Film Director Loves Anne Frank on Instagram

Kansas Bowling, the 21 year old proclaimed “feminist slasher film” director of The B.C Butcher, posted the picture below on her personal instagram on February 26th.

The photo is tagged at the Charles Mansion, a party house in LA occupied by Bowling and her friends.

Here are some of the comments on the photo:

One follow claims that Kansas IS Anne Frank, leaving no other context for their reasoning. The comment is liked twice, by Kansas and her sister, Parker.  Of course, it’s hard to identify the reasoning behind Kanas’ post and her logic towards Anne Frank, especially when her caption to the post is only “New Decor” and her comments following reveal little, besides the one comment by thepartridgeinthepeartree who writes that she could be referring to a lyric for the Grateful Dead. Kansas replied to the comment, saying the user should visit her at the Charles Mansion, leading us to believe the reply is either correct or at least sparked interest in Kansas.

The post and its comments show 1. the relevance of Anne Frank in our culture still, and 2. the ways pop culture uses Holocaust memory in its own forms, and in this case, the negative ways. I think most people will agree that this post isn’t in memory of Anne and her struggles, but rather a sort of odd joke to the clean and respectable nature of Anne Frank that we have, paired next to a young girl in a crop top at a party house in LA. To be honest, its hard to look at this post and come up with something to say other than, “why?”

I messaged Kansas and asked her her reasoning for the post and her knowledge about Anne Frank, but she never replied.

Social Media Antisemitism up 30% from 2016

According to the World Jewish Congress (which sounds like what the conspiracy theorists believe in but I swear is a legitimate organization that does important work),  the amount of antisemitic/Neo-Nazi  imagery and posts about Holocaust denial rose 30% between 2016 and 2018. The WJC compiled a report on the topic and by studying the time period of January 1st-24th for each year they were able to come up with that statistic.

The report further outlines why this is concerning, beyond the general trend. Firstly, the sheer number is alarming. For the 2018 period, about 550 posts per day fell into one of the above categories, culminating in 15,800 for the entire month. Secondly, the content of the posts have changed. The WJC says that while in 2016 many of the posts were “jokes” or memes, 80% of the posts in 2018 were serious and/or explicitly hateful. While I personally don’t think that any antisemitic or Holocaust related material is justifiable on social media, the rise in “intentional antisemitic discourse” as the WJC calls it is honestly alarming. I often hear people, especially in campus environments, say that w have to be tolerant of all kinds of speech and that we shouldn’t be worried about this kind of thing because they are a fringe group that could never gain power. To me this study demonstrates exactly where that kind of thinking gets us, and it’s not a good place. Social media can be an excellent tool for mobilizing social movements and disseminating information, but when this kind of culture is allowed to thrive it severely impacts the ways that I as a Jewish person can interact with social media.

Here is a link to the article I first heard about the study in, as well as the study itself:

Mark McGrath References Sophie’s Choice on Big Brother

Last night theCelebrity Big Brother Finale aired on CBS, crowning Marissa Jaret Winokur–best known from her role in the film Hairspray–the winner. For those of you who do not watch Big Brother (I realize I am still one of the few, and I love it unapologetically), it’s a reality game show in which individuals enter the BBHouse in an attempt to endure it for the entire summer to claim the $500,000 main prize, and avoid the weekly eviction process by fellow HouseGuests. “Celebrity Big Brother” is the show’s first go at having celebrities enter the House, most of whom claimed to be “super-fans” of the show, and it is the first season to be expedited to last for one month instead of three, and take place in the winter.

Once there are only two HouseGuests remaining, the evicted HouseGuests form a jury and vote for the winner during the live finale. It is tradition for jury members to say something witty, thoughtful, or inspirational to the two remaining HouseGuests as they cast their vote for the person they believe deserves to win. Mark McGrath, best known for being a singer in the rock band Sugar Ray, said, “This is so hard. It’s like Sophie’s Choice between you two.” Julie Chen, the host, chuckled, and you could hear faint casual chuckles from the crowd. I honestly don’t know if this was because most people just didn’t find it funny or because most people didn’t understand the reference. I took to twitter to see if anyone had any strong opinions about it, and it appears that some were turned off by his comment.

