Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hitlerhoff & the Ethics of Representing Hitler in Popular Culture

Hitler, Hoff match made
(by Annika Priest, entertainment editor of the Melbourne Leader, Wednesday 17 September, 2008)
If Hitler could squeeze into David Hasselhoff’s speedos, how would he be? An inflammatory proposal explored in the play called Hitlerhoff, is marching in to create a potential Fuhrer [sic] during this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival. Creative producer Tom Doig said he believes the miscreant Nazi leader and the ironically cool pop culture icon have much in common. “They’re both huge in Germany,” said Doig, whose supervisor warned him off the idea for his Masters in creative writing at Melbourne University. “They were both popular but know no one will admit they like them. They both have huge egos, not necessarily that much talent but lots of willpower.” Under the sub-heading “Two wrongs don’t make a Reich”, the show finds the modern Frankenstein hanging out with lefty hippies at Vienna Beach. Following a nervous breakdown he becomes an instant overnight celebrity and super powerful revolutionary figure. Hitlerhoff is potentially offensive, admits Doig. Doig said that although he understands that the Holocaust is very much a sensitive issue, Hitler should not be beyond the reaches of satire.
Bizarre subject in for satire
“I think it’s saying something quite profound about culture, I don’t want it all to get lost in this guy with a cheeseburger down his speedos. “I want it to be a crazy image that makes people think about the heart of darkness within popular culture. “It’s the kind of culture where you’re encouraged to put yourself first and believe in yourself no matter what. “It’s that quite banal, self-help motivational talk which is totally central to the success of Hitler and the horror it generated, and Hasselhoff and the tackiness it generated.” Melbourne Fringe Festival advised Doig against incorporating a swastika into his show promos because the neo-Nazi overtones might affect the show’s appeal. “Whilst we acknowledge it’s an area that will be potentially controversial and potentially confronting for some, our festival is about cutting-edge arts where you are going to get a sophisticated dissection of these sorts of areas,” Fringe creative producer Emily Sexton said. According to Doig, perfomer Tobias Manderson-Galvin – who plays Hitlerhoff – was a “98-pound weakling” who was “not the exercising kind”, but with particular enthusiasm for the role he has been carbo-loading, going to the gym and using a personal trainer. “I really hope I haven’t created a monster,” Doig said. “If I have I’m not the first.”

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