Netflix's "Look Who's Back" has Hitler come back in the 21st century to thunderous applause
I recently had the pleasure of watching Look Who’s Back on Netflix, a German satire film that looks at the improbable occurrence of Hitler returning to modern day Germany and the public’s reaction to him.
The main protagonist of the film is Fabian Sawtaski, a film maker who has recently been fired and is in dire need of a creative idea to get his job back. He finds Hitler, who he mistakes for a comedian, and takes Hitler throughout Germany, talking to many Germans, young and old, all the meanwhile filming what seems to be a comedic act.
Funny enough, in the film, many Germans agree with what Hitler has to say. They express being weary of immigration and skeptical of the current political system in Germany. Eventually, Sawtaski (have you noticed the word play with his name yet?) and Hitler land a gig at the television station where Sawtaski previously worked.
Hitler appears on a comedic politically incorrect show, where he uses the platform for his political diatribes. Public opinion sores in favor of Hitler, who everyone believes is a comedian, and his ideas. Eventually Sawtaski realizes the truth about his friend, but is too late. Hitler has become too popular in the hearts of many.
The film is a critique of modern Germany, and in a bigger sense Europe. Right wing nationalism is on the rise in response to the current refugee crisis. And while the Balkans and Eastern Europe have for some time now been succumbing to right wing nationalism, right wing parties in Germany are also enjoying an all time high.
The film does a very good job of questioning the mainstream assumption that if Hitler were to come back to modern day, he would be shunned and hated by society. Instead, many Germans are shown willing to listen to his ideas and may I confess, I found that I was sympathetic with this Hitler for a good portion of the movie.
I did not find myself agreeing with Hitler because of his anti-semitic Aryan supremacy ideology. As a matter of fact, the issue of the Holocaust is the huge elephant in the room for a good portion. Through out the first half of the movie, Hitler lets the German people talk to him, and he expresses his disdain towards German society. He hates the fact that television is used for “meaningless” cooking shows instead of more constructive purposes.
He denounces the fact that there is poverty among children and the elderly, high levels of unemployment, and blames the social ills of Germany for the low levels of birthrate. For him, the only noble party in Germany is the Green Party, because of their fight to preserve the “fatherland”.
But there was one powerful portion of the movie that brought me back down to Earth when Sawtaski takes Hitler to meet his girlfriend’s grandmother, a Jewish survivor of the Third Reich. The grandmother instantly recognizes Hitler and grows startled, angry, and distraught at the presence of Hitler in the room. During which, she says this:
“He looks the same. He says the same things. And back then, people were laughing at first too.”
The line in this scene hits home and concerns our current election cycle. Ever since Donald Trump hit the stage a year ago, many of us dismissed him as a “clown”. And although many have woken up now that Donald Trump is the nominee for the GOP, I fear that many still fail to see the dangers of his potential presidency when they pledge to #BernieorBust or prefer to vote for Trump because now that Clinton is the likely Democratic nominee, he is the only candidate left who is not funded by Wall Street.
Donald Trump, like Adolf Hitler, has a way of speaking to the “little man”. He speaks the truth on many issues, such as Wall Street’s corruption and the influence of big moneyed interests in politics. He also believes that the playing field is rigged, and taps into the feelings of the disaffected and disgruntled worker who rightfully so feels cheated by the system.
While his message has an appeal for certain independent and Democratic voters, it is important to remember that his vision is not inclusive of all Americans. If you ever read Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote how it was society’s responsibility to care for the most weak and marginalized. But it is clear his Utopian vision was only meant for Germans of the “Aryan race”. And in order to fulfill his vision for Germany, he had to come up with the “final solution”.
And while Trump wants to keep social security and has toyed around with universal healthcare, it is clear that when he talks about deporting American children of undocumented immigrants and banning Muslims from entering the United States, his vision is intended for a certain group of people. The ones who are more probable to believe that “white genocide” is a real thing.
Coming back to the film, when Hitler is asked on a TV programs what his goal is, he gives a response that would have been a reflection of the historical Hitler:
“To make Germany great again, and secure the survival of the German people.”
Sounds familiar? It’s always good to take a walk down memory lane.