Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been introduced to the ‘Make your own Hitler videos’. The idea is that you subtitle your own words over a clip from an old black and white Nazi movie. It can be very funny to interlace the vision of one movie with a completely unrelated script. The passion of the Hitler movie lends itself to making otherwise normal statements seem outrageous and humorous. I’ve watched two of these now. One relates to the election of an Anglican Archbishop in Sydney. The other is a promo for a student conference. While the videos certainly capture our attention, and they generate a lot of humour, I don’t think it’s a good idea for Christians to use them. Here are three reasons:
- A few years back I spent a week fishing in the Northern Territory with a Polish Jew in his seventies. He had his serial number from Auschwitz tattooed on his chest. I knew nothing of his situation other than he had spent close to three years in the Nazi concentration camp in his teens. He did not speak of family and I suspect they were executed in the camp. I would be deeply saddened if he watched this video and thought that Christians were making light of the horrors of his experience.
- Social media is a penetrating forum. We have very little control over who sees what. Therefore I expect that some, if not many, of the large Jewish population of Sydney (and elsewhere) will see how Christians are using the author of the Holocaust to create funny home videos that promote their causes. Don’t we want Jewish people to take seriously our claim that Jesus is the Messiah? Don’t we want our words and actions to attract people to the good news that God has kept all the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? I believe these videos could make it more difficult for the Jewish community to take Christians seriously.
- I understand that the whole concept of these videos is completely tongue in cheek, but I still find it offensive that we would use Hitler to promote a Christian message. How is it in anyway helpful to associate a genocidal megalomaniac, who took the lives of millions, with the humble Son of God, who gave his life for millions? Can’t we do better?
I suspect this is a case of acting without really thinking about the potential implications. I don’t believe for a minute that anyone meant to cause any harm or offense. But please think it through. My recommendation is to leave the ‘Make your own Hitler videos’ alone.