September 16, 2002
10:46 PM   Subscribe

Only in America can a sitcom about prisoners in a German POW camp can become a cult favorite even 35 years after it debuted

That's right, it's Hogan's Heroes. It's still lingering on the web, either in the form of bands, bobble head dolls, people trying to sell Klink uniforms and of course, creepy fan fiction

In our P.C. society, could America accept a show with such a weird almost-offensive story like Hogan's Heroes, or would it be run off the air in weeks?
posted by RobbieFal (25 comments total)
people trying to sell Klink uniforms
Total Price without Hat, Jacket, or Breeches: $273.00
Ouch! Too Rich for my blood, guess I am not going as Klink this Halloween.

As to your question... No. Parts of the American Public flip out when some thing is perceived as having to do with Nazis, if it is intentional or not. For examples, see this MeFi Thread.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:55 PM on September 16, 2002

Is this really that hard to comprehend? The show portrayed Nazis as bumbling buffoons, it took place in a POW camp for Americans and Brits, time + tragedy, etc.

Now imagine if someone tried to pull off a comedy like this set in a Japanese POW camp for Americans. I don't think any goofball stereotypes and wacky plots could save that show.

Using your example of PC mentality, it would be highly offensive to show anything based on WWII as the war caused over 40+ million casualties. As horrible as the holocaust was, the death of 17 million Russian civilians alone, if we go purely by numbers, is much worse.
posted by skallas at 11:09 PM on September 16, 2002

Throw sex (NSFW) into the mix and the show could run forever.
posted by mayalucia at 11:18 PM on September 16, 2002

The same goes for Spielberg's 1941 caricature of the Japanese. At least Hogan's Hero's was entertaining.
posted by destro at 11:30 PM on September 16, 2002

Run off the air.
posted by Lokheed at 11:38 PM on September 16, 2002

How bizarre. Isn't the new film Autofocus (with Greg Kinnear) about the Hogan's Heroes star and his days as the swinginest non-bachelor in Hollywood? I had no idea until I saw the preview last night that there was a seamy side to Hogan's Heroes.
posted by luriete at 11:43 PM on September 16, 2002

Lokheed: Holy crap, Chi McBride?!? Imagine if that hit the air. We'd have no Boston Public! Then again, we'd also have no Boston Public seasons 3+. Some things are a mixed blessing.
posted by askheaves at 11:52 PM on September 16, 2002

In our P.C. society, could America accept

First: "our" society isn't just America.
Second: the term "PC" is a sign of a lack of thought.
Third: $64 for a Colonel Klink ribbon bar is goddamn highway robbery.
posted by mediareport at 12:26 AM on September 17, 2002

Somewhere I read that Hogan's Heroes was eeriely popular in Germany. Since Klink and Schultz were both decorated war heroes, the joke was that the Third Reich was so inept it even turned top soldiers into bumbling bureaucrats.

Of course, nobody outside of Germany got this joke.

Mel Gibson wants to make a big screen version of HH. Apparently he thought Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan didn't quite capture the wackiness that was the Third Reich.
posted by John Shaft at 1:51 AM on September 17, 2002

In the late 90's I had to work for a few days in Frankurt, Germany every other week.

I'm 'Merican, and one of the more surrealistic experiences I've had was turning on the TV and seeing Hogan's Heroes in german.

Guess this validates the 22.3 year rule.
posted by Mutant at 1:56 AM on September 17, 2002

Only in America?
posted by Grangousier at 1:58 AM on September 17, 2002

Time and distance. An extroadinarily popular novel, still widely read and studied in colleges, set in WW II but published some years after the war: Catch-22.
posted by Postroad at 2:01 AM on September 17, 2002

The wacky hijinks of a lovable motley crew ex-Taliban fighters, detained indefinitely without charge in a Cuban prison camp!

Fun for the whole family... 'A laff riot,' says Entertainment Weekly.
'I haven't laughed so hard since my sister got eaten by the hogs,' raved USA Today.

