The Hakka Public Communication Foundation yesterday defended its use of a meme video created from a film about the final days of Adolf Hitler to promote Hakka cuisine, saying that it was not meant to advocate Nazism or belittle Hakka people and their culture.
The foundation issued the statement after Taiwan People’s Party Legislator Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶) on Tuesday night criticized the meme, writing on Facebook that the foundation should not mistake the “banality of evil” for something funny.
“We have received complaints about a short film on Hakka ciba [糍粑, sticky rice cakes] produced by the foundation in which footage of a Nazi film featuring Hitler was used to promote Hakka cuisine. Did nobody find it inappropriate?” Lai wrote.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
Lai criticized the foundation’s social media managers for disregarding a tragic period in history for the sake of boosting viewership of Hakka News, a social media Web site.
“They completely missed the mark by using a sensitive topic to promote Hakka culture. This is way out of line, considering that Hakka News was created by the government-funded Hakka Public Communication Foundation,” she said, adding that Hakka Council Affairs Minister Yiong Con-ziin (楊長鎮) and foundation chairman Chen Ban (陳板) should explain themselves.
The clip, titled The Fuhrer’s Wrath, was taken from the 2004 German-language film Downfall, the foundation said.
Photo: Screengrab from HakkaNews Facebook
Netizens around the world have recreated the clip into hundreds of meme videos, with subtitles in different languages, it added.
These meme videos were created to mock current news events or entertain people, it said.
“Before we decided to turn the clip into a meme video with subtitles in Hakka, we had discussed whether it would give people the impression that we were promoting Nazism or disparaging the Hakka people,” the foundation said. “However, YouTube did not flag the content of our meme video as hate speech or derogatory remarks targeting an ethnic group. Viewers did not see the meme video as promoting Nazism either.”
On the contrary, most of the Hakka News viewers found the meme video interesting, regardless of whether they are Hakka or speak the language.
“The original video clip has been widely circulated online for many years, and any recreation of it should not cause any confusion,” the foundation said.
While the foundation would like to thank people for their concern for the Hakka community and humbly accepts any criticism, “it is regrettable that the Hakka people do not have the same right as other communities to use the same clip and create a meme video.”
Lai’s comments about the video drew mixed reactions.
Some said that the foundation’s social media managers “were nuts” for coming up with such a video, while others said Lai misunderstood Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt when she wrote about the “banality of evil,” or that she does not understand young people.
“The movie clip has been turned into many meme videos over the years, and we young people think that the meme video was fun and there was nothing inappropriate about it,” a person named Ken Wei posted on Lai’s Facebook page. “You [Lai] should calm down and ask young people before making any judgements.”
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