Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Vile Therpentth

I like Wallace Shawn, I really do. Especially the movie where he's a creepy little priest in the catholic school and he splatters the microphone during a sermon about the dangers of onanism. But he's really lost it lately, and has decided to drop a little old-school civilizational guilt on us:

""We all know how enjoyable it is to see a film about the nineteenth century in which sadistic and greedy slave-owners, dressed in comical costumes, sit on the porch of a mansion and breezily philosophize, justifying their vile way of life with ludicrous and insincere rationalizations. And there's even something somewhat gratifying, one has to admit, about seeing Hitler in a newsreel, with his silly mustache and silly haircut, screaming hysterically and shaking his fist. And one of the reasons we like to see such films or such newsreels is that they give us the reassuring feeling, as we watch them, that we're the sort of people who can recognize evil when it presents itself — the sort of people who will recognize it and immediately reject it if it ever should approach us. The people in the film about the nineteenth century may be fooling each other, but they don'รข fool us. We can easily see that their arguments are false. And even when we watch the newsreel, although Hitler is trying his best to impress us, he fails completely. We see right through him, and we utterly despise him.


"Unfortunately, it does little good to those who were murdered by Hitler in the 1940s that we look at newsreels of Hitler today and see him as a hideous monstrosity. What doomed those people to a horrifying death was the fact that the audience that was listening to Hitler's speeches at the time he was actually making them found him very compelling. Hitler's mustache style, unfashionable today, was seen by the people of the time as quite attractive. The passion in his speeches seemed heart-felt and honest. The accusations he made about the injustices committed against the German nation by the Treaty of Versailles were very persuasive. And the people who listened to Hitler's speeches had often heard that he was fond of his children, and fond of his dog.


"Watching too many newsreels from the distant past, too many films about the nineteenth century, can give us a feeling of over-confidence. It would be flattering to believe that we are superior in some way to the audiences who cheered for Hitler — more insightful and perceptive, let's say or less bloodthirsty — but I think it would be more prudent to make the assumption that perhaps we are not. At least we should allow ourselves to imagine that possibility for just a moment. After all, if we do turn out to be superior — if we are, in fact, a uniquely benign and harmless group of people, blessed with unusual clarity of vision — then our moment of over-cautiousness will have cost us nothing. Whereas if it should happen to turn out that we're not superior, our self-examination might save a lot of people — possible all people — from being harmed by us."

In conclusion, Bush is Hitler, we're the Nazis, and he's an englightened soul trying to stop the new holocaust.

Hey, Wallace? Go fuck yourself, you self-righteous little cocksucker. If you had your way, a real Hitler would still be having his way. And that wouldn't bother you a bit. Spare me the ethical perspective lesson.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I truthfully did not see the connection to what Mr. Shawn communicated to your harsh conclusion until I read further into the linked page where he does talk about Bush and Cheney. He does however avoid using the words, 'fuck' and 'cocksucker', which lends him validity.

I think a more understanding, controlled conclusion might be that Mr. Shawn believes that he and his country might not be perfect and so he applies and encourages others to apply introspection and reasoned analysis. As he writes, 'Even as a child, I always found it mindless to root for your own team.' He is looking to explore other possibilities and perspectives. Support that or not, fair enough, but no reason to assail the poor creepy little priest, whoever he is (never heard of him before).

Uncle Mikey said...

Well, I think teamwork is what makes civilization happen. You tell me you think rooting for your own team is stupid, I say you're a contrary jerk who thinks putting rocks in front of the wagon wheels is a good thing while the rest of us are breaking our backs pushing that same wagon, not an enlightened soul who sees through our petty struggles and desires.

Shawn means for us to see in ourselves the Nazis of 1930s Germany, rallying mindlessly around a monster. If it were true, it might be something to think about. Since it's not, it's a complete waste of time masquerading as higher thought. Wallace Shawn is a great actor (he was the guy who kept saying "Inconceivable!" in The Princess Bride) but not much of a philosopher.

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