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Der Bonker. Die Wiederentdeckung des Gehens beim Wandern. Die verkauften Pflastersteine. Dresdner Tagebuch. Das Satiremagazin Eulenspiegel. Schirmer, Bernd. Schlehweins Giraffe. Seligmann, Raphael. Der Musterjude. Hildesheim: Claassen, Rubinsteins Versteigerung. Selbstverlag, Sommer vorm Balkon. Andreas Dresen. Boje Buck Produktion, Soul Kitchen. Fatih Akin. Adam Boudoukis and Moritz Bliebtreu. Sparschuh, Jens. Der Zimmerspringbrunnen. Ein Heimatroman. Bully Herbig. TV Total. Stefan Raab. Pro 7, 8 Mar.
Was guckst du?! Kaya Yanar. David Clarke. London: Continuum, Assmann, Aleida, and Ute Frevert. Geschichtsvergessenheit — Geschichtsversessenheit. Vom Umgang mit deutschen Vergangenheiten nach Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Helene Iswolsky. Bloomington: Indiana UP, Barbian, Jan-Pieter. Uli Jung. Filmgeschichte International 1. Trier: Wissenschaftler, Der deutsche Pop-Roman. Die neuen Archivisten. Baumann, Antje. Beth Linklater and Birgit Dahlke. Beigel, Frauke. Exemplarische Fallstudien zur Funktion des Komischen. Bergson, Henri. Ed and Trans.
Wylie Sypher. Le rire, Paris: Alcan, Biendarra, Anke S. Boa, Elizabeth. German Monitor Heike Bartel and Elizabeth Boa. Amsterdam: Rodopi, Bock, Carl-Heinrich. DDR-Konsumkultur in den 60er Jahren. Borowsky, Peter. Bradley, Laura. New York: Oxford UP, Brockmann, Stephen M. Budzinsky, Klaus, and Reinhard Hippen. Metzler Kabarett Lexikon.
Stuttgart: Metzler, Cornils, Kerstin. Paderborn: Fink, Cosentino, Christine. Dahlke, Birgit. Autorinnen aus der DDR — inoffiziell publiziert. Degler, Frank. Gaby Pailer et al. Degler, Frank, and Ute Paulokat. Neue Deutsche Popliteratur. Dobler, Jens. Foell, Kristie and Jill Twark. Paul Cooke and Andrew Plowman. Houndmills, Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, Jill Twark 21 Freud, Sigmund. Gerstenberg, Ralph. Berlin Magazin 12 Grange, William. Contributions in Drama and Theatre Studies Westport, CT and London: Greenwood, Hahne, Peter.
Schluss mit lustig! Johannis, Hake, Sabine. German National Cinema. London and New York: Routledge, Hall, Peter Christian, ed. Mainzer Tage der Fernseh-Kritik Vol. Hartinger, Walfried. Haustein, Sabine. Vom Mangel zum Massenkonsum. Herzog, Rudolph. Heil Hitler, das Schwein ist tot! Lachen unter Hitler — Komik und Humor im dritten Reich. Hill, Leonidas E. Jonathan Rose. Holzer, Daniela. Die deutsche Sitcom. Format — Konzeption — Drehbuch — Umsetzung.
Bergisch Gladbach: Bastei, Naill Rudd. Gab es die DDR wirklich? Judt, Matthias, ed. DDR-Geschichte in Dokumenten. Berlin: Ch. Links, Kaplan, Louis. Kennedy, Ellie. Queens U at Kingston, Satire und Macht. Knop, Karin. Comedy in Serie. Medienwissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf ein TV-Format. Bielefeld: transcript, Kohlrausch, Martin. Der Monarch im Skandal. Die Logik der Massenmedien und die Transformation der wilhelminischen Monarchie. Berlin: Akademie, Linklater, Beth and Birgit Dahlke, eds. Kerstin Hensel. Contemporary German Writers Series. Cardiff: U of Wales P, Lornsen, Karin.
