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Downfall Parodies

This is an old meme that was quite popular on YouTube back in the day. Its format involves adding, for comedic effect, fake English subtitles over the four-minute scene from the film Downfall portraying Adolf Hitler's meltdown upon receiving devastating news of the war (the dialogue of which is entirely in German) so that he appears instead to be ranting about a current event or other minor affair. I discovered the meme on YouTube most likely sometime in 2008, and for the rest of the late 2000s I would occasionally watch some of the great number of variations that had been uploaded to the site, but, regrettably, today I can no longer remember any of the specific videos I viewed during that time.

By the time I first encountered these parody videos, I was well aware of the history behind Hitler, but I was not at all offended by the meme, nor by any individual video. On the contrary, I took an immediate liking to it, and found it hilarious to imagine the utter absurdity of a figure like Hitler becoming furious over present-day inconveniences like, for instance, getting banned from a Web forum, from Xbox Live, or from RuneScape; I especially enjoyed those videos which involved RuneScape in some manner, as by then I had played the game intensively for years and hence could understand all (or nearly all) of the jokes and references contained in them. The subtitles of many videos have frequent cursing and are generally ridiculous in their content, and oftentimes they also have obvious spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors which, in my opinion, only contribute to their humor and charm.

Unlike many other fads and memes of old YouTube, the Downfall parodies have not been forgotten, and even in 2021 they remain somewhat popular: for example, there exists at least one rather large channel on YouTube which still regularly uploads them, with each upload collecting a not insignificant number of views. Although I am delighted to see that the meme has not died, and that many today are able to enjoy new derivative versions that reference current events, because it originated on YouTube in the late 2000s, and because I also encountered it and most enjoyed it during that time, I will forever regard the meme as rightfully a product of that era, and will always prefer watching the videos that were made back in those days to any newer entries. These parody videos form an important part of my memories of old YouTube, being one amongst several memes and fads that all greatly contributed to making my use of the site back then a unique and immensely fun experience.

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This page last modified on 16 September 2022.