Monday, October 23, 2017

Culture and The Cold War


The following paper was written for my undergraduate thesis, a graduation requirement for German majors at UMASS Amherst. This paper was a waste of time and was fluff between me and finally being able to achieve my degree. I'm sharing it under fair use. Do whatever you want to it, outright plagiarize it if you can get away with that, and go do something you love with your time instead.

During the Cold War divided Germany served as the front line between the West and East. From 1945 to 1989, while no shots were fired, various forms of mass-media were pumped into West and East Germany by both the Americans and Russians. Along with the media came the ingrained cultural values of each respective side. This struggle of values played a central role in the Cold War. From early Russian-backed East German rubble films to musical performances on top of the destroyed Berlin Wall, these commodities differed in meaning and significance not only in what side was broadcasting them, but also in the context of which time period which they were being broadcast and what the Americans or Soviets were trying to say changed with time. What these values were, the purpose they had to serve in terms of the Cold War and Germany, how they were conveyed through media, and the long term impact they had on the county of Germany all deserve examination. This paper intends to present an assessment of the media produced by the Soviets for German audiences, and the history of the American and Soviet policies in regards to media, specifically film, during the Cold War.
Part of winning the Cold War included battles of and for culture. Immediately after the Second World War German society was turned on its head, the whole physical and emotional landscape of the country had shifted. Cities demolished into rubble would be used not only as a background for the first films to come out of the country, but would also be used as a metaphorical representation of the destruction of Germany (Shandly 2001, 2). DEFA, the East German film studios were founded in 1946, and were the first film company established in postwar Germany. While in its existence, DEFA would produced over 800 motion pictures and made for TV films (Kohlhaase 1987, 2). In a time where what was left of industry in East Germany was dismantled and shipped back to the Soviet Union in the form of war reparations, the fact that the Soviets were eager to give German film makers the materials for making films almost immediately after the war reflects how important German film making was outside of the country; that already before 1945 German cinema was considered a world treasure. DEFA’s first films were a response to Nazism, and would contribute to a new German consciousness and identity being developed in post-war Germany.
Originally titled The Man I Am Going to Kill, The Murderers Are Among Us was originally going to end with the main character shooting his former captain, Brueckner, at the end of the film as repayment for the captain's decision to murder Polish civilians during the war. The ending of the film was shifted in order to not encourage vigilantism. One of the last scenes in the movie, the film is almost lacking without the closure one would expect from a thriller or drama. Earlier in the film, the doctor seemingly fails to kill Brueckner, and right when we think that the doctor finally has him, we are instead given what is equivalent to a civics lesson. The whole end shootout scene is an expressionist work. The shadow of the doctor grows as he approaches his old captain with the gun, who in turn, shrinks with his shadow as he back against the far wall. This is an obvious reflection of not only a shift in power in that moment, but also a manifestation of the what the real shootout scene would have been. Right before the shot should ring out, Brueckner and his shadow are completely enveloped by the doctor's shadow as they both move away from the camera and towards the back wall. The interjection of Susanna, a woman who returned to the city and earlier in the film finds the main character Hans living in her apartment, stops the action of firing the gun, and the shadow of the factory gate is cast over Brueckner who approaches and grasps it while wailing “I am innocent”! The gate is eventually replaced with actual prison bars. Regardless of this scene, the vision cast on the back wall tells us that Bruekner might as well have been shot! (Shandley 2001, 41) Instead the characters of the film decide to put Bruckner on trial.
            Susanna’s role in the film is particularly fascinating. Despite many films dealing with the motif of men in or returning from War such as Berlin Ground Zero and When I was 18 dealing with men returning home from war, post was audiences would have been predominantly female. The first films produced after the war all dealt with coming to terms with Germany’s absolute defeat in the war. Susanna’s entrance on the train at the beginning of the film invokes the intro of the 1927 Film Berlin: The Symphony of a Great City where the audience is taken into the city aboard a train. However, this time we return to 1945 Berlin on trail full of refuges returning to the city. While not made overtly apparent as to why she was imprisoned by the Nazis, Susanna states she was imprisoned because of her father. An important fixture of the ending is that Susana is the person that calls for justice despite her past. Throughout the film, Susanna is also the person who helps “repair” the doctor, and parallels can be drawn between the doctor's mental states and the condition of their shared apartment, which she seems to constantly be fixing. The last time we visit this motif in the film, the doctor has taken it upon himself to replace the large broken window in the apartment with his old X-rays from medical school.
For the sake of the film, the doctor’s emotional recovery is still not enough for him to not attempt murder. Before the final scene, we revisit the window motif when we see the doctor looking in through the window at a Christmas celebration. We are then brought to a flashback to the Christmas where the Polish civilians are murdered. After this is revealed to us, we learn that the account of the story we are being told is Susanna reading the doctors written account back in the apartment right before she rushes to the scene of the premeditated shooting. We are told that the flashback is something that is a memory, or something that has happened in the past, because there is a haze around the edges of the film. Besides being an expressionist work, the scene is also melodramatic: Susanna runs out of the room and all on its own the diary flies open to “Brueckner still lives, the murderers are among us”! She makes it to the final scene just in time, and is able to console the suffering protagonist one last time. After Brueuckner's implied imprisonment we are shown images of civilians and crosses superimposed over one another. The faux shootout scene is not a fantasy or vision of power; it is a shift of power and submission. The movement of the shadows happens on the back wall, and is constant until the doctor moves away from the doctor and to Susanna, now in a space that did not exist before. This new space has a complete large window in the background; an object that stands out in a destroyed Berlin. This interaction leads me to argue that the shadows during the final scene do not exist, but are instead a representation of the doctor’s destruction of Brueckner.
There is very little, if any reference to the prosecution of Jews in Germany in the film, and Susanna’s own concentration camp story line instead seems to be completely subverted so that she can better assist the doctor. Independent and tough when she rolls into Berlin, because she has to be, Susanna assumes a domestic role as soon as she is able to again. Something else that rings dissonant here is that during the war, the Russians at times were guilty of war crimes in Poland just as much as the Germans were. However, there are no Russians or occupational forces in this film. The Murderers Are Among Us is focused squarely on the expressionist reconstruction of the doctor and very little else. This is an artifact of the filmmakers as Germans coming to terms with their past and gives insight into German consciousness and awareness in the immediate postwar period (Shandley 2001, 44).
The Murderers Are Among Us is a great example as to how film could be used to push certain key ideas and concepts. Early on, Allied use of film was not nearly as well thought out and immediate Allied reaction was to shame to German people for the atrocities of the Holocaust. Initially, allied officers regulated the media in their respective zones, and in contrast to the Russians, did not give the Germans resources to once again produce their own film and media. In fact, the publishing, production, distribution, and exhibition of any film or media was initially banned by the American government in their sector (Bergfelder 2002, 154). And still fearing the impact of Nazi Germany’s propaganda, Americans sized all German films (Fehrenback 1995, 54).  It was apparent early on that if any films were to be produced in the American sector, it would not be coming from the Germans. Furthermore, all German cinemas were closed, and in some cases used as storage or barracks for soldiers (Shandley 2001, 10).
