What does ‘JoJo Rabbit’ Really Have to Say?: The Anti-hate Message Behind the Satirical Film

Photo courtesy IMDB

Jordan Patterson 

Opinion Editor 

There are very few things that can stir up more controversy than Nazis. For obvious reasons, anything relating to them tends to quickly fall underneath a microscope. Since its inception critics have criticized “JoJo Rabbit” for both handling a serious topic in a comedic way or not being daring enough with the topic. However, I think they’re missing the point. 

Anyone with a decent education should already know of Hitler, Nazis, and the Holocaust. They’re responsible for torturing and murdering 6 million Jewish people and 17 million people in total. Making a movie painting these people out to be nothing more than buffoons doesn’t diminish the atrocities they committed. However, it does diminish the reason they committed them. 

Nazi’s developed a prejudice against Jews, which resulted in the Holocaust due to the ridiculous things they believed about them. Unfortunately, this isn’t even the only mass genocide to be committed for the same reason, including the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsi by the Hutu. In addition, it may not be prevalent, but racism and discrimination still do exist. Both women and people of color still experience it. 

I think it’s important to point out that the film revolves around a child and we see this event through his eyes because it shows how these issues can persist when we ignore them and allow kids to grow up around it. Children can be young and impressionable. “It takes a village to raise a child,” but a village can shape a child negatively too. I think this is why it’s good that “JoJo Rabbit” is a comedy and not a drama because it allows the anti-hate message to spread to a wider audience. 

The main character is a young Nazi child who had grown up in a Nazi-controlled Germany. His mother allowed him to take part in the Nazi teachings because she feared him being persecuted for plotting against them. I think this is important because it shows how an environment can shape a child’s mind even to the point of overpowering the parents raising the child. 

This all falls apart for him once he meets a young Jewish girl. Throughout the story, he gets to know and understand her and by forming a genuine connection with her he’s able to realize that the things he grew up believing might not be true. He even starts to question everything he had thought to be true and the adults around him. 

He was led to believe these things about Jewish people because he had never met one and, as a child, all he could do was believe what was told to him. However, through seeing the world through his own eyes, by forming a connection with a young Jewish girl, he realized that everything he had been led to believe was wrong.  

This is a great message to show to children because it shows that when you get to know someone and understand them through building a meaningful connection, they can find that what they had previously thought about that person might not be who they really are. I feel that this is an important message for all young kids for the most and least extreme cases. 

This movie is great from a technical standpoint, the writing, cinematography, and acting are all great. However, those are not why I think we need more movies like “JoJo Rabbit.” 

It has a very optimistic story set in a time that can be considered humanity’s lowest point. It’s not to make light of the situation, it’s to show that when you understand someone it’s hard to hate them, that we’re all capable of trust and kindness and we should raise our children to be too.  

I don’t want more movies about Hitler or satirical takes on tragic events. I want more movies that spread messages of kindness and optimism that all audiences can enjoy and understand. We need more movies that can show us how to be better people, how to make a better world and I thank “JoJo Rabbit” for being one of what I hope can become many.  

Email Jordan at: 

Jpatters13@live.esu.edu 

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