Martin, Anne, ed. Unterm Strich. Karikatur und Zensur in der DDR. Leipzig: Edition Leipzig, Marven, Lyn. Body and Narrative in Contemporary Literatures in German. Oxford, UK: Clarendon, Stuart Taberner. Hundert Jahre Kabarett. Merkel, Ina. Mielke, Christine. Die Welt 29 June Naughton, Leonie. Nause, Tanja. Niven, Bill. London: Routledge, Ossenbruegge, Julia. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, Pine, B. Joseph II, and James H. Plowman, Andrew. Rentschler, Eric.
Mette Hjort and Scott MacKenzie. Ergebnisse der Trendforschung. Roland Conrady and Martin Buck. New York: Springer, Rosenfeld, Gavriel D. New York: Cambridge UP, Schlant, Ernestine. Schulze, Gerhard. Die Erlebnisgesellschaft. Shaw, B. Is Hitler dead? And Best Nazi Humor. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, orig. New York: Alcaeus House, Sich, Daniel. Aus der Staatsgegnerschaft entlassen. Staritz, Dietrich. Geschichte der DDR. Steakley, James D.
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Fernando de Diego and Agatha Schwartz. Ottawa: U of Ottawa, Sutton-Smith, Brian. The Ambiguity of Play. Taberner, Stuart, ed. New York: Camden House, Taberner, Stuart, and Paul Cooke. Stuart Taberner and Paul Cooke. Twark, Jill. Berlin: de Gruyter, Weber, Max. Wichner, Ernest, and Herbert Wiesner. Zachau, Reinhard K. Banska Bystrica: Univerzita Mateja Bela, Zivier, Georg, et al. Kabarett mit K. Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, At issue for eastern Germans was the sensitive negotiation between maintaining a sense of their own cultural heritage as eastern Germans and adapting to a western German mentality, a process of self-discovery complicated by the feeling that the West was colonizing the East.
Among these individuals are those who were born in Germany and have German citizenship, those who came to Germany as guest workers but remained citizens of their home countries, those who came to Germany illegally, and those who came to Germany seeking asylum. Satirical humor from this immediate postwall period illuminates these divisions and rivalries, caricaturing the participants in their ongoing identity negotiations and thereby depicting an eastern German identity based on what eastern Germans should not become, as seen from the viewpoint of the caricaturists: xenophobic vigilantes, western German impersonators, and GDR historical revisionists.
Stuart Hall writes that identities are constructed through, not outside difference. His definition applies particularly well to the case of eastern Germans, whose identity remains in flux after over twenty years as Bundesdeutsche citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In the immediate postwall period, this group sought solace first as western Germans, then as Bundesdeutsche, then finally as eastern Germans in a unified German context. As popular cultural artifacts, their reach into German society was significant. Unofficially, the readership was far higher, as subscribers passed along their copies to friends and family. Sometimes it seemed to abandon any pretense of critique altogether.
There was an emphasis on sexual humor and an abundance of amateur photographs of nude women with a deliberately rural aura to them. In the GDR, cultural policy dictated that satirists support socialism in that they focus on the behavior of the individual, as opposed to that of the collective Neubert 7. This reaction reaffirms the importance of context. Getting eastern and western Germans en masse into that mindset beyond a temporary relocation, however, has proved difficult. Furthermore, because unification was not kind to many eastern Germans, it compounded their overall inferiority complex.
Their presence disrupted the neatness of the East-West dialogue that began with the Mauerfall fall of the Berlin Wall. Today, German citizenship is still based on jus sanguinis, although the process of naturalization was eased somewhat with the revised German nationality law, which came into effect in the year Tes Howell 33 help re define a German national identity? This hierarchy surfaced in jokes about Ossis eastern Germans and Wessis western Germans reproduced in published collections and on countless Internet websites.
Der lebt auf unsere Kosten. Henri Bergson viewed such humor as a discursive weapon against breaches of propriety. There was, indeed, a strong social-corrective thrust to eastern German humor in the s, as had been the case in the GDR. All texts discussed 11 Literature in East Germany was seen by socialist leaders, as well as many authors and artists, as an unambiguous tool that should assist in building a new, socialist society. A gesture, therefore, will be its reply.
