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August 3, 2021 1:48 pm
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Argentine TV Show Criticized for Using Anne Frank Image to Depict ‘Women Who Don’t Leave the House’

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Singer Sofia Jimenez performing on stage on “Showmatch” in front of an image of Anne Frank. Photo: Screenshot.

A popular Argentinian television show has come under fire for “trivializing” the Holocaust by using an image of Holocaust victim and teenage diarist Anne Frank in a recent episode.

During a broadcast of the talent competition “Showmatch” that aired on July 24, contestant Sofia Jimenez sang “Yo No Soy Esa Mujer” (“I Am Not That Woman”), a song about female empowerment by Spanish singer Paulina Rubio. As she sang the lyrics “I’m not the type of woman who doesn’t leave the house,” an image of Anne Frank appeared on a large on-stage monitor behind her. The screen also showed other prominent female figures throughout the song, including Oprah Winfrey and Mother Teresa.

The entertainment industry non-profit group Creative Community for Peace said in a Facebook statement on Monday that it “condemns the use of Anne Frank or any type of Holocaust references as a form of mockery, especially in the entertainment industry.”

“The arts are supposed to be a way of teaching the world about our experiences, the Holocaust should never be banalized in this fashion,” it said.

In a July 24 statement, the Anne Frank Center in Buenos Aires said that “to use Anne Frank as the background for a song by a woman who refuses to stay at home is to bring the trivialization of the Holocaust to an extreme expression.”

“It is an act of humiliation to the victims, to the survivors and to those who choose human dignity as a life option,” the group continued. “Anne Frank did not stay at home because she was a submissive woman, but had to hide to escape the persecution of the Nazi machinery … Those who produced this aberrant spectacle express their absolute inability to defend the dignity of the human, the dignity of women and their disconnection with the victims of any genocide.”

The organization also invited Showmatch staff to visit its museum, an invitation accepted several days later by Jimenez, show host Marcelo Tinelli, and members of the production team. Photos taken of their visit will be broadcast in a future episode of the show, the Center said.

Both Tinelli and the show’s producers have apologized for using Anne Frank’s image in last week’s episode, calling it “unintentional error.”

“On behalf of the entire program, I wanted to apologize to those who were offended,” Tinelli said during an episode aired after he visited the Anne Frank House, according to the Argentinian newspaper Clarin.

“I didn’t even know that this image would appear,” he said. “But, of course, we all know the story of Anne Frank and there are many who have been very hurt, especially people who have lost family members in the Holocaust. I personally had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam four times and I know the story … we apologize enormously. Mainly to all the people of the Anne Frank Center and all the people of the Jewish community who were upset about this issue.”

“We are far from trivializing something as terrible for history as the Holocaust,” he added. “And I say this as the father of a son who has attended the ORT [Jewish] school for six years and I know perfectly the beautiful education that the entire Jewish community has here in Argentina and in the world too.”

Jiménez also thanked the Anne Frank Center for their guiding tour and said, “I think the most important thing was to transform something that was not good into something super constructive and enriching, because we did not want to offend anyone.”

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