Friday, May 20, 2011

Lars Von Trier, Albert Speer, Aesthetism and Talent

In reconsidering my post on the stupid, provocative Nazi remarks of the Dannish director, Lars Von Trier, which were described as

his fascination with the Nazi aesthetic

(the question he responded to was:

asked by a journalist to comment on the film’s “Gothic aspect,” his “interest in the Nazi aesthetic” and on his German roots...)

And yes, he has had a painful personal biography:

He did not discover until he was 33 that his non-religious Jewish father was not his biological father, who was in fact an artistic German – a revelation he learnt from his mother on her death bed. In a 2005 interview with, he revealed that his mother slept with the man because her husband had such ordinary genes. “If I'd known that my mother had this plan, I would have become something else,” he said. “I would have shown her. The slut!”

and Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard thinks there was an overreaction:

Everybody knows he is not a Nazi so what are they punishing him for? Lying, saying he was a Nazi? Joking? Or what is it? It's a storm in a tea cup.

And someone else thinks

 it was a lousy attempt at humour that he tried to wriggle out of inelegantly

who proceeds to 'explain':

Given that the Nazi comment was a clumsy way of alluding to Germanic ancestry, and the “Israel is a pain in the ass” remark is a ham-fisted attempt of signalling an objection (that many others share) to a country’s foreign policy, then the bone of contention is Von Trier saying that he could sympathise with Hitler a bit.  But why wouldn’t we want him to? If we can’t make sense out of atrocious situations such as World War II then we’re highly unlikely to learn anything from them. In that regard there’s few people in the modern age better placed to shine a light on the scum-ridden underbelly of such proceedings than film-makers, drawing our attention to truths that we ought to know, even when we don’t immediately realise it ourselves.

But, of course, his "Israel is a pain in the ass" would seem to indicate a less-than-artisitic character, whether his opinion is shared or not. 

His attempt to worm his way out was almost 'heroic':

"I lived most of my life as a Jew. I wore a skullcap when I had to and laid stones on tombstones in cemeteries. My mother wasn't Jewish, but my father, or the man I thought was my father, was. But then I found out that my father wasn't my father and my real father was German."  He added, "And instead of saying I was actually German at the news conference on Wednesday, in my characteristic haste and because I couldn't stand the man who turned out to be my biological father, despite my mother's telling me he was charming, I said with a kind of typical Danish humor that most people don't understand that I was a Nazi. But I'm not."

Von Trier continued, "It was a stupid joke. But that's the kind of humor I use when I talk to my friends, who know me and know I'm not a Nazi. I apologize profoundly for offending people. It was not my intention. I've also offended Germans, when instead of saying 'German' I used the word 'Nazi,' as though every German is a Nazi."

However, we need acknowledge that his fascination lies somewhere very non-artistic:

I found out that I was really a Nazi which also gave me some pleasure.


Lars, there are some things even an artistic gentleman cannot be permitted to joke about (and his porn remark was simple vulgar).  And lets not forget, the moderator attempted to save him, to stop his verbal vomit and call on another questioner but Lars continued because he really is a pervert.  His politics are really more important than his art.  Instead of having his art express his ideas, his ideas fulfill themselves in his art.

Yet, for him to say

I just want to say, about the art, I’m very much for Speer. Speer I liked, Albert Speer I liked. He wasn’t also maybe one of God’s best children, but he had some talent that it was possible for him to us

That he could promote an idea that Albert Speer was one of God's best children for his talent is what is really perverts.  For him to enable his mind to accept one 'good' value that negates an 'evil' value is what is wrong becuase there is no relatavism.  For sure no moral relativism and that is the curse of post-modernism which influences the hatred not only of Jews but Zionism as well.

Just like he can think Israel is a pain in the ass, so he is for me.

Richard Brody alternatively slams and praises while actually pinpointing a major problem:

Clearly, von Trier was actually trying to say something substantial and very personal...[his frivolity] should not be troubling to anyone that he claims to understand Hitler; it’s the job of artists to attempt to understand and enter into imaginative sympathy even with for his taste for Speer, well, there are serious people who consider Leni Riefenstahl a major artist, too.

and finally gets to the issue:

What is offensive about von Trier’s remarks is his setting of Jews and Nazis in a binary opposition, as if they were two sides to an argument...and about disliking Jews for disliking Israel (I suppose he meant that he dislikes the policies of Israel). He approaches such traditional anti-Semitic tropes as if they were utterly normal, familiar, and funny, and he does so in a way that would be more or less unthinkable regarding other ethnic groups.

When von Trier says he’s “not Mel Gibson,” I suppose he means that he’s not in any way anti-Semitic, and there’s no reason to disbelieve him. The problem is that he treated anti-Semitism, the anti-Semitism of others, lightly. He spoke with grotesque insensitivity; he acted like a jerk.

Not a jerk but as someone who has osmossed what has become, in elitist cricles, normative subliminated anti-semitism. That's the danger.


Worse. The empathy he provides as an entertainment icon who espouses an artistic approach to life, his joking was unforgivable.

The clip is here.


1 comment:

Anonymsky said...

Erm ...

"Can I say I can sympathise a little with a man who did great evil or his favorite architect?"

"No you can not! Saying you sympathize is saying you agree with the evil the men did."