What Cabaret Can Teach Us About the Economic Meltdown

Comparisons of our current dismal economic state to Germany’s Weimar Republic are rampant. iStockAnalyst’s Eric deCarbonnel warns, “Expect hyperinflation soon. There will be hyperinflation on par with that experienced by the Weimar Republic. Gas and food prices will jump up sharply to new highs and keep rising.” An independent analysis by financial research and consulting firm Celnet has found that the Treasury Department’s half-hearted tinkering of the economy is actually going to cause “Weimar-style” hyperinflation kick in faster.

In short, we’re all incredibly poor, our economy has been nationalized, the only fun we get is drinking and fucking and Liza Minelli is singing “Maybe This Time.” Is it any wonder that economists, political pundits and cultural observers are saying that 2008’s a cabaret, old chum? With this in mind, we present you the Cabaret Survival Guide to the Global Financial Panic.

Survival Tip #1: Dress nice and nobody will know you’re broke!

If there’s one thing that Cabaret can teach America is that you have to look good in the end times—sloppy’s out, natty is in. This is because shabby is only chic when it’s intentional and not the result of being a hobo-vagabond. New York Times fashion columnist Bill Cunningham has already noticed that New York’s young men are dressing up “to reflect the sober financial atmosphere.” Invest your last dollars in slacks, people. You won’t be buying any new ones until 2035.

Survival Tip #2: As an American, you’re not expected to understand anything.

Originally based on Christopher Isherwood’s collection of short stories, Goodbye to Berlin, Cabaret is seen through the eyes of Cliff, an American writer living in and sleeping with the underbelly of Berlin. And while all of the Berliners wind up exterminated by the Nazi’s in the end, the American manages to escape safely to Paris, with a really good story to tell. Now, of course, since this time around, we’re actually Germany, I suppose that actually means we’re all doomed, but we’re trying to make this a fun and entertaining diversion for five minutes and not a total bummer. So, everything’s fine! Don’t worry!

Survival Tip #3: Everything’s Fine! Don’t Worry!

If there is one clear moral lesson from Cabaret its that sticking your nose into the business of Nazis is going to get you killed. By far, the best response to the extreme Chritsian right is to be silent and not question their tactics or hate-filled rhetoric. Remember, hate mongers who are working to turn you into a second-class citizen should not be questioned. Crap, I’m bringing you down again, aren’t I? Have some more vodka, mein lieber Herr.

Survival Tip #4: Things always turn out great for the group of people whose love is compared to animal sex.

Whether it’s a University of Washington editor illustrating an article against gay marriage with a picture of a man and a sheep or the emcee crooning “If You Could See Her” to a chimp who turns out to be Jewish, remember that when people are looking for someone to blame, there’s always a minority class around to scream at. Step one is to treat them as sub-human and portray their needs and emotions as less legitimate than yours. Step two is to throw rocks, beat and kill them. Oh fuck, this is not turning out to be the feelgood fun time I hoped it would be when we first started this article. Bring on more dancing girls!