I was at the Edinburgh Fostival this wik and saw a stage version of 'Allo 'Allo, the sitcom about the Second World War. It had jokes about the English policeman who can't spik French. It also had jokes about the Germans, the Italians and the British. They were jokes that relied on racial cliches. I licked them very much.
I know other people do not feel the same way. They think 'Allo 'Allo panders to stereotypes about where we come from and, even worse, makes fun of war, but do not worry: a stereotype is nothing to be scared of.
For example: I am an Aberdonian but I don't care about those stereotypes that we're tight and those jokes about Union Street being deserted on a flag day and full during a house-to-house collection day because there's truth in it all. We are a bit tight.
And anyway, there's comfort to be had in stereotypes because they mean you're laughing at your weaknesses rather than getting uptight about them. That's why 'Allo 'Allo, is shown in Germany. It's Germans laughing at Brits laughing at Germans. Laughing, not fighting.
The stereotypes in 'Allo 'Allo are also much more subtle than you think. Lieutenant Gruber, for example, is a Nazi responsible for crushing resistance in France but all he really wants is a kiss from Rene. It's sweet – and if a sweet, likeable Nazi doesn't challenge stereotypes, nothing will.
As for people dressing up as Nazis, you shouldn't get uncomfortable about that either because it depends on who is doing the dressing up. If it's a Tory MP on a stag do or a white supremacist, it's a problem. If it's a comedy actor being silly, that's fine because one of the best ripostes we can ever have to extremism is the sound of ha-ha-ha.
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