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‘Mein Fiets’: Hitler on Critical Mass and Portland’s bike scene

Posted by on July 8th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Watch Hitler expound on
Portland’s bike scene in
the video below.
(Still from the movie Downfall)

Portland filmmaker Joe Biel has collaborated with veteran local bike scene participant Allan Folz on Mien Fiets, a short video that attempts to explain what has happened to bike activism in Portland since the demise of Critical Mass (a ride that once rallied locals in the hundreds, now barely even exists).

Mein Fiets, a crowd favorite at Filmed by Bike where it debuted back in April, was made by using a creative translation of the oft-parodied bunker scene from the 2004 film Downfall about the last 10 days of Adolf Hitler.

In the film, Hitler becomes enraged when he learns that no one rides in Critical Mass anymore. Here’s one of the exchanges, starting with a tirade from Hitler after he’s told that no one has shown up for the ride:

Hitler: “Critical Mass made Portland. Without Critical Mass the only cyclists in Portland would be middle aged bike geeks commuting across Hawthorne Bridge in yellow Burley jackets. Critical Mass rallied folks out of their homes and onto their bikes, bringing us together once a month… made a community.”

Officer: “My leader, the cyclists have won. There is no need to protest.”

Hitler: “You think there is no need to protest? *** Bullshit! This is Little Beirut for Christ sakes!…”

Watch the 3 min 55 sec video below:

Can I get a translater? from Joe Biel on Vimeo.

This spirit of this film is complementary to a larger film Biel is working on titled, Aftermass: A post Critical Mass Portland. That film (which he’s trying to raise money for via Kickstarter) will look to tie the demise of Critical Mass in Portland to a resulting lack of aggressive, grassroots activism for bicycles in this city in general. I could write a lot on that topic (I agree with the general idea) but for now, watch the video and let us know what you think.

[BTW, am I the only one that sees the irony in Hitler delivering this message, given the fact that for a lot of people, their negative perceptions of people who ride bikes and the “bike Nazis” termf was likely formed from their memories of Critical Mass participants?”]

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Caffeinated Bliss
Guest
Caffeinated Bliss

So THERE ARE Portland Bike Nazis?

http://portlandbikenazis.blogspot.com/

Jabin
Guest
Jabin

The movie is “Downfall”

Thanks Jabin. I’ve updated the story. — Jonathan

Did I miss it? Again?
Guest
Did I miss it? Again?

Meh – I like this one better. Created years ago using same scene.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL1pq-ZBeGc

N.B. May contain offensive language.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone
neighbor
Guest

I’m so glad this is available online- I was laughing too hard to catch all the subtitles when I saw it at Filmed by Bike.

Freaking brilliant.

Roma
Guest
Roma

“Critical Mass rallied folks out of their homes and onto their bikes, bringing us together once a month… made a community.”

I disagree. Critical Mass brought out the fringe elements of the Portland bike scene and/or already dedicated cyclists. It also pissed off motorists to no end thereby worsening the rift between cars and cyclists.

If you really want to make a difference, you’ll get normal everyday car driving people out on their bikes. CM does not accomplish this. Right or wrong, I always viewed CM as an exclusive rather than inclusive event. Yes, I understand it wasn’t, but that’s just the way I always perceived it. But hey, I’m the type of guy that would rather ride over to Salmon than ride 10mph down Hawthorne just because I’m legally within my rights to do so. I’m glad CM is a thing of the past.

Besides, we have events all the time where we come together as a bicycle community that bring out MUCH greater numbers than Critical Mass ever did.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Hi neighbor,

thanks for reminding me that it first screened at Filmed by Bike. I’ve edited the story to include that fact.

Red Five
Guest

Glad to see Hitler is funny again. wow.

Devian Gilbert
Guest

that clip is genius!

Elliot
Guest
Elliot

I’m sure the video is funny (I’ll watch it when I get home from work), but like Roma (#6) I disagree with the premise of “Aftermass”. Roma makes several good points.