The United States were more concerned with having their own open channel in which to provide its cultural commodities to the German audience. It is important from here on out to clarify that the use of the title ‘United States’ is twofold and from here on out there is a need to specify the difference between the American military and Hollywood. On one hand there is Hollywood which now had a captive audience in which to provide their products to, and as a result, German film making would have been contrary to their interests. One the other hand there is the American military that immediately following the war was tasked with occupation and denazification.
The American military, like the Soviets, were also weary over exposing German audiences to the idea of vigilantism or films that would incite the populace to take up arms. Immediately following the war two American propaganda films; Air Force and The Sullivans were not brought over to Germany because they “extolled the martial spirit” (Fehrebach 1995, 55). Both films taking place around the events of Pearl Harbor, the former is about a squadron of American pilots who are inspired and impassioned to attack the Japanese after the attacks and subsequent death of their squadron leader, while the latter is based on the true story of the Sullivan brothers, five Irish-American brothers who subsequently enlist after the attacks and are killed or maimed; The film ends with the destroyer USS: The Sullivans being christened.
Other examples of censorship around this time include the removal of the film Das Beil von Wandsbek, 1951 after being shown in East Germany for six weeks, the film was withdrawn for portraying the executioner of anti-fascist resistance fighters in an ambiguous light (Bergfelder 2002, 153). Soon after, the East German government employed the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaf, (FSK) a censorship panel. Although the name suggested that the organization was made up of volunteers, the actual members of the organization were appointed by the GDR government. Many of these members worked in the film industry prior to the split of Germany (Kostetskaya 2016, 69).
Despite the Soviets and American military not having similar ideals in terms of film, it is apparent that they did nonetheless have similar goals. The American military wanted to use film as a means to reeducate the German population, denazify them, and prepare them for their reentry into public discourse and the world stage. The Soviet government also had the same idea, however, while the Soviet government did want to establish economic control in post war Germany; it was American business that primarily waned to establish economic control. Already in the autumn of 1945, film was shown in the Western sectors (Bergfelder 2002, 154). While one would think that movie going would not have been an immediate concern for average German citizen, the reality of the situation is that film not only gave audiences an escape from their impoverished conditions, it also gave them a warm place to sit for a few hours without having to use their ration card or pay black market prices.
Led by General Lucius Clay, it was The Office of Military Government of The United States (OMGUS) that was tasked with providing the “moral and cultural reeducation of the German population” (Poiger 2000, 37). While there was originally a plan of implementing the Four D’s (denazification, demilitarization, decartelization, and democratization) this ended up being impractical. First, while the Americans wanted to make sure that no former Nazis were appointed to any positions of bureaucracy or power, it soon became apparent that this was not possible in order for Germany to function as a country. Anyone in any sort of bureaucratic profession; from business owners, to professors, or train operators would have had to have been a member of the Nazi Party in order to be employed in the Third Reich. Second, despite the Allied ban on distribution of film, around 200 films produced under National Socialism were gradually released to cinemas in Western zones (Bergfelder 2002, 154). DEFA would also end up censoring and re-releasing films produced by the Third Reich, which would provide initial funding for the studio.
Once the Federal Republic of Germany was formed in 1949 OMGUS was transformed into The Civilian Office of The High Commissioner for Germany, or HICOG. This office comprised of representatives from the three allied countries and was lead by John McCloy, an American lawyer and banker who was the Assistant Secretary of War during World War II. The representatives’ position of military governor was abolished, and instead each of the Allies in the western zones named a High Commissioner. It would not be until 1994 that the Allies would fully withdraw American military staff from Berlin.
Initially, American authorities were bound by a derivative that did not allow them to fraternize with Germans as demonstrated in the military training film Your Job in Germany, 1945, which as the film puts it, was to “put an end to the cycle of war and phony peace”. The film warns that it is the German people, not their leaders that are responsible for “the wars and atrocities committed since Bismarck”. The film warns that German history is and has been written by the German people and insinuates that history will repeat itself if the Germans are left unchecked. American soldiers were instructed to observe the local laws, respect (Germans’) customs, religion, property rights, and not be friendly or make friends, not to ridicule, argue (which is mentioned twice), or change Germans’ point of view, as “other Allied representatives will concern themselves with that”. Soldiers were warned to be aloof, watchful and suspicious (Fehrenback 1995, 54). The film also warns that German youth are the most dangerous group as they are completely indoctrinated. Your Job in Germany gives a good idea of the approach the American military took in terms of the German people: media and culture came only as an afterthought of occupation, and would arise as more of a response to the Soviets.
The American military did try to curtail potential fraternization between German civilians and American soldiers. The American military built a planned community or military officers and administration in a village of Dalham; now a borough of Berlin. Americans there had their own library and a theater for example. The former is now the Outpost Theater, an Allied forces museum today, after its construction in 1953 it was the most modern American theater in Germany and played the American national anthem before every screening. Despite the military’s efforts, the initial interactions with American soldiers were the primary source of cultural contact for West Germans (Poiger 2000, 39). By 1949 over 20,000 German women married American soldiers and immigrated back to the US (Elfrieda 1988, 20).
In July 1945, twenty theaters were allowed to be opened in the American sector, and by the end of the year, 730 cinemas were open (Fehrenback 1995, 54). Hollywood was requested to donate films which were expected to convey understanding of American life and democratic institutions. In the summer of 1945 a deal fell through between the military and Hollywood due to royalties (Shandley 2001, 16). Consequently Hollywood ended up shipping fewer films over to Germany than met demand. This was when German films made before 1945 were put through a censor system and re-released back in theaters in the fall of 1945. This demonstrates that Americanization was not one single force but instead a multivalent effort between the US military and Hollywood.
By the fall of 1945, only months after the fall of the Third Reich, one could expect to find a cavalcade of films being shown in postwar Germany: Hollwood, Soviet, French, British, and censored unpolitical Nazi era film were all being shown. By September 1948, there had been 112 different American films screened in the American sector. Film companies often requested parity when it came to censoring films. If the military decided that a Universal film shouldn’t be screened in Germany, they in turn had to pull a film from each other companies’ catalog. Hollywood also expressed concern with the military and government trying to intervene in the creation of their products (Fehrenbach, p.55). The military had control over which products entered the German market, and were weary of any material that might shine light on the more unsavory aspects of American society. Grapes of Wrath, 1939 and Gone With The Wind, 1939 for example, failed to have a German release. Other films were often victims of the military’s censorship.  The German release of Casablanca, 1942 removed the character Major Strasser from the film and changed the resistance fighter character into a scientist (Bergfelder 2002, 155). German audiences at the time were previously accustomed to the Nazi’s high production and quality film product, and the films from the Weimar era before that; the films from Hollywood that were available to be screened would have fared pale in comparison to what was available in the past, or what DEFA could provide, especially considering the American films at first were not dubbed or subtitled. Furthermore many actors or actresses that German audience would have recognized in American films, such as Peter Lorre, were often pigeonholed into roles as sinister characters such as in The Maltese Falcon, 1941.
