Saturday, January 30, 2010


This may be an unpopular opinion, but I wish Hitler were still around. I don't mean as a dictator or anything, just rotting in jail somewhere. Forget the fact that he would have died of old age years ago. Imagine with me the public reaction to his new actions and statements. No individual has been remembered as purely evil to the degree of Hitler, but even horrible people need a favorite kind of pizza.

He had to have at least a few opinions not yet affected by his hatred of Jewish people. Who would he have rooted for in the Cold War? What would be his favorite baseball team? Would he prefer Clint Eastwood or John Wayne? Hitler actually used go on hour-long rants, setting the record straight on anything from opera to architecture to cars. He would have enough free time in prison to weigh in on everything. If Hitler said he loved using Mac computers, would their stock drop, or would it be more like free advertising? Would rebellious kids listen to the same music as Hitler for attention?

At some point, someone would use Hitler's opinion in advertising. No modern politician could resist mentioning his glowing review of an opponent. For the first couple of times, people would be outraged, claiming that irresponsible use of Hitler would lessen the importance of what we learned from World War II. We would all get used to it though. Learning something like the presumed devil-incarnate's favorite chick flick can't be shocking forever. His influence would become a precious resource to those who want to change your mind for their own benefit. It would completely run out when we all have at least one shared opinion with Hitler.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Pope, Seriously

Does anyone else find the Catholic pope hilarious?

Part of it is obviously that he looks goofy. He's got the robes, and the tall hat, and he's always an old dude. He rides around in the back of some kind of parade car, but with a bulletproof encasing. This vehicle, and I am not joking here, is officially called the Popemobile. Even more hilarious is its Italian name, the Papamobile. The pope only wears red shoes. Can you imagine if any other human declared that, for the remainder of his life, he would only wear red, velvet shoes when he is indoors?

I think what makes all of these things truly hilarious instead of just weird is that the pope is completely serious about them. Irony has so completely invaded our culture that "smart" people can only get away with liking very critically acclaimed things, or laughably critically despised things. So-bad-it's-great things can apparently be enjoyed with cool detachment and critical immunity. Here are examples of a matter of opinion, and the critical responses I would expect:

My favorite actor is Daniel Day-Lewis. "That's a good call. He's been in a lot of great movies and won a couple of Oscars."

My favorite actor is Tom Hanks. "Way to be original. You haven't seen that many movies, have you?"

My favorite actor is Keanu Reeves. "Is that a joke? Please don't talk to me anymore."

My favorite actor is Steven Seagal. "Oh I get it. You're a funny guy."

Somewhere along the way, genuine liking turns into assumed ironic liking. It happens right around the time when you can't believe that the person is serious. None of this can apply to the things the pope does. He has basically dedicated his entire life to becoming and being the pope. Your favorite actor is Steven Seagal? Hilarious. You are the president of the Steven Seagal Fan Club? Weird. Taking the position of Steven Seagal's unpaid personal assistant solely for its proximity to Steven Seagal? Hilarious, but in a much weirder way.

If the pope wanted to, he could stop the tall hat thing today. His word is law. He could just say, "From this day forth, no more pope hats," and he would never have to wear one again. Pope John Paul II stopped the red shoes thing, and Pope Benedict started it up again. He's not even going on only precedent at this point. Brown shoes were passed to him, and he decided to, on a completely official and permanent basis, switch back to red. That means he genuinely likes red velvet shoes. I cannot stress enough how absurd this is.

When they decided to give the pope a special vehicle to drive around, someone, somewhere, decided to start calling it the Papamobile. While suggesting it, this person did not smile.