Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Return of the Hitler Font

So, The Wife has piles and piles of books throughout the house. I'll often catch a title here and there but to-date we've never read the same book - a 25-year tradition that Carly Simon's memoir, Boys in the Trees, might end. But that's for another day.  A few days ago I was passing The Wife's nightstand when I caught a glance at a book.  I walked a few paces and stopped: "Hmmmm. I've seen that book before." I walked backward three steps to take a second gander at the book, A Wild Swan.  I'd never heard of it, nor of the author, someone called Michael Cunningham. So, where in the hell had I seen this book before?

Most of the rest of that day it was driving me nuts. Then I thought more about it - maybe it was the cover; is it a similar cover to something? Pretty plain looking cover as you can see in the above right.  WAIT! The font! Holy hell: that's Hitler Font! As in Mein Kampf font. No, thought I: no publisher in his or her right mind would breathe life into a font that died over 70 years ago.  Along with the Hitler Mustache, the Hitler Comb-Over and the Hitler Salute, the Hitler Font died with Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945. Yet, here it is again.

Now, this is in no way to even remotely suggest that Mr. Cunningham is a Nazi. I don't know the man and for all I know he had zero input into the cover design. Nonetheless, it's a pretty ballsy thing to publish a book cover in the same font as the cover of Mein Kampf. I mean, even Howard Stern decided not to call his first book Mein Kampf  [he instead chose the more subtle Private Parts]. Even Howard realized that vestiges of Hitler's "brand" - while perhaps funny in the way that one uses laughter to comprehend and dismiss a horrible situation or person - was not ready for rehabilitation. I mean, it took Genghis Khan a good 600 years before he had his first knock-knock joke, in 1827: ["Knock-knock"; "Who's there?" "Khan". "Khan who?" "Genghis Khan, you idiot."....I didn't say it was  a funny joke].

I'd say that you won't see another Hitler Mustache in your lifetime. Perhaps some time around 2545 or so, some rebellious young Disney star [presumably male, but who knows] will sport it. There will be much uproar. Then an athlete will wear it. The next thing you know, Gillette will be selling razors designed specifically for trimming the Hitler Mustache. Now, the Hitler Come-Over has made a slight comeback. Without the aforementioned mustache, however, it can be hard to spot. Indeed, it may be that the two are inseparable and that the Hitler Comb-Over really is back but no one's noticed. Maybe that's what gave the publishers of A Wild Swan the idea to see if they could sneak in a return of the font.

The Hitler Salute, I'm afraid, has already made a comeback. You see it at sporting events - they don't call it the Hitler Salute, over course; but there's almost no difference between the Tomahawk Chop and Sieg Heil. That's not including the reappearance of the salute at various Republican presidential events this winter.

But the font? Who the hell saw that coming? You may argue that I'm being hyper-sensitive [that's been known to happen] and that the two fonts are different.  Yet, having seen various different covers of Mein Kampf in my life, it took me less than three seconds of looking at A Wild Swan to subconsciously make the connection. Now, it's just a matter of time before Microsoft adds "Hitler" to its drop-down menu of font-types in Word. Then you'll see a sports team redesign its brand and - holy hell - there's the Hitler Font on the Pittsburgh Steelers new typeface! A stadium full of Terrible Towels - printed, naturally, in Hitler Font, - waving in violent, furious passion, shown on a Jumbo-Tron with "This is Steeler Country" in Hitler Font written on the marquee, and all of a sudden we've got a real problem.

Especially if I'm wrong and the Hitler Mustache makes a quicker comeback than I expect, and half the players are wearing it. Well, at least their helmets will cover up any Comb-Overs

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