Newsreels were a part of the cinema experience before broadcast television, and for German audiences in West Germany immediately after the war, the reels focused on gilt and shame in regards to the Holocaust. Special attention was given to the Nuremburg Trials, which in themselves, served as an example of the of the American justice system to the German people. Film reels would consist of American newsreels spliced together with content that was filmed in Germany and focused on the process of denazification (Fehrenback 1995, 56). Early efforts by the Americans during denazification revolved around pointing the finger of shame directly at the German people. For example, American planes would drop fliers from the air that said “You are guilty”, they walked locals through tours of concentration camps, and filmed the results for newsreels and documentaries such as KZ (Death Camp). Sometimes it was required to get your ration card stamped at a theater where such news reels were of shown. In some cases, a bait and switch would be pulled and a documentary would be played instead of the main feature. German people responded resoundingly negative toward these efforts, and also identified the films as being just as much propaganda as the documentaries produced by the Third Reich.
It was important to the US military that they demonstrate the tenants of American and democratic civics such as open competition; opposed to state control of media and industry. As a result it was inevitable that the current system of American film monopolization to have to cease. The Americans would have to eventually allow the Germans to develop their own film industries. In response to these concerns, the American military brought in outsider Erich Pommer to help revitalize German film in the American zone. Once again, this would demonstrate how the American military and Hollywood were at odds with one another. Revitalization of any sort of German film industry was in direct conflict of Hollywood’s interests, and the Motion Picture Export Association of America (MEPA), a trade association representing American film production companies, went as far as to appeal the US military to recall Erich Pommer back to the US (Fehrenbach 1995, 66). Despite their interests to maintain a monopoly in the American sector, Pommer stayed, and soon German films produced outside the Nazi era were being exported out of the country such as Anni, 1948 a Vienna film which was filmed in both Germany and Austria, and Berliner Ballade, 1948. These films would help pay for studio space, film stock, and other materials which were needed and without such were limiting the distribution of West German films. It was also Pommer’s job to fill the void of film products in Germany, and in the spirit of an open market, films were imported from other countries such as France and the UK  (Fehrenbach 1995, 65).
All four of the Allied powers had established groups in which to try to distribute their media. From 1946 to 1955 American culture centers, Americahaeuser, were established in West German cities growing from one which was originally established in Frankfurt, to twenty-seven by 1951 (Poiger 2000, 39). Americahaeuser featured libraries, lectures, music and educational films. Jazz music was not performed at Americahaeuser until the 1950s as American elites at the time considered Jazz music low culture. East Germany on the other hand embraced jazz. In July 1948, during the Berlin Blocakade, Rex Stewart was the first American Jazz musician to play in front of German audiences. While his concerts were in West Berlin, the East German record company Amiga manufactured more Jazz records than all of the West German record companies combined between 1946 and 1948 (Poiger 2000, 43) In terms of the other Allied powers, the French and British hosted film clubs. Attended generally by students, these clubs mostly focused artistic qualities of film rather than political (Fehrenbach 1995, 170).
Back in the Eastern Sector, by 1946 twelve German produced films were being filmed under the watchful eyes of the Soviets. Filmmakers who would have wanted to work with the Americans or in the American zone initially were unable to due to bureaucracy, stemming primarily from background checks. Staudte, for example, originally wanted to film The Murderers Are Among Us in the American sector but was unable to attain the authorization to do so. American interest in German film making would only end up coming as a response to the Soviets.
What we see today is that by letting the German people produce their own content allowed them a way to discuss and come to terms with their own history rather than having their own history imposed on them by someone else (Shandley 2001, 17). Early DEFA did little to interfere with film production as long as production moved along. While being an Italian film maker, Roberto Rossellini who directed Germania, Anno Zero, 1948 commented on the ease of film production. He stated that DEFA was willing to work with him and did not interfere with his work (Shandley 2001, 117) Furthermore, Germania Anno Zero is also an example of how open the Eastern Zone was at this time. The film was directed by an Italian, funded by a French company called Union Générale Cinématographique, and received equipment trough DEFA. It seemed that early on the Eastern sector would stand as a hub of European filmmaking.
By 1949 the GDR would start grooming their own directors and hand selecting directors based on political backgrounds. The first example of this is the film Razza, 1947 (Police Raid). Directed by Werner Klinger, the film is a detective story about the black market in Berlin and has a very pedagogical narrative. Klinger was selected in order to not create a classic film per se, but instead have a set piece that has a discourse over the black markets in Germany (Shandley 2001, 146). The film is about the police in Berlin trying to bust a black market smuggling ring. The film sets a precedent for punishment for those that participate in the black market and why (Shandley 2001, 127). Everyday people struggling to get by are treated to a slap on a wrist while those that profit in the black market are roughed up. Citizens, such as an old lady purchasing an overpriced bottle of brandy as an anniversary gift, or physicians trying to get medicine for children, participating in the black market are given the slap on the wrist while it is the suppliers who are pursued and punished by the police. The message is that those who profit from black market trade are the criminals, not the consumers caught up in the circumstances of the situation. The black market was a reality to Berliners and Germans in 1947, people were taken advantage of especially in the years immediately following the end of the war. As Marlene Dietrich sang in the song Black Market from the film A Foreign Affair, 1948 “You take art, I take spam, to you for your K ration: my passion”. Preciously and valuable heirlooms, or even one’s own body might be traded for basic necessities.
By the 1950s American films made up the majority of films in all of West Germany. In East Germany by comparison only six American movies were shown in the 1950s, and none were shown in the 1940s. Nevertheless, thousands of Germans still crossed the border into the Western zones to watch American films (Poiger 2000, 32). Americans purposely set up radio and television towers to broadcast into Eastern Germany. Specifically Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Europe were meant to play the same material as the stations back home in the United States. These stations would not just penetrate East Germany, but also some of the Soviet satellite states as well. Certain regions, however, were unable to receive television transmissions from the west. Dresden, for example, was referred to as Das Tal der Ahnungslosen, although they still could receive some Western radio broadcasts. Dresden gives an interesting insight into the role Western television played in East Germany because people there were actually less satisfied with conditions in East Germany than the rest of the country. The majority of appeals to leave East Germany came from Dresden (Gleye 1991, 12).
From the 1940s to the construction of the Wall in August of 1961, East Germans flocked to Western theaters, purchased bootleg western records, and watched Western Television shows despite efforts of the GRD (Gleye 1990, 150; Poiger 2000, 32). Before construction of the Wall, there was a constant stream of people and goods between both East and West Berlin and Germany. People from all over the GDR would cross over into West Germany to specifically to purchase clothes and records, and go to border theaters; which projected American, British and French films usually at a lower rate for customers with ostmarks. By 1947 and 1948 Cold War tensions had started to rise, the West had started the formation of the deutsche mark, a new currency for West Germany. The Berlin blockade had also started by this time. East Germany in turn began to ramp up anti-west propaganda. The East German newspaper Taegliche Rundschau published stories about alleged rapes caused by American soldiers (Poiger 2000, 44). Neues Deutschland, the official newspaper of the East German SED reported in 1948 that the cultural values of the West were sinking rapidly. Broadcast television and radio permeated and extended through the border between East and West Germany. While consumption of Western broadcasts would eventually be outright banned in Eastern Germany, this of course did not stop people from listening to them in the privacy of their own homes.