I personally didn’t think it was funny, but not necessarily overtly offensive either because to him it was actually coming from a place of love (as he proceeded to talk about how much he loved both of the finalists). Of course McGrath’s choice between which two of his friends will win money is absolutely incomparable to Sophie’s actual choice of choosing between which two of her children would die in Auschwitz. But we now live in a context of thought where the pinnacle of hyperbole is a Holocaust reference, and because these references exist, anything less than them is noticeably so. So, any choice between loved ones for any reason is either like Sophie’s, or not love at all is far as our colloquial consciousness is concerned.

Oral Testimony on Facebook

On January 27th CNN International posted a three and half minute video titled, “The lie that save Holocaust survivor’s life.” Receiving 53 thousand reactions, 34 thousand shares, and 2.3 million views, this oral testimony is given by a Holocaust survivor named Sonia K.

Growing up in Warsaw, Sonia was 14 when the war broke out. Her mother, father, and brother were murdered by the Nazis, while Sonia and her sister were the only members of the family to survive. When her family arrived at Auschwitz their heads were shaved and their arms were tattooed, she says. While in line to enter the camp, her sister and her lied to the Germans, saying they were shoemakers. The sisters worked in the “shoe commando,” where they disassembled the shoes of murdered Jews. Sonia says, “every time I took a pair of baby shoes, black shoes, brown shoes, my heart stopped.” In 1945, as the the Allies pushed further into Europe, Sonya and her sister were moved to multiple concentration camps and eventually were forced into a death march. In April of 1945, Sonia says, “we were liberated by the Americans. From the thousand people on the death march, I dare say perhaps 100 were left – I’m not sure.” Her concluding remarks: “As a survivor, I say: use all your energy to stamp out anti-Semitism and racism.”

At the forefront of this video is the oral testimony of Sonia. Integrated into this video is primary footage of that corresponds with her story. For example, the viewer sees shoes of murdered Jews when Sonia talks about her labor in the shoe commando, and the viewer sees images of Jews lined up outside of a concentration camp when Sonia discusses her early experiences at Auschwitz. This has the effect of tying together historical images with the stories of survivors, who are still living. Amplifying the emotion felt in her testimony, the creators of this video included dramatic background music – combined with the primary footage and her testimony, this short video feels like a mini-documentary.

Sonia’s testimony is directly related to the interest our class has taken in the Shoah Foundation and oral memory. While the Shoah Foundation reaches a large audience, this short oral testimony from Sonia was circulated on the most widely used social media platform in the world. This – combined with its shortness in length – helped to make Sonia’s story accessible to millions of people.   


How I found this:

I saw this video on facebook, and thought it was a great thing to include in the blog post. I think a couple of my friends ‘liked’ it, and this is why it showed up on my new feed.

Holocaust Tweets

I found out about this guy from the Anti Defamation League since and checked out his twitter just to be sure he really was this crazy of a guy. As I scrolled through his twitter I saw multiple anti semitic remarks as well as direct hits at the Holocaust. I included just one today but feel free to look at the rest of his twitter if you want to be upset. The reason this would count as pop culture is because this guy actually has retweets and is now coming up in news stories. He is trying to take the place of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House and I feel like scrolling through his twitter we see how he is gaining more traction every month.

The image that I posted above is just kind of rude, he is trying to make a joke out of the Holocaust and act like it has already happened to white people by insinuating that the German’s did nothing except starve the Jews and because of that it is not that big of a deal. I think this is important because I know that we will soon be discussing this idea of Holocaust deniers and through this it makes me worried about how many there are out there and how there are people who actually support someone like this.

The problem is that he does not just  post about Jews but about all minorities, making him even worse than expected.

Reddit User: “Add ‘and Hitler’ to the end of a movie’s title. What’s it about now?”

