According to the Guardian, a British recruitment firm got into a bit of trouble with the UK’s advertising watchdog because one of its radio ads features an apparently German boss whose spoken German is well, slightly, reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s impersonation of Tomenia’s Great Dictator. The ad didn’t go down too well with the Advertising Standards Authority, which eventually pulled it because the humour was “derived from a stereotype at the expense of German people.”
Check out the Guardian’s Mark Sweney’s report on the matter ad listen to the ad yourself – Radio ad banned for implying Germans are ‘tyrants’.
Not that I disagree with the authorities assessment of the use of such a badly sketched stereotype in the ad in theory – but given the cultural importance of Hitler impersonations for the English identity, and assuming that, by now, most Brits will likely be aware that Hitler is not really the current Chancellor of Germany, I can’t help but wonder to which extent those who came up with the spot, and those who are listening to it, are actually connecting real Germans to such a bad rendition of Chaplin. I doubt that a lot of them were actually thinking, as the authority suggests, “… that German people were more likely to be unreasonable or aggressive to others…” They aren’t – except when it comes to penalties, of course.
But be that as it may, this incident is, of course, really as good a reason as any to link to this compilation of the best moments from Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” – enjoy.