Hollywood’s Obsession with Nazis

Missing Pieces of the Puzzle

One of the first scenes in X:Men First Class is devoted to a concentration camp … and Nazis. I turned to my friend, asking, “Why?”

She said, “They are the obvious bad guys.”

When we saw Shutter Island, I wondered. “What do the Nazis have to do with DiCaprio‘s character being crazy?” Maybe I missed something?

Inside Man was a great film. Fantastic build-up of suspension. The Clive Owen, Denzel Washington face-off is terrific. The bank-heist, but not-bank-heist concept was fascinating and riveting. Everything was on point, except for the reasoning behind the act. Let’s just say, it had something to do with – you guessed it – Nazis. It didn’t have to be the driver of the film, because anything more intimate, emotional, and feasible would have made more sense. It didn’t work as the glue that would have held the film together.

Even the over-hyped, critically acclaimed, creepy yet coma-inducing film American Beauty included a coming-right-out-of-left-field Nazi connection. If Chris Cooper’s character was a Confederate flag waving, KKK sympathizer, I could understand the subtext, but that kind of link never gets made. So the significance of the Nazi stuff was never clear to me. As far as I can recall, the film had no black or Jewish people.

Hollywood’s Historical Revisionism

I was reluctant to watch Inglorious Basterds. I avoid films about WWII. It got rave reviews, which made me suspicious. Whether a Hollywood film is good, bad, or indifferent, if it includes Nazis it automatically wins an Oscar. Sort of like being handed a Nobel Peace Prize, because they like the individual. It is not due to a significant paradigm changing action on the winner’s part.

Was it worth seeing? Christoph Waltz and Michael Fassbender (hotness) steal the show. It wasΒ an interesting dramedy, entirely tongue-in-cheek. It rewrote history. I wont give away much more than that. However, watching an ultra-blond Brad Pitt (Lt. Aldo Raine) say, “Nazis” with a southern drawl, over and over and over again struck me as bizarre. And his character is named Aldo? Okay.

I get that Raine was doing his patriotic duty at that time. But did America really have that kind of antagonism towards the Germans? I suspect it existed for the Japanese, based on the creation of internment camps. I read that German prisoners of war were treated better than black American troops. During that time, America quite easily turned away Jews fleeing Europe. Plus, let’s not forget the southern pastime of lynching blacks.

I guess historical revisionism makes for “fun” fiction, and that’s what Hollywood does so well.

From Flag Waving Patriots to Something Else

There are two ways of looking at Hollywood’s portrayal of WWII: the time during the war, and the films that came after. Movies were very patriotic from the 1930s to 1950s. Those movies supported the country, its soldiers and citizens. They seemed over-the-top and a bit corny, but they never wavered from the subject of doing the “right thing”: saving a civilization’s freedom and liberty. It had its flaws, but it certainly was better than what the Axis (Germany, Japan, Italy, et al.) offered.

However, once this era passed, Hollywood’s movies shifted from blatant patriotism to something else.

The Indiana Jones film series has always been top among my favorites. Yet I found it odd when he said that he hated “Nazis” in the same vein as snakes. Why did I find it odd? Jones never came across as the flag waving type. Maybe if I saw the films again, that ethos is there, but I never felt that fueled his motives. It was always about the glorification of Jones, not America. He’s a hero for his self-interests, not because he was doing it for the “greater good”.

I also wondered, why would Nazis bother him? The movie franchise showed him in countries, territories, or colonies full of non-white natives he had no trouble shooting at, destroying their environments, ignoring their laws, and all other manner of conduct filled with blatant disdain. How was he any better than the “bad” Germans?

The Easy Choice Keeps Mutating

Movies have been remaking Nazis and turning them into something far worse than ever before. Various genres have cast them as sinister, time traveling, never aging, alien(?), world altering (Hellboy shows us it’s the Nazis’ fault again!), genetic mutating, and all consuming end-of-humanity evil geniuses to be vanquished. With those superhuman superpowers, it’s a wonder the “good guys” ever won, or will win, in these never-ending Hollywood movie wars.