Later in the cold war, in 1953 the author Karl Bednarik published the book The Young Worker of Today, A New Type. He says that these new (male) workers where characterized by their love of westerns and jazz. Later that same year the East German government would try to pin the same characteristic type of men for the East German uprising of that year. In the days after the uprising the East German media also accused “American imperialists” of recruiting “SS-Kommandeusen”, “Tangojuenglinge”, prostitutes, and the aforementioned new types as agent provocateurs. The GDR would republish the same image of a young man slumped against the wall with a cowboy t-shirt on, bad haircut, and a tie with a nude woman on it draped over his shoulder. He was described as having a Texas shirt, Texas tie, and Texas haircut (Poiger 2000, 63). This picture demonstrated the end result of consuming Western media
The US government did fund programs in the west to help 'improve moral' in the East, which is to also say cause dissidence and dissatisfaction among East Germans. These efforts however were nothing like the East German media was claiming. Between 1953 and 1958 the US government spent 30 million dollars on food relief (food packages which could be picked up in West Berlin), and reimbursement for East German adolescents’ travel expenses to West Berlin, as well as a par diem for their escorts. Part of these par diems included an allotment for theater visits, and within one year of the program, under eight thousand adolescents had visited West Berlin (Poiger 2000, 131). In May of 1957 the GDR banned student travel to West Germany and NATO countries, and also restricted distribution of jazz and rock and roll music, a stark change from just a few years ago when East Germany was producing more jazz records than the west! After these measures, travel to West Germany dropped by 80 percent (Poiger 2000, 130).
In response to the travel ban, for the Christmas of 1958 the American government set up a program where West German children in youth groups would send gifts to East German children. Deutsche marks were provided to youth groups to collectively purchase and then individually mail out Christmas gifts to children they knew in the East. The idea of the program was not to provide charitable necessities, but to offer contact with East German youths and provide something that was a high-quality consumer good (in comparison to an East German counterpart) of substantial value that would remind the recipient of friends in the West. Recommended gifts included clothes, sports equipment, leather bags, and fountain pens (Poiger 2000, 132). Ironically, despite the military’s claim ten years earlier in Your Job in Germany  that German youth were most dangerous group of Germans because they are “completely indoctrinated”, the Americans chose to reach East German youth because they though them to be less “immune” to communist indoctrination. Nevertheless the American Embassy dispatch from Bonn on December 1948 recommended youth organizations to select recipients that were ”open-minded to Western ideology… whose attitudes leave them open to influence of this kind of contact”.
By the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, there were risks and disadvantages to consuming Western media in East Germany. Though before the wall, in the 1950s, the GDR took an interest in the quality of film being produced by DEFA; for example in 1951 the GDR and DEFA organized a conference to discuss “the artistic difficulty of transferring socialist realism in films featuring convincing positive heroes”. And after the worker’s uprising of 1957 DEFA announced that more entertainment films would be made. After the wall was built, the GDR took a more restrictive approach. In 1965 twelve films were outright banned from being shown on the grounds of being critical of the GDR (Bergfelder 2002, 153). 
All this talk of censorship in the GDR does not mean that the BRD was censorship free. By 1950 federal and local government in the BRD were able to excise control over what films were shown. The Allied powers also had their own review board. A committee was established to inspect scripts from a political, economic, and dramatic standpoint (Bergfelder 2002, 154). For the first wave of applications 44 our off 126 applications were rejected. Films that were approved would have 30 percent of their production budget subsidized by the government with the stipulation that that the loan would have to be repaid if the finished film could “offend moral or religious sensibilities or contravene the constitution or any other law”. It seemed that even at this point sensationalizing the German people was a main concern of the West German government as it was for the American military immediately after the war.
Both the Protestant and Catholic churches were able to influence cultural policies within West Germany. At the time, it seemed that authorities were of the opinion that consumption of media was responsible for oversexualisation and violence. (Poiger 2000, 46). Since the Soviets were ideologically opposed to religious institutions, the church had no influence in the East. The West German Parliament passed two youth protection laws in 1951 and 1953. The first law regulated youth access to dances, movies and alcohol. The second restricted printed matter; specifically pornography and pulp fiction (Poiger 2000, 47). Events against pulp fiction were sponsored by West German states where children could turn in their dime novels for “better literature”. Dime novels did not receive a favorable reception in East Germany either.
In the 1960s the GRD released a documentary film justifying the construction of the wall called Schaut auf diese Stadt, 1962. Dime novels were blamed for inciting a young boy to commit murder. The film also accused the American sector radio station RIAS of being a spy organization that had committed acts of arson and espionage. No other present day sources support this claim. Western objects and currency were almost always more-so desired than any of their counterparts due to their scarcity and value. West German marks by the early 1960s were often five times more valuable than the East German marks, and visitors to the country often had to abide by forced exchange laws. As a result of the black markets which had still carried over from the Second World War, checkpoints still existed between the two sides of Germany. There were some East German goods of value, which were shipped outside of the country for foreign currency. It was possible that an East German could actually run into trouble trying to procure certain East German goods if the state found it more beneficial to send these goods abroad. Therefore, western commercials created an avenue for East Germans to compare their standard of living with Americans and their West German counterparts. All the same, Western objects in the East, were means of depicting or reflecting the status of the individuals. Gleye notes of a certain woman made a point of prominently displaying here shampoo products in here bathroom; questioning if she even used the products (Gleye 1990, 176). 
The documentary goes on to condemn western media, criticizing American policies, specifically that of Operation Paperclip; bringing over Nazis to America for research secrets. They also criticized the fact that the Americans utilized members of the Nazi party after the war, refusing to try them for War Crimes. While this was true, for example judge Hans Globke who had drafted laws during the Third Reich which allowed the Nazi Party to take control of Germany, and later revoke the citizenship of German Jews, went on the become an aide to the Chancellor of West Germany. On the other hand, there is no mention of the Nazi-Soviet Non-aggression pact. It was not until the fall of the Soviet Bloc that they soviets would even acknowledge a secret provision in the pact that would split up Eastern European regions between the two powers.
By the time that television had become a fixture in homes in the mid-sixties, the Members of The Free German Youth in East Germany would climb roofs and turn around antennas pointed towards the west; clever homeowners would go as far as to hide their antennas, placing them in an attic. Children at school might be asked at school which clock they saw on the evening news. This created an interesting social dynamic, where one would have to decide carefully in which social spheres to discuss Western television shows and news. Being caught could result in disadvantage; not receiving any of the many things that the party provided the people with the the communist GDR (Gleye 1990, 2).
            In closing, there are many avenues film development, production, and distribution took on both sides of the iron curtain in the years following the end of World War II. In epilogue, by the late eighties an American Fulbright teacher in Weimar noted just how steeped the East Germans were in American culture: “Springsteen’s Born in the USA, and The Doors, were both incredibly popular, most people he encountered in East Germany exclusively watched western television, and that school teachers in Weimar were required to see the Nick Nolte film Teachers, 1984 as a sort of documentary on the American school system. Gleye says that they audience took such a presentation of the film in stride, although it perked interest and questions about American suburban life. Few if any actual restrictions were left; he documents children wearing Alf t-shirts in public. (Gleye 1990, 152). It was obvious that even before the fall of The Wall it was apparent which side had won.



