July 8, 2009

Our long national nightmare is almost over

Sacha Baron Cohen's seemingly interminable pre-opening weekend promotional campaign is coming to its inevitable end with this Friday's debut of Bruno.

To be succeeded, of course, by Baron Cohen's opening weekend promotional campaign for Bruno, his post-opening weekend promotional campaign, his Japanese, Brazilian, and Australasian promotional campaigns, his DVD release campaign, his Blu-Ray campaign, and his Director's Cut campaign. It's a dog's life, but they are paying him $44 million for it.

By the way, here's my 2006 review of Borat, which pointed out something that practically nobody else mentioned about that critically-lauded film.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

You forgot an endless string of 'victims' suing Cohen for misrepresentation and complaining to the media that they were duped.

Anonymous said...

"You forgot an endless string of 'victims' suing Cohen for misrepresentation and complaining to the media that they were duped."

I think it's called "karma".

Reactionary said...

'Borat' was an interesting film for me, in that Jews and Europeans I discussed it with insisted the joke turned on what fools Borat was making of those bigoted, reactionary Americans. But the gag in all the film's high points clearly turned on the unflappable politeness of Americans in the face of the outrageous antics of some Slavic rube. When I would make this point, people's jaws would literally drop, and the conversation would end.

Black Sea said...

I'm not well acquainted with Baron-Cohen's various personas, but I did read somewhere that his Ali G. character (since retired) was originally a pretty clear parody of young Pakastanis trying to come off as ghetto "youfs" by adopting the dress, speech, and mannerisms of black street culture. This excited some criticism, on non-PC grounds, particularly since Baron-Cohen is himself Orthodox Jewish, so he changed gears and claimed that "Ali G" stood for Alistair Graham, and that he was parodying white suburban kids who try to emulated black street culture.

Problem solved!

He seems to have hit upon a pretty workable 21st Century formula, in that he can indulge in all sorts of racial humor, on the grounds that he's actually satirizing those who find such humor funny, or who are simply too stupid even to see it as humor (in the case of Bruno, I suppose it's "homophobic" humor).

His audiences can - in good conscience - laugh at these jokes and caricatures, on the grounds that they are actually laughing at the rubes who would unironically laugh at the very same jokes. It's the "irony," you see, that makes all the difference. Yeah, it's a psychological defense mechanism, but that's what most humor is based on anyway.

I'm awaiting the day when Baron-Cohen goes that one step further and parodies the sort of people who tell themselves that they are laughing at others who share his character's "unenlightened" views, when in fact, they're doing this simply so that they can chuckle at what they would otherwise consider morally offensive. Now that would be irony indeed.

I suspect this is going to be a long wait.

wake up said...

memory hole politics: youtube banned that guerrilla activist video shot in israel recently showing the unvarnished racism of partying college age people.....

how does that square with massively promoted cohen/borat movie provoking the white trash bar crowd into a mindless racist singalong?

drunk people all over the world say stupid vile things but the big media in america only allows certain kinds of drunk people to embarrass themselves with taboo racial views captured on film.....

which reminds me of that taki blog entry: "five rabbis walk into rupert murdoch's office....."

green mamba said...

Black Sea's cultural commentaries are simply too good. Will have to check out his blog.

Black Sea said...

green mamba,

My blog is sort of semi-comatose these days, but the stuff that I posted back when I was more motivated (or had more free time) is still there to be read.

Thanks for the expression of interest.

Bob said...

"white suburban kids who try to emulate black street culture"

The victims of the degradation of American culture by gangsta rap are of every race.

I have witnessed the negative effects of young people adopting a culture that thinks crack dealers and pimps are cool and adopting their speech and dress among blacks, whites, and asians.

And of course America exports its cultural garbage to the rest of the world.

Capitalism and "a free market of ideas" is corrosive to Western culture.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't pay me fifty bucks to watch that one, I can scan whatever filth NRO is publishing today for the same effect - whites bad, Jews good, or so they say. Did you see that Kahane piece? Ugh. Makes me want to invoke a Reverse Sampson Option - if whitey goes down, so does everyone else.

Shorter Bruno (I'm guessing here): Germans are secretly gay. You know how gays (Jews, same thing) love finding gay subtext in everything. I'm hearing stories of gay sex in the presence of children in this movie - charming.

Ross said...

As Ali G, Baron Cohen was brilliant because he was exposing the elites pc pieties to ridicule, it was genuinely brilliant how none of the establishment people he was interviewing would dare point out the obvious- that Ali G was a moron.

As Borat and Bruno he is still quite funny, but it's the humour of the elite laughing at the rubes which isn't really the same thing.

