Advertisement

We Are a Long Ways Past Maus: Responsible and Irresponsible Holocaust Representations in Graphic Comics and Sitcom Cartoons

  • Jeffrey Scott Demsky
Chapter
  • 47 Downloads

Abstract

In 1986, cartoonist Art Spiegelman published Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, the first book in his two-volume graphic comic novel about the Holocaust. He established, perhaps unwittingly, a new genre of Holocaust representation, i.e., comic animation that thrives in current times. While his intervention was “responsible” in the sense that it spurred, rather than spurned reverent remembrance, contemporary Holocaust-themed animation on sitcoms like Family Guy and South Park sometimes poke “irresponsible” fun. American cultural producers have a long tradition of ridiculing Adolf Hitler and Nazism. Joking about the Holocaust and its survivors, however, is something new. This chapter does not consider the question of whether or not this sort of humor is amusing, or appropriate. Rather, this study examines the messaging, delivery, and visible impact of such pop cultural icons on the ways people remember and forget the Holocaust.

Bibliography

  1. Aarons, Victoria, and Alan Berger. Third-Generation Holocaust Representation: Trauma, History, and Memory. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnaudo, Marco. The Myth of the Superhero. Translated by Jamie Richards. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  3. Arp, Robert. South Park and Philosophy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007.Google Scholar
  4. Atlani, Aviva. “The Ha-Ha Holocaust: Exploring Levity Amidst the Ruins and Beyond in Testimony, Literature and Film.” Ph.D. thesis, University of Western Ontario, 2014.Google Scholar
  5. Baron, Lawrence. Projecting the Holocaust into the Present: The Changing Focus of Contemporary Holocaust Cinema. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.Google Scholar
  6. ———. “X-Men as J-Men: The Jewish Subtext of a Comic Book Movie.” Shofar 22, no. 1 (2003): 44–52.Google Scholar
  7. Boswell, Matthew. Holocaust Impiety: In Literature, Popular Music and Film. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.Google Scholar
  8. Brenner, Rachel. “Holocaust Culture in Perspective: Evading the Holocaust Story and Its Legacy of Responsibility.” Dapim 26, no. 1 (2012): 125–150.Google Scholar
  9. Chaney, Michael. “Animal Subjects of the Graphic Novel.” College Literature 38, no. 3 (2011): 129–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chute, Hillary. “The Shadow of a Past Time”: History and Graphic Representation in Maus.” Twentieth Century Literature 52, no. 2 (2006): 199–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Daković, Nevena. Representation of the Holocaust in the Balkans in Arts and Media. Belgrade: Diskurs, 2014.Google Scholar
  12. Diner, Hasia. We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence After the Holocaust, 1945–1962. New York: New York University Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  13. Dittmer, Jason. Captain America and the Nationalist Superhero: Metaphors, Narratives, and Geopolitics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press 2013.Google Scholar
  14. Doherty, Thomas. Hollywood and Hitler, 1933–39. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  15. Duncan, Randy, and Matthew J. Smith. Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods. New York: Routledge, 2012.Google Scholar
  16. Flanzbaum, Hilene. The Americanization of the Holocaust. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Flory, Wendy. “The Search: A Graphic Narrative for Beginning to Teach About the Holocaust.” Shofar 29, no. 2 (2011): 34–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gabilliet, Jean-Paul. Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books. Translated by Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2010.Google Scholar
  19. Gonshak, Henry. “Beyond Maus: Other Holocaust Graphic Novels.” Shofar 28, no. 1 (2009): 55–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hirsch, Marianne. “Family Pictures: Maus, Mourning, and Postmemory.” Discourse 15, no. 2 (1992–1993): 3–30.Google Scholar
  21. Hungerford, Amy. The Holocaust of Texts. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  22. Jewett, Robert, and John Shelton Lawrence. Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.Google Scholar
  23. Jordan, James. From Nuremberg to Hollywood: The Holocaust and the Courtroom in American Fictive Film. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2016.Google Scholar