Twenty days ago, the reddit user “red mambo_no6” asked “Add ‘and Hitler’ to the end of a movie’s title. What’s it about now?” This post received 8742 karma points, in addition to 6283 comments.


Associating Hitler and a popular movie creates an uncomfortable, yet clever, irony. Hitler is  popularly understood as the archetype of evil – the face of the Holocaust, and of all things un-American and inhumane. By invoking Hitler, the redditor who posted the original question and the thousands of redditors who responded to that question, were also invoking the reasons evil is associated with Hitler – namely, the Holocaust. The responses varied. Some relying on what Hitler symbolizes, by just including his name; while others invoked specific Holocaust imagery, which was both laughed at and called out as insensitive.

One redditor – who received 14.6k karma (the most popular comment on the post) titled his response “Saving Private Ryan and Hitler.” Another redditor commented on this thread saying, “I am conflicted about this film.” The redditor who posted the comment replied, “the brave men depicted in this film were conflicted as well, but they did not let it stop them from completing their mission.” Through this comment, this redditor explicitly refers to the irony in associating Hitler with a popular American WW2 movie. Although they don’t reference the Holocaust, Hitler’s association with it creates this confliction.

In other popular comments the Holocaust is specifically referenced. One redditor responds to the original question posed: “Finding Nemo and Hitler.” On this thread another redditor comments “I’m gonna touch the valve,” while another says, “just keep gassing, just keep gassing, just keep gassing, gassing, gassing.” Indeed insensitive, but highly representative of the irony produced when Hitler is associated with popular film and warm film, such as Finding Nemo.

In class we have discussed how invoking Hitler is invoking the Holocaust. Hitler and the Holocaust do not just exist in the realm of scholarship, but in popular culture – through the way all people act and interact. It exists in our collective memory, and is expressed in daily interaction, like this example on Reddit.  



How I found this:

I occasionally go on reddit for entertainment or if I have a burning question question on a topic that is not “google-able.” Unsurprisingly, I have found that there are a significant amount of Holocaust references on Reddit.  After searching “Hitler,” this was one of the top results.

Drunk on genocide: how the Nazis celebrated murdering Jews

An article by Edward B. Westermann was published on Aeon on February 16th 2018 and was linked to a post on reddit the following day. The reddit thread went to the popular page, and when I first encountered it, it had 9,900 up votes and several hundred comments. Today (three days later) it has around 14,000 up votes.

The article details how the Nazis frequently consumed large amounts of alcohol while policing concentration camps, and had celebratory drinks when they achieved a new personal record of kills (one man brags, “Man, today I’m celebrating my 1,000th execution!”)

While the article itself is an interesting read, what I find most fascinating is the discussion and access of the article. This article was published by Aeon, a not extremely popular news source (I hadn’t heard of it until I today), which describes itself as a, “charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.” The publication is targeted mostly to an audience who frequently reads think pieces, and probably searches for Holocaust new stories. Aeon also published a narration clip of the entire article next to the text, making it very accessible. The link being posted to reddit most likely made it more popular, and definitely more accessible. Its safe to say quite a number of people (myself included) stumbled upon this article.

The reddit post fosters an interesting discussion. Currently, the post is locked from comments, with a moderating posting 2 days ago, “Hi, everyone! This thread ended up accumulating quite a number of people promoting either Holocaust denial or political soapboxing (from any and all possible positions). As such, we’re going to be locking this thread. Sorry about that!”

Of course, the comments promoting Holocaust denial have been deleted, but here are the top comments/my favorite comments:

Typically we are used to seeing one sided discussions about the Holocaust, usually an article or video explaining some sort of history of the survivors, liberators, or Nazis. Seeing one of these one sided articles turn multi-dimensional, especially with people of the present day, begins to create a dialogue different from the ones we see in classrooms or purely scholarly spheres.