Like other forms of protest, Critical Mass was useful for gaining attention to what, at the time, was a fringe issue. Now that bicycling has political champions, established advocacy groups, bike shops that are active in supporting advocates, and a host of non-profits from Shift to the CCC doing all sorts of things, Critical Mass doesn’t really have a place to contribute. People who cling to it are just reminiscing, or want to foster an us versus them atmosphere to feel good about themselves for being on the “right” side, or are trying to dredge it up for political reasons.

It will come back if it’s needed (hopefully not). Let it die peacefully… no need to exhume it for an autopsy.

bh
Guest
bh

Man I’ve been looking for this for *ever* since FBB. Thanks for posting this 🙂

Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

Critical mass is like puberty: dramatic, chaotic and meant to be a short term stage in development. However, like puberty, many people seem to idolize the time period as something more meaningful than it really was.

Critical Mass Riders: you had your wet dream, now wake up, change your sheets and go out to face the real world as well adjusted adult.

beth h
Guest

@ #8:

I think it depends on who you ask.

eljefe
Guest
eljefe

so you move to Portland after the bike culture is well developed and hate on those of us who had the courage to develop it.

You’re welcome.

OuterToob
Guest
OuterToob

Am I missing something? How is it that using Hitler as a spokesman for Critical Mass or rallying behind Hitler’s message to join Critical Mass intelligent or even slightly funny at all?

Just a reminder for everyone who forgot recent historical events, Hitler was potentially the most evil hated person in the entire history of planet Earth – I don’t see how this is ‘freaking brilliant’ or even remotely funny to anyone.

I personally have several relatives that were seriously injured fighting the Axis Powers in WWII as I am sure many of us do. Some of us had their family history completely wiped out when their relatives were ejected from their homes or interned in prison camps by Hiitler and his hilarious pals.

Really, are these guys so out of touch that they forgot that their parents, or grandparents were alive and in one way shape or form most likely suffered in some way because of Hitler? It’s estimated that over 60 Million people were killed in WWII fighting this butt munch- why would anyone want to be associated with the Nazis?

If this is what Critical Mass is about, I think it should be dragged down into a bunker and have a bullet shot into it’s head once and for all.

Fun for the whole family my ass!

Roma
Guest
Roma

@eljefe (#14)

Courage to develop it? Show me any evidence of causation between Critical Mass and increased cycling or cycling infrastructure in Portland.

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

Marcus #12
your analogies are funny and insightful.

My questions are:
What is wrong with middle aged bike geeks? Time was middle aged guys longed for a Porsche, now they covet Renovo. And who the heck wears a Burley rain jacket. All the real fred/geeks wear Showers Pass in that saffron yellow.

Oh- the video is funny.

Bob_M
Guest
Bob_M

Roma & eljefe

Critical Mass was responsible for evolving Portland’s bike culture because it was so onerous, confrontational and divisive that civilized cyclists had no choice than to become activists. It is sorta like the gulf oil spill is good for the environment because it draws attention to the problems of oil drilling and use.

Elliot
Guest
Elliot

Watch your assumptions, eljefe (#14). I’m native, and ridden in plenty of Critical Masses, including the gigantic 10th anniversary Mass, and been abused and ticketed by the Portland Police while riding in it.

Critical Mass had it’s place for a while, but times change.

Elliot
Guest
Elliot

*its place

Roma
Guest
Roma

@bob_m (#18)

Yeah I regretted that comment after I posted it. As Elliot said, Critical Mass had its place. I took offense at the assumption that we’re all ungrateful transplants (not me) and inference that Critical Mass was solely responsible for making Portland what it is.

Huggybear
Guest
Huggybear

Their is nothing funny about Hitler in any kind of film. End of story.

Michael M.
Guest

@OuterToob (#15) — You might be interested in what Downfall‘s director has to say: “As for the idea of such a serious scene being used for laughs, Hirschbiegel thinks it actually fits with the theme of the movie. ‘The point of the film was to kick these terrible people off the throne that made them demons, making them real and their actions into reality,’ he says. ‘I think it’s only fair if now it’s taken as part of our history, and used for whatever purposes people like.'”

Humor is subjective, of course, and you’re perfectly within the limits of reason to find Downfall parodies inappropriate. But given that there have been hundreds of them (dozens of which have been hugely popular), it’s apparent that a wide swath of people don’t agree with your take on the matter.