Simon said...

BTW Bruno is the last of Baron-Cohen's characters that he trialled on UK TV back in the '90s. He has done nothing new since and this may be his last gasp.

Anonymous said...

There were a few moments in 'Borat' that were undeniably funny, but the overall feeling the movie imparted for me was dismay. Cohen is a very mean-spirited person. His victims do not deserve the ridicule they got.
It's a sign of how depraved our media is that when it came out 'Borat' was heralded as the funniest, smartest movie ever. As I recall, the last movie to get the kind MSM promotion 'Borat' got was 'The Producers'. Jewish media, endlessly fascinated by the Jewish perspective.

Anonymous said...

How's this for a setup? A Palestinian comedian poses as a redneck Christian Zionist, asking Hillel students about stuff like Rachel Corrie's death and daily life in Gaza. "I bet all y'all volunteered to serve in Iraq. God bless ya." You'd have to love the irony.
Here's another setup: Flavor Flav, just being himself, tests the legendary tolerance of Unitarians and their ilk. "Where tha hos at?"

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Sarah Silverman try out her fart and scat material on this audience (on the Sabbath):

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/07/06/2617502.htm

Anonymous said...

"When I would make this point, people's jaws would literally drop, and the conversation would end."

As conversations must if jaws are literally dropping.

Anonymous said...

SBC reveals a state of huge unexpressed pique at the indifference of a world with little remaining memory, or sympathy, for European Jewry. I agree with the opinion of Reactionary. I wonder how long Borat would have remained in one piece had he decided to draw a picture of Mohammed in a Muslim neighborhood in London or wherever. Of course he knows that; his targets were carefully chosen to make him look daring.

Anonymous said...

Someone explain to me who exactly Cohen makes fun of that somehow deserves something otherwise? Feminists? Rubes? Warmongers? Gypsies? Evangelicals? Hicks? Politicians? Do you really think Americans are somehow sacrosanct?

Though Mike Judge's "Beavis and Butthead", "King of the Hill", and "Office Space" are excellent, "Idiocracy", Steve's foil to Cohen's "Borat", simply wasn't funny. When I heard the idea in pre-production it sounded awesome. When I saw the execution, it just didn't work.

Anonymous said...

"Idiocracy" has to be one of the worst movies I've ever tried to watch; I simply couldn't finish it. Aside from the basic idea of dsygenics, I can't see what you saw in it, Steve.

Andrew Ryan said...

I think Red Sea's comment is right on target, and I would only add that the "Dave Chapelle" show was a similar phenomenon. Most white people thought the show was funny b/c it was acceptable for white people to laugh at jokes about black people as long as they are made by another black, b/c of the pretext that it was all satire or something.

However, once Dave Chapelle figured this out, he canceled his show.

Anonymous said...

"As Ali G, Baron Cohen was brilliant because he was exposing the elites pc pieties to ridicule, it was genuinely brilliant how none of the establishment people he was interviewing would dare point out the obvious- that Ali G was a moron."

Actually the best part of the show was when Andy Rooney cut him down within 10 seconds of the start of the interview. Just search "andy rooney Ali G" on youtube.

Anonymous said...

But the gag in all the film's high points clearly turned on the unflappable politeness of Americans in the face of the outrageous antics of some Slavic rube.



Or in this case, some Jewish rube with delusions of being clever.

Concerned Netizen said...

Steve,

Something tells me that you thought SBC was funny when he was slaggin on Pakis, but slaggin on your tribe is off limits.

Let's face it, SBC is a funny guy. So what his humor is based on hostility. All humor is.

You are resentful of his success, that's all.

Jun said...

Simon said: "He has done nothing new since and this may be his last gasp."

Hope you're right!

F. Le Mur said...

Reactionary: "But the gag in all the film's high points clearly turned on the unflappable politeness of Americans in the face of the outrageous antics of some Slavic rube."

That was my take on it.

I didn't find the film funny or clever, and, IIRC, nobody other than the fake rube did or said anything 'outrageous' except to placate the rube. And I'm surprised nobody punched his lights out.

Anonymous said...

"But the gag in all the film's high points clearly turned on the unflappable politeness of Americans in the face of the outrageous antics of some Slavic rube."

But isn't another gag that you believe Borat is genuinely Slavic? Perhaps you also believe that Bruno is somehow German. I'll give Cohen one thing - he can play this joke at multiple levels. He manages to insult all his group's enemies using three characters and he then gets the three groups to insult each other. Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Dr Strangelove is the height of comedy. Stanley Kubrick mercilessly saterizes the most powerful and intelligent members of society, including the main character who is clearly of German-Jewish descent, as was Kubrick himself. Baron-Cohen's humor, in comparison, is cheap and will certainly be forgotten 40 years from now.

