“He’s Alive” tells the story of Peter Vollmer, an insecure and angry young white supremacist, played by Dennis Hopper (six years before he directed the industry-altering independent drama “Easy Rider”). At the start of the episode, Vollmer struggles to deliver his message of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and wild conspiracy theories to a hostile crowd. Pelted with garbage and punched out in the streets by Americans who — less than 20 years after World War II — remember the importance of rejecting Nazi ideology, Vollmer gives up for the evening, dismissing everyone who disagrees with him as “communists.”
Vollmer was raised in an abusive and neglectful household, and the only person who ever cared about him was a Jewish man, a survivor of the Dachau concentration camp. Ernst Ganz (Ludwig Donath, “Torn Curtain”) thinks of Vollmer as a little boy seeking attention, making mistakes, but still perhaps redeemable. Ganz suspects that his own sentimentality and concern for his fellow man, even a hateful man hiding his prejudice behind an unconvincing veil of “philosophy,” may be his own weakness. But Ganz has something that Vollmer is desperately trying to destroy within himself … human empathy.
Had the story stopped there, maybe Vollmer might have looked inward for validation and realized that acceptance was the only thing that brought him any happiness. Instead, he’s met by a mysterious benefactor, seen only in shadow, who tells him the secret to properly peddling fear and rage.
Essentially, he teaches Vollmer how to become a successful angry YouTuber.