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Kostetskaya, Anastasia "East Or West, Rodina is Best: Shaping a Socialist 'Heimat' In German and Soviet Film Of the Occupation Period.". German Life and Letters. 69. 2016
Kracauer, Siegried, From Caligari to Hitler: A psychological history of the German film. 2ed (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004)
Poiger, Uta G, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: cold war politics and American culture in a divided Germany. 2ed (Berkley: University of California Press, 2000)
Gleye, Paul. Behind The Wall: an American in East Germany, 1988 – 89. Southern Illinois University Press, 1990.
Shandley, Robert R. Rubble Films: German Cinema in the shadow of the Third Reich. Philidalphia: Temple University Press, 2001.
Shukert, Elfrieda and Scibetta Barbara. War Brides of World War II. Presidio Press, 1988.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

American Apparel Always Avoid Alliteration T-Shirts Now Available

You didn't ask for it, we didn't even really want to do it; but in order to keep our SEO ranks up Always Avoid Alliteration is bringing you something better than that one blog post complaining about Six Flags that ended up paid us more than the job at Six Flags ended up paying. Inducing American Apparel Always Avoid Alliteration T-Shirts. Get one for a gift exchange. Out shirts are stylish and innocuous enough that your giftee will appreciate such a cool hip gift, you'll have supported your favorite blog on the Internet, and I'll have enough money to... well we're not going there. ANYWAYS it's a WIN-WIN-WIN situation