Right. Right. I get that they are the obviously easy choice in today’s multi-polar everyone-gets-their turn-at-being-bad-and-evil kind of world. ‘Cause if the bad guys aren’t Nazis, then it must be an individual from the US military, or the entire government defense apparatus. In today’s Hollywood, it’s one or the other. Absolute patriotism is unfashionable. Plus, there’s a world market to sell out to.

And looking back in this manner to WWII, it is way easier to focus on Nazis than by offending the nutjobs that inhabit the world today.

The Reflection in the Mirror

With each and every film devoted to Nazis in measures big or small, I suspect subjective seepage. In some ways, Hollywood itself promotes a Nazi-like form of white supremacy. Unfortunately, the industry is blind to itself and lacks self-awareness. They are certain that they are the most creative, media savvy, “hippest”, smartest, and quite possibly the most moral, wise and knowing people on the planet. Outside of ensuring they get paid with the same ruthlessness of drug dealers, they are here to bestow knowledge on us dumb and ignorant “little” people.

And don’t we require their sage guidance? Otherwise, movies wouldn’t be filled with these preening dregs of society who often lecture us about what they think a politically ideal, environmentally pure, non-judgmental, perfect world is really like.

Nazis believed that blonds are the ultimate beauty and superior form of humanity. So does Hollywood. The word “blond” is treated as synonymous with “beauty” no matter what that woman actually looks like. Nearly every pale-skinned woman in the media must become a bleached blond. Otherwise, she’s not getting any work. Just glance around and note that every film, every TV show, every cable channel, every news broadcast, and every magazine cover must have a blond woman.

The Nazis wanted to rid the world of “subhuman” (mostly dark-skinned) races to create the perfect society. This elimination theme sometimes creeps into Hollywood films, TV shows, and other venues. Black and minority characters are often the first to die, no matter how idiotically. I can still remember the cheering over the death of that Nigerian character in District 9. Usually, the stupidest scenes are where black people volunteer to be killed: The Taking of Pelham 123 (’09), Mimic (’97), X-Men: First Class (’11), The Shining (’80), etc. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m not documenting every film ever made.

So, When Will the Well Go Dry?

I’m not asking Hollywood to stop making movies about WWII, or any that focus exclusively on the Holocaust, Nazis, blond women, or their favorite character Adolf Hitler. They are free to do so, since it is an easy money maker, crowd pleaser and scores Oscars without difficulty.

At the end of the day, it is all they can think of, since the well of ideas is going dry.

Yet, still, why the obsession with Nazis? I have a hunch that if Germans were deep frying people of color during WWII, there wouldn’t be peep or mention of it in any Hollywood movie what-so-ever. I bet we’d never see a Nazi in any film, sort of like how there’s never any mention, show, or display of slave owners, white American supremacists, small town sheriffs, or national guard members shooting, lynching and killing black people and keeping their body parts as souvenirs.

Is the obsession with Nazis due to some kind of freakish admiration? I believe that their ideology has survived, undergone some mutation, going on to be adopted worldwide via the media and its corrupt offspring the fashion industry. (See designer John Galliano for a clue. He’s not a bug; he’s a feature.)

Then again, adding Nazis to every film could just be a cheap, quick, and lazy rendering of history and riven-of-meaning plot device. Outside of my evaluation, they’re just movies after all, even if people increasingly treat them as historical fact.

Captain America awaits you. Set back in WWII it will, of course, come with no surprises.

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17 Replies to “Hollywood’s Obsession with Nazis”

  1. Movie analysis! I’m so excited! I know that’s weird, but I’m kind of nerdy about film themes, and I embrace this. πŸ™‚

    I suspect that the “Nazi is a four-letter word” meme is due to the significant Jewish influence that permeates Hollywood. Among other things.

