Leni Riefenstahl Ethics Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Leni Riefenstahl. The writer explores the topic of Riefenstahl and her unethical art. The writer examines the catastrophic consequences and her lack of integrity that lead to horror for millions. There were nine sources used to complete this paper.

Leni Riefenstahl: Her Unethical Art and The Catastrophic Consequences

The reign of Adolf Hitler is one that history will never forget. Under his terrorist reign of terror millions of people died. Those who did not die suffered from the loss of loved ones, loss of privacy and loss of financial stability. It was a time in which the world was introduced to the dangerous side of charismatic politics. While there were many who were fooled in the beginning by Hitler's manipulation tactics they soon learned his true motivations and spent the rest of their lives working to unseat the inhumane dictator. There is one person however, who admired him from the beginning and never wavered in her devotion. She was a woman of substantial power who used that power to further Hitler's agenda. One female film actor/director's lack of integrity allowed her art to unleash evil upon the world in the form of Nazi propaganda. Leni Riefenstahl's choices literally meant the difference between life and death to millions of people during World War II.

Adolf Hitler is perhaps the most hated war hero of all time. His actions held the world in horrific awe as he was responsible for the murder of millions of women and children during his reign. He was well-known for his more morbid fantasies such as cutting tattoos off the dead and having them fashioned into lampshades and other atrocities. Leni worshipped many of his beliefs and used her art ability and clout in unethical manners to promote him as a humanistic hero.

She considered him a great thinker, but had she had the chance to ask some of the truly great thinkers in the world what they thought of Hitler she may have discovered that he was not accepted as their peer. Thomas Jefferson was a believer in advancement for the betterment of mankind. He invented things as well as spent his life active in the politics of America. He was a believer of freedom and of personal choice, which was diametrically opposed to anything that Hitler promoted.

If Hitler were alive today and thinkers of the world had to tell him what they thought it is doubtful that he would receive any support. One of the most forward modern thinkers in history was Dr. Martin Luther King. He promoted change without violence and acceptance without prejudice. He would have been appalled had he faced Hitler face-to-face. He would never have allowed Hitler to convince him that the killing of millions based on their heritage was acceptable. King as a black leader would have been one to refuse to buy into his political beliefs. He also would have cautioned African-Americans not to see any movie that promoted Hitler and not to see any other movie of Lenis' either. He was a believer of boycotts and the strength that they carry Ghandi is another great leader who would not agree with or back the violence that Hitler promoted. He was a peaceful leader who believed above all else it was important to attain goals through peaceful means. Everything that Hitler stood for was against Ghandi's internal beliefs and personality.

All of the great thinkers of modern history would condemn Riefenstahl's role in history. Each of them believed that one's actions are an integral part of the actions of society. If one did not believe in something one should work against it and if one did believe than everything one does should support it according to the great thinkers of the world. Leni's promotion of Hitler and her admiration of him came through in her films. To promote him was to support him according to the great thinkers of the world and to display him as a hero is to try and persuade the world that he was one. To stand in his favor was to support his beliefs and his actions and each time that Leni promoted Hitler through one of her films she was sending a message to the world that she supported those ideas and agreed with them. In her later years she denied having an influence on the world's history but studies have concluded the media has a tremendous amount of power in swaying public opinion. It is not possible for Leni to have promoted Hitler the away she did in her films and have no impact on the way the world viewed him and the way history turned out. Her unethical practices in the world of film making created an image of Hitler that was misleading and caused millions to trust him who otherwise would not have done so.

Many experts today believe that the power and charisma of her films helped to promote the popularity and power of Hitler. People are at a point in history that they can no longer deny the power of the media. The media works to change the way viewers perceive an issue or a topic. The media has the ability to sway opinions that become dependent on the way or the slant that the media puts on an issue or a topic. The film industry works to convey certain messages, or emotions to the viewers and those emotions often come into play when it comes times for the consumer of media to make decisions, including political decisions. Because of her films Hitler rose to an almost Godlike persona which also made him a movie star fame. In her movies she portrayed Hitler as a brilliant political strategist who would only improve the world as the world bought into his ideas and beliefs. The media is responsible for the beliefs of the public in many ways. Advertisements are aimed at targeted audiences and designed to illicit a specific response from them. Anti-smoking campaigns are a classic example of the media being used to change a former perception of something. Another example is the commercial that promotes children telling if they are being abused. Both of these are examples of the media being used to manipulate the public perception of a particular topic. The first amendment protects the right of speech for the media but one has to determine the f9ine line between freedom of speech and public safety. It is an individual decision but one that the perpetrator must live with. This is something that Leni refuses to accept or acknowledge when it comes to her part in the promotion of Hitler.

While Leni never pulled the actual trigger in the Holcaust murders she did, through her brilliance as a director and producer assist in the skyrocket rise to power that the party experienced. This brings the question of media responsibility to the forefront. She helped put Hitler in power, and he was responsible for the horrific murder of over 6 million Jewish residents. Experts since her hey day have concluded that she may have helped to keep Hitler in power. The world in general are addicted to media input. It is easily influenced through the use of messages in movies and the emotions those movies evoke. If Leni used her movies to make Hitler look like a sympathetic person then the public was more apt to accept him. This is why experts do indeed hold Leni responsible for much of the mayhem that happened.

Leni refuses to accept any responsibility for the way her films helped to shape the war and the horror that many suffered from. Had she not used her art in unethical ways then history may have been altered to have an outcome which did not include the horror that six million Jews suffered.

How might history had been altered had she refused to allow her art to be used for nazi propaganda? She did have a choice. Leni still refuses to accept any responsibility for the effects of her films. Leni's choices caused her to pay a price as well. She spent her career promoting a man who the world came to hate, and therefore she provided herself with a cross to bear professionally. In addition she paid a personal price because she had to stand against the entire world in her support of Hitler. When she refused to accept any responsibility for her film's contribution to the horrors of the Holocaust she became the target for those who could not direct their aim at Hitler himself. With him gone and her still promoting him through her defense of her film work she alienated herself from society.

Understanding the ways that Leni's films influenced the world is important so that history does not repeat itself. There are several things that can be done to insure this does not repeat. One of the most important things the viewers need to remember is that the media presents a biased view regardless of…

Sources Used in Document:

JANE SUMNER / Staff Critic, The Riefenstahl riddle: At age 100, famed Germanfilmmaker Leni Riefenstahl still stirs an enigmatic cocktail of emotions., The Dallas Morning News, 08-18-2002, pp 1C.

John Anderson, Leni Riefenstahl, Film's Queen of Denial., Newsday, 03-16-1994, pp 65.

Author not available, THE WONDERFUL HORRIBLE LIFE OF LENI RIEFENSTAHL; DIE MACHT DER BILDER., Magill's Survey of Cinema, 06-15-1995.

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