Anonymous said...

Bwahahahaha!

[Austrian Culture Minister] Emil Brix wants people to protest against the movie for its "cheap" gags about Adolf Hitler and Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who imprisoned his daughter and fathered seven children with her.

In the film Bruno jokes of wanting to be their most famous countryman “since Hitler” and says the “Austrian Dream” is to “have a job, find a dungeon and raise a family there”.

stari_momak said...

Totally off topic but thought Steve and readers of Steve would get an ironic chuckle from a post -- or actually a footnote reference for a post -- at the politics and lifes ciences blog
===
As Henry Liker, an elder of the Akwasasne Mohawk, told me , his grandmother explained that the rule of human life is: “me against my brother; me and my brother against my cousin; me, and my brother, and my cousin against everyone else.”
===
Gotta love that ancient Chinese secr... uhh, Middle Eastern lor....uhh, Wisdom of Native Americans

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one in the world who is weary of satire? How about a little truth and beauty in the cinema?

Until then, my five year old DVD player works just fine.

Luke Lea said...

Cohen is an anti-Semite. Or at least Borat was an anti-Semitic movie for all practical purposes. It should be banned.

Anonymous said...

"Black Sea's cultural commentaries are simply too good. Will have to check out his blog."

He's Johnny Turk. Can't trust him, I tell you!

- Hesketh Vernon Hesketh-Prichard

Anonymous said...

--Actually the best part of the show was when Andy Rooney cut him down within 10 seconds of the start of the interview. Just search "andy rooney Ali G" on youtube.--

The Brent Scowcroft interview was better.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think Americans are somehow sacrosanct?




I think we're all pretty clear on the fact that Americans are not sacrosanct, and that we're equally clear as to who is.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it, SBC is a funny guy. So what his humor is based on hostility. All humor is.



Fuck off, Concerned Netizien.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

Why ain't you laughing?

PRCalDude said...

"Idiocracy" has to be one of the worst movies I've ever tried to watch; I simply couldn't finish it. Aside from the basic idea of dsygenics, I can't see what you saw in it, Steve.

That's because you don't live in California.

Anonymous said...

As Ali G, Baron Cohen was brilliant because he was exposing the elites pc pieties to ridicule, it was genuinely brilliant how none of the establishment people he was interviewing would dare point out the obvious- that Ali G was a moron.

Some of Ali G's interviewees obviously caught on to the gag: Sam Donaldson, for one. Maybe Pat Buchanan (it's hard to tell). Andy Rooney didn't, but his reaction was still heartwarming.

Dr Strangelove is the height of comedy. Stanley Kubrick mercilessly saterizes the most powerful and intelligent members of society, including the main character who is clearly of German-Jewish descent

Dr. Strangelove was continually letting clues about his Nazi past slip out (calling the President "Mein Fuehrer", using Nazi-style rhetoric, etc.), so I seriously doubt he was meant to be Jewish. It was obviously a swipe at Wernher von Braun.

Sideways said...

Actually the best part of the show was when Andy Rooney cut him down within 10 seconds of the start of the interview. Just search "andy rooney Ali G" on youtube.

Curmudgeons are his kryptonite

Reactionary said...

"When I would make this point, people's jaws would literally drop, and the conversation would end."

As conversations must if jaws are literally dropping.


Not to mention the effect on me when that happened. I was nonplussed.

Anonymous said...

"Let's face it, SBC is a funny guy. So what his humor is based on hostility. All humor is."

Such cavalier attitude toward aggression when the target groups are Germans, Slavs, and US southern rednecks. Maybe one of these days the one-way street morality game will go out of fashion. Keep talking...

Anonymous said...

Idiocracy is superficially a comedy with crude jokes about sex, etc. But there is much subtle humor that you don't necessarily notice, particularly only visually displayed in the background.

not netizen said...

Why ain't you laughing?

Because you're hostile without being funny.

green mamba said...

Steve's readers constantly assert that Jews are off limits for mockery and criticism, yet most references to Jews I encounter - in movies, TV, comedy clubs - is negative (Jews are cheap, greedy, ugly, nerdy etc.) I realize that part of this is a (stupid) strategy of self-deprecation by Jews themselves, but still, the view that Jews are somehow holy in our media is distorted.

Anonymous said...

"So what his humor is based on hostility. All humor is."

P.G. Wodehouse's humor wasn't based on hostility. I would rephrase this as "all humor is based on hostility except for the kind that's actually funny".

can't believe my eyes said...

