scispace - formally typeset
Search or ask a question
Journal ArticleDOI

Bastardized History: How Inglourious Basterds Breaks through American Screen Memory

01 Oct 2015-Vol. 3, Iss: 2, pp 141-169
TL;DR: Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009) as discussed by the authors is a satire of the movie version of The Diary of Anne Frank (1952) adapted for the silver screen by George Stevens and George Stevens.
Abstract: I think America is one of the only countries that has not been forced . . . to look [its] own past sins in the face. And it's only by looking them in the face that you can possibly work past them.1-Quentin TarantinoDespite the fact that the Holocaust took place on another continent and directly involved few Americans, this event has become integrated into the fabric of the American story. The trauma of the Holocaust entered American mainstream consciousness with the publication in English of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in 1952, which met with wild success when it was adapted for the silver screen in 1959 as The Diary of Anne Frank (George Stevens, USA). American awareness of the Final Solution was reinforced for later generations with the premiere of the television miniseries Holocaust (Marvin J. Chomsky, USA, NBC) in 1978 and again with the release of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (USA) and the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993. With the proliferation of Holocaust memorials and representations in the American arts since the landmark date of 1993, the Holocaust has been transformed in the United States from a specifically Jewish trauma into a broadly defined mainstream American experience.2 America's adoption of European Jewish history is part of a process by which the story of the Holocaust-and America's presumed role in ending it-is incorporated into "the fundamental tale of pluralism, tolerance, democracy, and human rights that America tells about itself."3 Peter Novick confirms this trend in his study The Holocaust in American Life, observing that "the Holocaust has come to be presented-come to be thought of-as not just a Jewish memory but an American memory."4In its use of postmodern parody, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (USA, 2009) calls attention to American culture's appropriation of Holocaust memory through its conflation of Jewish and American identities in the elite fighting unit that gives the film its title. The film's self-conscious Americaniza-tion of the Holocaust functions as a critique of American popular culture's tendency to adopt Holocaust trauma as a screen memory, a means of displacing or repressing its own historical guilt-traumas. Rather than participating in this phenomenon, however, Inglourious Basterds uses parody to lay bare the ways in which American film representations of the Holocaust have shaped, and in some cases have distorted, public cultural memory of the event. Unlike earlier Holocaust films that endeavored to seamlessly integrate a specifically Jewish history into the broader fabric of the American story, Inglourious Basterds calls attention to its Americanization of the Holocaust through its ironic revision of history. Tarantino confirms this reading, explaining that the film broadly examines "the tragedy of genocide. I'm dealing with the Jewish genocide in Europe, but my Jews are going native and taking the roles of American Indians-another genocide. Then there's a King Kong metaphor about the slave trade, that's another genocide."5 Through this revision the film challenges the primacy of the Holocaust as an American memory and consequently draws attention to America's reluctance to confront its own legacy of racial prejudice.Moreover, the film unsettles received representations of America as the liberator of Europe's Jews from their Nazi oppressors, and in this way acts in a manner similar to what Linda Hutcheon has called historiographic metafiction-what I term "historiographic metacinema"-which locates in popular film representations of the Holocaust a complicated intertextual relationship between history and fiction.6 As historiographic metacinema-the film clearly "situate[s] itself within historical discourse without surrendering its autonomy as fiction"7-Inglourious Basterds prompts us to question the reliability of films as instruments of public memory by calling attention to the cinematic strategies by which they represent the Holocaust. …
Citations
More filters
01 Jan 1993

165 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Horsemen of the Apocalypse as discussed by the authors is an example of a group of characters from the Bible who were involved in a war against the forces of the Roman Empire in the Middle Ages.
Abstract: Dedication - Abbreviations - Preface - Acknowledgements - PART 1: NATURE - Earth - Vegetation - Light and Darkness - The Seasons - Notes - PART 2: THE SOLDIERS - The Allies - The Enemies - PART 3: THE CIVILIANS - The Labyrinth of Nations - The Limits of Communication - The Totality of War - The Old World - PART 4: THE APOCALYPSE - The Strange - The Genocide - The Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Notes - Epilogue - Bibliography - Index

