Popular culture

Channel 4’s Hitler art exhibition is no laughing matter

Can channel 4 go lower? The TV network bought a painting of Adolf Hitler so a studio audience could decide whether to allow comedian Jimmy Carr to destroy it with a flamethrower.

In other words, popular television is trolling the Jewish community, everyone in the world who suffered under Nazism, and everyone who remains in possession of a moral compass. The fate of one of the world’s most problematic and disturbing artifacts will be determined by a studio audience and a comedian. As a symbol of 2022, that’s pretty good.

Who thought that was a reasonable idea? Advance Ian Katz, director of programming for Channel 4. “This type of programming is difficult and expensive,” he pointed out. “And probably not a rational, commercial approach.”

There is no argument there. He then explained the “concept” of art problem. “There are advocates for every work of art,” he said. ‘So you have a defender of Hitler. There will be someone who will not defend Hitler, but the fact that his moral character should not decide whether a work of art exists or not.

Sure. With Holocaust survivors still alive, a Channel 4 comedy game show is the perfect platform to debate such complex, weighty and painful moral issues. And there should be an “advocate for Hitler”. Obviously.

One wonders if Katz, in deploying this particularly striking twist, had people like me, and articles like this, in mind. Viewership numbers won’t increase on their own, after all.

The fetishization of Nazism in popular culture has accelerated in recent years, under the amnesiac effect of time. eBay apologized this week for selling Nazi memorabilia, including postcards celebrating Hitler’s victories across Europe. And John Boyne, author of The Unbearable Sanitized The boy in the striped pajamaswhich reduced the Holocaust to an idealized twinge of heartstrings, has just released another critically acclaimed novel whose title I will refrain from sharing.

As Holocaust survivor and writer Elie Wiesel put it: “A little history, a heavy dose of sentimentality and suspense, a dash of theological musings on God’s silence, and voila: let kitsch reign in the land of kitsch.”

What would Wiesel have thought of the Channel 4 show, with Katz’s flippant remarks about “Hitler’s defenders”? What would Primo Levi have thought? What about Aharon Applefeld, the survivor and novelist whose mother was killed in the Holocaust? Or the countless number of living human beings whose families, in real life, were massacred by the Nazis? I doubt Channel 4 would have considered asking them.

German philosopher Theodor Adorno has argued that “all post-Auschwitz culture, including its urgent critique, is trash” because it produces “a sense of well-being that the world is in precisely this order suggested by the cultural industry. “. And here is Channel 4’s answer to this profound philosophical challenge: Jimmy Carr, a studio audience and a flamethrower.

What gives a TV station the moral right to appropriate both Hitler’s painting itself and the ethics of his elimination? What gives him the moral right to place it so casually in the hands of a “studio audience”?

As Elie Wiesel wrote:

“You who have not known their anguish, you who do not speak their language, you who do not mourn their dead, think before offending them, before betraying them. Think before you substitute your memory for theirs.

Channel 4 is expected to donate Hitler’s painting to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, in which case a serious debate could begin over its fate. And he should pull that idiotic program out of Jimmy Carr. There are at least six million reasons why it’s not funny.