"Dr. Strangelove was continually letting clues about his Nazi past slip out (calling the President "Mein Fuehrer", using Nazi-style rhetoric, etc.), so I seriously doubt he was meant to be Jewish. It was obviously a swipe at Wernher von Braun."

That's what I thought too, except that I don't think von Braun was a sincere Nazi. He was deeply disturbed in his later years while working in Rockville, Maryland, about what he called the "militarization of space" and of the economy in general. But he did love to make stuff that fueled it. He followed his bliss.
At the time Dr. Strangelove was made, Kubrick was already married to his life-time wife, Christiane, who was not only German but had a very controversal relative --uncle I think--who had been in the Nazi party. Christiane and Kubrick were inseparable to the end, and her brother, and other members of her family lived and worked with Kubrick in England for decades.
Dr. Strangelove was a Nazi who had trouble keeping his arm down, but he did indeed resemble Henry Kissinger to a t-square, except that Henry, unfortunately, was more mobile.
It is also significant that 3 of the main characters, Strangelove, Mandrake, and the President, were all played by the late, great, Peter Sellers (Jewish), one of the funniest comedians ever.

Ross said...

"Actually the best part of the show was when Andy Rooney cut him down within 10 seconds of the start of the interview. Just search "andy rooney Ali G" on youtube.".

Yes that is brilliant.

ricpic said...

Perfectly decent people put up with his ridicule rather than call him on it and that's a million laughs?

Anonymous said...

"You forgot an endless string of 'victims' suing Cohen for misrepresentation and complaining to the media that they were duped."

Which is of course the whole point.

I think the real reason why Cohen moved his operations to America was that he became such a well known person back in the United Kingdom. Ali-G in particular became too well known to be used in Britain early on.

"I'm not well acquainted with Baron-Cohen's various personas, but I did read somewhere that his Ali G. character (since retired) was originally a pretty clear parody of young Pakastanis trying to come off as ghetto "youfs" by adopting the dress, speech, and mannerisms of black street culture. This excited some criticism, on non-PC grounds, particularly since Baron-Cohen is himself Orthodox Jewish, so he changed gears and claimed that "Ali G" stood for Alistair Graham, and that he was parodying white suburban kids who try to emulated black street culture. "

Although there were some Asians in the film.

At least Bruno will also be making fashionistas (sp?), the cult of celebrity, and chat show audiences look stupid.

Anonymous said...

Green Mamba - But its only Jews who are allowed dispensation to make those wise cracks about themselves. Its off limits to anyone else. Who gets to be depicted as cold hearted, ruthless, violent etc? Well it aint Jews is it.

Not so long ago I heard an earnest debate on the radio about the terrible stereotyping of the Jews found in our appaling anti-semitic media (no, don't laugh). The up-to-the-minute examples given; Shylock (a 400 year old character) and Fagin (more youthful, at less than 200 years) and...that was it.

The only overtly evil, overtly Jewish fictional character I can think of depicted recently would be the Soprano's lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Al Jolson tried the same trick once. It seemed pretty funny at the time. I checked Jolson's page on wiki. Seems they ixned all the pictures where he had axel grease on his face.

Anonymous said...

Steve Martin played a white who was adopted by a black family in the Jerk. The difference is that he used that as a platform to ridicule himself not his adoptive family.

Antoine Zhang said...

"The only overtly evil, overtly Jewish fictional character I can think of depicted recently would be the Soprano's lawyer."

Also, Sean Penn as Carlito Brigante's lawyer in "Carlito's Way" is one of the most reprehensible villains in the history modern cinema.

green mamba said...

"The only overtly evil, overtly Jewish fictional character I can think of depicted recently would be the Soprano's lawyer."

The John Turturro character in the Coen brothers' "Miller's Crossing' was a nasty, cowardly piece of work and overtly Jewish, if that counts as recent.

Tom Cruise did a hilarious turn as a brutal and obscene Jewish movie producer in Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder".

It's not as if these negative characterizations are offset by a lot of normal, good guy Jewish roles.

Anonymous said...

A very good insight into how Sacha Baron Cohen stitches people up here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/sacha-baron-cohen/5603068/Stung-by-Sacha-hosting-Brunos-gay-brawl.html

Anonymous said...

It's not as if these negative characterizations are offset by a lot of normal, good guy Jewish roles.

That was supposed to be ironic wasn't it?

Anonymous said...

