'Downfall' Parody Clips Slowly Being Removed By YouTube

Bad news for people who like to see the news of the day filtered through parody videos of otherwise obscure German movies about Adolf Hitler.

Constantin Film, the copyright holder of the movie "Der Untergang" (also known as "Downfall") has requested that YouTube take down all instances in which their movie is being used satirically, and YouTube is complying with this request. That means that very soon, all of your beloved "Downfall" parody clips will be no more.

This isn't the first time that Constantin has sought the removal of those clips under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. And that's why while the spirit may move you to make a "Downfall" clip about the downfall of "Downfall" clips, don't bother, it was done a long time ago.

For the sake of those of you who have no earthly idea what I'm talking about, this article from the New York Times's Virginia Heffernan is something you can read to get caught up. In brief, this is the story:

On YouTube, we're in a bunker, and the enemies are always, always closing in. The ceilings are low. The air is stifling. A disheveled leader is delusional.

This is the premise of more than 100 videos on the Web -- the work of satirists who for years have been snatching video and audio from "Downfall," the 2004 German movie of Hitler's demise, and doctoring it to tell a range of stories about personal travails and world politics. By adding new English-language subtitles, they transform the movie's climactic scene, in which Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) rails against his enemies and reluctantly faces his defeat, into the generic story of a rabid blowhard brought low.

In the original scene, Hitler is told that his reign of power is over; he then deafens himself to reality, eloquently savages everyone who cost him his dreams, vows revenge and finally resigns himself to private grief. The homemade spoofs plug into this transformation just about any hubristic entity that might come undone: the subtitles speak to the plight of governments, soccer teams, football teams, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Adam Sandler.

You just know that at some point, someone will start some sort of Internet Meme Historical Preservation Society to slap a protecting plaque on content like this. But for now, YouTube is slowly removing them, beginning with one about the iPhone 4G leak. As has been pointed out, there are a boatload of these videos on YouTube, so there's a chance that the odd Shoshanna might escape the clutches of the Hans Landas that are hunting them down. Godpseed you, little Downfall clip!

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