Basically, Hitler wakes up with his uniform smelling of gasoline and sets about trying to pick up where he left off — or rather, before where he left off. The man is unrepentant and quickly appreciates how the age of entertainment and the internet can help him revive the interrupted Reich. In modern Berlin, he’s hailed as an avant-garde comedian who refuses to break character. With every outrageous pronouncement via TV and YouTube, his following grows.
It feels uneasily familiar in this season of Donald Trump: Sophisticated people think he’s joking on some rarified meta-level; unsophisticated people just like his refreshing belligerence concerning “foreigners” and “parasites.” Whether you’re demonizing Jews or Muslims, it seems, attitude is everything. Hitler was never short on attitude. In the parlance of our times, he goes viral.
While not as hilarious as the prologue promises, it’s an entertaining read. It’s written largely in the bombastic style of Hitler’s books and speeches. That’s part of the gag. The other part is the basic disconnect between his mistaken view of the modern world and the public’s mistaken view of him. One running joke has him appraising every technological innovation — self-serve checkouts, for example — by how many warm bodies it might free up to fight in his next war.
“Look Who’s Back” is now a movie too. It was shot in Germany in 2014, with the film producers taking their ersatz Hitler around the country introducing him to real people, Borat style. Of the hundreds of people introduced to this new but unimproved Hitler, only two responded negatively. Should we be worried?