Hitler Parodies are videos, or other forms of media, that serve to entertain by making Adolf Hitler the subject of humour. Due to his most hated status in the western world (even though there have been far worse) and his prominence, Hitler is often the butt of ridicule in modern culture.
Hitler Parodies utilize clips of Hitler himself (as in actual videos) or movie portrayals of him in films such as Valkyrie, Inglourious Basterds and Downfall. According to KnowYourMeme, the vast majority of Hitler Parodies are derived from Downfall, such that the phrase "Hitler Parody" has become synonymous with "Downfall Parody", although in a strict sense, some "Downfall Parodies" are not exclusively "Hitler Parodies" because they do not always involve Hitler in them.
Hitler Parodies started as far back as the 1940s with the release of You Nazty Spy! starring the Three Stooges and The Great Dictator starring Charlie Chaplin, which is more of a satire on Nazi Germany. In 1943 Disney released Der Fuehrer's Face which properly depict the Nazi leaders (and not thinly veiled fictional characters) and their imposing of Nazi ideology and an exaggerated work regime on Donald Duck. The song from the cartoon became a hit back in its days. Because Hitler and Nazi Germany were still around back then they serve as war propaganda.
After the downfall of Nazi Germany a steady stream of productions (mostly from Hollywood) include Hitler in demeaning forms, usually very angst and prone to tantrums. It also usually portray Nazis as the bad guys. An example is Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade. It is worth noting that they are not parodies but works of fiction where in many cases Hitler dies in ways contrary to attested historical accounts.
Films depicting real life events around Hitler during World War II were also produced, based on written accounts but they also fall victim to the stereotyped image of Hitler. Only with Downfall is the cycle broken, in which Hitler is shown to have a compassionate side - to be human as well as his ruthless public image. It also breaks the near-continuous Hollywood dominance on the portrayal of Hitler, as being the first major film of Hitler made natively in Germany.
And with the release of Downfall, without fictional plots in the way (not counting the subplot with Peter Kranz) and the German-English language barrier, a perfect medium for Hitler parodies is born. Now anyone can make fun of Hitler without the need for big budgets and a plot to satisfy a feature-length film requirements.
Due to the movie's German language, universally, Downfall Parodies are created by replacing the actual subtitles with false translations depicting Hitler and other the characters speaking in a non-canon, often funny and nonsensical manner.
Most Downfall parodies can be divided into 3 categories, Rants, Plans and Pranks (aka Antics):
- Rants involve Hitler talking forcefully about an issue in general. Often in these parodies, Hitler is informed about something he does not like and proceeds to give a lecture about how he hates the event. Popular Downfall scenes for Rants are "The Original Bunker Scene", "Hitler Eating Scene", "Hitler Reviews Scene" and "Pros and Cons with Hitler Scene". The first Downfall Parodies ever created fall into the Rants category.
- Plans - These parodies almost always begin with the "Hitler Plans Scene". The parodies show Hitler planning to do something and reacting to Alfred Jodl's objections. The parody may end on a loose note or scenes can also be included which show the plan actually being carried out. In a significant proportion of parodies, the plan is revealed to end in failure, with someone conveying the failure message to Hitler, which most often results in a Rant.
- Pranks - This scene involves a prank or antic being carried out against Hitler. Most often, the parody depicts Hitler being informed about something done to sabotage him which result in him Ranting. Some parodies go to the extent of showing the actual prank, and then Hitler commenting about them. Popular scenes antics include "Bormann informs Hitler", "Hitler Eating Scene", "The Original Bunker Scene", "Hitler Phone Scene", and most commonly "Hitler is informed" by a wide margin. They can also be done in audio based parodies with a still picture, mostly known as a "Trapped" parody. The antic doer is most often shown to be Fegelein, although other characters like Himmler, Speer, Traudl, the generals and characters outside the Downfall universe are involved as well.
However, there are also a large amount of parodies that do not fit these aforementioned categories. Such parodies do not involve Fegelein and his antics or tell a story that does not heavily depend upon these above structures. A good example is Der Disneygang, which does not feature a Rant or reaction to an antic as the basis of the parody and starts with Hitler having already executed his plan.
In different parts of the world, Hitler or Downfall Parodies could have some key differences from the English-speaking parts. For example, in East Asia (eg China and Japan), many parodies are musical in nature. This is likely caused by the influence of MAD culture.