Nazi cows, Nazi cats, actors playing depressed Nazis. It's all just Hitler porn and it disgusts me!
By: Tanya Gold
There was story in the newspapers yesterday about Nazi cows. Yes. Nazi cows. As opposed to Maoist cows. There is a breed of cattle, formerly extinct, that Hitler apparently wanted to revive because it has significance in Teutonic myth. It was his favourite cow - an über-cow, as opposed to an ünter-cow - and it needed to be given a Liebenshed. And now one has been found living in Devon. According to one newspaper, this cow is "a symbol of the Nazi vision for world domination". There was also a story in the papers yesterday about Coco Chanel's collaboration with the Nazis, after they invaded her shop in 1940, possibly looking for non-Aryan dresses.
At the weekend I went to the cinema. I sat and sucked Minstrels, and watched Good, a film about a depressed Nazi, played by Viggo Mortensen. He ponced around in a Swastika tiepin, looking wracked and smiling at Goebbels. This came a few months after The Reader, when I sat and sucked Minstrels, and watched another film about a depressed Nazi, played by Kate Winslet. This comes a few months after Valkyrie, which was also a film about a depressed Nazi, played by Tom Cruise. He tried to kill Hitler with leather goods, and failed. The briefcase exploded, but the tyrant lived on.
I could go on. I could fill your eyes and ears with Nazi tat, culture and non-stories, until you turn black and white and red and go and invade Poland. I could go all the way to Moscow without passing Go and without collecting 200 stolen Rembrandts. I could tell you about the Cats Who Look Like Hitler web page - "click here to add your Kitler". I could tell you about Norman Mailer's The Castle in the Forest, which featured Hitler's disgusting adolescence.
Hitler has guest-starred in South Park, The Twilight Zone, Red Dwarf, Monty Python and The Simpsons. He has appeared in a sitcom called Heil Honey I'm Home! (Not my exclamation mark.) He appears in a videogame called Snoopy Versus the Red Baron and a comic called the New Adventures of Hitler. In novels he has lived in a cage under the Kremlin and tried to clone himself. Salvador Dalí painted Hitler Masturbating. In the film Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn, he escapes from hell. Am I living inside Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn?
This disgusts me. It makes me wretch. I thought the whole point of the second world war was to eradicate Nazism from the face of the earth. No more swastikas, no more shiny boots, no more dwarf narcissists giving vegetarian dinner parties and shooting liberals. It was supposed to be over in 1945. But we seem to have a new kind of Nazi domination - a cultural domination - and it's silly. There is no point to it: it exists just for itself. And it turns our eyes from the evils that we should be noticing today. It is a big dressing-up box, full of distraction.
So I have Nazi ennui. Hitler fatigue. I have seen them all - Derek Jacobi as Hitler, David Bamber as Hitler, Zippy from Rainbow as Hitler. Sometimes I lie in bed and imagine actors' agents having conversations: "Could Tom Hollander do Goebbels? He looks like Goebbels. Is Eric Bana too handsome for Albert Speer?" I feel as if I am living in a Nazi-themed Saturday-night jaunt - a sort of militarised version of Dynasty, with Hitler as Alexis and Himmler as Sammy Jo. Why can't Adolf stay where he belongs, under a car park in Berlin, his bones staring sightlessly upwards into a Skoda?
There is a point to all this Hitler porn, you may say. Snoopy Versus the Red Baron has a valuable lesson to teach us about tyranny. Cats Who Look Like Hitler have something to meow about the dangers of genocide. Bollocks, I say. There are genocides happening today, and they are being shot off the front pages by Nazi cows - Nazi cows! - and interviews with Mortensen talking about playing a depressed Nazi: "I spent a lot of time in Germany just looking at people." Really? Five million have died in the Congo in the last 10 years, in a war for the minerals that we use. And Heil Honey I'm Home! has nothing to say about that.
I appreciate the superb culture about Nazism - the history books, the memoir Night by Elie Wiesel, the films The Pawnbroker and Judgement at Nuremberg, even Schlindler's List - although I hate the redemptive ending. But particularly since Life is Beautiful, the cinematic love story set against the backdrop of the Holocaust, Nazi-inspired culture has got bigger, and more stupid. Bill Nighy as a Nazi general in Valkyrie? Who will be next? I close my eyes and I know that we now face the terrifying prospect of Kylie Minogue as Eva Braun.
I don't need Tom Cruise in an eye-patch to teach me about humanity and I certainly don't need to see Winslet naked, or Mortensen being intimately caressed in his SS uniform to learn about the perils of tyranny. I own a copy of Sins, a 1986 Joan Collins mini-series about a businesswoman hounded by a Nazi, played by Steven Berkoff. (He didn't play Hitler but the performance was in homage to him - he marched like a broken Action Man doll.) I was a teenager when I first saw it, but I still knew that Sins was not designed to give me a warning from history. It is designed to thrill me by showing me pictures of Collins in a gold dress being chased round Venice by a Nazi in a gondola.