Thursday, October 27, 2016

Music References in Retro Videogames

As long as there have been people producing music, the muses of the past have provided them with inspiration. This is also true for video games, granted sometimes the line between inspiration and outright plagiarism was crossed. The original inspiration for this article came as the result of the similarities and references of the music in the game Earthbound and American popular music. Set in a peculiar representation of American and Western culture, the game has close to three hours of soundtrack that is inspired by American and English popular music from the previous decades. A lot of references come from The Beatles, and even the character naming screen hosts a hidden sample of the intro to Monty Python. If you listen closely to the recording, you can tell that the sample that plays in the background throughout Your Name Please actually the Monty Python intro being sampled and not just the song from the intro; called The Liberty Bell March.

There are plenty other examples of music references in video games. I wanted to make this article a little different than the other articles and videos out there and point out similarities I have found, rather than copy the hundreds of webpages and Youtube videos out there. For example, I am under the impression that the Earthbound song Humeresque of a Little Dog samples Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Resturant. Have a listen; comment below and tell me what you think.

Earthbound - Humoresque of a Little Dog (Buy Something Will Ya) / Arlo Guthrie - Allison's Restaurant
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjDooY1zye8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m57gzA2JCcM?t=0m50s

Mega Man's Electric Man Stage / Journey's Faithfully
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAFO_f4Kcoo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMD8hBsA-RI

Black Sabbath's The Mob Rules / Maximum Carnage on the SNES.
Ok, so this one is outright plagiarism, the song is copied note for note, including the guitar solo.It sounds like the programmers wanted The Mob Rules to be the backing track to this stage and did the best they could.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq04uFYUi0E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhmIa0XYTvQ

Ys III Dungeon / Metallica's Call of Kthulu
Listen specifically to the intro bass, it matches Metallica's bass about 33 seconds into the song
https://youtu.be/t1RTgznup5c?t=33s
https://youtu.be/NNAM3EtZdhM?t=7m44s

Ys IV / Yngwie Malmsteen - Far Beyond The Sun
When I showed my friends this similarity and I told them that I liked the Ys music, one of them told me that if I liked that bullshit music I should just listen to Yngwie Malmsteen. So I did, and that's how I came across this similarity. I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a lot more similarities between the what they Falcom in-house band recorded and Yngwie Malmsteen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=572Dq97s6kA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAsHFSrh0i8

Koji Kondo who has done music for the Zelda series and Punchout has cited Deep Purple as an influence on his work, which brings us to the next two examples:

Punch Out - Get Up Mac / Deep Purple's Burn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3IZjfvXvIE
https://youtu.be/LCnebZnysmI?t=2m48s

Zelda's Dungeon / Deep Purple - April 
You can also hear the Zelda overworld music in Deep Purple's April.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7T6ZNgoP5M
https://youtu.be/toonXjN2wTM?t=3m35s

Neo Geo Basebal Stars / Van Halen's Jump
https://youtu.be/_IItW3lfgRI?t=21m8s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwYN7mTi6HM

Street Fighter II - Ken's Stage / Cheap Trick's Mighty Wings
Mighty Wings was written for the film Top Gun and makes me wonder if at one point Ken's music was supposed to be Guile's theme music instead. Thank god we didn't get a theme or stage based off of Playing With The Boys.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFYK8sL5BHI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-4XsDQYDi4

Finally, here's some music from Road Rash III. It doesn't sample anything in particular as far as I know. It does sound like Motohead though, which means it kicks ass.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Famicom Disk System

The Famicom Disk System was a peripheral released for the Nintendo Famicom which would let Japanese consumers plays their Famicom games on disks instead of cartridges. This article explores why such technology was developed and produced, as well as why it never saw a release outside of the Japanese market. Despite the obscure history of the FDS to us westerners, it was released in Japan in 1986 where the peripheral had over 50% market penetration and where Famicom disk kiosks were not fully discontinued until 2003. Nintendo continued to service disk systems until October 2007. By the time I had finished this article and my research on this topic, I ended up with more questions than I had answers to in regards to this peripheral.

In the nineties Japanese Nintendo console peripherals were borderline urban legends in the US. The NES, SNES, and N64 all had add-on peripherals that were released in Japan but never in the US. I am under the impression that even a test release of a NES modem in Minnesota never actually saw the light of day for two reasons. First, with a supposed test release of 10,000 units one would expect to see units turn up for sale every once in a while on the Internet, or show up at swap meets; even if they were to be recalled once the market test was over. Second, all images of the modem look like they were taken from a promotional VHS tape, leading me to believe the modem was never even released. This sort of muddled history has led to a lot of fascination, speculation, and rumors about what all those expansion slots under our Nintendo consoles were for!

The biggest contributor to the release of the FDS might have been the chip shortage of 1988. In 1986 there was a semiconductor trade pact between the US and Japan. While the pact was aimed at helping U.S. chip makers compete with Japan, at the insistence of the US, Japan agreed to cut back on worldwide chip exportation and also gave up a twenty percent portion of their worldwide market share. The US government anticipated that this would give US chip makers a chance to grab a bigger piece of worldwide chip production The plan was an economic failure, and anticipating the political situation, the release of the FDS may have been a move by Nintendo to continue to produce games in Japan through the shortage. Disks were cheap, re-writable, inexpensive especially compared to the price of chips, and were in ready supply.

