Hitler Makes a Comeback

YouTube parodies get a laugh out of murderous dictator

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    NEWSLETTERS

    hitlerrantsparodies via YouTube
    A clip from an obscure German film is now an Internet meme.

     Adolf Hitler and Hannah Montana. Two people who should never, ever be in the same sentence.

    And yet, here they are, in a parody on YouTube that's been watched more than 100,000 times.

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    For generations after World War II, Adolf Hitler was synonymous with evil. But the Hitlerization of humor is going viral.

    These videos come from the “point and click” generation, who are more prone to view Hitler out of context, said San Jose State University communications professor Andy Wood.

    "They might look at Hitler as Genghis Khan or Napoleon or some sort of figure we can transform into a plaything, but the people who forget this really happened are the folks most surprised it could happen again," he said.

    We showed the clip to a 50-something and a 20-something.

    "To make a parody about something like that is unnecessary entertainment," said John Pugh, 52. "It's like people signing up for Iraq because they forgot about Vietnam. They don't realize the horror of it all."

    Carli Lamb, 24, sees how some people can find it funny -- but agrees with Pugh's view.

    “It's a funny thing for some people, but really when you think about the Holocaust and what happened and World War II with the Nazis, it's not funny," Lamb said. "I think it’s a cheap laugh.”

    These cheap laughs are abundant on the internet. The clips are a remix of a scene from Der Untergang (The Downfall), an obscure German film from 2004 which depicts the last days of the Third Reich.

    In the original movie, Hitler and his advisors react to the news that Allied forces have broken through German lines.

    Since 2006, Internet jokesters have been taking the scene, which features over-the-top emotions from the actor playing Hitler, and adding fake subtitles, which suggest Hitler is ranting about news events, pop culture, and even video games and gadgets.

    But it wasn't until last year that it really took off as a meme -- a popular Internet phenomenon that appears again and again on popular sites like YouTube, Digg, and Twitter.

    In the parody clips -- sometimes labeled "Hitler reacts" -- Hitler has responded to the news of Sarah Palin's resignation as governor of Alaska, Jerry Brown's wishy-washy approach to the California governor's racethe release of a new Hannah Montana album and even the unveiling of the Apple iPad. Boy, was he pissed about the lack of Flash!

    The "Downfall" remixers aren't the first to make light of Hitler. Remember Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator? Or, more recently, Hitler's appearance in the cartoon series South Park?

    Is it funny? Or the ultimate travesty that we've taken a man who represents Evil with a capital E and turned him into a JibJab cartoon figure?

    Have we lost our sense of perspective, or our sense of humor? Or have we lost our minds?

    Watch the videos and let us know what you think in the comments.

    The first known remix (in Spanish!):

    Hitler reacts to Sarah Palin's resignation:

    Hitler reacts to Jerry Brown's run for governor of California:

    Hitler reacts to Hannah Montana:

    Hitler reacts to the Apple iPad: