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Taberner traces the history of the term back to the Kohl era and highlights its particular importance for unified Germany. It includes the idea that because Germany continues to express remorse regarding its World War II and Holocaust crimes, it should be allowed to move beyond these admissions of guilt and to establish itself as a democratic, liberal, and tolerant nation.
Particularly the dialectical workings of Jewish humor allow Alles auf Zucker! In most discussions of Jewish humor, only one side of it is highlighted: Others, such as Edmund Bergler, Martin Grotjahn, and George Mikes, have supported the thesis that Jewish humor has a distinctly self-mocking and self-derogatory character, in which hostility or aggressiveness manifests itself in a masochistic way—that is, it is turned against the Jew himself.
Another critical characteristic of Jewish humor, however—the other side of the coin, really—is overlooked by these and other scholars. In The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious Freud points out that, while there certainly is self-denigration in this humor, it goes hand in hand with a dialectical component of self-identification and self-praise that works in the opposite direction: Various forms of spelling exist: There are numerous instances in which Alles auf Zucker!
The strict rules to which he subjects himself and his family as well during the shiva provide him with the stability and security that he lost when his relationship with his girlfriend and cousin Jana ended ten years ago. While Levy criticizes the fact that Joshua does not really lead a Jewish life, but rather uses his faith to escape from it, the film also shows the motivation for this move, which in turn evokes understanding and empathy with the character and his plight.
Along with this critique-cum-sympathy dynamic particular to Jewish humor, most scholars also mention the main topics and stock characters employed regularly in Jewish jokes. Jewish humor traditionally targets backwardness, intolerance, greed, and hypocrisy Richter All family members, in fact, join in the hypocrisy of pretending to live an orthodox Jewish life and to observe the rules of the shiva.
His irate reaction to the traffic holdup is followed by a lightning flash— presumably a sign from above—and prayers from Joshua. On another occasion, when the two families say a prayer before dinner together, Joshua continues to pray after everyone else has stopped. In addition, Alles auf Zucker! While these stock personalities appear throughout the film, the most interesting character is the protagonist, Jackie Zucker, from whose perspective the story is told. Jackie belongs to the tradition of one of the central and most constant characters in Jewish comedy: One might even venture to say that he emerges as a hero of sorts, one whose persona evinces the aforementioned critical dynamics of Jewish humor.
We must thus now turn our attention to this typical Jewish prankster. The Schlemiel Jackie Zucker The schlemiel began as a common wit in the Middle Ages, but his utility as a metaphor for European Jewry was later recognized by Jewish raconteurs: In the context of complex eastern and western German and German-Jewish relations, which are often framed in terms of loser-victor and victim-perpetrator dynamics, this dialectical schlemiel protagonist becomes particularly intriguing and holds critical meaning for the understanding of this film.
How, then, does Levy paint Jackie Zucker as a schlemiel, and what implications do these schlemiel qualities have for his cinematic production? On several occasions in Alles auf Zucker! Later, while high on Ecstasy pills mistaken for aspirin, he admits again to being an idiot for having turned his back on his daughter Jana when she became pregnant and could no longer compete in athletics championships. Jackie thus emerges as a prime example of the fool, whose weaknesses give cause for laughter. Choosing to stay out late, gamble, and squander the family savings, he does not think about the effects his actions will have on his family.
It is important to note, however, that he was born Jewish and ultimately returns to the Jewish faith at the end of the film. It is also fitting that—just like the eastern German Jackie Zucker—the schlemiel is often thought of as a character from the East Patai viii. In fact, it can be argued that his rediscovered faith may be more genuine because it is born out of sincere internal and external struggles, rather than blind acceptance of religious and cultural traditions.
Eventually, his foolishness and lies lead to his undoing, exemplified by his physical collapse, which occurs precisely at the moment in which his deceptions are about to be revealed by his wife Marlene. Conversely, when he finally begins to open up and communicate, not just with his wife and children, but also with his brother and his extended family, his health begins to improve as well.
Only after Jackie undergoes this transformation can his brother Samuel respond by expressing his understanding and willingness to help. A corresponding healing between eastern and western Germany, Levy implies in the film, will require similar efforts in opening channels of communication, recognition, and acceptance. This organ typically refers as much to the emotional and spiritual as to the moral core of a human being. Like his forbears, Jackie, too, has a heart condition. When father and daughter finally confront their aforementioned rift, Jana asks him: Hast du noch eins?
German and Jewish-German relations, Levy indicates that similar open conversations about the past are needed. If the Zucker mann family embodies the tension of German-German and German-Jewish relations, then the vision put forward by Levy is one of a normalized and peaceful coexistence, marked by tolerance and understanding. But this, Levy contends, can only be achieved if all foolishness—political agendas, personal grudges, and mistrust—is set aside and all players embark on this process with honesty, forbearance, and an open mind. Just as the schlemiel Jackie reintegrates into his family, his religious community, and society as a whole by shedding his folly, so, too, can the different factions that make up a twenty-first century unified Germany also work to integrate into a society in which all constituents can flourish and have a voice.
Not only individual character traits, but also narrative perspectives are important in schlemiel fiction.
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One way the reader of schlemiel fiction gets to know the protagonist and his worldview is by experiencing him telling the story in his own voice. The schlemiel communicates his perspective on events directly, gaining control if not of his destiny, then at least of the means by which it is narrated: The reader, of course, is well aware of the conflicting nature of the versions told by the author and the schlemiel. Film is a medium that is especially well-suited to presenting simultaneous, conflicting textual and visual narration of a single event.
In Alles auf Zucker! Levy gives a voice to the schlemiel Jackie at the beginning and end of the film through nondiegetic commentary. This cinematic technique allows the events narrated visually by the camera to appear quite different from the way Jackie sees them and, thus, illustrates how he interprets his reality.
As Jackie narrates while in a coma, no less: Though Jackie seems to be on the losing side of every conflict during the greater part of the film, it would be amiss to interpret him as a victim of historical and personal circumstances. In fact, Levy distinctly rejects the victim role for his character by treating it humorously in his film. When Jackie is taken to the hospital for the first time for a staged heart attack, his neighbors comment: By letting Jackie put on the victim hat whenever it serves him, Levy demonstrates the degree to which this role has become associated with the Jewish persona.
He also shows, however, that Jewish identity comprises more dimensions than such narrow casting evokes, which is one of the main reasons this comedy has enjoyed such strong support from the Jewish community in Germany. Multi-dimensional in his own right, Jackie is portrayed as a cunning, yet also naive, weak, and dreamy man, characteristic for the schlemiel figure Wisse 53, Sure enough, he cons his pool partners and lies to everyone in his family, but he does so in order to clear his debts, not out of greed. In fact, he proves his innate good-heartedness by displaying generosity toward others.
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To Jackie, these surroundings not only include the conformist society of socialism, but also his new capitalist reality. In contrast, Jackie stands out as someone whose actions are not dictated by considerations of economic or social status, but who genuinely cares about other people. Thus, his weaknesses—gambling and cheating—are intimately tied to his strengths: This dialectic—weakness turning into strength upon close examination—is one of the most important features of the schlemiel Wisse In fact, as is the case with Jackie, once this weakness—his inclination to help others even if by questionable means—is no longer ridiculed, but recognized as a strength, it reflects badly not on the schlemiel, but rather on those who mock him, turning the erstwhile loser into a moral victor.
Thus, while the schlemiel exemplifies those negative qualities of weakness that must be exposed and ridiculed to be overcome, schlemiel fiction also sets up inversions by producing a balanced type of humor that cuts simultaneously into the character and into those who belittle him Wisse At first, they appear to be the perfect counter-image to the eastern German loser Jackie and his clan.
With his mother, wife, and two children, he led the life of an orthodox Jew, as both Jackie and Rabbi Ginsberg acknowledge. He gained status, as his doctoral title suggests, and considerable wealth. Speculation, of course, has much in common with its low-brow cousin, gambling, which Jackie enjoys. Speculation typically involves the lending of money or the purchase of assets, equity or debt but in a manner that has not been given thorough analysis or is deemed to have a low margin of safety or a significant risk of the loss of the principal investment.
The kind of activity in which Samuel Zuckermann engaged thus had little to do with respectable financial investing, but rather with imprudent risk-taking in hopes of receiving quick profits. Not only do the two brothers share the weakness of indulging in speculation or gambling, but their families are also similarly dysfunctional. Even Samuel and his wife Golda turn out to be less orthodox when it comes to financial matters. It does not take long for them to discover that the Zucker household does not adhere to Jewish customs. The latter, of course, is not easily fooled and eventually admits that he has knowingly ignored the breaking of shiva law as long as he could pretend not to be in the know.
He is aware that sitting shiva and having a conciliatory talk with his brother will require putting forth the pretense of following Jewish customs and concealing his assimilation to gentile culture, as well as his true persona. Thus, while Jackie concocts stories and misleads people in typical prankster-style he pretends to play pool while intoxicated, for instance , at his core he remains true to himself and openly admits to, as well as accepts, his faults and weaknesses, confirming his schlemiel persona: The film gradually reveals the fact that life in western Germany is not as grand as Samuel makes it out to be.
In effect, Jackie gains moral superiority over his brother by refusing to pretend to be better than he actually is and by simply accepting his status as an unlucky trickster. Presenting the dynamic of East-West relations in Germany in the framework of a schlemiel story whose plot develops as a family feud offers a new perspective on this cultural conflict. In this dynamic, western Germany is often seen as the strong, intact, and dominant force, while eastern Germans are mostly regarded as inept or naive.
The schlemiel Jackie gives voice to the latter perspective, while simultaneously turning this dynamic on its head. According to Wisse, this represents the essence of the schlemiel dialectic: In fashioning the schlemiel, the Jew admits how weak and foolish he appears to those who dominate him […]. Yet […] he does not submit to self-hatred, and stands proudly on his own record. After all, so goes the inevitable dialectic, he survives.
And after all, is he as foolish as he seems? And above all, who are they to judge him? At its best, the finished irony holds both the contempt of the strong for the weak and the contempt of the weak for the strong, with the latter winning the upper hand. By presenting the schlemiel as an eastern German Jew, Levy engages a potent technique of Jewish humor: Such a definition of winner status opens the door to anyone, regardless of ethnic belonging, or geographical or historical heritage, and is based solely on modes of behavior.
Levy proposes, is up to the individual, each of whom possesses a free will to alter his fate. Inversions also occur in the realm of moral standing and further highlight the schlemiel character of Jackie. Through his demeanor throughout the film, the western brother leaves no doubt that he perceives himself to be the superior of the two brothers. He even uses courtroom lingua, giving the impression that he comes from a morally superior position to judge his brother: In fact, the double standard of his moral stance becomes more acute when he ends his tirade of insults with an apology—not to his brother, as one might expect, but to his mother: In this instance, the supposed loser once more proves himself morally superior by refusing to respond to insults and physical aggression with the same.
In this confrontation, Jackie additionally unmasks the tendency of the West to draw attention to and exaggerate the involvement of the East German secret service, the infamous Staatssicherheit or Stasi , in every facet of life in the GDR—a stereotype that has prevailed for years after the fall of the Wall.
This play on words is amusing and its clever use of language a staple of Jewish humor. Levy conveys the moral message in this Jewish parable that inherited, historical roles need not be stagnant, but rather must adapt to an ever-changing reality. It was introduced in to bolster public investment in eastern Germany.
This is done, for example, by highlighting this traditional, stereotypical discourse in scenes that provoke sympathetic laughter, and by choosing not to recast the Jews in the victim role they typically inhabit in post German films. These roles evolve as the plot unfolds and are presented from different perspectives throughout the film. Just as Levy refuses to label one group in German society the perennial victim, his use of Jewish humor also denies any one group the attribute of winner.
Discussions of the prototypical Jewish prankster, the schlemiel, have shown that this kind of humor turns such norms upside down, criticizing both the fool as well as those deriding him. The supposed loser thereby gains the upper hand, mocking his mockers.
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Levy joins the postwall plea of scholars and the media in Germany and abroad for normalization in the Berlin Republic. He paints a vision of tolerance and acceptance between different social, religious, and ethnic groups. He draws on and mingles familiar stereotypes of eastern and western Germans, as well as Jews, asking his audience to look beyond these and to see the Other as a human being, sharing the same weaknesses, problems, and joys. His goal appears to be an easing of the tension-fraught relations between East and West, as well as Jew and Gentile, by means of a kind of humor that underscores commonalities.
Instead, this film serves as a plea for open and productive interactions, which can lead to a new freedom in identity formation, along with the acceptance of diverse expressions of group belonging. Levy signals that Jewish citizens living in Germany today want to leave behind their marginalized, passive position of victimhood and instead become active, equal members of German society.
This resurgence of Jewish humor in postwall Germany indicates a strengthening, as well as a certain degree of emancipation, of Jewish culture there. This creates a sense of otherness that is imbued with a guilty conscience arising out of history. First Run Features, X Verleih, , released 6 Jan. Die Blechtrommel [The Tin Drum]. Comedian Harmonists [The Harmonists]. Ehe im Schatten [Marriage in the Shadows]. Hitlerjunge Salomon [Europa, Europa].
Warner Home Video Germany, Katja Riemann and Maria Schrader. Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe Bassewitz, Heike von, ed. Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland e. Der Esel Des Propheten. Laughter and the Sense of Humor. Spiegel Online International 25 Jan. The Movie Review Show. Essays on Jewish Humor. Wayne State UP, What is a Jewish Joke?: An Excursion into Jewish Humor. The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious. The Jewish Element in American Humor. An Annual on Jewish Themes.
Murray Mindlin and Chaim Bermant. Graham, Benjamin, and David L. Mendel and Martin Grotjahn. Wolfgang Preisendanz and Rainer Warning. Jewish Life in Germany. English Humour for Beginners. Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA: Jewish Humor — A Survey and a Program. Characteristics of Jewish Humor.
Anat Zajdman and Avner Ziv. The Schlemiel as Metaphor: Studies in the Yiddish and American Jewish Novel. Justin Cyril Bertrand Gosling. Da lacht des Rabbis Herz: Let there be laughter!: Jewish Humor in America. Rosten, Leo Calvin, and Lawrence Bush. The New Joys of Yiddish. The World as Will and Idea. Richard Burdon Haldane and John Kemp. Classic Jewish Humor in America.
German Literature of the s and Beyond: The Schlemiel as Modern Hero. U of Chicago P, Zajdman, Anat, and Avner Ziv, eds. Dabei benutzt die Kunst zwei Kunstgriffe: Immediately following the opening of the border between East and West Germany the desire to abolish all symbols of the forced separation was overwhelming. The photographs provide insights into the daily life of GDR citizens and include a series of long-term portraits depicting children during the s in the GDR and accompanying their arrival into a new society after the upheaval Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 14 Aug.
Anne Hector 79 humans had started was taken over by natural forces, and Mother Nature reasserted her dominion over politics, replacing the man-made border with wetlands and wildlife. At the same time, substantial efforts were made, especially in Berlin, to preserve collective memories of East German history: Many books have also been written by and about those who lived in the GDR, and this terrain is not the sole prerogative of humor and satire—the dialogue is ongoing.
However, in a parallel process that mimics Mother Nature, to some extent forty years of East German culture is being distorted and covered up as biting satire, demeaning humor, and tawdry memorializing take their toll, eating away at the memories of those who grew up there. I intend to show that this erosion is the socioliterary equivalent of Mother Nature transforming the landscape, turning now fossilized memories into grotesque aberrations.
Myths and legends can serve as means to convey a critical distance from events and experiences and prolong their reification as art. The reader identifies with such scenes as they emerge from the felt and lived experience of East German and Soviet citizens, despite their grotesque distortion of this experience. Although former citizens of the GDR and the USSR can identify with these scenes more easily than others who did not experience such systems firsthand, all readers are provided easy access to 3 The former detainee, Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel, planned his return to the prison cell as part of a live art project with the artist Franziska Vu.
Most scenes also provide a critical counterpoint from which postwall society can be evaluated. Jakob Hein and Wladimir Kaminer: Brief Backgrounds Hein b. While other writers also read at public gatherings, for Hein and Kaminer reading and performing are linked: He became known widely in Germany after his semi- autobiographical vignette collection recording his memories of East Germany, Mein erstes T-Shirt, was published in Other group members have also made a name for themselves outside the group. Anne Hector 81 music and shows geared toward immigrants and xenophilic Germans from until He, too, though not born in Berlin, has lived there since His views of the city—including its food, the Berlin dialect, as well as German culture in general—have been shaped by his position as an immigrant.