Early on, the chip shortage also lead my into the biggest contradiction I ran into while writing this article. Nintendo may have simply played up the chip shortage to their advantage. Even today, Nintendo is renowned for under supplying retailers in their orders. Go ahead and ask the mom and pop retailer in your town about their Nintendo orders through their distributors. Right now collectors are scrambling to find the NES Mini. And remember the Amiibo shortage? This practice of under supplying goes all the way back to the NES and Famicom, and is heavily documented Blake Harris' book Console Wars. While the chip shortage certainly was real, Nintendo used it as leverage to create demand, and hype around their intellectual property while simultaneously avoiding flooding the market with too much product; a lesson learned from Atari and the video game market crash in 1983.

The disks allowed for 128KB of storage, 64KB on each side, which was twice of the typical cartridge at the time. As the diskettes were re-writable, it was possible for the first time ever to actually save your home console games on the disk. Battery backed memory did not exist until the 1987 U.S. release of The Legend of Zelda. ASCII, the creators of the Wizardry series, actually made an accessory called the Turbofile which was a hard drive that plugged into the Famicom's expansion port and could save games and characters' progress to. It also allowed players to import their characters into sequels of the Wizardy games.

The FDS also came with a RAM expansion cart which also included an extra sound channel, and a second graphics processor for scaling, rotation, and compression which only a few un-noteworthy games used. The second graphics processor was technically impressive for the Famicom, but in the end was not implemented to make any great games. Despite being advertised as an expansion, that was not really the purpose of the RAM adapter. Game data would be read from the disk, stored on the expansion RAM, where it was then read by the Famicom. As a result this meant that these games had loading screens. Can you imagine playing Zelda and having to wait for the dungeon to load? In a Youtube video Clyde "Tomamto" Mandolyn said that this is an aspect of classic Nintendo that Japanese gamers are nostalgic for. They say that the clicking of the FDS when a dungeon in Zelda was loading was like the sounds of stepping down the steps into the dungeon.

Another aspect of the FDS were disk kiosk machines which would allow you to write, and rewrite your games onto the proprietary Nintendo diskettes. Because the disks were two sided you could have a 64KB game on each side of the diskette. In a way the FDS is comparable to the rental industry in the US, which Nintendo vehemently battled the legality of. In Japan the rental industry in terms of media is illegal. In 1986 a new FDS game out of the package cost about $14, and about $3 at a disk kiosk. In comparison a new NES game in 1987 in America could cost $45 or more! The impermanent state of the media, as well as the reduction in cost of physical hardware, manuals, and logistics meant a reduced cost for consumers. It's just a shame these same prices are not reflected today in Nintendo's eShops.

The FDS was released in February of 1986 with The Legend of Zelda as one of the launch titles. Less than a year later, in January of 1987, The Adventures of Link was released for the FDS. A Famicom cartridge version of The Legend of Zelda in Japan would not be released until 1994, right before the release of A Link To The Past for the Super Nintendo. In comparison, copies of LoZ did not come into North America until around August 1987 and Zelda II in December of 1988. This delayed release date was beneficial for the US version of the game, there are major regional improvements between the Japanese and North American versions of Zelda II.  The FDS added an extra sound channel, although preference is simply a matter of taste and familiarity. Japanese players, for example, have said that the Zelda Theme music just doesn't sound the same without its iconic bells.


The second reason that the disk system was released may have been due to the hardware architecture of the NES and Famicom. To a certain extent, The NES and Famicom were very similar to the Commodore 64. And for clarification, the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System are the same in terms of internal hardware outside of the pin connectors, as far as I know. The only exception I can think of is that European consoles often had slower processor clock speed in order to accommodate the slower refresh rate of PAL television set. The NES CPU is a Ricoh 2A03 MOS 6502 core, a slightly older model than the Commodore 64's CPU the MOS 6510, the NES's CPU is identical to the CPU in the Commodore Vic-20, released before the C64. Here in the States, most of the popular home computers and game machines used a 6502 or some variant of it. Which, incidentally, was designed by a Commodore subsidiary. This is also why, for example, so many bad games were released for the NES. Commodore Games game like Winter Games, and Karate Champ were often quickly ported to the NES by publishers; often terribly. For example, the box for Karate Champ has a screenshot of a part of the game that's not even in the NES version! They weren't necessarily bad games, just bad ports of Commodore games!

While Japan had the Family Computer, we had the Entertainment System. The simplest explanation as to the difference was marketing. Nintendo, entering the home console market in the U.S. after the video game crash had to be very particular in marketing their new system. Indeed, early prototypes and patents of the NES were a personal computer complete with a keyboard and cassette data recorder. As a result of the system being the Family Computer in Japan, it may have been Nintendo's intention all along to release a disk peripheral for their system. And Nintendo did in fact eventually release in Japan a keyboard, BASIC cartridge for the system, as well as the cassette deck for saving levels in "programmable games" such as Excitebike and Wrecking Crew. The save feature was notorious for not doing anything in the U.S. releases. Nevertheless cassettes were slower than diskette and less reliable. So while cassettes were probably fine for programming hobbyists and making your own courses in Excitebike, the average consumer did not have much interest in this component of the Famicom. 

Releasing a watered down computer with the promise of expansions released down the line was a way to release new technology at an affordable cost. By stripping down the Commodore architecture and building a small console Nintendo was able to get video games back into living rooms across America. By offering BASIC for the Famicom Nintendo was dipping their toes in the hobbiest market without taking much of a risk. Sony did something similar with the Playstation 2 in 2009, offering a Linux development kit for their system.

Even though the Disk System sits under the Famicom, there is no underside expansion port like the NES. The Famicom, however, does have a fifteen pin expansion port at the front of the copnsole for third party controllers and accessories, such as the aforementioned ACSII Turbo File. This port probably existed to offer customers alternatives to the Fanicom controllers being hardwired into the system. The Famicom Light Gun for example, used this port. It is possible to get the disk system working on a toploading NES, or a toaster NES if you open it up to get access to the pin connectors.

A Youtube user by the name of Chykn80 demonstrated, that you could use the expansion port at the bottom of the NES to run the Famicom BASIC cart with the Famicom keyboard! Some of the pins that the FDS uses in the Famicom were relocated to the expansion port of the NES as well. This Wiki page has mapped the pinouts of the NES expansion port.

