YouTube axes spoof Hitler rants
Published 22/04/2010 | 06:07
Adolf Hitler, for years a vessel of frustration in a popular internet video, was silenced by YouTube.
Downfall, a German film released in 2004 about Hitler's last days, was adapted for wildly popular YouTube parodies that spanned mock rants about topics as varied as playing Xbox video games to Kanye West and Apple's new iPad.
Every spoof is from the same scene in the film: A furious, defeated Hitler, played by Bruno Ganz, unleashes an impassioned, angry speech to his remaining staff, huddled with him in his underground bunker.
The scene takes on widely different meaning when paired with English subtitles about, say, a late-season collapse by the New York Mets baseball team.
Any subject could be - and was - substituted, made even funnier by the scene's intense melodrama, artful staging and timely cutaways.
On Tuesday, the clips on YouTube, many of which had been watched by hundreds of thousands, even millions, began disappearing from the site. Constantin Films, the company that owns the rights to the film, asked for them to be removed, and YouTube complied.
Martin Moszkowicz, head of film and TV at Constantin films in Munich, said the company was fighting copyright infringement for years. Jewish organisations also complained about the tastefulness of the clips, he said.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the league was "delighted".
"We find them offensive," said Mr Foxman of the videos. "We feel that they trivialise not only the Holocaust but the Second World War. Hitler is not a cartoon character."
Mr Moszkowicz disputed the idea that all the attention to Downfall, which grossed 5.5 million US dollars at the US box office and was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar, helped the film.