Activism, Life Rants

Some Thoughts of a Political Nature: Orlando and EURef

If you are like me, you are so sick of all of this political bullshit because you care about it so much more than you want to.  It’s vital to have some political awareness, but it also hurts, like getting a colonoscopy or going back to work after your vacation.  As such, I will take a page from John Oliver’s book and reward you for reading this post with an adorable picture of a puppy and kitten who are best friends at the end.  Oh, what the hell—you can just skip to the end now if you really want to.

I didn’t write anything about Orlando because I didn’t know what to say.  Don’t know what to say.  There are levels of hatred beyond words.  I still can’t organize my thoughts enough to say something about my unwavering support of the LGBTQ community and Latino-Americans, shame in the victimization of Muslim, and anger that the right not to be murdered in a public place takes a backseat to the “Don’t Tread on Me” gun-toting mentality of fringe groups in the U.S.

These are a few recent experiences I’ve been processing in that context:

Someone I know (I’m keeping this all as anonymous as possible) admitted her LGBTQ son may be attending the Catholic University where I work (keeping it super vague because I’m not sure exactly how he identifies).  And she is afraid.  Many of the faculty and staff are open-minded and supportive, but some of the students are so conservative and unsympathetic.  Perhaps that’s the way people have always been, but I’ve really experienced such a lack of sympathy for those in pain, those who are different, and those who aren’t well understood lately.  There’s no room for sympathy where there’s hatred, which is what concerns me the most.  And that kind of hatred leaves such a lasting impression on young people.

There was a wheelchair outside the women’s bathroom in the library, which was a bit strange, but I went inside anyway.  Inside the bathroom was an older man just outside the handicapped stall, who immediately rushed to explain, “I’m just helping my wife, who’s in a wheelchair.  I’ll wait outside.”

I said, “That’s okay—it doesn’t bother me.”  But he left anyway, which was considerate but heartbreaking.  I’m embarrassed that we are so shamed about acting appropriately for our gender that a man helping his wife in the bathroom feels like a criminal for doing so.

Men, how can you not be feminists when the patriarchy dictates what you should do and how you should behave too?

On another political note, since everyone in the world has a goddamn opinion about it, I may as well weigh in on the EU Referendum (I refuse to use the “Brexit” word because it’s stupid and sounds like a horrible type of cereal.  John Oliver is with me on this one).  I know the world wants the opinion of another Midwestern American.

I admittedly have a very selfish interest in seeing the British pound retain its value because the sale of my grandfather’s London house is finally supposed to go through in July.  This is the only time I’m pissed about the dollar being strong compared to the pound.

What concerns me the most is the anti-immigrant platforms that have been so successful in the UK and the US.  I did talk to one of my students about the EU Referendum, and how enraging and small-minded it is for the anti-immigrant mentality to persist.  We are so interdependent—our economies, our political decisions, our lives.  Like all empires (and don’t get me wrong, I include the US in this), a slight majority of the UK has had a convenient memory lapse about what it has taken from other countries and what immigrants have brought to the UK.

I’m avoiding reading all of those click-bait articles of reasons the EU Ref is a good sign for Trump because they make me panic.  A man who has been like a grandfather to me went on a bit of a rant about Trump being a Democrat conspiracy to destroy the Republican Party (had to bite my tongue before responding “I think they’ve done fine on that without any outside help whatsoever”).  He also asked if I thought the country was getting worse and, in spite of the bigoted and completely irrational groups on the rise, I don’t.  Our systems are deeply flawed, but we live in a country that is more open, more diverse, and more creative than it ever has been.  How can that possibly be a weakness?

Anyone else in the mood for a political tangent?  Feel free to rant/despair/agree/disagree on this blog.  Just remember there is a person on the other side of the screen.

As promised, here is the picture of adorable puppy and kitten BFFs.

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I bet no one cares if this dog and cat are gay, lesbians, transgender, Muslim, Hispanic, and/or immigrants

Images in this post via Unsplash

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Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Look Who’s Back (Hint: Not Slim Shady)

This week’s film is our last feature of April’s Blog Free or Die Hard series.  I’ve been so intrigued ever since the book, Er ist wieder da, became a bestseller.  A satirical novel, it imagines Hitler’s return to Germany in the present and follows its citizens’ reactions to his ideology.