Clothing Firm Slammed For German Death Camp T-Shirt

As a part of Poland’s campaign to rewrite its involvement in the Holocaust, which has been detailed in other posts on this blog, it has launched a variety of social media campaigns including #GermanDeathCamps. The hashtag has now left the computer screen and found its way to popular fashion. The company responsible for the design, Surge Polonia, released the following statement as an explanation of its motivation in designing this line:  “It is the duty of every Pole to care for the good name of Poland and Poles. We do not agree to the use of the term “Polish death camps”. Via a shirt we want to manifest the historical truth that we unfortunately have to fight for every day”. 

The company, which is known to produce nationalist paraphernalia, received a fair amount of backlash  from those who believe that even if it is a historical truth that camps were initiated and maintained by Germans, the shirts were in poor taste. As we have discussed in class, memory is constantly evolving. Poland’s recent campaign to rewrite involvement is interesting given the timing and its target audience. It has specifically chosen to launch a social media campaign which targets a younger audience, who is the most removed from the event, at the same time that survivors are dying out. If there was ever a time to start changing perceptions of events, now would be it. I say this while strongly condemning this attempt to wash clean the hands of a nation’s people. Nazi’s in occupied Poland were able to draw help from polish agencies and individuals. No T-shirt, hashtag, or law can change that fact.


Recently, the Twitter hashtag #TweetLikeThe1600’s caused quite an uproar. Some members of the black community used the hashtag to make lighthearted jokes about slavery using popular memes. Some individuals, white  and black alike, expressed revulsion at the idea of treating such horrific events as a joking matter, others assessed it as a coping mechanism. While following this hashtag, I came across a similar hashtag: #TweetLikeTheHolocaust.

But, who is allowed to use the hashtag? In the 1600’s hashtag, there may have been controversy surrounding whether the hashtag should exist. Still, if it was going to exist, it was mostly clear that the trauma belonged to the black community and was theirs to reclaim.  Here, however, ownership was not as clear. Some argued that only Jewish people should be allowed to “TweetLikeTheHolocaust”; others pointed out that Jewish people were not the only population targeted. They argued that the Roma, homosexuals, persons with disabilities, criminals and other targeted groups should be permitted to use the hashtag. But, does every person who identifies with one of these labels have the same connection to the event? 

The hashtag raises critical questions surrounding the way groups are allowed to process and cope with collective trauma. In class, we discussed the ways that Jewish people coped in the immediate aftermath and the way that it was criticized by outsiders. Should later generations of affected groups be criticized for coping with humor? I was, and still am, conflicted. On the one hand, we should remember the Holocaust as it was. On the other, trauma manifests in a variety of ways and is handled differently by different people.


Former Olympic Skater Holocaust Past Life

The millions of viewers tuning into the Olympics to watch the incredible athletes perform are also hearing from famous commentators including Johnny Weir, former U.S. Olympic figure skater. Looking past his expertise on Olympic figure skating, as seen in a Forward article, Weir has also claimed to have been in the Holocaust in a former life. 

While skimming through the Forward, the headline itself “Johnny Weir Said He Was In The Holocaust In  A Past Life” caught my eye. It goes on to talk about how Weir, a Catholic, was obsessed with Holocaust as a child, wears Star of David and other Jewish related necklaces, has danced to music from “Schindler’s List,” and most strikingly claimed that he got his past lives read and was told that he was a “‘Jewish girl from Poland during World War II.'” Commenting on this, he says, “‘I mean, it makes sense if you think about it. Like, what 4-year-old gets into learning about how 6 million people were exterminated?'”

This article left me conflicted as I tried to uncover what type of story this was telling about the Holocaust. This seems like a trivial way to connect to the Holocaust. It seems as though Weir has many connections to Judaism including his recent marriage to a Jewish man and his expressed interest to convert to Judaism, yet to me it is inappropriate to try and connect to the Holocaust while thousands of individuals and their families are still living out its effects everyday. The events of the Holocaust are so unfathomable and tragic that it is trivial to casually claim you were a part of it in a past life. When remembering the Holocaust, it is important to refraining from sensationalizing the tragedy. 

Link to the Forward Article: