Why “Jojo Rabbit” Fails to Make Nazism Funny

Nov. 26 2019

Describing the recently released film Jojo Rabbit as “a slapstick farce about a Hitler-worshiping ten-year-old surrounded by idiotic Nazis in the waning days of World War II,” Ross Douthat explains why it falls flat:

It wants to have its jokes at Nazidom’s expense, to portray Hitler as a mincing idiot and his ideology as something only a ten-year-old could possibly believe, but ultimately ends up with a pious message about the power of hatred and the power of intimacy to overcome it. “An anti-hate satire” runs the tagline on the movie’s posters, but the satire inevitably gets weaker as the anti-hate message gets stronger, until what began as a truly gonzo exercise finishes up resembling a competent Miramax drama from twenty years ago—The Girl in the Wall.

This result illustrates a plausible rule for any filmmaker intent on mocking Nazis: the closer you get to the Holocaust, the more your efforts at satire will be swallowed up. There’s a reason that [the 1960s TV situation comedy] Hogan’s Heroes was set in a POW camp, not in Buchenwald. There’s a reason that the funniest Nazi send-ups are so often sketches, bits, and memes, [such as] the play-within-a-movie of The Producers. Satire dies under Arbeit macht frei as surely as comedy falters at the gates of hell; the devil can be satirized in pieces but the reality of damnation is a different matter.

In the end Jojo Rabbit finds the sour spot. Its portrait of a boy’s redemption is far too glib to help us understand damnation, but it gets too close to the provinces of hell to justify its strong dose of froth and camp and silliness. The seriousness ultimately unravels the comedy, and then the unseriousness of that seriousness means the movie unravels itself.

Read more at National Review

More about: Comedy, Film, Holocaust


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount