Friday, January 14, 2005

Rullsenberg Rants: Why it's wrong to let Prince Harry off the hook

This morning Radio FiveLive continued to debate about Prince Harry's decision to wear a Nazi Uniform to a fancy dress party. Several thoughts occurred to me in the light of this:

(1) does society really need Princes in the 21st century? What kind of message about the social structure, and individuals' places within it, is sent by the continued presence of monarchies and aristocracies? Egalitarianism anyone?

(2) many texted/emailed in remarks to FiveLive along the lines of 'Allo, 'Allo was "funny" (quotation marks definitely required from me even in reporting this). By mocking the Nazis we undermine their power. This makes the "fun" Harry had not just forgiveable but acceptable, and part of a tradition of British "humour"
But doesn't such humour also make us find Nazis comfortable and cuddly in their ridiculousness and thus forget the horror the regime established? Humour can be a weapon, but it must be carefully wielded.

(3) others proclaimed the current second-wave of success for Mel Brooks' The Producers reflected a similar sense of mocking the Nazis as was displayed in 'Allo, 'Allo.
I cannot begin to express how much I believe that is utterly confused and wrong-headed. Mel Brooks' play/musical was not about someone setting out to mock the Nazis and having a huge success whilst doing so! The theme was selected by the swindling producers as the most intentionally offensive topic for a musical. That ultimately "Springtime for Hitler" (the musical) is successful - received by the audiences as hysterical and ridiculous, camp and crude - says more about audiences and the mechanisms for producing a show than it says that The Producers itself was INTENDED to mock the Nazis (though that was an undoubted by-product).

Harry is an idiot - from what is, frankly, a long line of ignorant idiots. He isn't alone but that doesn't excuse what he did. And with all this talk of barring him from the British Army, just a thought but would he get paid a salary as a member of the armed forces? Do the royal family forgo their 'salaries' when they take on such roles?

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