Nazis at the Oscars

I only saw bits and pieces of the Academy Awards®©™ Sunday night, but one thing I did see startled me a bit. When they showed the film collage of all the Hollywood people who died in the last year (beginning with a tribute to Gregory Peck), there was a 2-3 second shot of one Leni Riefenstahl. I did a doubletake, and thought I might have been mistaken. I decided to wait and see if anyone else noticed.

Ben Stein noticed. Stein, former speechwriter for Nixon and the boring teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (anyone?…anyone?…), writes in an American Spectator article today:

…the real stunner came right afterwards when the Motion Picture Academy had a brief memorial to Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s favorite film maker, maker of the most vicious racist propaganda for Der Fuhrer, including Triumph of the Will, the ultimate Nazi apologia, an ardent Nazi, and an unrepentant fan of Hitler until the end…It is very much of a piece: the evening’s bitter criticism of Bush, who liberated an entire nation from a mass murderer, and then an apologist for another mass murderer getting applauded by men and women dripping with diamonds and pearls.

The irony here is almost sickening. A real live (well, now dead) Nazi was honored at the Academy Awards.

I just checked Google News and there were only 13 news stories cited with the terms “Leni Riefenstahl” and “Oscar.” A similar search for “Mel Gibson” and “anti-semitism” yielded 3,860. Go figure…

UPDATE: Read my response to Jonah’s comment below in this follow-up post.

2 thoughts on “Nazis at the Oscars”

  1. Leni Reifenstahl was neither an anti-Semite nor a supporter of Hitler (any more than you were required to be a supporter of Hitler or Stalin).

    In Nazi Germany you could either die fighting Hitler, flee the country (if you could), or be a Nazi. Before you judge, think about what you would do in that situation.

    Her films are not racist. She was an interpretive dancer for christ’s sake. What exactly is racist about Triumph of the Will? It’s a study of motion, composition, contrast, and the human body. Hitler liked it for all the wrong reasons. Quite frankly your comment about this film is so simplistic as to be laughable.

    Like any artist living under fascism, Riefenstahl did what she could to survive.

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