Apr 7, 2008

Hrm ...

I just can't be okay with these videos. It's another reminder that the Holocaust is the universal gauge for oppression -- it's exploited in that matter, and I think it's unfortunate. There are so many other incidents -- Darfur, Rwanda, Serbia, everywhere. I find these new commercials to be, well, exploitations. These are just two of MTV's new commercials that end with "The Holocaust Happened to People Like Us." Thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I think the Holocaust is the reference point simply because it's the most familiar genocide to the demographic. I find this to be a pretty poignant commercial.

chaviva said...

Yah. Everyone's response to me on a message board about this was that as white people in the U.S., we can identify most with Europeans since their "culture" is similar to ours.

I think people often forget about the shtetl populations and peasant people and the non-"civilized" folks who died in the Holocaust.


Shimshonit said...

Hi, Chavi. It was nice to visit your personal blog.

I think the importance of these ads is not to try to compare or quantify suffering. And it's not about race. It's about the fact that the current young generation (those watching MTV) is coming of age in an era of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism (centered in the academic and Arab/Muslim worlds) masked as political correctness, and an overall devaluing of the suffering of the Jews--never a popular people (unless they denounce themselves). The more the Shoah recedes into the past, the fainter become the voices of the survivors and witnesses to that large-scale atrocity. It's not the first time those things happened to the Jews--it's just the most recent time, and on the largest scale. And the temptation to forget or deny it--so strong in the young who would rather champion other causes--must be fought.

I'm impressed by the way these short films are made, fading into photos from the 1940s. And the way the message is packaged--by appealing to the empathy of the viewer, regardless of religion or ethnicity--is based on hard data from the Facing History and Ourselves project which showed that focusing on prejudice and the oppression of people in general aroused more empathy in young people than talking about "what happened to the Jews."

Jehanne Dubrow said...

Hi, chavi!
I hadn't seen these advertisements and am really glad to discovered them here on your blog (guess I should watch a little more tv). I like the way Shimshonit summarizes the tone and message of these ads. And, from my days of participating Facing History pedagogy courses, I absolutely concur with the statement that these advertisements embody FHAO's central tenet: creating empathy in students leads them to be more politically proactive and more inclined to help "the Other." I think that I would use these in my college-level Holocaust literature course; the fact that they're subversive and push the limits of representation only makes them more interesting teaching tools.

Crusher said...

Other commenters have done a very nice job of making the case for these ads. This is just a way for me to (re-)introduce myself . . . ;)

chaviva said...

Well, well, well! Look who it is! Good to see you again :)

Shimshonit did a good job of making a stellar point, and for that, I give great thanks. It puts a different perspective on it, indeed.

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