As for me, I think the idea has worn a little thin at this point — as has the idea of Critical Mass.

Skipping the heat
Guest
Skipping the heat

It seems the film is more about cycling in the post-Rev. Phil era.

To look back at the days when Rev. Phil and his cohort of bike gods ruled the land. When he spoke, the ground would shake and panties would drop… too bad such a time never existed.

Rev. Phil is not responsible for the popularity of cycling in Portland anymore than Sam Adams is responsible for making intern sex popular.

The truth is that Rev. Phil is no longer relevant, if he ever was. He is a punch line to a joke that has gone out of style and wasn’t that funny to begin with.

I agree, there is nothing funny about Hitler references.

eljefe
Guest
eljefe

Roma, I’ll give you an example of how critical mass increased cycling n Portland: myself. I started riding in 1995 when I was 15. Critical mass showed me that I wasn’t alone and that other people believed I had a right to space on the road. It was a radical fringe idea at the time. I don’t suggest that critical mass was the only component of bike culture back then, but it was significant. Can anybody name another expression memorable expression of bike culture from the time? I didn’t mean to target any individual with my comment, but there is a tendency among newer residents to criticize and second-guess strategies that were part of creating real privileges we all enjoy today. Direct action is one of those strategies, and I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to the activists that came before us and gave us a world better than the one they knew.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

“It also pissed off motorists to no end thereby worsening the rift between cars and cyclists.”

What rift?

Polling and voting shows that most people in PDX support bikes and bike infrastructure.

Perhaps you mean the tiny but vocal minority that gets lots of play in our sensationalist corporate media…

OuterToob
Guest
OuterToob

@ #23

I agree, the parody of the Downfall scene is about as original as a ‘Got Milk’ rip off. HEY – Got Critical Mass? – Oh dear lord, that’s FUNNY!!! (Actually it isn’t at all.)

Yes hundreds of these lame parodies have been hugely popular, Hitler was hugely popular to the German people, did that make him right? Or did that just make a bunch of people extremely wrong?

Just for the sake of argument, why don’t we take this idea one step further, maybe the authors of this parody could generate a few hilarious KKK biking parodies with the Grand Master rolling through No Po – the films would obviously be completely socially acceptable if a bunch of racists got some laughs, you know, because rallying behind any mentally ill murderer who kills anyone different than himself is a logical fit with cycling.

And, seeing as how we’re the ‘different’ ones on the road, are we going to start laughing at everyone being run over by cars soon – they’re kinda like all of the Poles and Jews that were killed by Hitler right? You know, just minding their own business and then murdered for being ‘different’. I’m sure a few subtitled parodies of cars running over people on bikes would generate some laughs with the MSM crowd and be ‘hugely popular’ – as it was pointed out, humor is completely subjective so using Hitler as a spokesmodel must be acceptable as long as some fleeting minority finds humor in it.

Red Five
Guest

The ones that find Hitler amusing are the fixie riding, Pabst drinking, hipster kiddies who had everything handed to them by mommy and daddy and have no real idea what poor taste this whole thing really is.

joel
Guest

not amused. call me old-fashioned, but it will *always* be too soon.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

Strange Roma, I agree with you, yet I am part of the “fringe culture”.

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

If this movie ever comes out it will explain a lot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XslBYB5f4bQ

A Post-Critical Mass Portland: Living in a post-revolutionary bicycle age.

Paging Rev.Phil

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

And for those using the internet under a rock.

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/downfall-hitler-meme

151
Guest
151

Ugh. This is why people should just let memes die.

TonyT
Guest
tonyt

With all due respect to the Rev. and Co, the Downfall thing was played out early 2009. My god you guys are late to the party.

Mixo
Guest
Mixo

1. Downfall meme – yes, tired, worn out meme, but in its heyday wonderfully amusing. Its not *Hitler* thats funny, its the absurdity of just how off the handle he goes over what amounts to trivial bs. In almost all cases its funny because we’re making fun *of* Hitler. Are we supposed to treat him with respect and reverence?