Tonight on some network or other. Must see TV!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:17 AM on September 17, 2002

Haw haw! That's funny! How about a the hilarious hijinks of a gang of pranksters hell-bent on laughing the world to death??

Hoo hoo! what a hoot! Watch them as they say one thing and hilariously undertake a shrewd play on words!!

Har har! The funniest thing since the Polish pogroms!!
posted by hama7 at 4:13 AM on September 17, 2002

Ha ha! Hilariously, I botched the second link, which should be this.
posted by hama7 at 4:17 AM on September 17, 2002

Hogan's Heroes', Stalag 17.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:19 AM on September 17, 2002

from an american perspective, i think the premise of this post underestimates the ignorance of the typical american. i think we always forget this. we are not typical - for one thing - we read. we comprehend. (mostly). we have, at the least, a basic and comfortable relationship with computing and the internet. among this community, i have no doubt that we are more discriminating in the television we watch and the amount of time we allow for that. we are not typical representatives of american society. hell, 15,000 people have joined mefi, but 6 million people took time to call in and vote for the next pre-fab pop idol last week. i beleive that a show premised on multi-national "good guys" pulling the wool over the eyes of bumbling, towel-wearing, camel-riding, funny-talking furinners, sprinkled with the occasional implication of intimacy with various livestock, would be a tremendous hit on american television.
posted by quonsar at 5:40 AM on September 17, 2002

I recall being 15 when it was originally broadcast and thinking Hogan's heroes was offensive. Given their record of murdering prisoners of war, I never found bumbling Nazi camp guards all that funny, for some reason. One of few judgments I made back then I'd still stand by.
posted by mojohand at 5:44 AM on September 17, 2002

quonsar, I find myself agreeing with you far more often than I used to. Either you are mellowing out or, lord help me, I'm starting to understand your point of view.

Anyway, HH, retooled to 2002 production levels and a tweak in plot, would probably be very successful. One would hope that it wouldn't happen, though, or if it did, that it would be more like MASH, which brought the level of humanity and inhumanity of war to a new level.
posted by ashbury at 5:47 AM on September 17, 2002

thomcatspike, Stalag 17 was a drama with a touch of comic relief; Hogan's Heroes was the exact opposite, the "comedic lite" version. There's a difference.

Postroad, I agree with your overall point. But Catch-22 also never touched on the enemy. We never read (or in the movie, saw) them; the closest was when Yossarian's plane was being shot at. Most of the book dwells more on the military bureaucracy, etc. (There was the gruesome imagery about Snowden, of course.)
posted by pmurray63 at 7:48 AM on September 17, 2002

Ein Käfig voller Helden
posted by gimonca at 8:17 AM on September 17, 2002

Interesting premise, RobbieFal--and thank you, Mutant, for giving me the opportunity to read the sentence He and the first guest try to out-skank each other.
posted by y2karl at 8:43 AM on September 17, 2002

Or was that Cartman confronts Butters and rips Butters' fake balls from his chin?
posted by y2karl at 8:50 AM on September 17, 2002

I certainly agree, quonsar, that the readership (writership?) of MeFi is not representational of society as a whole. However, I do not see any network being able to air a show such as the one you described without being crucified for insulting the ethnic groups being made fun of. Our society is so scared of offending anyone that we have lost our sense of humour to a great extent. Shame, that. Hogan's Heroes is one of the shows that I used to watch without fail as a child and I would love to see a modern equivalent. Unlike MASH, which can never be replaced *sniff*.
posted by dg at 5:24 PM on September 17, 2002

Catch-22 is 'Wacky World War II hijinx' like Dr. Strangelove is 'Wacky World War II hijinx;' There's a little more there than Hogan's Heroes.

Still, HH made me laugh. Still does. Only now I laugh that --further away from the tragedy of that war-- we are less able to steal it's thunder with ridicule.

We do not lessen the memory of the victims, we empower the perptrators by our unconcerned concern, our knee-jerk demands to not be offended. Mockery kills the spirit of evil.
posted by umberto at 10:29 PM on September 18, 2002

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