Often it seems like a day hardly ever goes by without someone, somewhere heiling Hitler. Unless you find yourself at a political rally or surfing in some of the more disturbing corners of the Internet, most conjurings of the would-be world conqueror are the result of misguided or ill-informed invocations of Nazis and der infamous Fuhrer. The Internet is rife with examples, so much so that we have a name for the inevitable devolving a discussion thread into unfounded and irresponsible accusations of Nazism and being “as bad as” or “in bed with (not literally, gross)” Adolf Hitler: Godwin’s Law. Occasionally, someone in the real world — usually an incredulous, gum-flapping celebrity in front of a camera or microphone or camera phone — contorts themselves into this meme and either all hell breaks loose or hilarity ensues.
Last year I had intended to write a SRL detailing the worst celebrity offenders of all time, only to discover that famous people break Godwin’s law like Felix Baumgartner breaks the sound barrier. Pretty damn fast. A list of the all-time worsts would likely take weeks to research and days to prepare, and who has that much time for something so ultimately trivial? That’s why, once again, it’s best to stick with a single calendar year. It ain’t like we’re running out of candidates, after all. Without further ado, I present to you Godwin’s Lawbreakers 2012: Lazy Entertainment Industry Edition!
Offense Occurred: October 2012
Broke Godwin’s Law By saying in an interview with Rolling Stone wherein he drifted into U.S. politics, “If you’ve got a slave master or the [Klu Klux] Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that… Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.”
Once again we start off with the most recent instance, and once again the swastika-sporting devil is in the details. Both Serbia and Croatia have filed suits in the past arguing each side has committed genocide against the other, so it isn’t like either nation’s record has no blood on it, but the history is messy and that’s not what this is about. Dylan does have some historical accuracy on his side, namely that some Croats were indeed Nazis during World War II and so it isn’t wrong to lump them in with the Klan or the Third Reich. The problem is that, like saying every German citizen from the 1930s through the 1940s agreed with Hitler, saying all Croatians were akin to Nazis is simply unfair and untrue. If Dylan had simply said “…the Serbs can sense Ustase blood” his analogy would have been aces, if not a little crude. We should expect better from a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres.
Offense Occurred: September 2012
Broke Godwin’s Law By attempting to argue in a debate with Mumblecore director Joe Swanberg at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX, “Joe, you’re right, you have made more films than most other American filmmakers. Hitler killed more Jews than most other people, but that doesn’t make [AUDIENCE BOOING DROWNS OUT THE END OF DEVIN’S COMMENT].”
This is what happens when you break Godwin’s Law in front of a live audience, you immediately get heckled and don’t get to finish whatever lazy point you were already failing to make. It’s good to have an equal amount of distaste for both Faraci (Badass Digest) and Swanberg (V/H/S, Silver Bullets), but after that textbook case of IRL Godwinning, there’s no shame in taking large doses of pleasure from the fact that Swanberg proceeded to kick the ever living shit out of Faraci. Don’t worry, those are the rules behind the festival’s Fantastic Debates, so no actual laws were broken. The only thing more bruised than Faraci’s credibility was likely his whole face.
Offense Occurred: June 2012
Broke Godwin’s Law By asserting in an interview that hopeful opponent to Manny Paqcuiao, boxer Floyd Mayweather, was “[F]rom the school of propaganda that Joseph Goebbels, who was Hitler’s publicist, adopted. The more you say things over and over again the more people believe them.”
Don’t boxing promoters just say the darnedest things? Undoubtedly, in the realm of politics, we’ve all heard of the phrase “the Big Lie” before, but rarely has it been used to describe a boxer who simply wants to punch another boxer more times than they punch him, but the latter boxer and their manager refuses to arrange said punching match in order to hold onto their championship belt. Granted, being compared to Goebbels is somewhat less horrifying than to Hitler, and at least Bob Arum didn’t impugn the man’s masculinity by saying he was like Leni Riefenstahl. The fact that Mayweather happens to be a black man, and that Nazis specifically targeted blacks in Germany (not to mention neo-Nazis specifically targeting black men in this country for over a 100 years), probably just slipped Arum’s mind, right?
Offense Occurred: August 2012
Broke Godwin’s Law By commenting on the London Olympics in a blog post that read, “As I recently drove through Greece I noticed repeated graffiti seemingly everywhere on every available wall. In large blue letters it said WAKE UP WAKE UP. It could almost have been written with the British public in mind, because although the spirit of 1939 Germany now pervades throughout media-brand Britain, the 2013 grotesque inevitability of Lord and Lady Beckham (with Sir Jamie Horrible close at heel) is, believe me, a fate worse than life. WAKE UP WAKE UP.”
Morrissey isn’t the first grumbly Brit to compare his home country to a fascist dictatorship inspired by the pageantry and propaganda of Nazi Germany. Alan Moore got there exactly 30 years ago with V for Vendetta, though most people will probably know the Wachowskis-produced movie better. And perhaps there’s something to be said for the comparison, considering the 1936 Berlin Olympics were ragingly jingoistic. But, newslash Mr. Morrissey, that’s what every Olympics is like. We can agree to dislike Mr. and Mrs. Posh Spice til the sheep come home, but insinuating they’re like Hitler and Ava Braun is just silly. No way could Adolf have ever bent it like Beckham.
Offense Occurred: May 2012
Broke Godwin’s Law By showcasing a video with Nazi imagery that included a collage-like image implying she had a “Hitler ‘Stache” while performing a concert in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Oh, Madge! Just like Kanye, she’s a living, breathing, incredibly talented sideshow. Nobody should be shocked by her antics at this point in her career and she clearly knows that. You can only wear so many cone bras and simulate masturbation in public so many times before audiences start to realize you’re whole schtick is just crying wolf on the biggest stage possible. That’s why she makes her blonde, blue-eyed self over into a Nazi, and not just any Nazis but Hitler and Charles Manson, in front of what was most likely a predominantly Jewish crowd. No word on what her rabbi thinks of this. Really, it’s less upsetting, and somewhat of a Godwin Law cheat, than the others cited here. At this point, her antics are less ballsy and more sad. Literally anything would be more entertaining.
Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force and tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. If, like him, you love Bob Dylan with all your heart, here’s a picture of the legendary troubador receiving an award from President Obama to re-warm your cockles.