Please bear with me as I explain why watching the wonderful Danish TV series "Seaside Hotel" relates to this topic. The series starts in the early 1930's and follows the characters of guests and staff and their intertwined soap-opera lives. Now we're watching season six and it's 1939 and Hitler has already been elected PM of Germany and anti-Semitic violence has erupted across Germany. Only one character has been following the news from Germany since the series began and is sounding the alarm about the growing threat to German democracy and the danger to Denmark.
Sometmes mocked by other guests for listening to the radio to keep up with the news Hjalmar Aurland (left) followed events in German since the beginning of the series. He has the newspapers delvered secretly to him by the staff because he knows that his wife gets upset when he reads them.
He tries to explain this to other guests but they don't take it seriously. One is even trying to invest in German industry. Another is a young German woman who worships Hitler.
There is a chilling parallel here. The light themes of the early seasons are getting darker and darker. We know that what is going to happen not only in Denmark, but in the world. Without giving too much away, there are two gay characters, one in the closet and one out, and both have already suffered because of not just prejudice but actual visiting teenaged NAZI youth.
Now we get to what I make of the Barbenheimer weekend. My sense is that there are two kinds of people who decided to venture into the theaters despite some of them having friends or acquaintances who recently came down with Covid. Those who went to see Barbie I would hazard a guess mostly wanted to either escape from worrying about the threat to democracy posed by Trump or someone like DeSantis becoming president or actually want to see us become a fascist state ruled by a racist dictator. Both want to see the fluff of an escapist movie like the hyped up Barbie film which has reviews called it WITTY, IMPECCABLY DESIGNED, OVERBLOWN FUN.
Then there are those who opted to see the can't get much more serious movie Openheimer. I'd bet my pile of chips that the majority of these viewers are those who are very concerned about what having a far-right president would do to democracy in America.
They are like the Hjalmar Aurland character in Seaside Hotel. They are like Thom Hartmann who just published "How Democracy Dies the First Month of the Next Trump or GOP Presidency."
Hartmann concludes his essay as follows:
As Trump told a group of young people last week of his plan to destroy the American government:
“This will be the most important election with your country, your freedom, and your future on the line. We are in trouble. This country is in trouble. The election will decide if your generation inherits a fascist country or a free country, if you will have the rule of tyrants or the rule of law, if Marxist radicals burn our civilization to the ground, which they are looking to do, or young patriots like you propel America to glorious heights greater than ever before. … When I get back into the oval office, I will obliterate the deep state.”
Gradually, then suddenly.
People like Thom Hartmann and I, and probably almost everyone reading my blog including the 2,280 weekly readers in Germany and 468 in Russia (see below) have been following the news and are anxious over the prospect that what happened in Germany in the 1930's could happen here.