  24. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara, and Jeffrey Shandler. Anne Frank, Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  25. LaCapra, Dominick. History and Memory After Auschwitz. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  26. Landsberg, Alison. Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  27. Langer, Lawrence. Admitting the Holocaust: Collected Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  28. Levine, Michael. “Necessary Stains: Spiegelman’s MAUS and the Bleeding of History.” American Imago 59, no. 3 (2002): 317–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Magid, Shaul. “The Holocaust and Jewish Identity in America: Memory, the Unique, and the Universal.” Jewish Social Studies 18, no. 2 (2012): 100–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McGlothlin, Erin. Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration. Rochester, NY: Camden House Publishing, 2006.Google Scholar
  31. Metz, Walter. “‘Show Me the Shoah!’: Generic Experience and Spectatorship in Popular Representations of the Holocaust.” Shofar 27, no. 1 (2008): 16–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Novick, Peter. “The American National Narrative of the Holocaust: There Isn’t Any.” New German Critique 90 (2003): 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. ———. The Holocaust in American Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.Google Scholar
  34. Orvell, Miles. “Writing Posthistorically: Krazy Kat, Maus, and the Contemporary Fiction Cartoon.” American Literary History 4, no. 1 (1992): 110–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pinnock, Sarah. “Atrocity and Ambiguity: Recent Developments in Christian Holocaust Responses.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 75, no. 3 (2007): 499–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rider, Ann. “The Perils of Empathy: Holocaust Narratives, Cognitive Studies and the Politics of Sentiment.” Holocaust Studies 19, no. 3 (2013): 43–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rosen, Alan. “The Language of Survival: English as Metaphor in Spiegelman’s Maus.” Prooftexts 15, no. 3 (1995): 249–262.Google Scholar
  38. Rosenfeld, Gavriel. Hi Hitler!: How the Nazi Past Is Being Normalized in Contemporary Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  39. Royal, Derek. Unfinalized Moments: Essays in the Development of Contemporary Jewish American Narrative. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2011.Google Scholar
  40. Sabin, Roger. Going Underground: Comics, Comix & Graphic Novels: A History of Comic Art. London: Phaidon Press, 2001.Google Scholar
  41. Setka, Stella. “Bastardized History: How Inglourious Basterds Breaks Through American Screen Memory.” Jewish Film and New Media 3, no. 2 (2015): 141–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Smith, Graham. “From Mickey to Maus: Recalling the Genocide Through Cartoon.” Oral History 15, no. 1 (1987): 26–34.Google Scholar
  43. Sover, Arie. The Languages of Humor: Verbal, Visual and Physical Humor. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.Google Scholar
  44. Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History, vol. 1. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986.Google Scholar
  45. ———. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Troubles Began, vol. 2. New York: Pantheon Books, 1991.Google Scholar
  46. Stein, Daniel, Christina Meyer, and Micha Edlich. “American Comic Books and Graphic Novels.” Amerikastudien/American Studies 56, no. 4 (2011): 511–529.Google Scholar
  47. Steir-Livny, Liat. “Holocaust Humor, Satire, and Parody on Israeli Television.” Jewish Film and New Media 3, no. 2 (2015): 195–221.Google Scholar
  48. Stevens, Richard. Captain America, Masculinity, and Violence. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  49. Stier, Otto Baruch. Holocaust Icons: Symbolizing the Shoah in History and Memory. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  50. Stratton, Jon. Jewish Identity in Western Pop Culture: The Holocaust and Trauma Through Modernity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Taiwo, Rotimi. Analysing Language & Humor in Online Discourse. Hershey, PA: IGI Publishing, 2016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Weinstein, Simcha. Up, Up, and Oy Vey!: How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero. Baltimore: Leviathan Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  53. Weinstock, Jeffrey. Taking South Park Seriously. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008.Google Scholar
  54. Williams, Paul, and James Lyons. The Rise of the American Comics Artist: Creators and Contexts. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Witek, Joseph. Comics Books as History: The Narrative Art of Jack Jackson, Art Spiegelman, and Harvey Pekar. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989.Google Scholar
  56. Young, James. “America’s Holocaust: Memory and the Politics of Identity.” In The Americanization of the Holocaust, ed. Hilene Flanzbaum, 68–82. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  57. ———. “The Holocaust as Vicarious Past: Art Spiegelman’s Maus and the Afterimages of History.” Critical Inquiry 24, no. 3 (1998): 666–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Scott Demsky
    • 1
  1. 1.San Bernardino Valley CollegeSan BernardinoUSA

Personalised recommendations