Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Don't Mention the Fuehrer

Hope everybody had a Merry Christmas and whatnot.

Time to talk about Hitler!

Yes, a full 7 years since his death in exile in Argentina (you heard me), Hitler continues to make headlines across Pop Culture America, and even in Pop Culture Britain. I Am Legend star Will Smith was recently involved in a flapdoodle over some comments quoted in the Scottish newspaper The Daily Record. Here's what he said:

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today.' I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good.'"

The paper prefaced his remarks by saying, "Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good," thereby giving the impression that Smith was saying that Hitler was swell or some such.

Smith then countered with: "It is an awful and disgusting lie. It speaks to the dangerous power of an ignorant person with a pen. I am incensed and infuriated to have to respond to such ludicrous misinterpretation. Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet."

Will has nothing to fear from this blog, because I'm an ignorant person with an HP.

As with most of these dust-ups, this is a whole lot of not much. It seems to me that Smith is right about Hitler. Nobody gets up in the morning and twirls his (or her) mustache and sneers and says with a high-pitched cackle, "Today I will commit EEEE-VILL acts! Moo-hoo-ha-ha-ha!"

Well, okay. I do. But you can't go by me.

It's also an actorly way of viewing things. If you're playing a villain, the key is to find the justification, the rationalization of the villainy. It might be twisted and convoluted, but it's always in there, whether you're talking about Iago or Richard III or Hitler.

And then, it seems to me that The Daily Record reporter was also right. Smith is seeing the good in people. Yes, even Hitler. Distorted and malevolent as it might have been, in his own mind he firmly believed he was the German people's salvation. The base motivation wasn't diabolical villainy.

And then finally in Smith's outraged rebuttal, we see yet another example of the overstatement of the obvious that is a hallmark of these fracases. Hitler, you see, was vile and also he was heinous and he was also vicious. Couldn't come up with another synonym, huh Will?

For the record, Hitler was bad. Yes, I am willing to go out on a limb with that brave stance.

For the record, Will Smith seems like a good guy and a tremendous actor. He is 90% of the reason to go see I Am Legend.

For the record, this controversy is ridiculous.

But the ongoing influence of Uncle Adolf doesn't end there. This from British tabloid The Daily Post reporting on an interview with some of the main creative people behind the current incarnation of "Doctor Who":

"When asked who from history he would like to see play the Doctor, ('Doctor Who' producer Russell T) Davies reportedly jokingly answered, 'Hitler. He was stern and strong. He would be great.' According to the story, some guests laughed, but others were shocked by the remark. One fan later remarked: 'Hitler carried out some of the world’s worst atrocities. He ordered the killing of millions of innocent people. I don’t want my kids thinking Hitler and Doctor Who are in any way the same.' When David Tennant was then asked the same question, he reportedly declined to answer."

David Tennant, the incumbent Doctor Who, is a wise man.

That guy identified as "One Fan" in that quote, that guy (or gal) needs to be hit in the face with a shovel. You can find Davies's joke distasteful or unfunny. That's fine. But to be incapable of recognizing it as a joke is just tragic. It's good to know that that DNA pattern is all replicated and winding its way into the next generation.

Hitler would never have let that idiot breed. That's one mark in his favor.

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