12 citations

Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 2020
TL;DR: The authors examined the messaging, delivery, and visible impact of pop cultural icons on the ways people remember and forget the Holocaust and found that contemporary Holocaust-themed animation on sitcoms like Family Guy and South Park sometimes poke "irresponsible" fun.
Abstract: In 1986, cartoonist Art Spiegelman published Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, the first book in his two-volume graphic comic novel about the Holocaust. He established, perhaps unwittingly, a new genre of Holocaust representation, i.e., comic animation that thrives in current times. While his intervention was “responsible” in the sense that it spurred, rather than spurned reverent remembrance, contemporary Holocaust-themed animation on sitcoms like Family Guy and South Park sometimes poke “irresponsible” fun. American cultural producers have a long tradition of ridiculing Adolf Hitler and Nazism. Joking about the Holocaust and its survivors, however, is something new. This chapter does not consider the question of whether or not this sort of humor is amusing, or appropriate. Rather, this study examines the messaging, delivery, and visible impact of such pop cultural icons on the ways people remember and forget the Holocaust.

2 citations

References
More filters
Book
01 Jan 2004
TL;DR: In the second volume of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy as mentioned in this paper, the question is "What is Mars's own name for itself?" and the answer is "Ka." But this is an answer that in an important sense only deepens the question.
Abstract: This essay begins with a question: "'The question is, what is Mars's own name for itself?"'' The question gets asked in Green Mars, the second volume of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy; the context in which it's asked is what Robinson calls an "areophany," a ritual in which the first colonists on Mars recite the names for Mars in as many languages as they can: English, Arabic, Japanese, and so on. The answer to the question, Robinson tells us about two hundred pages later, is "Ka." But this is an answer that in an important sense only deepens the question. Ka is a sound that "a whole lot of Earth names for Mars" have in them, Robinson says (GM, p. 236). But it's hard to see why the fact that the Arabs call Mars Qahira and the Japanese call it Kasei should mean that Ka is "Mars's own name for itself." Ka is also what the "little red people on Mars" call it. But the little red people in Robinson don't actually exist; they are presented as a kind of myth invented by humans. Indeed, one of the ways in which Robinson's Mars trilogy (and much recent Mars fiction, like Ben Bova's Mars and Greg Bear's Moving Mars) differs from some other recent ambitious works of science fiction (say, Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series or Orson Scott Card's Ender Quartet) is in its apparent indifference to the question of the alien. Robinson's Mars is a lifeless planet before colonization. So if the question about Mars's own name for itself cannot be a question about what humans call it, it can't exactly be a question about what Martians call it either. In the Mars trilogy, there are no Martians.

53 citations

Book
01 Mar 2005
TL;DR: A detailed history of games and pastimes from the Middle Ages onward that contributed to baseball's development can be found in this article, along with a set of long-forgotten baseball rules from the 1700s.
Abstract: It may be America's game, but no one seems to know how or when baseball really started. Theories abound, myths proliferate, but reliable information has been in short supply-until now, when Baseball before We Knew It brings fresh new evidence of baseball's origins into play. David Block looks into the early history of the game and of the 150-year-old debate about its beginnings. He tackles one stubborn misconception after another, debunking the enduring belief that baseball descended from the English game of rounders and revealing a surprising new explanation for the most notorious myth of all-the Abner Doubleday-Cooperstown story. Block's book takes readers on an exhilarating journey through the centuries in search of clues to the evolution of our modern National Pastime. Among his startling discoveries is a set of long-forgotten baseball rules from the 1700s. Block evaluates the originality and historical significance of the Knickerbocker rules of 1845, revisits European studies on the ancestry of baseball which indicate that the game dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years, and assembles a detailed history of games and pastimes from the Middle Ages onward that contributed to baseball's development. In its thoroughness and reach, and its extensive descriptive bibliography of early baseball sources, this book is a unique and invaluable resource-a comprehensive, reliable, and readable account of baseball before it was America's game.

41 citations