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June 04, 1997 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-06-04

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GODFATHER' AT MICHIGAN
Here's an offer you can't refuse: See
the 1972 film classic "The Godfather"
at the Michigan Theater. Thursday,
Sunday and Monday at 7 p.m., Friday at
97:30, and Saturday at 7 and 10:30 p.m.

ARTS

Wednesday 9
June 4, 1997

German cultural history key to Hasselhoff's success

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By Matthew Turner
For The Daily
Here on Earth, countries are vastly
different, from the composition of
their populations to their regional
history; each country has different
neighbors and different enemies,
also. If we wish to better understand
ourselves as a nation, we must learn
why some countries are different
from ours - we must unearth their
cultural identity, which can often be
puzzling to outsiders.
For example, many people have
been bewildered by Germans'
national adoration for American
actor and musician David
Hasselhoff.But a deeper exploration
of these issues shows that the
intriguing Hasselhoff phenomenon
has its roots itn Germany's cultural
history.
To begin, consider Germany and
the German consciousness leading
up to the government of the Third
Reich and the horrible stain it left on
the German mindset. German cul-
ture had reached a high point in the
late 18th century. This was an age of
brilliant philosophers and amazing
musicians: Goethe, Beethoven,
Mozart.
With respect-to the rest of Europe,
the. German-speaking peoples. were
at the forefront of culture. Naturally,
this statement opens up debate. The
iipdrtant thing to remember is that
at this time, these were -the people
who, in the German mindset, embod-
ied what a human should be like and
how one should live. They helped to
form a standard after which all great
gentlemen and ladies should model
themselves.
This leads us to two men who
lived in Germany in the late 19th
century, Friedrich Nietzsche and
Richard Wagner. Both lived for the
great German virtues of steadfast-
ness, courage and valor, and they
helped to further cultivate what the
German identity potentially could

be. Wagner spoke of the mythic past
of gods and heroes, and the leg-
endary roots of the Germans, a noble
and powerful people. Nietzsche
spoke of the Superman, who would
rise and overcome his own humanity
to somehow be more of a human, or
a better human.
However, so as not to place any
blame on these fine gentlemen, the
cultivation of German virtues spread
too far beyond what they had intend-
ed, and their ideas culminated in the
Third Reich. The ideas of what it
meant to be German and what good
G er mans
were sup-
posed to off
have done b
for the acon of
world were
twisted into EE 6Ilai l
notions of affairs.
G e r m a n
superiority
a n d
supremacy.
The goodness of humankind, that
had so long been exalted, had instead
grown twisted and perverse.
After the Second World War, when
the citizens of Europe were devastat-
ed and the entire world was pointing
its finger at Germany, what were the
Germans to do? They could no
longer validate their identity on the'
basis of their past culture, since their
past had been used to create the
monster of the Third Reich. The
Germans needed to turn somewhere
else for new cultural hope and free-
dom. But where?
One place that the Germans
looked for insight was the up-and-
coming United States. Here was a
culture just beginning to blossom,
and it had plenty of ideas. It is diffi-
cult, however, to forget the past
entirely and begin with a completely
clean slate - there are still remem-
bered experiences that act as a filter
for the German conscience. This fil-

m
l

ter prevents the Germans from
becoming Americans and, converse-
ly, does not allow all of America's
offspring to enter Germany's collec-
tive mindset; this filter allows
Germans to be Germans still.
But this filter has allowed one man
to pass through - and to thrive.
This man is David Hasselhoff. An
American with a dubious acting
career, he has been a total success in
Germany. As Americans, we ask:
Why'?
There are a number of reasons.
First, his name is Hasselhoff, a good
German one, a
name people can
IS a2 trust. Yet ie isn't
" completely
' ghtfor German - he has
American blood
in him and talks
like an American.
Americans are
rebellious and
whimsical, some-
times flippant,
which opposes the traditional
German virtues of steadfastness,
courage, and valor. But Hasselhoff
isn't quite a true rebellious, whimsi-
cal, and flippant American like Jim
Carrey. That kind of American is too
much for the Germans. David, how-
ever, has a bit of class, Neil
Diamond-style.
David is the happy medium, cul-
turally, that Germans were striving
for post-WWII. He has helped the
new, unified nation of Germany cul-
turally rebuild itself from the depths
of an ideological debacle. He has
one foot in both the United States
and Germany, and is a beacon of
light for international affairs, pro-
moting international peace through
cultural understanding. Regardless
of what we, as Americans, think of
Hasselhoff's abilities as an actor or
musician, we must respect the joy
and love he delivers to millions of
Germans daily.

A. as x l

David Hasselhoff has both ardent fans and devoted enemies on the Internet. The
web site at http://www.ithaca.edu/shp/shp98/dwiller1/dh.html (top) promotes
Hasselhoff's acting talents with a large picture of Hasselhoff in "Baywatch" mode.
Another web site, http://www.indirect.com/www/warren/baywatch.htmf (above),
takes a different approach, suggesting that Hasselhoff is actually Satan. And a
#d, http://camel.conncoll.edu/ccother/sf folder/dh96/dh96.html (bottom left),
advocates Hasselhoff's potential to be the leader of the free world. Regardless of
what his true identity really is, Hasselhoff looks ready to break many hearts on
the cover of his self-titled CD (bottom right).

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