20 thoughts on “A parody video on mount st Mary’s

  1. What oh what were you thinking to post this. To be as diplomatic as I can be, after watching this, I can only say that I think it is highly inappropriate to use an analogy with Hitler in this situation. And it’s not funny at all.

  2. WD: this is the use of a particular film clip. There are many uses of this very clip on youtube; I wwould guess a hundred or more. I don’t think any of them use Hitler as analogy, whatever that may mean. Here is another one:

  3. Comparing the St Mary’s Catholic board to the Nazi General Staff does strike me as rather abusive, and certainly ad hominem. I wonder if it falls afoul of the recent APA statement about abusive, ad hominem language on blogs.

  4. Something I mention below, but should stress at the outset. Hitler and the Board are behaving in opposite ways. Nothing in the video really suggests the Board is anything like Hitler. The humor of the piece, if you get it at all, is due to much more indirect elements.

    Some points:

    1. The Hitler Rant Parodies are parodies, spoofs or, perhaps, satire. I think they probably cross categories here, but such items are not in general well understood as containing literal comparisons. This is incontestable, I think. For example, the one in my second comment is not comparing Hitler to scientists, nor does it seem to use Hitler as an analogy.

    2. Importantly, and more specifically, the words and actions of the Hitler character are the opposite of those of the Board at the Mount, as far as I can see. Hitler is criticizing Newman; the Board apparently backs him.

    3. There are actually hundreds of these Hitler Rant Parodies on the web. Many of these are thought to be hilarious. The author of the one in the OP is called a genius on Facebook. It is, to say the least, difficult to analyze what makes something humorous, and I’m not going to try here. But it certainly in this case is not by making direct comparisons between Hitler and anyone else.

    4. The objections here raise questions about how to critique a complex genre. I do not think the best way is to employ terms standardly used to discuss more straightforward works.

  5. Quick note: Brian Leiter says that Hitler is the board chair. See his blog.. I don’t mean to exclude the possibility that he holds that role. What I did argue against is the idea that he is meant to be the same person as the chair, and/or that he represents the actual chair.

  6. Hi John, just to stress the point for readers: you are not identified as the author or creator of the video.

  7. The MSMU Hitler video is hilarious.

    I can see some people being offended by it. I mean: Catholics, Hitler, some folks will have a reduced sense of humor quite naturally about that. However, satire has very very broad protection under first amendment.

    Some other folks will be able to put that history aside and laugh until they cry at this video because it’s spot on for what I IMAGINE the board chairman is REALLY thinking about Simon Newman’s behavior, regardless of what the chairman is quoted saying in public. The timing and dialog are great too.

    And also the Hitler video about peer review! Thank you so much for sharing that one. My cheeks hurt and my face was wet with tears from laughing so much while watching that.

  8. ” The Hitler Rant Parodies are parodies, spoofs or, perhaps, satire. I think they probably cross categories here, but such items are not in general well understood as containing literal comparisons. This is incontestable, I think.”

    To the contrary: satires almost always contain comparisons.What is an example of a comparison that isn’t literal? Do you mean it is only figuratively a comparison? What does that even mean?

    “There are actually hundreds of these Hitler Rant Parodies on the web. Many of these are thought to be hilarious.”

    Indeed. There are also hundreds of (thousands of) misogynistic rants on the internet, and many of them are also thought to be hilarious. The fact that something has appeared many times on the internet and is thought to be hilarious does not exactly show that it is innocuous, that it isn’t abusive, or that it isn’t ad hominem. (Of course it’s ad hominem!)

  9. Sandalwood: 2 points:

    1. You introduced “comparison” and you implicated that I say the board is like Hitler. Parodies and spoofs do not present one thing as literally like another.

    As far as I can see, dictionaries generally agree that to compare one thing to another is to examine the similarities and differences. Parodies and spoofs are suppose to employ considerable exaggeration, and they don’t seem in the business of literally comparing.

    2. I confess I left out a conclusion, which I wrongly thought was obvious; I know see it wasn’t, though my earlier comment comes close. The point about the hundreds of occurrences of these parodies is that they form a genre. It is simply a misunderstanding of the genre to say that they present abusive comparisons. You’d need a special reason for saying that this one does. That will be extremely hard to get, since in fact the Hitler character does not do what the Board has done.