    Anyway, I’ll come back with more thoughts later – there is much goodness in this post to chew on. The Nazi/Hollywood parallels you made were enlightening.

    GoldenAh: Daphne, I look forward to your thoughts on this. πŸ™‚

    Yeah, I like to look at films too, and entertainment in general, as to what the creators are saying to us. They know they are extremely influential, so their output is not generated by accident.

  2. I enjoyed Inside Man and found Jodie’s character slightly frightening — which I LOVED.

    GoldenAh: She was good. I think that was one of her biggest roles in a long while.

    It was one of Spike Lee’s best films, it had a mature and engaging quality that’s missing in a lot of his other films.

    Thanks for stopping by Faith.

  3. The Nazi’s were nasty motherfu**ers and derserve to be immortalized as evil for all time as far as I am concerned but hollywood does trade off in spurts when it comes to bad guys one year it was bad british guys, one year it was the serbs or eastern europeans, one year it was the italian mafia, sometimes it’s the columbians or some other south american drug lord it just depends.
    The russians have had there turn at being bad as well.

    GoldenAh: I stay away from mafia / gangster films, unless it’s from the 1930s or 1940s. I have yet to see a Godfather movie. Although I saw Scarface though. Very funny film. πŸ˜€

    I didn’t expect a Nazi inclusion in the movies I mentioned. It was a surprise. Yet, as a plot device, I felt it failed as the driver of the movie(s) and doesn’t work as the ultimate “scary” bad guy. It’s been overused and sometimes the inclusion doesn’t make any sense. Had I known they were included, I wouldn’t have watched most of those films.

    Hollywood can make whatever they want. And as a paying consumer, I enjoy criticizing their creations, especially the taboo stuff. πŸ™‚

    British actors are an easy pick as villains, because most are dynamic, riveting, excellent actors, and screenwriters love giving them juicy lines and roles.

    Thanks for the feedback, Bellydancer.

  4. i think its because the Nazi’s were the only ones who came close enough to taking over the entire world, and probably if the USA didn’t partake in the war they would have, so people just figure a military that is that strong and such strong beliefs cant just die out so what do they do? they like to think what would happen if Nazi’s rose yet another army or something.
    (they couldn’t make one where its crooked politicians screwing you over and trying to take your rights because it would look too much like today’s politicians)

    GoldenAh: Good points! That actually hadn’t occurred to me.

    They could use the Japanese, but I suspect that they’d get negative feedback on that since they own one of the major studios in Hollywood.

    Although I don’t like WWII flicks overall, I saw Bridge On The River Kwai on TV as a kid. And, “Wow.” I admit I don’t really know what it was about back then, but it was the most riveting film I saw at that time. That’s when Hollywood made some really excellent movies.

    Thanks for adding to the discussion, Internethider. πŸ™‚

  5. The Nazi thing is done to death. Jews have tremendous sway in Hollywood and I assume the Nazi theme is a way for the populace to associate all things Nazi with all things evil.

    I can’t say I blame them. If I had financial resources and I could use them to shape public perception of me and my ethnic group I would do so. I would use said resources to promote my interests.

    A Nazi hating populace may ensure against another Jewish holocaust. Of course other holocausts are ok i.e. Sudan, Rwanda etc

    One can’t blame people for putting their interests first and foremost.

    What I don’t understand is the obsession with blonde women. Most films have blonde women in the lead roles. The Nazi films also tend to have blondes working for both sides, the good blonde, and the bad blonde. I don’t see how you can take that particular Hitler ideal (blondes as superior human beings) and continually perpetuate it through film, television, and all other forms of media.

    Is this myth of blondes being the most beautiful akin to how black men (not all) tend to think that any non-black women is beautiful? In order words, is it a negative trait picked up by Jews similar to how blacks suddenly became obsessed with skin color post slavery?

    I could be way off in my analysis but I willing to hear what others think.