Here, as in his other books, Kaminer displays his now famous ability to create puns and wordplays, mixing descriptions of awkward and humorous incidents with historical facts about Berlin as a reinvigorated center of fashion and culture. They thus provide an ambiguous camouflage for the scar left by the Wall: The Grotesque and the Rhetorics of Play Methods for creating humor include the carnivalesque as put forward by Mikhail Bakhtin and the grotesque as outlined by Geoffrey Harpham. Bakhtin defines the carnival as a social institution and the carnivalesque as a method in literature of depicting a time when the ordinary rules of society and culture are in abeyance and there is a flattening or reversal of the social hierarchy, creating the potential for the masses to criticize the authorities Bakhtin Grotesque configurations of the physical body 5 The radio show was shut down by the RBB on December 31, , because of a lack of funding; however, it continues to be broadcast on the Internet under the name Radio multicult2.
Harpham sees the grotesque as a gross exaggeration that holds onto some aspects of reality, but allows familiar and unfamiliar objects to intermingle Harpham 5. Although the unfamiliar paints a gloss over the familiar, the two together transcend the sum of their parts and create a new, independent entity. The carnivalesque and grotesque modes provide a basic strategy of humor that appears simple on the surface: Because this defamiliarization makes a person, object, or institution appear new or different, it can thus cause us to laugh: In fact, it is talismanic of their brand of humor.
Often this playfulness also serves to convey grotesquerie, rebellion against authority, or satirical criticism. As the term is used here, the rhetorics of play express the way play is placed in context within broader value systems, which are assumed by the theorists of play rather than studied directly by them. The seven rhetorics he delineates are the rhetoric of play as progress, as fate, as power, as identity, as the imaginary, and as frivolous, as well as the rhetoric of the self. All furthermore contribute to producing defamiliarization. The first of these three rhetorics highlights identity as a rhetoric of play: This identity- forming rhetoric, displayed during carnivals, group rituals, and festivals, reaffirms existing affiliations and differentiates one group from all others.
In the texts by Hein and Kaminer discussed here, identity is constantly under assault. Who or what is German? Who or what is Self, who is the Other? Their game-like constructions are playful and amusing, often containing fantastical and untrue segments, but they also set up situations that provoke serious reflection regarding the characteristics that make up German identity.
Play can have many different applications, but art and literature showcase it as a major instigator of creativity. Frivolity is the third rhetoric utilized in this chapter: The rhetoric of play as frivolous […] is usually applied to the activities of the idle or the foolish.
But frivolity, as used here, is not just the puritanic negative, it is also a term to be applied more to historical trickster figures and fools, who were once the central and carnivalesque persons who enacted playful protest against the orders of the ordained world. Hein purports to take the reader on a tour through the mythology associated with East Germany. In his texts the formerly oppressed get a chance to speak up and find vindication by criticizing the authorities without being punished for it, a benefit that Bakhtin associates with the carnivalesque Bakhtin It is a fact that drivers had to use a GDR highway to get to their destination in the West; however, Hein invents imaginary clauses to his law, one of which stipulates that people found wandering on the berm should automatically be considered GDR citizens and treated as such.
Humor here comes in the guise of absurdity; it is used to stop the action for a moment to give the reader a chance to think. Stopping the forward action and presenting a distorted, funhouse mirror of the world are means Hein uses to produce defamiliarization so that his readers come to see objects in unfamiliar formats.
Instead, Hein focuses entirely on the difficulties the boy encounters in adjusting to his new life in the East. He is adopted immediately, but his East German parents struggle to fulfill his consumer demands. Note in the following passage how an exaggeration that mixes the familiar with the unfamiliar is built on a premise based in reality: The parents cannot deal with a child socialized in the West. Hein describes this incident and its consequences with an objective tone, although, had they been experienced in real life, they would have been traumatic.
Not surprisingly, these differences have dominated public and private discussions since unification. After this failed experiment, Holger was reunited with his parents in the FRG. Did Holger remain single because of his childhood trauma? We will never know. Ambiguity is the result of this mixing of modes. Although we are presented with real memories, their scars are disappearing from view. Against the backdrop of what appears to be an amusement park, the two adoptive parents stand with obligatory smiles on their faces, while the child in the middle maintains a bemused expression.
