And I do not like Schindler’s List.
It is to my mind Mandingo for Jews. Mandingo was a slave epic made for those interested in watching well-built black men being mistreated. Schindler’s List is another example of emotional pornography.
It is not the Holocaust we are watching. It is a movie, and the people in the film are not actually being abused, they are acting out a drama to enable the audience to exercise a portion of its ego and call that exercise “compassion.” Schindler’s List, Dances with Wolves, Gentlemen’s Agreement—these films show a member of a dominant culture who condescends to aid those less racially fortunate than himself—who tries to save them and fails, thereby ennobling himself, and by extension, his race. This comfortable theme is more than just a sham—it is a lie.
Schindler’s List, ostensibly an indictment of the German murder of the Jews is, finally, just another instance of their abuse. The Jews in this case are not being slaughtered, they are merely being trotted out to entertain. How terrible. For, finally, this movie does not “teach,” it does not “reach a great number who might otherwise be ignorant of this great wrong.” It is not instruction, but melodrama. Members of the audience learn nothing save the emotional lesson of all melodrama, that they are better than the villain. The very assertion that the film is instructive is harmful.
It is destructive. The audience comes to the theater in order to, and leaves the theater feeling they have looked down on actions that the have been assured—this is the film’s central lesson—they would never commit.
This “lesson” is a lie. The audience is not superior to “Those Bad Nazis.” Any of us has the capacity for atrocity—just as each of us has the capacity for heroism. But the film panders to the audience. It invites them (as does any melodrama) to reward themselves for Seeing That the Villain’s Bad; and, in the Liberal Fallacy, of feeling this perception is a moral accomplishment.
The mechanism of Schindler’s List is that of “If you can’t pay the rent, then I will tie your daughter to the train track.”
The Nazis are the waxed-mustachioed villain, and the Jews are the daughter. The film is as far from Philo-Semitism as concern for the girl on the tracks is from feminism.
Two jokes I heard in Israel: 1) There’s no business like Shoah business; 2) Do you know why Hitler killed himself? He got his gas bill. Are these jokes revolting? They may or may not be, but they are legitimate attempts to use a dramatic form (the joke) to address the insoluble and oppressive phenomenon of genocide
Schindler’s List, on the other hand, is an exploitation film.