    GoldenAh: Can I hug you Trish? Okay… I’ll high-five you instead. You’ve exactly nailed my point out of my 1000+ word blather. πŸ˜€

    I’d do the same thing when it came to movies. I’d make every one with a black woman, and everyone must treat her like a queen. Anyone who lays a hand on her gets their butt kicked. πŸ˜€

    Years ago I was working with this guy (mid-20s, Jewish, who lost family in the Holocaust). He was tall, cute, smart, and a total nerd. Really nice guy. Dude was always talking about his girlfriend. Which was cool. We were happy for him.

    So, we asked him one day, “So what’s her name?”

    His response: “Oh, she’s a blue eyed blond.”

    We were like, “Say what? That’s HER NAME? Blue eyed blond?” And we ribbed him about that forever. It was so totally, totally weird.

    Blond guys are just as hot as other men, since I find all kinds of men attractive. But the media’s sole focus on blond women is NOT about attractiveness. Yet, no one ever calls the obsession with them a fetish. That only happens when it comes to other races. Hmmm.

    And you raise an interesting point, do defeated men want to become (or secretly conquer) their oppressors through blond women? Is she their ticket to inclusion into some imaginary ultimate alpha male club?

    Thanks for adding to the discussion, Trish.

  6. well the blonde thing with hitler was more of an example, he used the term blonde hair blue eyes as a reference because usually only white people have those traits whether its one or both of them, i think the blond thing really kicked up with Marylin Monroe because people made such a fuss about her, to be honest i think i see more ugly blonds then other people of different hair colors

    GoldenAh: Blue eyed redheads are the most unique characteristic of white people. Blonds became very popular in the early days of black and white films, because they helped highlight a woman’s face. She literally shone. Marilyn Monroe was lovely regardless of hair color. She evolved into having a particular look, style, and method acting of sexy and slightly ditsy that made her famous.

    As for Hitler and Nazi ideology, he held blue eyed blonds as the epitome of racial purity and superiority. There were even breeding camps to create more of them during his era. He had a racial hierarchy and it wasn’t far off from how most of the western world felt then, and sometimes display today.

    Many women bleach their hair, although it doesn’t suit a lot of them, but I’ve heard it’s useful for hiding gray hairs. Makes sense to me.

  7. I think the whole “Hitler was obsessed with blondes” is exaggerated a lot.
    Hitler’s own wife was a brown eyed brunette.
    While I think he admired the blond hair and blue eyes, traits that are mostly found in white people, I sincerely doubt he was “Obsessed” with blondes, or else I think we’d hear from all those brown eyed brown haired Germans about how they didn’t feel “White enough” or “German enough” πŸ˜‰ which to my knowledge i haven’t heard or read about.

    I do believe a lot of Jewish men, secretly, or not so secretly, do find blond hair and the whole nazi thing fascinating and subconsciously admire blondes…I find this in men of color or minority males, in countries which do not have many blondes.
    In Sweden, where I’m from, we do have a lot of blondes, but there are more blondes in Finland than here, and another thing is that blond hair is more common on men here and I suspect it’s the same in Finland.
    There are more blond men than there are blond women.
    So yes…back to Jewish men, I hear a lot of Jewish men in America like Asian women? I think I read from a Jewish woman who complained that a lot of Jewish men date and marry non-Jewish women now which i find interesting…but that’s off topic, sorry.

    Hi and great blog by the way πŸ™‚

    GoldenAh: Howdy, Observer! You’re from Sweden? Awesome. More men are blond? Hmmm. πŸ˜€ Is it true most of you guys are really tall? {{drooling}}

    Oh, who said Hitler was obsessed with blonds? The obsession belongs to the modern media (here in the US). I hope you don’t feel this is blond bashing (sounds like a new dance move), because it’s not. Men of all skin and hair colors get their media limelight, while only 1 type of woman does and she’s 24/7 everywhere. And like we say, Hollywood is free to do as they please. These are observations based on their output.