The shot captures a moment of forced togetherness that appears ironic in the context of what should have been experienced by participants as a happy outing. This time, a group of acting students is required to work in factories to learn about the everyday life of the working class He suggests that budding actors, and not writers, accompany the workers and study them to be able to portray them properly on stage in future theatrical productions.
The story takes an unexpected turn, however, as the students assimilate perfectly; one student even gives up acting to continue working at the factory. In the process writers were sent to factories to speak with workers. Furthermore, acknowledging the ideas of the future actors would have undermined the privileged status of the factory workers. These particular supervisors, in fact, were so rigid that they did not see the actors as possessing the legitimacy to make suggestions at all and thus abolished the experiment altogether.
In this vignette Hein demonstrates how, although purportedly a classless society, social distinctions persisted in the GDR. The author slyly adds another jab at GDR reality by concluding his tale with a vengeful, ironic plot twist: His vignettes are embedded in the context of real existing socialism—that is, people experience shortages of consumer goods and work supplies; they can only travel to a limited number of countries, generally belonging to the Eastern Bloc; and education follows a predetermined path. As befits the humorist, however, Hein portrays people who defy the system and look beyond these restrictive conditions.
Even though the head of the GDR government is enthusiastic about the project, it is never realized because the leader of the Soviet Union has to approve it and denies the request without any explanation. This inexplicable display of power shows how the GDR government was under the yoke of the Soviet Union and could not act independently.
After his antlike machine is rejected, Pape gets so discouraged with his restrictive working conditions that he builds an airplane modeled after a dragonfly and flees to France. Here, we laugh about the ant and dragonfly research because it appears fantastical and incredible, but at the same time we learn how scientists were treated in Eastern Bloc countries and realize why some left for a freer environment where they could pursue their dreams and further their careers.
The author sheds light on many similar incidents in his other vignettes and the black humor in some emerges from a similarly incongruous final plot twist. One nuclear scientist featured in this series, Heinz Barwich, who was not granted the freedom to perform his work in the GDR, defected to the West. Even Honecker Wants to Leave! Hein not only crafts new myths about the GDR, but he also shows how such myths came into being in the wake of unification.
One example of this myth creation is the way daily life in the GDR has become elevated to a new plane of remembrance which emphasizes its enjoyable sides and ignores the actual hardships living there entailed. Life in the GDR was difficult, but not much of this truth remains or is getting passed down to younger generations.
The episode that gives the book its title is an application for permanent residence in the Federal Republic submitted by the head of the East German government, First Party Secretary Erich Honecker, in July The technique of defamiliarization depicts familiar events or objects in unusual contexts, making them appear novel: There could be no greater questioning of GDR identity.
And, by extension, who or what is a GDR citizen? Along with this defamiliarization, carnivalesque effects are achieved through exaggeration and the introduction of the unusual, even as the event depicted here questions the validity of the East German identity.
The office workers who receive his application are unable to process it because they are caught in a trap, given the high position of the applicant, his power over them as their leader, and rules in the GDR that prohibit migration to the West: Again we witness an incongruity that elicits humor while issuing a critique of GDR society and its cumbersome bureaucratic rules. Seeing such an absurd statement, the reader will likely grab the volume with a smile on his or her face to find out what is behind it. We can imagine what awaits us in a book bearing such a title. Because they were next-door neighbors, East Germans yearned for West German consumer products shown to them on television, sent to them in care packages by their West German relatives or friends, or brought back by pensioners who were allowed to travel there.
What passed for knowledge about other countries and cultures often derived from myths, legends, apocryphal stories, and stereotypes rather than from reality. Kaminer plays with these identities by confronting the reader with a predominant stereotype of the Russians: The stereotype of the Other also reaches a level of reductive grotesquerie in such stereotypes, and as we have seen in Harpham 5 , one of the effects this grotesquerie produces is laughter. Kaminer faced such stereotypes daily after settling in Berlin, and he reveals them to have been created and perpetuated by foreign films.
Reaching back to the time before the communists assumed power in Russia, these stereotypes were found especially in films made in the United States and marketed around the world.
