The study follows the tradition of Cultural Studies, with a special interest in visual culture, and examines how history is being represented in different media, how these representations are interpreted by the audience, and how the outcome functions in the individual knowledge-building about this particular era. Here the notion of what is often called a collective, or cultural, memory, is important; both as a vehicle for a dominant discourse on memory and as a counterpart to individual memory, which might be more or less in agreement or opposition with the dominant. A central theme is the examination of how elements of the mythical enters a historical narrative, how they affect this, and how this is being interpreted by the audience. The media texts examined are mostly films (fiction and docudramas as well as documentaries) and computer games, although there are also some examples from role-playing games and alternative popular music. The audience part of the study consists of 11 in-depth interviews and a number of additional informants.
I propose that the media material indicates a convergence between myth in the traditional, religiously connected sense, and in the secularized sense of Roland Barthes. The former is made visible by the persistent use of elements of a clearly metaphysical nature, while the latter is made clear through the almost omnipresent authoritarian character of the media presentations. The material in its entirety clearly shows the importance of transmediality, transmedia storytelling and knowledge communities (cf Henry Jenkins) within the context. The audience examined expresses a highly critical attitude towards what is considered to be a “mainstream” media representation of World War II and Nazi Germany that – according to them – transforms the gruesome historical reality into cheap thrills and entertainment. Thus, it becomes fundamentally problematic to look upon the media representations of the theme as an expression of collective memory.