Thursday, 8 October 2009

Holocaust Porn





If the moral health of a nation can be determined by its book-covers, then things don't look very good for whatever country produced these masterpieces. Probably America, but from what I've heard, this was the book that Joy Division were named after so it must have had its (ahem) enthusiasts in Blighty as well.

The question it raises for me is: was it better before 'political correctness' and people judging their neighbours? Now, you'd probably think it creepy if your neighbour was reading a book that offered titillation based on women being exploited by genocidal sadists. Yet 1) it was popular at the time* and 2) Do we really have the right to judge our neighbours and 'psychoanalyse' their motives and emotions and 3) Wouldn't it be oddly liberating living in a country where no-one cared especially what their neighbours thought and 4) Wasn't fascism like communism the result of people thinking they had the right to pre-emptively judge others based on popular values and 5) Does the success of books like this pretty much prove we're mainly bastards anyway, just some are less bashful?

Of course political correctness would stop books with such covers being released, but only puts a different slant on pretty similar stuff. Hence, Schindler's List had all the typical Spielbergian sentimentality, but when it came to the shower scene, it was all young women as far as I can remember.

*Over five million copies sold apparently, dunno if it crossed their minds that 'five million' might not be an especially tasteful figure when marketing a book on the Holocaust

7 comments:

  1. There was a scandal in the Czech Rep. when a porn-film maker wanted to rent Terezin concentration camp site for one his flicks. The intended content was to be something of the kind you describe above. Funny thing is that the flick maker is Jewish.

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  2. In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia.

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  3. 'There was a scandal in the Czech Rep. when a porn-film maker wanted to rent Terezin concentration camp site for one his flicks.'

    Very tasteful. Still, as I said there were no babushkas in the shower scenes in Schindler's List or the miniseries of Anne Frank's Diary, so it's all a matter of framing rather than major quantitative differences.

    'In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia.'

    Uh (pretending I understand) I didn't feel that much nostalgia for the 80s cover of a concentration camp inmate getting her boobs out for the titillation of some Nazi (but of course, not the morally superior target audience who would buy it to sympathise with the poor victims). Still, you do seem to be touching on a point that I find interesting: are people who regard themselves moral more likely to cause harm to their neighbour than people who think they are amoral or are either more likely to harm their neighbour than people who regard themselves as immoral?

    Seems in Britain, they used to be pretty relaxed as regards racism, sexism, homophobia. Not saying it is ideal by any means, but was it preferable to today's society where people have political correctness witch-hunts?

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  4. I find both those covers appalling for exactly the same kinds of reasons that you explained extremely well, Gregor.

    I went to Terezin a few years ago, and the thought that it could somehow be used for porn by a (Jewish or non-Jewish)film-maker is equally despicable. It must be one of the most sexless places ever built on this cruel earth.

    This kind of brutality and sexual-violence reminded me of one of the best pieces I've ever read on the theme, by George Orwell at:

    http://www.george-orwell.org/Raffles_and_Miss_Blandish/0.html

    Some of my thoughts on Orwell can be read at:

    http://www.bretthetherington.net/Services/Categories/Pages/Category.aspx?categoryId=297

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  5. Hi Brett
    Maybe I should reread Orwell. It seems that he has fallen in popularity recently for cliping on some of his pals, but I didn't really follow it.

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  6. Orwell's ideas are timeless. So what if he has fallen in popularity. Let's have a look at what is popular. Most of it is pure shit. Orwell was a tosser at times but if you have an ego you are bound to be disliked sometimes, or more than sometimes.

    Orwell is the clearest thinker I have ever read. Apart from Shakespeare, he is the greatest writer England has produced, or is likely to ever produce. He is THE writer to read for anyone who has an interest in politics or society.

    A great site of his writing (all free!) is:

    http://www.george-orwell.org/l_orwell-essay.html

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  7. 1984 was probably the first adult book I read and it really had a very deep impression on me. Perhaps the strangest thing is that I read it in my early teens and yet even then Britain was still more recognisably British than it is now.

    I should probably re-read it but am afraid I'd be disappointed. Still, I've recently been rereading HG Wells who is every bit as good as I remember if not more so.

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