We have a shortage of everything in this country right now, apparently — the gun stores are sold out, the pharmacies aren’t picking up the phone, and the toilet-paper shelves are empty — but most of all, there appears to be a desperate shortage of… Nazis. You wouldn’t think this is the case, given the rate at which the definition of “Nazi” is being ratcheted down. In 1932, it meant someone who was a member of the NSDAP. By 1941 it meant “pretty much any German”. By 2016 it meant voting for Trump. A year later, it meant making the highly offensive and racist suggestion that it was okay to be white. In 2020, “Nazi” has been expanded to mean “would vote for Biden over Sanders”.
At this point, by my count, at least 65% of the country might be Nazis. Possibly more than that. Some of them are, apparently, black. You could be a Nazi right now and not even know it — until you are called out as such, which is one of those accusations which cannot be effectively refuted, even if you’re related to someone who actually tried to kill Hitler.
As many Nazis as we currently have in America, however, the demand is still exceeding the supply. How else can you explain the recent, and profoundly, disturbing fetish the mainstream media has developed for Nazi pornography?
Mind you, I’m not talking about the Max Mosley style of Nazi pornography. Pornography, in the modern sense, isn’t always about naked people doing naked stuff. It’s anything that is viscerally satisfying because it is exploitative. We talk about the “ruin porn” of Detroit: the photography of destroyed factories, shuttered homes, and graffiti-filled train stations which is somehow trememdously satisfying, almost addictive for some people. And we discuss “torture porn” as well, in its various genres from snuff films to Taliban recruiting videos.
A few years ago, Amazon spent a ton of money (and hired Alexa Davalos, one of the world’s best-looking women) to make The Man In The High Castle, a fantasy series about a world in which America lost World War II. The show has been justly praised for the quality of its acting — in particular, the performance put in by Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa will shock those of you who only remember him as Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat — but the portrayal of America under Nazi rule ended up resulting in some serious hand-wringing about how accidentally attractive the imaginary Nazi America was. Apparently, the folks who made it just naturally figured that everyone watching the show would be intrinsically horrified by the prospect of well-manicured suburbs where children obey their parents and play sports while all the doors in the neighborhood are unlocked every night. This message would be very clear if you’re Daniel Kibblesmith and you associate a clean suburb with relentless childhood bullying, but apparently a lot of viewers had the thoughtcrime that “Nazi America” compared pretty well to “Modern America”, so in the following seasons they had to amp up the volume of the message, which still didn’t satisfy everyone:
Fascism may be a novel dystopia for white Americans, but it’s long been the status quo for black people… “The Man in the High Castle” could have used the two John Smith’s to show that white men who tolerate fascism thrive in our world already; you don’t have to create an alternate Nazi universe to find them. Instead, it suggests that Nazi Smith is the product of an entire alien ideology — one imposed on America, rather than one with roots here, too… The narrative becomes about how much more racist a foreign, non-white government is, rather than about how white people in America have always behaved… Unfortunately, in reality, racism and authoritarianism don’t need to leap dimensional barriers to reach our homeland. Imagining different pasts can help us choose a better future. But only if we’re honest about our present.
(A list of that author’s writing reads like some kind of “ultra-woke” parody: “Plus-Sized Fashion and the Sociologist’s Gaze”, “America Is Built on Torture, Remember?”, “Justin Timberlake and the Whiteness of Country Music”. Sometimes it can be hard to remember that people like him a) truly exist and b) are taken seriously by a lot of powerful people.)
Upon its introduction, I had ignorantly categorized “High Castle” as simply another example of wacky WWII nostalgia, like The Final Countdown or something like that, but in retrospect I was quite wrong. I’d suggest instead that it was generated from the uniparty‘s deep desire to “punch a Nazi” in an era that, regardless of what CNN tells you, is actually remarkably short on them. Like conventional pornography, it comes from a dissatisfaction with reality. In the pages of Penthouse Forum, there were always sexy MILFs ready to drag grocery-store bagboys into their conversion vans for a sexual initiation. In real life, where your author was a bagboy, it didn’t happen — not just where my ugly ass was concerned, which would be understandable, but also in the case of “Chance”, our six-foot-three, blond-and-blue-eyed college swimmer, who did two years of bagging at Big Bear without so much as a five-dollar tip from a suburban mom. Pornography is a funhouse mirror of our own desires. For men, it takes the form of women who are always aroused, always multi-orgasmic, and deeply interested in three-ways; pornography for women is Twilight, where the Magic Hoo-Hoo causes a 10-out-of-10 fellow to fall in love with a girl who knows she’s a 6-out-of-10, even if she has the potential to be Beautiful All Along.
