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Charlie Chaplinlampooning Hitler’s bombast and fragility in “The Great Dictator” (1940) marked one of comedy’s all-time “truth to power” moments. But 80 years after WWII, what does it mean to laugh at fascists in a time when they seldom don the old brownshirt?
With the release ofTaika Waititi’s“Jojo Rabbit”—a would-be charming comedy about a Hitler youth whose imaginary friend is der Führer—the latestBe Reel Podcastasks why, how, and when skewered Nazis are funny. For one thing, even though Waititi’s sixth feature is being hailed as an “anti-hate satire,” is it really a satire at all? Much of the doe-eyed innocence therein would answer “no.”
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After reviewing “Jojo,” we duck back to“The Producers” (1967) and “Top Secret!” (1984) to examine how Nazis became a source of irony and camp in pop culture. Even if the surrounding films fromMel Brooksand theZAZ trio,
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