    I was taught that Hitler’s ideal superman and superwoman was a blond Nordic Aryan. I doubt that would affect the self-esteem of the average brown eyed brunette German, since he was stroking all of their egos. Whether this was his “type” is another issue. Politicians often say one thing and do something else. We’ve had plenty of white racist politicians pushing slavery or segregation while fathering a child with a black woman.

    I grew up in NYC, and was shoulder to shoulder with Jewish people and for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what the average man or woman liked or didn’t like. πŸ˜€

    Hey, thanks for offering your perspective on this issue, Observer.

  8. I’m back. πŸ™‚

    To add to Trish’s points, I think Nazis as a group are easy scapegoats. Never mind that the United States of America has its own sordid history in the genocide and degradation of certain groups.

    Most white people, even on their best, most progressive, unprejudiced days, don’t want to pay money to see accounts of unadulterated history. And certainly the primarily white power brokers in Hollywood have little intention of revisiting that facet of American history time and time again. It’s too uncomfortable. Hey, I get it – if my ancestors were responsible, directly or indirectly, for the murder, exploitation, deception, enslavement, and degradation of people based on phenotype and for profit, AND had an entire social and economic system built to maintain all of the above, I’d have a hard time watching it, too. And yes, that includes some (many?) Jewish people – not every Jewish person was a civil rights advocate. It ain’t easy facing the dark side of humanity.

    But never fear! Those darn Nazis were evil and unrelenting! “We” are not like “them,” so call them out! Plus, they’re white and evil, yet not part of the underbelly of American history, so it’s easy to feel better about being the good guys.

    BUT, as you mentioned, there are some noted parallels between the Nazis and their supremacist views, and some white American supremacist views. So even while calling them evil, the same racial hierarchy was appropriated for films. Which makes no sense to me, given the Jewish influence in Hollywood. But then again, maybe it does, since it is the blonde woman held up as a standard of virtue and beauty, not so much the blonde man, who is a lot more likely to be cast as a bad guy. I’m certainly no film buff, but after thinking on most of the heroes I can recall in American films – they are almost always dark-haired. American women have been socialized via TV/film to believe that the ideal man is “tall, dark, and handsome.”

    (As an aside, in recent years, I’ve grown to appreciate blonde and ginger men a lot more. Kevin McKidd could GET.IT. Damian Lewis as well. Toby Stephens. Whoo, let me move on!)

    Still, you would think that Jewish women would be held up as the standard of beauty. But they’re not. What’s that about?

    GoldenAh: If the woman looks like Gwyneth Paltrow, with a bit of Jewish roots (from her father), she’ll get her excessively overrated props and plenty of work. Whoopi said she changed her name to Goldberg to get work….

    I have Nazi fatigue. I don’t like pointless inclusions into movies that overall have nothing to do with them. I’ve read that some expected summer blockbusters movies ain’t happening, because people don’t like “period pieces”. Folks are tired of looking at the past; having the same stories told over and over again. There’s plenty of material for interesting movies.

    To your point about the stories they don’t want to see or hear. Steven Spielberg directed The Color Purple and it received not one Oscar. What a shame. But he got the message. I don’t think he’s directed / produced another film about black women. The Color Purple was truly raw. ‘Cause a movie must have at least a couple of “good white people (GWP)” or a white woman to patronizingly “save” some poor silly Negress. And The Color Purple had none of them. Since then, I can’t think of any major black woman’s film that was so bold. Coming this summer is The Help, a black woman’s history hatched together by some exploitative white woman.

    I don’t think I could trust a Civil Rights movie from Hollywood these days. Knowing how they’d rewrite history, I’m sure they’d make it look like GWP did all the “saving”, marching, planning (thinking), and protesting while black people stood around looking clueless and dumb. Then they’d make it that the only bad guys are two Jethros across the tracks and not everybody from the Sheriff down to the local shopkeeper around the corner.

