I have a confession to make: I laughed at Hipster Hitler. Hipster Hitler is a clever web comic that features the well-known dictator as a trendy young hipster trying to be cool while also taking over the world. He dabbles often in irony, sarcasm, and supposed “hipster” stereo-types: fixies, underground music, and organic food. The comic is often very funny. The creators play on lesser known puns which create some witty and intelligent humor. Yet I have a serious dilemma. I can appreciate satire, of which parody is an example. But I am not sure exactly what Hipster Hitler is accomplishing, or what it is critiquing. Given the wickedness that Hitler accomplished in his life I feel uncomfortable about laughing at this comic.
Satire works great as a means to offering a critique, and I am of course quite satisfied to mock and belittle Hitler, whose disgusting acts warrant him no sympathy. Yet I can’t help but wonder what the creators of this comic are aiming to critique. Is it Hitler? Well kudos to them, but I am not sure how casting him as a trendy young bohemian does that. Is it hipsters? They are ripe for the picking but why use Hitler as a model? That seems strange at best and may actually serve to undermine the atrocities of Hitler’s work. Hitler’s t-shirt collection, which the creators give the character to wear, though funny, seem to do just that. For example Hipster Hitler’s t-shirt slogans include: “Death Camp for Cutie,” “East side, West side, Genocide,” “Mix Master Race,” and “I Love Juice.”
I have no problem with satire. When done rightly it is an incredibly effective tool. But as a Christian I want to strive to make a point with tactfulness and sensitivity. There are cases where offending others can’t be avoided, and in fact may be necessary. Using Hitler as a joke, however, (especially when there doesn’t seem to be a larger point) is difficult for this particular reader to handle. I confess, I laughed at Hipster Hitler, but I didn’t like it.