“When in Doubt Choose Doubt. The Poetry of Dictator Parodies.” Litro Magazine, June 2017.

the-great-dictator-1940-adenoid-hynkel-adolf-hitler-globe-dance-charlie-chaplin-reviewCharlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator was first aired in 1940 amid the unfolding horrors of fascism. It satirizes Hitler’s rise, but its dancing, prancing and sausage-fighting dictators tell deeper truths about authoritarian rulers. In many ways Trump embodies not the catastrophic history the film is referencing, but Chaplin’s own parody of it. Chaplin’s Hitler is choleric, vain, has a short attention span, diverts himself by branding others as traitors, and seems strangely language-impaired. Current politics, thus, prove wrong the mantra that history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce. In our times, it is Chaplin’s farce that repeats itself as history. The element of tragedy, of course, remains, but is currently simmering beneath Trump, Farage, or Putin’s diversionary antics. As in a Trojan horse, the full anti-democratic impact of these developments will sneak rather than crash into our lives.