The pornographic aspect of “High Castle” is that it gives you the chance to punch Nazis — at a safe distance, through your TV screen, because you’re not stupid enough to think you would last thirty seconds in a real hand-to-hand fight with Otto Skorzeny or the least of his Fallschirmjäger. (Historical note: Skorzeny, who was kind of the Nazi take on Audie Murphy, spent a fair amount of time after World War II working for the Mossad — which suggests that he was perhaps apolitical and that, for him, the action was the juice.) There’s just one little problem: on that show, the Nazis are the powerful villains and the “Resistance” are the underdogs. Like most men of my generation, I was raised to root for the underdog — but today’s “soyboys” don’t have that conditioning. Their natural sympathy is with the powerful, with the governing bodies, with the Party. They’ve grown up in a world where there has never been any genuine difference of opinion among our Illuminati, where the combination of social leftism and corporate welfare has always been the prevailing and correct one. They spend their lives “canceling” and “doxing” and “calling out” people who are reckless enough to stop clapping before everyone else does, using the immense power which comes from having identical opinions with everyone in any position of authority whatsoever. In other words, they only know how to “punch down”.
Therefore, any sufficiently arousing Nazi pornography has to be about punching down. Which brings us to “Hunters”, the new series from Amazon, and “The Plot Against America”, from HBO. The former is a fictionalization of the “Nazi hunters” from forty years ago, and the latter is a revamp of a late-period Philip Roth toss-off novel. This look at “Hunters”, in which the people from a Benetton ad are led by Al Pacino to “hunt” Nazis living in America, should give you the general idea:
The top-rated comment at the moment is “I wonder if Hollywood would make a movie about hunting pedophiles?” which is a rhetorical question because we all know Hollywood loves pedophiles even more than they hate Nazis. It’s also irrelevant, because “Hunters” doesn’t deal in shades of morality or uncertainty. It delivers the money shot in the first two seconds of the trailer: a beautiful Black woman punches a Nazi and knocks his lights out. That’s what you came to see, right? I’m sure you will get it in each and every episode.
“The Plot Against America”, on the other hand, is kind of a neutered “High Castle” in which the Nazi horror only lasts a couple of years before everything is set right again and the bad guys are properly punished. It’s “Independence Day” only the Americans are Jewish-Americans and the aliens are stock-character racist rednecks led by Charles Lindbergh, who somehow gets elected President and then immediately makes preparations for an American Holocaust before fate intervenes and FDR is elected in his place. Roth’s starting point isn’t entirely invalid — there was some resentment directed at American Jews in the late thirties. Some of it came from people who hated the idea of losing their children in a bloody fight with people who were in many cases their second or third cousins; imagine how people in 2020 California would feel about the United States bombing Mexico and you’ll get a sense of how the people in Cincinnati, many of whom were recent immigrants from Germany, felt about World War II. (It’s worth noting that my grandfather was an immigrant from Germany who turned right around and volunteered for the United States Army. How many of today’s immigrants would do the same?) Some of it also came from people who hated Jews and didn’t have “Palestine” as an excuse for their Jew-hatred the way their spiritual descendants do today.
In both “Hunters” and “The Plot”, the imaginary Nazis are defeated and the good guys win. This is a major improvement for many people over “High Castle”, which ended its fourth season on a profoundly ambiguous note in which not all Nazis were thoroughly punched. In other words — if “High Castle” was Playboy with its cultural and intellectual pretensions, “Hunters” is Penthouse where the girls actually show you all the stuff every time. Logically, there must be something to take this obviously satisfying concept even further — perhaps an unironic take on Ow My Balls! where it’s just Nazis being punched over and over again.
The Supreme Court has, of course, made it plain that the First Amendment applies to the most deeply manipulative and evil forms of pornography in the same way that the Second Amendment does not apply to a rifle which can be reloaded without a ramrod and powder horn, so you can expect that the successors to “Hunters” will be more and more violent, more and more cartoonish, more and more exploitative. Does it matter? I would suggest that it does. Our democracy cannot function if we demonize or idealize our opponents. It leads quite logically to the suggestion that those opponents need to be punched rather than convinced. “Punching Nazis” is not a workable strategy if the country is 65% Nazi by your definition. Worse yet, the consistent fetishization and obsession with “Nazis” will, eventually, lead to a normalization of Nazis, the same way that the average high school girl now expects to receive a ‘facial’ at the end of sex. If everybody is a Nazi, then nobody is a Nazi — but it’s also okay to be a Nazi, because you’ve already been labeled as such.
The ideal world has no punching of Nazis, because there is no punching, and also no Nazis. Simple as that — but maybe it’s not so simple. Can you live in a world where politics and pornography are unaffiliated? Can you understand any explanation without a money shot? How you gonna keep ’em down on the Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, after they’ve seen Deep Throat?