I confess I stopped reading the book, in part because I didn’t want all of my work colleagues to suspect me of being a neo-Nazi.  I know—I’ve become that person who hasn’t read the book but watched the movie.

The Film:

Look Who’s Back

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

In this mockumentary-style film, Adolf Hitler returns to modern day Germany and enjoys (unintended) success as a comedian.

The Uncondensed Version:

As mentioned above, the film follows Hitler, who has seemingly pulled a Rip Van Winkle when he wakes unchanged in 2014.  Instead of being revered, Hitler is astonished that no one pays him the proper respect, preferring rather to selfie with him.  It doesn’t take long for Hitler to become disgusted with the current state of Germany and draw the conclusion that democracy has failed.  Somewhat unexpectedly, he identifies most strongly with the Green party, which makes an increasing amount of sense when you think about the fanaticism of vegans.

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Not on team iPhone, apparently.

Meanwhile, at a commercial TV station, Katja Bellini has just gotten the big promotion her colleague Sensenbrink fully expected would be his.  In a moment of rage, Sensenbrink fires relatively innocent bystander Sawatzki for a poorly timed comment.  These men are too emotional for leadership positions.  Suddenly out of a job, Sawatzki (which is, ahem, very close to being an anagram for a certain Nazi symbol) is looking for a big scoop.  I WONDER what story he’ll find…

Sadly, Sawatzki’s big idea is just touring the country with Hitler and filming their exploits.  I feel this kind of thing has been done before and isn’t especially noteworthy?  However, what’s remarkable to Sawatzki is how spot-on the impression is and Hitler’s talent for ad-libbing (that was a weird phrase to write).

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Definition, please.

Hitler and Sawatzki go around Germany with surprisingly mixed results.  I felt most conflicted when I identified with Hitler’s annoyance at reality TV programs.  Most of them are objectively bad, though.

It gets a bit too real when some Germans speak with Hitler about the immigrant problem, the government that doesn’t represent their interests, and some fucking insane football hooligans beat the shit out of someone who doesn’t support Germany.  Hitler starts blowing up on social media and getting a scary number of followers.

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Basically never ok to utter this sentence.

All of this brings Hitler to Bellini’s attention, and she’s impressed with his supposed comedy routine.  She gives him the chance to appear on a live sketch show, where he starts improvising rather than following the cue cards.

At first the audience thinks Hitler’s routine is funny, but at a certain point the applause becomes genuine and the audience finds many of his ideas appealing.  The tried and true method of telling everyone the country is going to shit and only he has the answers works wonders and he goes viral.  (Many of the words he utters have honestly come out of Trump’s [Drumpf] mouth.)

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For real, though, “Who Said It: Hitler or Trump?” MUST be a Buzzfeed quiz.

Meanwhile, Sensenbrink is trying to discredit Hitler in order to steal Bellini’s job, but nothing seems to do the trick.  What will it take to stop Hitler—or is history doomed to repeat itself?

The Rating:

This film is very interested in Hitler’s legacy on German politics and, by extension, world politics.  Its title is Look Who’s Back, but it implies that Hitler never really left the world stage.  The effects of fascist, xenophobic hate groups have lingered, though they sometimes disguise themselves behind smiles and charisma.  Look Who’s Back doesn’t shy away from drawing a correlation between Hitler and groups opposed to immigrants, Muslims, refugees, and outsiders.  It encourages viewers to examine this relationship rather than bury it.

Although it’s a satire, a lot of the humor is derived from physical comedy, and it gets a bit didactic at the end and sort of shakes its finger at the audience (there was a pretty great parody of that famous rant scene in Downfall, though).  I don’t dispute that certain political groups are in need of a bit of shaming, but it did feel a bit condescending at times.  That being said, it does make the film much darker and more thought-provoking than I’d anticipated.

But sometimes you just want to laugh at Hitler.

The Rating:

3.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Would Christa go on a cross-country tour with this one or kill it with fire?  Find out here!