For better or for worse, Adolph Hitler has been inescapable throughout history, whether as a reminder of the evils of fascism or a rallying force for hateful extremists. A seminal figure of the 20th century, Hitler’s will forever be an indelible image. But for a variety reasons, the engineer of the Third Reich has been everywhere over the past three months. Some of it misguided, some of it comical, all of it incredibly bizarre.
The sudden fascination got a compelling kickstart by the release of Quentin Tarantino’s historical-fiction Inglourious Basterds. Performed by actor Martin Wuttke, the maniacal portrayal of Hitler in the film has become something of a cultural fascination, inspiring a variety of bizarre remixes. Around the same time two Belgian men claimed to have discovered the 39 living relatives of the late dictator, irresponsible use of the Fuhrer’s image began stateside.
Suddenly and unexpectedly, Hitler comparisons to President Obama began running rampant among extremist opposition. Complete with photoshopped images portraying Obama as Hitler, the internet has suddenly exploded with ridiculous Obama-Hitler comparisons, most recently by the conservative Tea Party movement. Perhaps a testament to the idiocy of the comparisons, 1980s heavy metal frontman Blackie Lawless recently cited parallels between the two historic figures.
While these comparisons barely merit mention, some of Hollywood’s most inane, uninformed starlets have even been citing Hitler. While describing the unjust working conditions imposed on the set of the Transformers films, actress Megan Fox compared director Michael Bay to the late dictator. But in perhaps the year’s most appalling instance of “what the hell is she talking about” idiocy, failed pop singer and Playboy centerfold Aubrey O’Day appeared on Fox News, where she called Hitler “brilliant.”
But perhaps no use of his image was more shocking than in a recent German television commercial in which Hitler was compared to AIDS. The safe-sex advocacy spot was so shocking that YouTube dropped it from its web site, hopefully ushering in the end of the wanton use of imagery that at worst has proven misguided and destructive.
UPDATE: Apparently Michael Jackson saw this coming.