There seems to be a rather annoying trend… I won’t say recently because it’s been going on for years, which is why it’s getting annoying. This trend is something we see in all mediums and it follows the same basic formula:
Bad Guy + Nazi Imagery = Effective Villain.
That’s right… is your bad guy lacking in back story? Are they just not cutting it evil-wise? Well then, bring in some Nazi imagery! Once you do that, if your audience isn’t ‘crap their pants scared’ or made with rage, then you need a new audience.
I started noticing it a while ago, but we really get good examples of it in Harry Potter:
… Does this look familiar?
Similar color schemes, similar message, etc. etc. etc.
Another good example is Star Wars The Force Awakens:
Okay… as Epic as that Speech is… yeesh…
Needless to say… these examples and too many like them are beyond blatant.
Look I’m not here to say that the Nazis aren’t bad, nor am I going to say that they shouldn’t be smeared in commentary. My grandfather came home with horror stories about what he saw when his battalion liberated some of the camps. I have first-hand witness accounts from a family member… so no one is going to dispute Nazi villainy on my watch.
That said, this formula does tend to get blatantly overused. I see it all too often in cases where the bad guy isn’t ‘bad’ enough… but then I see it in stories like Star Wars where it’s just completely unnecessary. We know the first order, we know their backstory and we know why they’re evil. The Nazi symbolism and imagery is completely unnecessary. If your reasoning for doing it isn’t because your villains aren’t well-written enough, why are you doing it?
Because the Nazis were evil and this is social commentary against them.
Well… you know what? We’ve got literally thousands of books, movies, documentaries, etc. telling us that. We know they’re evil and anyone who doesn’t think so, isn’t going to be swayed by your movies.
My only point here is that it’s been overdone. I mean if you’re going to do social commentary in your medium about the evils mankind has committed, why not one that’s a little more glossed over:
The atrocities of the Soviet Union pre, during, and post-WW2 which were arguably on a scale much larger than anything Hitler had been able to accomplish.
The Chinese atrocities following WW2?
The Vietnam atrocities on both sides.
The ongoing ethnic and militaristic cleansing in Africa?
Or how about something more modern, say… What’s going on in the Middle East right now?
But people may not recognize those as easily…
Maybe that’s the problem? People keep saying that they want to show that the Nazis were evil so that things like what they did will never happen again.
Sadly, they are happening again. Maybe not on such a huge scale, but they are happening again right now, as I write this and as you read it. So maybe its time to use that imagery and bring attention to it.
So I just want to say one more time, I’m not opposed to Nazi imagery when creating villains, I just think it’s kind of overused.
What do you think? Should we continue to use it as heavily as possible to keep such wide-scale genocides from happening again or should we switch focus to more recent tragedies?
Let me know in the comments.
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