    This reminds me of a kind of dispute I had too often in my former Roman Catholic life, though the funniest example I can remember was at a meeting when Elizabeth Anscombe was maintaining, before an audience mostly full of Catholics, mostly priests, that Christ’s words “This is my body” appeared to be nonsensical, and so Catholics have a debt to pay: to make sense of the idea that some bread could be Christ’s body. Chaos ensured.

  10. ‘You introduced “comparison” and you implicated that I say the board is like Hitler.’

    I certainly do not. The video, not you, compares the board to Hitler; nothing I wrote implicated that you said it.

    “Parodies and spoofs do not present one thing as literally like another.”

    I asked for an example of a comparison that isn’t literal, because I just don’t understand what you mean. Nor do I understand what “literally like” means.
    Parodies often (typically) do present the parodied subject as being similar in certain ways to something else. I really can’t imagine what you’re thinking. Examples: the novel Don Quixote obviously compares Quixote to a true knight errant and obviously says he is similar in certain ways; Gulliver’s Travels does obviously compare Gulliver to a traveler in one of the travel narratives of the day. Anyone who doesn’t see this has no chance of understanding the novels.
    Obviously, parodies employ exaggeration. There is no doubt that the person who created the Hitler-as-Catholic-college-board parody fully intended to be employing exaggeration.

    “The point about the hundreds of occurrences of these parodies is that they form a genre. It is simply a misunderstanding of the genre to say that they present abusive comparisons.”

    The video is very plainly suggesting that the Mount college board is like a group of Nazis. If you mean to deny this, then I think we’ll just leave it at that, and others can judge whether you are being sincere. If you accept it but wish to deny that the comparison is abusive, then I must say I also find that difficult to believe.

  11. Hi Peter, Thanks so much for your comments. I disagree, though, about what the Board really thinks, though if I found out it had actual academics on it, I might change my mind.

    Our board is full of political appointees, and when the faculty senate here conducted a survey of faculty opinion about the administration, which was incredibly negative, the boards’ first reaction was to try to get rid of us. They certainly didn’t know that the protections of tenure have some real legal force.

    Somewhat similarly, I think many of us on this blog are concerned about junior people without legal protection speaking out.

    One of my favorite lines in the parody is the one about making heroes of enimies while giving them grounds for a lawsuit.

  12. The “Hitler film parody” video genre seems to be super generational and specific to social media. Naturally, it causes more controversy when it’s moved to a different format with a different readership. When it comes to very young Millennials especially, there are memes and parodies arguably far more offensive than this one (see: “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams”).

  13. I have to agree with V’s comment above. And I’m honestly surprised that people such as Wendy Donner (and apparently Sandalwood?) have never seen any of these Downfall parodies. As was mentioned above, there are hundreds of them and they were extremely popular a few years ago. Here’s a really funny one about applying to philosophy grad school! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47uR3sQC7lc. I think the one posted in the OP is hilarious (contrary to Wendy Donner’s opinion). And Sandalwood’s worries seem to fundamentally misunderstand the genre. I suppose that in some *very* broad sense you could insist that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is being “compared to Hitler.” Similarly, you could insist the anxious grad school applicant is being “compared to Hitler,” or that the scientist trying to get his/her paper published is being “compared to Hitler,” or that the disillusioned TA is being “compared to Hitler.” Yet I fail to see how these “comparisons” are supposed to be disparaging to scientists, or grad school applicants, or TAs. I fail to see how they are abusive in any way. You might insist that the clip posted in the OP is principally different, but how exactly?

  14. JPM, There is no limit to the length of the discussion, but I am starting to discard repetitive ones. I think that the insistence that one’s views be addressed can be deadly to an internet discussion.

    For a similar reason, I am not engaging the same topics that I did earlier. I do agree, though, with a lot that has been said.

  15. This is a philosophy blog. Let philosophy–however messy it can be–happen. I think this has been a great discussion so far, and I thank you, Anne, for posting the initial video.

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