Laughter must be something of this kind, a sort of social gesture. By the fear which it inspires, it restrains eccentricity. By exaggerating the potential impact of extreme right-wing groups and their nationalistic discourse in satirical texts and cartoons, Eulenspiegel humorists took a stand against the disastrous effects of racism and fear.
Tes Howell 37 Figure 1 that eastern Germans faced from a group whose members they had perceived as being the least likely to discriminate against them, particularly from a dominant position. The Vietnamese in eastern Germany, for example, maintained a reputation that they had acquired in the GDR for industriousness and dedication to their jobs Siemons They subsequently gained an advantage after over the newly unemployed eastern Germans in seeking employment in such low- paying occupations as street vending, bricklaying, textile production, and factory work.
In fact, their presence was seen as provocative in the East, a provocation that quickly turned into violence as eastern German youths in particular realized that unification had actually brought them very little. Prior to the March election in East Germany, the first and only free parliamentary election there, some pundits believed that this party would gain a strong foothold in what were to become the five new Federal States.
Up to this point, Schulz has ironically claimed to address a right-wing audience, because the Eulenspiegel is generally leftist in its approach to contemporary German politics and society. Da sind wir deutsch wie die vom Rhein,13 Dem stopfen wir das Maul voll und mausert sich ein rotes Schwein14 — Reis, das schlagen wir zu Quark! Europa — das ist hier, uns schmeckt nur deutsches Bier. The note thus serves to deflect responsibility for the content: Schulz makes an alarmist statement about the potential growth of right-wing extremists in the former GDR, while simultaneously avoiding being labeled a racist and a Republikaner sympathizer.
Two reader reactions to the song testify to a favorable reader reception, although the overall paucity of published responses to such an inflammatory piece is surprising. Mach Dir betr. Sleeping with his wife would thus be an expedient way to dishonor the Turk. Schulz still felt compelled to disclaim any connection to it. This inflammatory song only begins to make sense satirically in connection with the cartoons flanking it on the right and bottom. The image on the right is of a boorish-looking German man, dressed in a pea coat decorated with a swastika pin, with a closely shaved head, large nose and ears, close-set, almost crossed eyes, a toothbrush moustache resembling that worn by Adolf Hitler, and beard stubble, set against the backdrop of the unified German flag.
This cartoon adds another layer of meaning to the song—that REP supporters are not only violent and belligerent, but they are also unintelligent. Below both the song and the portrait of the oafish German male is a cartoon by Paul Pribbernow depicting a diminutive man, apparently of African descent, standing with arms at his sides on a scooter being pulled quickly along a track by a rope though the pulling mechanism is not visible and wearing a modern t-shirt with palm trees on it implying his equatorial country of origin.
He looks ahead obliviously as beefy Nazis or neo-Nazis with billy clubs bolt from the gates at a racetrack resembling the kind used for greyhound races. Such uniforms were, and are still today, worn by German neo-Nazis. The cartoon powerfully blends three conceptual spaces: 1 the Nazi era the Hitler figure, Nazis, police, military jackboots, billy clubs, circa ; 2 late twentieth-century xenophobic violence in Germany neo-Nazis, shaved heads, military jackboots, African male victim, circa ; and 3 the greyhound racetrack racetrack gates, bait animal, gate operator, greyhound dogs.
The skinheads likely represent eastern German youth and its growing xenophobic tendencies, tendencies that are, ultimately, residues of fascism. In the fictional world of the caricature, Hitler is still pulling the strings— even from the grave. The overarching goal of this Eulenspiegel page is to expose right-wing extremists as primitive bullies, as well as to condemn the prevalent racism and its destructive potential in eastern Germany in particular and Germany in general.
Taken out of context, however, especially in the case of the song, the reader may be left to wonder how each text qualifies as satire as a letter writer named G. Only taken together can the reader understand each text as satirical commentary on contemporary German society, intended to ridicule and correct the xenophobic tendencies that right-wing extremists fostered among some eastern Germans, youths in particular.
