A Joke from Top Secret! (1984) Becomes Reality

Some jokes are meant to be so absurd that they are impossible to take seriously, even though they are dealing with a serious subject. Take, for example, a brilliant scene in 1984’s Top Secret! An American pop singer goes to communist East Germany during the Cold War and participates in a state-sanctioned ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the government official at the podium and all of the citizens in the crowd sing the East German National Anthem. It starts out just fine, but by the end it’s clear that this is just a farce.

I apologize for the video below. It’s poorly edited and it removes the subtitles, which are the key component of the joke. Here is the English translation of the supposed German lyrics, so you’ll know what they are singing:

Hail, hail, East Germany,

Land of fruit and grape.

Land where you’ll regret

Any try to escape.

No matter if you take a running jump or tunnel under the wall,

Forget it, the guards will kill you, if the electrified fence doesn’t first.

It’s funny because it’s true that countries under Soviet control were brutal and really would kill anyone who tried to escape from them, but no one would ever sing jubilant praise for such a policy. That is, I thought that no one would do such a thing in real life until I saw this video of former South African President Jacob Zuma singing to a crowd in 2012 about gunning down his fellow citizens. He keeps repeating variations of these lyrics:

We going to shoot them

With the machine gun.

They are going to run.

Shoot the Boer.

We are going to hit them

They are going to run.

Not too far off the intentionally extreme lyrics of the East German National Anthem, huh? Especially when you consider that Boer means a descendant of the Dutch settlers who came to South Africa hundreds of years ago.

I don’t have any big lesson to draw from this. I am just always on the lookout for interesting comparisons between films, and it was surprising to find such a striking parallel between fiction and real life. I never thought a joke could be taken so seriously.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

Both video clips are the copyright of their respective owners.


About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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