Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★½

I think Taika is very cognizant of how culture nowadays teaches kids to hate. How the spicy cocktail of a culture steeped in racism/bigotry/sexism/etc create a certain disillusion in boys (and girls, too!) away from more progressive/liberal perspectives. 

First, by kids now a days being aware of the internet and by memes featuring subtly racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic jokes. A deluge of awful stuff being passed around one another and children just not knowing any better when seeing it but laugh. 

At least now a days, kids are instilled in this workflow that at one point in a child’s life involves the edgy comedy that they love being pointed out as problematic, and should be ashamed of. Usually criticized by adults that include their parents, teachers or other notable figures in their life.

This then leads to the consumption of work by (mainly) men who complain that you can’t “say anything anymore” or that “everyone is too sensitive these days” in the eyes of kids this would seem that they would be getting in trouble for nothing at all. Shame grows into anger which then grows into rhetoric that focuses on hate. 

Here’s where Jojo Rabbit comes in! Which by it’s opening scene creates a space where nothing is really off limits. I like that aspect that even something as sensitive as the Holocaust can be laughed at, in an effort to understand that hate in its very nature is a mindset created by one person that metastasizes into another person and then onto another until it eventually incites violence and rhetoric. 

Jojo isn’t a Nazi, he’s just a ten year old boy who’s been conditioned to look at naziism as a club that he should join to fit in. I guess this film is positioning oneself in the eyes of a child in a time of great hate, and that certainly reflects the times we live in now. Jojo is every kid growing up and logging onto reddit, and I guess this is Taika’s way of providing kids growing up in 2019 with the tools to unlearn hate. 

I’ll admit this theory conflates a lot of issues of coming of age and a simply not being mean to one another with a thorny subject like the holocaust. I’m no particular expert in the generational trauma of jewish people but the concepts brought by taika are interesting and executed well enough to make this digest that trauma easily. 

Other than a few narrative shortcomings, and being particularly bland visually, I would totally see this being a great film to show kids growing up right now. A fun, very emotionally-pointed tale of trying to understand a world that’s certainly seems to feel on the brink of moral collapse and constant tragedy with some swear words thrown in!