A few months ago, several newspapers around the world were getting their knickers in a twist about something in Bangkok, Thailand that they called “Hitler Chic” or “Nazi Chic”. A supposed wave of Hitler-clothing that was sweeping Thailand, causing Thai teenagers to be swayed by the dark side.
I was reminded about it today when I found some photographs I had taken last year at a Bangkok shop selling some of this style of clothing.
But is this idea of Hitler Chic a reality in Thailand or is it nothing more than a media-created story to sell some newspapers? Are Thai teenagers running around wearing t shirts and other clothing festooned with Nazi insignia and praising Hitler? Is Thailand glorifying the Nazi state?
Er, no, and on this story from CNNGo, I have to call it…..can I say, bullshit?
First of all, the photos the photographer has taken are from only two shops. One of the shops is an independent boutique at Terminal 21 in Bangkok that sells some incredibly cute and fashionable clothing, a miniscule amount with a Ronald McDonald/Hitler motif on them, while others have other styles of pop art graphics and icons, including Che Guevara, Obama and Pacman.
The shop is called Seven Star and, last year when they first opened, I talked to the owner, Hut. A very nice guy, he just loves to design clothing with a Hitler face on another style of body as he thinks it looks cool.
As for the Ronald McDonald/Hitler statue he has standing outside his shop, he asked me as a farang (westerner) what I thought.
I said, ” It’s cool. And my take on it is that it’s saying McDonald’s is just as bad as Hitler for raping the land and murdering people with its dangerous junk food”.
See, that’s how normal people think instead of getting bent out of shape about a Hitler caricature on a t shirt. After all, Hitler in Thailand has little or anything to do with the Nazis as, in Thai culture, they’ve had very little exposure to him. And no, they certainly do not glorify him.
What I think is so great about these Hitler cartoon t shirts, though, is they have turned Hitler into nothing more than a cartoon figure – a figure of fun and derision — a buffoonish Ronald McDonald-esque character or a roly-poly Tellytubby. And that’s how he should be thought of as. A ridiculous character that, in the modern world, would hopefully not be allowed to survive very long.
A pop Hitler t shirt offensive? Bangkok a mecca for Hitler Chic? Oh please. Get over yourselves.
Special Note – and by the way, what the Nazis called the swastika was actually a Buddhist symbol in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia for centuries before the Nazis adopted it as their own. So, yes, the Thais probably have more right to use it than just about anyone. No matter what the politically correct among us might think.