Back in Japan, the disk system had become obsolete well before the Famicom's lifespan. Final Fantasy, released in 1987 at 145KB, would not have even fit on a Famicom disk. There were reports that by July of 1989 Konami had released a 1-meg cartridge. However this was the MSX release of the game, a Japanese personal computer. The Famicom version still managed to be over a whopping 300kb though. Many publishers simply did not release games on the FDS. The low price of the games meant even smaller revenue for the publishers and developers who were already paying Nintendo large licensing fees for the right to publish on the Famicom. The advantage of save state technology was often off set by the fact that games utilizing save states often took much longer to produce and develop than other games and therefore were more costly. Third party publishers that did release games on the FDS usually failed. The most prominent example is Squaresoft who spawned a spiff-off company along with a handful of smaller smaller partners called Disk Original Group (DOG) where they both published and released games for the FDS. In less than two years DOG went bankrupt. Had this venture been successful Final Fantasy would have almost certainly been released for the FDS. Perhaps even developed differently under a different name since Squaresoft might not have been in such dire straights. 

By 1987 battery backed SRAM was finally a reality and we saw games on cartridges with save states for the first time. In fact battery, backed memory might have been engineered by Nintendo in order to solve the save state problem. I was unable to find an earlier example of save states on a cartridge based system or computer BIOS before the Legend of Zelda on the NES. If you have any details or information on battery back memory storage in general please email me! While battery save games were more expensive to produce, this could often be off set by password systems. Metroid, Castlevania, and Kid Icarus were all FDS releases that utilized save states in their Japanese releases. The NES hardware was not originally designed with save states in mind. Battery backed save states in cartridges were almost certainly an afterthought. Games with save states would warn you to hold reset while turning off the system otherwise the NES' CPU would experience power spikes that potentially would write data at random locations, including the battery-powered registers of the cartridge, overwriting and corrupting savegames in the process. Holding RESET would send the CPU into a low-power state which would prevent any power surge from overwriting any register. This issue was resolved in future Nintendo consoles.

I've never been really good at writing endings to long articles or papers, and I really didn't know where or when to end this article. The disk system ended up being a rabbit hole I couldn't find the bottom to. The history of the Disk System and NES are so multifaceted that it is difficult to write about it without writing about technology, politics, or marketing. I hope you find the article interesting or helpful. If you have anything you'd like to add please comment below or send me a line.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

How to Set Up a Civilization V Server

2K Game's instructions on how to set up a Civ V server are unfortunately lacking. While the instructions will get you on right path to initially getting the server SDK running, you will be plagued with crashes and errors. After over a week of trying to figure out how to correctly configure a Civ server, I decided to make my own guide. Let me be the first to welcome all of you die hard Civ V fans, and those that are waiting for the two expansions packs to be released for Civ VI so you can actually play the game.

I like to play Civ with my friends, unfortunately we are not all able to play at the same time. Online play without hosting your own server means that other players cannot connect and disconnect at will, which can be a problem if you like to take breaks and play a game that can span over a few days. This mode we are going to set up is called Pitboss mode and offers players the most versatility and control when playing online with friends. Below you will find the steps to get started.

Installing for the first time:

1. Ensure that network port 27016 is open to UDP communication on the server's router. Consult your router manual for instructions. The dedicated server does not use Steam's NAT punch-through facilities, so turn on port forwarding.
2. We're going to skip the email settings for now, and come back to that later.
3. Install Sid Meier's Civilization V SDK. This can be found in the Tools section of your Steam Library.
4. Launch Sid Meier's Civilization V SDK.Make sure that *everything* successfully installs. One problem I experienced early on was that the specific version of .NET Framework was not installing successfully; I was getting an error message every time it tried to install. In that case there ended up being an issue with my installation of Windows and I had to reformat.
5. Select Dedicated Server from the SDK Launcher. Once Civ boots successfully you can exit out of the game for now.

Running a Pitboss game without crashing:

- Run in windowed mode at a lower resolution. Also turn down all graphics to their minimum setting.
- Leave the game on the player list; no map view. After all looking at the map would be cheating.
- Use the Server specific launcher in the SDK menu. 
- Run Steam in offline mode.
- Sometimes players ending their turn wont be recognized server side until the game window is put into focus on the computer you're using.
- On default windows update will restart your computer at 3AM. You will need to configure this so that you don't need to restart your game every other morning or so.

Setting up email notifications: 

The instructions for setting up an email notification on 2K's forums are correct. However you will still have to change some settings in Gmail once you have followed the steps provided. After getting the server options set up in the SDK you will need to log into Gmail and go to Settings>Forwarding and POP/IMAP. Here you need to disable IMAP.

After that you will need to go to the My Account page for your Google account (NOT Gmail, but the Google account itself). From there you need to go to My Account>Sign-in and Security>Connected Apps and Site and then turn on the option that says Allow Less Secure Apps. Otherwise when the turn bot goes to do its thing, you will just get an email instead saying that an unsecure app is trying to access your Gmail. This most likely happens because the emails sent out by your server are unencrypted.

This is what a turn notification looks like:

The game name reflects my frustration of dealing with over a week of server crashes.
Since the SDK tends to crash when Steam is in online mode, Steam notifications aren't really an option. As a result getting email notification on your phone is probably the best way to go about turn notifications as of right now.

Joining a pitboss game:

If you encounter a bug where a player or two are getting "error joining multiplayer session" it is probably because they don't have some small chunk of DLC that the game was hosted with. In this case it's best to remove that DLC option from the settings menu, even if you aren't using it. Otherwise the game may boot into vanilla Civ. The easiest way to tell if this happens is if you get the loading screen in the background that looks like the Atlas statue, and on game start you wont see tourism or faith.

If you listed your game as private other players will need to type in your IP and hit enter to connect. Otherwise if you are playing on a computer behind the same router or network as the server you will be be able to find the game listed under local network.