April 21, 2010

Memetic Downfall

Constantin Films has just pulled the plug on the hundreds of Der Untergang parodies (aka the Hitler Meme) that have been circulating around the YouTubes for a couple years. TechCrunch has a nice summary of the takedown of the New York Times-reviewed meme.

As the Times notes, the most successful incarnations of the meme transcend National Socialist ideology to reveal bare psychology: Bruno Ganz channeling a visceral, abject rage, immeasurably amplified by the linguistically opaque German tongue. Similarly, the scene is a testament to brilliant pacing—the best videos realistically exploit the tension as well—and director Oliver Hirschbiegel writer/producer Bernd Eichinger are duly flattered by the meme (both are quoted in the TC article). Conversely, I’m curious as to why certain remixers opted to interpolate certain names and terms, such as “Mein fuhrer,” “Steiner,” etc., while others are more liberal in their subtitles.

A full postmodern/contextual analysis of the Hitler meme as a semiotic case study, including a look at the PC barrier, can be found here.

As for my own underdeveloped insight, I would propose that the Hitler meme is, in many ways, the inverse of Ramin Bahrani’s “Plastic Bag”, just as Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present is the inverse of Chatroulette (a dissertation-worthy topic in itself). I have no further comment.

A couple of the videos are still live on Know Your Meme; the original is below:

Updated with a few more videos after the post:

“Don’t worry, he’ll realize the irony soon.”

“This asinine Downfall fad—this confirms every stereotype about the Internet as just one self-referential circle jerk among poorly socialized losers.”

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