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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Still from Patterns of Force, episode of the science fiction television program Star Trek: The Original Series, broadcast on February 16, 1968. The crew of the Enterprise tracks down a Federation observer on the planet Ekos, dominated by a Nazi-inspired regime. Kirk and Spock learn that the Ekosians are planning “a final solution” — the extinction of all Zeons who reside on their planet, and the destruction of the neighboring planet Zeon. The Zeons are a clear reference to the Jewish people, and they carry names like Isak and Abrom.

Spock’s physical appearance plays a focal role in a (…) scene that more directly evokes Nazi racial policies. When Kirk, Spock, and the resistance fighters infiltrate Nazi party headquarters in search of Gill [the Führer], Kirk creates a momentary diversion by pretending to be a Zeon officer who has discovered an “alien” spy masquerading as a Nazi. He turns Spock over to Melakon [the Deputy Führer] who, as an expert on the “genetics of racial purity,” analyzes the specimen: “Note the sinister eyes and the malformed ears—definitely an inferior race. Note the low forehead, denoting stupidity—the dull look of a trapped animal”. Melakon orders Spock executed, explaining that he wants “the body saved for the cultural museum. He’ll make an interesting display”.
Jeffrey Shandler, While America Watches. Televising the Holocaust (p. 149).

Anti-smoking campaign launched by “Pubblicità Progresso”, Italian non-profit association, 1975-1976.

The ethical limit of Holocaust representations (in art, literature, architecture, film, etc.) lies on a system of substitutions going from mimesis to abstract motifs. The set of patterns and artistic theories coming from the modernist and avant-garde movements provide a conceptual framework to explore the intersection of memory, ethics and aesthetics in the artistic expressions (one of the major issues in “Holocaust Studies”).

From this point of view, the Grid, considered as a Modernist Myth, is a fundamental visual pattern. As noted by art historian Rosalind Krauss, the grid “announces, among other things, modern art’s will to silence, its hostility to literature, to narrative, to discourse”. In the cultist space of modern art “the grid serves not only as emblem but also as myth. For like all myths, it deals with paradox or contradiction not by dissolving the paradox or resolving the contradiction, but by covering them over so that they seem (but only seem) to go away”.  A paradox, or contradiction, which involves the unrepresentability of Holocaust.

We can look at the grid structure as a myth not only referring to modernist artists like Ryman or Mondrian, but also to the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, 2005) designed by architect Peter Eisenman. In this specific case, the paradox is represented by a monument that Germany built to its own fault.

Piet Mondrian, Composition No. 10 Pier and Ocean (1915)

Peter Eisenman, Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, 2005

A new and pathbreaking collection of studies has come out, the first book which addresses systematically the neglected field of Nazisploitation. Many chapters deal with the Holocaust theme in Exploitation cinema, especially in Italian Sexploitation films from the late 1970s. A detailed review will follow as soon as possible, in the meantime we offer the description from the publisher’s website:

Nazisploitation! examines past intersections of National Socialism and popular cinema and the recent reemergence of this imagery in contemporary visual culture. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, films such as Love Camp 7 and Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS introduced and reinforced the image of Nazis as master paradigms of evil in what film theorists deem the ‘sleaze’ film. More recently, Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, as well as video games such as Call of Duty: World at War, have reinvented this iconography for new audiences. In these works, the violent Nazi becomes the hyperbolic caricature of the “monstrous feminine” or the masculine sadist. Power-hungry scientists seek to clone the Führer, and Nazi zombies rise from the grave.

The history, aesthetic strategies, and political implications of such translations of National Socialism into the realm of commercial, low brow, and ‘sleaze’ visual culture are the focus of this book. The contributors examine when and why the Nazisploitation genre emerged as it did, how it establishes and violates taboos, and why this iconography resonates with contemporary audiences.

Table of Contents

“Nazisploitation: An Introduction” by Daniel H. Magilow

Part I. Origins, Histories, and Genealogies
1. Cinema beyond Good and Evil? Nazi Exploitation in the Cinema of the 1970s and its Heritage by Marcus Stiglegger
2. Sexual Deviance and the Naked Body in Cinematic Representations of Nazis by Michael Richardson
3. Ilsa and Elsa: Nazisploitation, Mainstream Film, and Cinematic Transference by Alicia Kozma
4. Reproducing the Fourth Reich: Cloning, Nazisploitation, and Revival of the Repressed by Elizabeth Bridges
5. Utterly without Redeeming Social Value? “Nazi Science” Beyond Exploitation Cinema by James J. Ward

Part II. Bitches, Whores, and Dominatrices
6. The Third Reich as Bordello and Pig Sty: Between Neodecadence and Sexploitation in Tinto Brass’s Salon Kitty by Robert von Dassanowsky
7. Revisiting the Cruel Apparatus: Disability, Queerness, and Taste in In a Glass Cage by David Church
8. Eine Armee Gretchen: Nazisploitation Made in Switzerland by Benedikt Eppenberger
9. Meshes of Power: The Concentration Camp as Pulp or Art House in Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter by Elissa Mailänder

Part III. Heroes, Villains, and the Undead
10. Digital Nazis: Genre, History and the Displacement of Evil in First-Person Shooters by Jeff Hayton
11. Captain America Lives Again and So Do the Nazis: Nazisploitation in Comics after 9/11 by Craig This
12. A Past that Refuses to Die: Nazi Zombie Film and the Legacy of Occupation by Sven Jüngerkes and Christiane Wienand
13. Messing Up World War II-Exploitation: The Challenges of Role-Play in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds by Mimmi Woisnitza
14. Of Blitzkriege and Endlösungen: The Resurrection of a Dead Genre? by Michael Fuchs

Bibliography
Selected Filmography
Notes on Contributors
Index