Sie waren allesamt wild, unrasiert und unberechenbar. Kaminer shows that this mechanical, oversimplified, and clownish view of the Russians was incorrect, but implies that it allowed Americans and all Western nations, by extension to feel superior to the enemy Other. Such depictions served the purpose of keeping the viewers in line with the ideological agendas set forth by governments in the Cold War era, despite the fact that they had been allies for several years during the Second World War.
Although he is an immigrant who has assimilated for the most part into German society, Kaminer is not German by birth. This position as an outsider in Germany gives him a unique vantage point, because he can look at the changes that took place after , as well as the Cold War past, from a detached, distanciated perspective. In Es gab keinen Sex im Sozialismus, Kaminer depicts conditions under the socialist regime in the former Soviet Union that are comparable to those in the German Democratic Republic, occasionally providing contextual explanations: Rather than talking about the bad quality of the food directly, Kaminer implies that you were considered a good Soviet pioneer if you ate it without looking at it.
Taking this social imperative as an extended metaphor for the kind of behavior expected more generally in the Soviet Union, we can assume that criticism was never desirable, and that those citizens best adjusted to this requirement would get the furthest on the career ladder as adults. Aber die Russen waren auch nicht dumm. Sie hatten in einem Moskauer Fernsehstudio eine komplette Arche Noah versammelt: Kaminer 9 The event and the calculated way it is organized expose farcical characteristics of both political systems.
Playing with such characteristics unmasks the insincerity of official announcements delivered by politicians and other members of both governments, demonstrating these leaders to be incapable of improving relations between the two nations. That officials from each system supposedly allow direct communication with the enemy at the height of the Cold War is an unlikely scenario, but the entire interaction is controlled in such a way that it sheds light on the type of supervision under which people lived on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
The above miniature ends with a paragraph clarifying the misunderstanding regarding Russians purportedly not having sex during Soviet times. When a tall, blond American in a lumberjack shirt asks about the sex life of the Russians, a plump Russian woman with a sophisticated coiffure commits the error of only partially answering the question. Man wusste zu wenig aus erster Hand. Man konnte sie angeblich wochenlang kauen.
The author uncovers the banal fact that for many socialist citizens satisfying their consumer desires was more important than democracy and political freedom. In so doing, his legends also glorify the Other. This coming-to-terms with a new reality is not unique to the Russian people; it also pertains to the East Germans after joining the Federal Republic of Germany.
Conclusion When a wound is deep and fresh, it hurts, generally preventing people from being lighthearted about it. They cannot not indulge in banter, jokes, or satire. However, once the wound is attended to and the healing has begun, the pain can give way to humor and embellished stories about its origin. As long as the division existed, it was a wound and was generally treated seriously, with gravity, in the arts. Once the Wall fell and German unity became a fact, however, the healing could begin. Its treatment in the arts then opened up to levity, although even here, frivolity for the sheer fun of it was still rare.
In their works, the past, even when it is banal or depressing, is treated with affection. Although their humor may be a way of providing a critical distance, it is never mean-spirited or vengeful; there is no settling of accounts over wrongs. Hein employs third-person narration, which produces a greater distance from his tall tales, so that they appear more contrived. In fact, their many similarities override the differences. The underlying structure that produces the comical effects in their vignettes can be evaluated as follows: The process of achieving this insight brings the humor to the surface.
The humor also gives the accounts the sharp edge that makes them memorable. The sum of these accounts extends the individual vignettes to the lands of the grotesque. The reader wonders how people survived at all and gains respect for the survival strategies Eastern Europeans devised. In the end, the authors present one inescapable conclusion: The narrative playfulness in their texts thus provides an ambiguous, literary overgrowth which partially covers this unpleasant past. Indeed, the past, in the form of legacies from the Kaiserreich, the Weimar Republic, and the Third Reich common to both the FRG and the GDR , is also rising to the surface of this new Germany and forms part of the overgrowth that is spreading to cover the wound of separation.
These inescapable bonds are both part of the scar left by the Wall and part of the cultural and literary overgrowth which has begun to cover it. Herr Jensen steigt aus. Es gab keinen Sex im Sozialismus. Ich bin kein Berliner. Geschichten aus einem vergangenen Land. Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. Literature in the Second Degree. Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky. LHM algorithms are created as a private consultant. There are not any related folks and there'll be no comparable answer; yet LHM presents recommendations for everybody!
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