2. Critical Mass – I distinctly remember the term “Critical Massholes” being the most precise way to describe my (outsiders) perception of the method they utilized to bring attention to their cause. However their radicalism definitely helped shaped the discourse surrounding bike advocacy, which helped us get where we are now. Question is, do we need that sort of radicalism going forward to fix the stuff that still needs fixing? (i.e. Motorists actually suffering consequences for running over bikers etc), Or have we reached a ‘critical mass’ and its only a matter of time before these kinds of issues are resolved?

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

#32
I would have thought that due to
Reductio ad Hitlerum that comments on this post would have been shut off before JM posted:)

SkidMark
Guest
SkidMark

Every group ride I go on functions like CM, i.e. we cork intersections to keep the group intact. This is not to thumb our nose at society, it is simply because the most dangerous thing is to get a car in the middle of a group ride. The driver frequently gets overwhelmed by the bikes beside and behind them and end up hitting a bike in front of them. Motorcycle riding clubs do this too for the same reason.

Seager
Guest

#26:

Polls show that Portlanders support cycling possibly BECAUSE there is no more critical mass. If CM came back I bet support for cycling would drop.

CM has a time and a place, but if the city government is already pro-bike, then CM’s time is past. It would only make things worse.

Brian E
Guest
Brian E

We are so fortunate that we can laugh at Hitler parodies and ride critical mass.

microzen
Guest
microzen

Pretty offensive. I would rather give up my 30 years of cycling and of bike advocacy than side with Nazis. I think it may be time to finally buy a car after 20 years.

microzen
Guest
microzen

I don’t think of claiming Hitler as the inspiration behind Portland bike culture is particularly funny. I’m ending my rss subscription of this site.

Allan Folz
Guest
Allan Folz

All you trolls crack me up. These comments read like a Rorschach test for what ails the commenter.

Is it a tired meme? You bet, got something better?

Is it funny? In my experience, among people that actually leave their smug confines on the internet, yes.

In fact, the magnitude of positive response I’ve gotten from people that enjoyed it has been a very pleasant surprise. Thank you to everyone that’s sent or otherwise expressed their appreciation. Making a movie, even a small short such as this takes a lot of work. It’s nice to know the effort was well spent.

All my best,
-Allan

Ps. You Rev Phil haters are the funniest. Critical Mass and this short had nothing to do with him. It actually took me a while to register what prompted the screed. So you know, his “Producer” credit was a joke between Joe and me.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

I must say that the downfall of Critical Mass in Portland may be one of the best things to happen to cycling here in a while.

While it must have been a joy to ride slow, purposely pissing people off every once in a while, it was the working cyclist and the commuters who actually took most of the heat daily from Critical Ass.

Skipping the heat
Guest
Skipping the heat

Allen,

You can’t list Rev. Phil as the producer in the credits and than turn around upset people think he produced the film.

You wanted the buzz of having the infamous jester in the credits you got it.

Jessica Roberts
Guest
Jessica Roberts

Loved it! And it reminds me how damn long I’ve been biking in Portland that I understood all the in jokes…thanks for getting this on the intertoobs, Allan and Joe, so that those of us who missed it at FBB could join in the fun too.

Jerry_W
Guest
Jerry_W

I agree with Dabby, shutting down Critical Mass has helped cycling.

And since the bike rider community is breaking into factions, place me in the middle aged bike geek crowd. I guess we are going to hate each other now????

Opus the Poet
Guest

Critical Mass was good for cycling back in the day, and its existence back in the day is good for cycling now. If CM had not taken place in other cities I would not have even the miniscule clout I have now with city politicians for trying to develop some bicycle infrastructure here in TX. So, you guys did more good than you know or think.

weastsider
Guest
weastsider

I think someone is bitter about critical mass being dead. I find it funny (not ha, ha) that he is identifying himself with Hitler.

Hello! No one cares about critical mass anymore it’s as tired as this downfall parody.

beth h
Guest

I wasn’t clear enough before. There is nothing funny about Hitler at all, even in a parody. As someone who lost an entire branch of my family tree to Hitler’s smokestacks, I find this use of his likeness and name distasteful in the worst way.

Lynne F
Guest
Lynne F

Hitler – not funny. Not ever. I am reminded of that every time I look at the family pictures of cousins I will never, ever have the opportunity to meet.