Monday, December 08, 2008

Trivializing The Holocaust

Well-intentioned and misguided attempts to educate us on the Holocaust have transformed mass death into kitsch:

We are talking about a period of only a few years in which the equivalent of the entire population of Ohio was wiped off the face of the Earth, after all. The difference is that some movies, like the treacly and dangerously trivializing Life is Beautiful, use the subject as springboard to something else, something more "personal," more selfish. Some people say please, no more of these movies at all, because they begin to become co-opting novelties for people who've no idea of the actual toll of things, don't know the weight of this all too real history. Then things begin to creep closer to the dark shade of the anti-Semitic (in its pointless exploitation, its marginalizing) umbrella, and the whole effort is woefully derailed.

On the other hand, what does Neutral Milk Hotel's re-envisioning of the death of Anne Frank tell us about how art deals with the nightmare of history? Discuss.