, is told why that won’t be happening, then pauses before dismissing most of the room in order to blow his top, while outside in the corridor everyone eavesdrops in terrified silence, apart from a weeping secretary who is comforted by a comment from her colleague.” The article also stated of the parodies, “Films in which the Führer explodes with frustration at events in the sporting world over which he has no control are funny because they locate the ranting, screaming, infantile little Hitler in all of us. They are the comedy of identification. This applies even more to the hilarious series of mash-ups in which Hitler, like the rest of us, has problems with his software. He can’t get Windows Vista to work, his Wii is malfunctioning and then he tries his hand with a Mac. The joke here is that our inner Luddite is on Hitler’s side.” The same article quoted one maker of these parodies as saying, “It works well… because it fits within the parameters of sketch comedy. We have conflict, a high level of tension and an emotional, over-the-top character, who is also safe to ridicule, due to him being such a despicable person. The structure is already in place, it’s just a case of making the dialogue fit and timing it right.”

I’m a bit of a Hitler buff, too. Don’t ask me why I’m fascinated with the Anti-Christ and murderer of millions, but maybe it’s because this nothing, possibly bisexual, failed artist and product of a marriage between a niece and an uncle rose inside of a decade to become sole ruler of Germany. All the documentaries I own about him and his henchmen always have a happy ending, and Universe hear me, that’s the most important thing.

This viral commercial about the Apple iPad both celebrates and critiques this so-called answer to Kindle; it hits all the negatives about the gadget. The genius part is placing it before one of the hardest people ever to please in an imperfect world. It even looks like a day in the life of Adolf in his bunker, who’s carpet chewing like he just lost East Prussia to the Russian onslaught.

I think we have to give Jack Benny in To Be or Not to Be, Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, and Moe Howard of the Three Stooges in You Nazty Spy! first credit for laughing at Hitler. After the war, it was Mel Brooks in The Producers. Television sources are Hogan’s Heroes with the late Bob Crane and the BBC series, ‘Allo ‘Allo. Get it? It was long before Inglourious Basterds came on the scene. Once in a while, one of the characters would dress up as Hitler or mimic his harsh ranting. The Germans of these series were always oafs who managed to help the Allied cause or the Resistance; but as I had to once explain to my sister who was in elementary school at the time, real Germans–the Nazis–were not funny or stupid during World War II. They were busy murdering Jews, and killing civilians and soldiers alike. And Hitler didn’t like black people either. It was going to be a world without Jews, blacks, gays, gypsies, dissidents–in short, anything that marred his vision for Germany and Europe.

Using Hitler in this commercial doesn’t diminish his crimes or his responsibility for them. It does, however, humanize him a bit, because his frustration is our frustration with modern gadgetry or technology that is supposed to make us better workers or better people, and unfortunately, the opposite is always true. It isn’t a perfect world after all. And because of that, Apple will keep trying; I don’t doubt that we’re in for yet another version for the iPad in about six to eight months, and people will pay up front for perfection again in another “losing” battle.

It’s a good thing Adolf Hitler wasn’t given a day longer for him to get things “right.”

~ by blksista on April 21, 2010.

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