Last Straw On The 'Downfall' Meme

Take a scene from a German film — specifically one in which Hitler throws a fit when he learns he can't win the war. Ignore the German dialog. Drop in some fake subtitles. Replace "the war" with some unrelated, arbitrary topic (say, Usain Bolt breaking the 100 meter world record or Hillary Clinton's loss). And boom — you have an Internet meme.

Since the 2004 cinematic debut of Downfall, the famous bunker scene has been availabile at anyone's disposal for both entertainment (and example) on YouTube. But Constantin Film, the German film production and distribution company behind the film told The Hollywood Reporter that enough is enough.

"Sometimes we have been asked to take certain ones down — by companies whose products have been ridiculed or from Jewish associations who were offended by certain neo-Nazi parodies using 'Downfall' footage ... But we don't want to be the judge of what's good or bad taste. We just see this as a simple case of unauthorized use of our copyright-protected material."

The first one to be taken down showed Hitler — channeling what Steve Jobs might be doing this week — throwing a fit over the iPhone 4G leak. Some other popular spoofs followed, including one of my personal favorites, "Hitler Gets Banned from Using Xbox Live." The film's director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, doesn't seem to mind the meme. At least that what he told New York Magazine

"The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality," he says. "I think it's only fair if now it's taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like." He adds, "If only I got royalties for it, then I'd be even happier."

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