The cartoon illuminates a hybrid space for new, postwall German counter-narratives, which defied harmonious governmental and media representations of the unification process in both East and West. However, in the s, Turkish youth co-opted it, using it to denote not only a cultural, but also a discursive, community, as a sociolect particular to the Turks residing in Germany Zaimoglu Thus begins his journey through a Kafkaesque labyrinth of bureaucracy, during which he loses his job and, debatably, his sanity. A modern-day fool, Engin is continually a victim of his circumstances and cannot navigate the system well enough to vindicate himself.
Engin grants the reader access to the experience of living with this threat. Engin and Leckmikowski are thus competitors in a truly capitalistic endeavor. But Yusuf refuses to play this game, for money talks in post- unification Germany and can alter the parameters and rules of any given community. Auf dem Gebiet kenne ich mich bestens aus. Ich habe genug Philippinos aus der DDR rausgejagt! Satire dient dazu, auf Punkte zu zeigen, die nicht richtig sind, die menschenfeindlich oder menschenverachtend sind.
Satire selbst kann den Zustand ja nicht verbessern. Conclusion After the dynamic transformations of the Wende period and the unification process caused great uncertainty for eastern Germans, unleashing long-simmering resentments, anxieties, and rivalries. Humorists used this volatile time to reflect on existential questions and the potential for correction of uncivil behaviors, prompted, among other causes, by xenophobia, because, although eastern and western Germans had their difficulties reuniting, they always recognized each other as fellow Germans.
Tes Howell 51 German affairs and who never had a chance to achieve political representation in the GDR, were forced to compete with East Germans for recognition as equal citizens in the new bundesdeutsche reality. By presenting humorous texts with such sharp commentary on contemporary culture, humorists were able to draw attention to these failures and successes, ultimately aiding in the discursive creation of an eastern and unified German identity that was more tenable, through its rectitude and complexity, than what grew organically out of the unification process.
Onlein und in Farbe. Krause, Bernd. Eulenspiegel 29 : 2. Pribbernow, Paul. Schulz, Volker. Seidler, G. Eulenspiegel 25 : 2.
Swienty, Dietmar. Eulenspiegel 28 : 2. Secondary Sources Ayim, May. Heimat und Einheit aus afro-deutscher Perspektive. Berlin: Orlanda Frauenverlag, Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic. Cloudesley Brereton and Fred Rothwell. London: MacMillan and Green Integer, orig. Bhabha, Homi K. Homi K. Blackbourn, David. Oxford: Oxford UP, Cooke, Paul. Oxford: Berg, Epitroupolis, Mike-Frank G.
American Culture in Europe: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Westport, CT: Praeger, Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, A Sourcebook.
Avignon: Die Kabale der Scheinheiligen. Das Leben des Herrn de Molière
Berkeley: U of California P, Gregson, Ian. Character and Satire in Postwar Fiction. NY: Continuum, Grub, Frank Thomas. Ein Handbuch. Hall, Stuart. Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay. London: Sage, Hensel, Jana. Hamburg: Rowohlt, Hermenau, Antje. U of California-Berkeley, Tes Howell 53 Jaschke, Hans-Gerd. Bonn: Dietz, Jung, Peter. Verordneter Humor. DDR Berlin: Edition Hentrich, Klein, Olaf Georg. Warum Ost- und Westdeutsche aneinander vorbeireden. Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. Anderssein gab es nicht.
Kuck, Dennis. Tes Howell. Kulish, Nicholas. Leue, Gunnar. Neubert, Werner. Die Wandlung des Juvenal. Satire zwischen gestern und morgen. Rosbach, Jens. Deutschlandradio Kultur 28 May Siemons, Mark. Slackman, Michael. Soldan, Angelika. Steinlein, Christina. Berlin: Eulenspiegel, Yesilada, Karin. Zaimoglu, Feridun. Kanak Sprak. Hamburg: Rotbuch, Go for Zucker, , Swiss director Dani Levy, who has been living in Berlin for decades, broke one of the longest-standing taboos of post German cinema: using the comedy genre to grapple with questions of Jewish identity in Germany and specifically the Berlin Republic.
It is presumed that if a Jewish director spins a humorous story around Jewish characters, Jewish humor must be in play. The purpose of this chapter is first to outline several characteristics attributed to Jewish humor in traditional and more recent scholarship. These features will then serve as a framework for exploring the wit that pervades Alles auf Zucker!
Both in terms of content and technique, Alles auf Zucker! Establishing the type of humorous lens through which these relations are screened is critical, not only because it aids in understanding the mostly favorable reception this unlikely comedy has enjoyed in twenty-first century Germany and around the world,5 but also because it offers insights into the status of German-Jewish relations and Jewish life in Germany today from the perspective of this minority group.
He owes money to many lenders, has troubled relationships with his wife and children, and is in danger of gambling his way into homelessness. In fact, it took Levy over three years to secure financing for the film Biehl. After initially rejecting the script, the German broadcasting company Westdeutscher Rundfunk WDR finally decided to take on the project in Alles auf Zucker! Can the Shoah Be Funny? Some Thoughts on Recent and Older Films. If the brothers cannot reconcile, the money will be donated to the Jewish community in Berlin. As mentioned above, much like humor in general, Jewish humor had until recently been the subject of many anthologies but only limited scholarly debate.
Even after few instances of Jewish humor can be found there. Broder, and the author Esther Dischereit. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the vast immigration of Russian Jews to Germany in the s, however, Jewish artists, intellectuals, and authors are beginning to gain a more prominent voice in Germany, above all in its capital, Berlin.
The past two decades have been a period in which eastern and western Germans have had to negotiate their coexistence and reunification. In addition, Germans from the former East and West have had to adjust to an increase in minority residents and citizens, including Jews, whose population has grown from 10,, in to an estimated , today Knobloch. The reemergence of Jewish humor not only informs us about the status of these renegotiations, but it can also help set the tone for future efforts to establish a more normalized coexistence marked by mutual tolerance and respect.
It is also worth noting that the remarkable influx of the nineties has stalled since Germany limited the immigration of Russian Jews with the Immigration Act of 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: its self-deprecating nature.
Das Leben des Herrn de Molière: Roman - AbeBooks - Michail Bulgakow:
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.
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: the schlemiel. 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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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: his heart, care for others, and willingness to get himself into trouble to help those in need. 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.
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: he suspends the typical winner-loser dichotomy and instead promotes the notion that the winner is not necessarily he who gains the upper hand politically or economically, but rather he who admits to and accepts his weaknesses, remains true to himself, and demonstrates generosity and tolerance toward others.
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.
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. 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. Senator Film, Dani Levy. First Run Features, DVD orig. X Verleih, , released 6 Jan. Becker, Jurek. Berlin and Weimar: Aufbau, Die Blechtrommel [The Tin Drum]. Argos Films, Comedian Harmonists [The Harmonists].
Joseph Vilsmaier. Bavaria Film, Ehe im Schatten [Marriage in the Shadows]. DEFA, Hitlerjunge Salomon [Europa, Europa]. Agniezka Holland. CCC Filmkunst, Frank Beyer. Warner Home Video Germany, X Verleih, Margarethe von Trotta. Katja Riemann and Maria Schrader. Hamburg Letterbox, Gerald Frank Else.
Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, Bassewitz, Heike von, ed. Der Esel Des Propheten. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgellschaft, Bergler, Edmund. Laughter and the Sense of Humor. New York: Intercontinental Medical, New York: Macmillan, Biehl, Jody K. Spiegel Online International 25 Jan. Bremer, Michael.
Gisela Dachs. Bronner, Gerhard. Chase, Jefferson S. Clifford, Robin. Reeling: The Movie Review Show. Cohen, Sarah Blacher.
Jewish Wry: Essays on Jewish Humor. Detroit: Wayne State UP, Dachs, Gisela, ed. Eilbirt, Henry. What is a Jewish Joke? Northvale, NJ: Aronson, Freud, Sigmund. The Joke and Its Relation to the Unconscious. Joyce Crick. John Carey. New York: Penguin, Gilman, Sander. Goldman, Albert. Murray Mindlin and Chaim Bermant. Graham, Benjamin, and David L. New York: McGraw-Hill, You have the right within one month to cancel this contract without specifying reasons.
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Das Leben des Herrn de Molière [Roman-Chronik]
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Das Leben des Herrn de Molière: Roman
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