What do you think of Daniel Eatock’s “modern” version of Adolf Hitler (pictured)? He actually looks quite striking, does he not? Follow the link and you’ll see a similar treatment of Winston Churchill too.
Whenever we see Hitler on TV, he’s rendered in slow motion and we hear the droning, threatening music. The message is extremely unsubtle: This Man Is A Monster.
I think it’s dangerous to depict Hitler that way.
Yes, of course Hitler was a monster. But if we ever need to deal with another charismatic, psychotic, genocidal maniac there won’t be some invisible orchestra playing the theme from Jaws so we can spot him. We’ll have to figure it out for ourselves.
That’ll be tough. Just as Hitler and his mates used the best media technology and techniques of their age to craft their public image, any new Hitler-esque politician will do the same. Their PR agency will craft an image we can relate to. If they’re a Rising Star of politics, the magazines will commission photo shoots — and it’ll all look something like this photo.
Remember, Hitler was Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1938. In 1942 it was Joseph Stalin. History has since decided they were probably not the best of people.
(In Time‘s defence, I should point out that their Person of the Year, as they call it now, is for the man, woman, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that “for better or for worse… has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Certainly Hitler influenced the events of 1938!)
While Hitler did personally order one of the greatest genocides in history, he was also legally elected Chancellor of Germany by ordinary people who, presumably, were not monsters. As I said in a previous post:
Itâ€™s easy to forget that Hitler was head of the National Socialist Party from 1921, fully 12 years before he became Chancellor in 1933. And it was another 6 years before WWII officially kicked off with the invasion of Poland…
My guess is that for the vast majority of people the rise of Hitler had very little impact on day-to-day life — just as today the distant wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have virtually no discernible impact on my life in Sydney. Nor do the many minor changes to our laws which increase the powers of central government without any balancing increases in our own ability to hold that government accountable.
In the summer of 1932, a few politically-aware people sitting in sunny cafÃ©s might have discussed that odd Mr Hitlerâ€™s failed run for the presidency, but I doubt anyone would have seen it as heralding global war.
Sixty years on from WWII, we know the symbols of storm troopers and swastikas mean “bad”. I suppose that’s why I keep banging on about human rights. We won’t know what the new symbols of evil will be until it’s too late. We need to be alert to the actions, and nip the problem in the bud.
[Hat tip to Memex 1.1. And yes, the title of the article is link bait. Watch them swarm…]