    As to blond male leads, you’re right, it’s weirdly one sided. Blond guys have been villains for a long time. I remember the fuss over who’d be the next James Bond. They were looking at a white woman (blond, of course, no problem there) and a possible black guy, but a blond male lead was like some code-breaking big effing deal. It was such a stupid issue. The last true blond blond superstudly badass lead actor I can think of was Steve McQueen.

    Like you, I wonder why there haven’t been any ass-kicking films focusing on the “good guys” on US soil. Annually, there are these historical reenactments of Civil War battles, and a few miles from me, George Washington crossing the river. The reason why there are no films covering these topics are exactly as you said, they don’t want to see themselves as the bad, evil guys. There are all these unsettling racial nuisances they’d have to deal with. It’s easier to go back to WWII, again and again, because the topic is much less complicated, and it was the “good war”.

    However, if WE want to make films, write books, and talk about all the manner in which African Americans were historically treated you know we’re gonna hear, “You people need to get over it. We voted for Obama.” πŸ˜€ Or the story can only be written by a white woman to ensure GWP are included so that they feel good about themselves. ‘Cause we cannot do nuance. Only Precious-type abuse porn. Alrighty, then.

    Thank you for your analysis, Daphne. It was on point. πŸ˜€

  9. Ha. Hubby looks like an evil Nazi! (He’s Swedish!) and I also live in Sweden lol.

    The reason Americans love Nazis so much is so white people in America can feel good about themselves forgetting about the stuff they did.

    Some new villains are needed. How about Brazilians or Chinese? Just throwing something out there.

    I’m sick tired of WW2 movie as well. Hey spice it up a bit set it in WW1 instead and make it from a German soldiers perspective. Maybe I’ll watch that movie. MAYBE.

    GoldenAh: I was in Germany two years ago, and I think a lingering fear of the people kept me from visiting before then. It was nice to have a German friend escort me around, talk to, explore, learn about the country and get some understanding or perspective of the place. Oh, I’d love to visit Denmark and Sweden, I have to work out the time to get there. I’ve had my eye on Portugal and Croatia for some time as well.

    There are plenty of villains out there, and I don’t think it has to look like the entire ethnic/racial group is guilty. I suspect most people are discerning enough to realize that. I would like to see them change up the bad guy(s) too.

    I’m trying to remember if there’s been any major films about WWI, but, hmm, nothing comes to mind. And you’re right, that would be interesting material to explore. Maybe if it’s done correctly. But most war movies are boring. I don’t care how much they try to make it interesting. πŸ™‚

    It was really nice to hear from you, Nkosazana.

  10. In the vein of Nazi obsession, I was reading a movie forum discussion on upcoming movies.

    This Must Be The Place is one of Sean Penn’s latest films. Apparently, much Internet mocking has commenced, as he seems to be (unintentionally?) channeling his character from I Am Sam. Here’s the thing, though:

    His character is an aging rock star, who…wait for it….goes to search for…..the Nazi criminal who tortured his father.

    DUDE! Dude….a rock star Nazi hunter. I can’t….I just can’t.

    GoldenAh: Oh, I saw his pic! He looks like Boy George from back in the day! I bet no one around Sean Penn would dare tell him to his face that this movie is a stupid idea. A flick like his is where I feel the Nazi stuff has gone way past unfunny parody and is sliding down into outright disrespect. Imagine a Tyler Perry flick where he plays Harriet Tubman. Oh goodness, I shouldn’t say that. He might actually do it. πŸ™

    I watched an online episode of Sanctuary called Normandy that was about WWII and the Nazis. Meh. I could live with it, because the storyline made sense: it centered on unusual supernatural creatures being used for the war. Then I saw an online movie with Samuel Jackson (I should have stopped there) called the Spirit. Awful. It was like Sin City, but really really stupid. And it had a scene with SJ, along with Scarlett Johansson, wearing Nazi clothing. A black man dressed as a Nazi? Seriously? What is wrong with these people?

    Thank goodness I “watch” films while doing 2-3 other things, but I gotta stop that. The “entertainment” is rotting my brain. πŸ˜€

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