"yet most references to Jews I encounter - in movies, TV, comedy clubs - is negative"

These type of discussions on the internet are very common. Whose ethnic group gets portrayed negatively or positively in MSM? You would think that in the multi-cultural paradises of the West such questions would not be necessary, but alas... What I would like to see is an on-line database of movies and TV shows where characters are analyzed by their ethnic background and how they are portrayed. They could be ranked on a moral scale, likeabilty scale, sexual attractivness scale, behaviour scale, reform/salvation scale etc. The ethnic background of those who financed, directed, and created these characters should also be revealed. A final score could be tallied at the end and the data could be analyzed by type of movie, year, studio production, etc.

My guess is that the fact that we collectively spend billions of dollars a year on race and ethnic relations in the West and no such tracking mechanism exists, reveals the acknowledgement that such a mechanism would surely not show the "right" results. As a matter of fact it would probably show very "wrong" results - and that is why no university, special interest group, government agency, etc. touches it.

Anonymous said...

Tropic Thunder is a 2008 American action satire comedy film directed and produced by Ben Stiller and written by Stiller, Justin Theroux, and Etan Cohen



You're right, green mamba, we need to do something about those darn anti-Semitic Jews.

On a more serious note, does "The Passion Of The Christ" ring any bells?

Americas stupid, stupid Jews all went around telling themselves that this, and not Tropic Thunder, was an anti-Semitc movie and was the habringer of the next anti-Jewish pogrom.

Being stupid, it never seems to dawn on them that constantly accusng their American neighbors of being closeted Nazis(!) is rude and obnoxious behavior and is not exactly calculated to win friends and influence people.

Assuming you grasp this insight, feel free to share it with your stupid Jewish friends.

Anonymous said...

"It is also significant that 3 of the main characters, Strangelove, Mandrake, and the President, were all played by the late, great, Peter Sellers (Jewish), one of the funniest comedians ever."

Sellers also played the pedophile Clare Quilty in Kubrick's version of Lolita. Sydney Pollack (Jewish) played the only known member of the elite cabal in Eyes Wide Shut, a part originally to be played by Harvey Keitel(also Jewish.) The psychiatrist in charge of the government's mind control experiments in A Clockwork Orange is named Dr Brodsky. So, yeah, I don't think we can assume Strangelove was not Jewish.

Anonymous said...

So, yeah, I don't think we can assume Strangelove was not Jewish.

So we're to assume that Lionel Mandrake and President Merkin Muffley were also Jewish because they were played by a Jewish actor?

So Strangelove was supposed to be a Jewish Nazi?

I think you're reading WAY too much into this.

green mamba said...

That was supposed to be ironic wasn't it?

No. Name some positive Jewish roles. Most movie likable guy heroes are given gentile names and backgrounds, even if they are portrayed by Jewish actors.

You're right, green mamba, we need to do something about those darn anti-Semitic Jews.

My point was and remains that portrayals of Jewish people in the media are far from exclusively positive. I already mentioned that Jews are to a large part responsible for this.

I believe this originates from the Jewish belief that by hiding their positive characteristics and emphasizing the negative, they will not provoke a jealous reaction in their fellow citizens. It's a stupid strategy rooted in fear.

AmericanGoy said...

"By the way, here's my 2006 review of Borat, which pointed out something that practically nobody else mentioned about that critically-lauded film."

Except me.

And a bazillion other people.

Who are not in the MSM.

It is blatantly obvious that, like a stereotypical Jewish racist, Sacha has an axe to grind against the subhuman slavs and the dumb goyim americans, easy targets for con artists.

AmericanGoy said...

"Idiocracy is superficially a comedy with crude jokes about sex, etc. But there is much subtle humor that you don't necessarily notice, particularly only visually displayed in the background."

The hospital scene.

Pay attention to everything, including the cassino machine and what the prize is.

Anonymous said...

What I would like to see is an on-line database of movies and TV shows where characters are analyzed by their ethnic background and how they are portrayed. They could be ranked on a moral scale, likeabilty scale, sexual attractivness scale, behaviour scale, reform/salvation scale etc. The ethnic background of those who financed, directed, and created these characters should also be revealed. A final score could be tallied at the end and the data could be analyzed by type of movie, year, studio production, etc.

Yes, yes, yes!

That would a great idea.

In my own small way I was thinking of starting a blog listing anti-white media bias but your suggestion is something more in depth.

Would I would like to see, and this would need to be a collaborative effort, would be an episode by episode breakdown of shows like CSI, Law & Order, any TV, movie really etc etc Ethnic breakdown, who's sympathetic, bad guy, good guy and so on. Like you said.

Just imagine if every ep. of Law n' Ordure were tallied like this.

Part of the liberal argument is that the bad guy/serial killer/muderer "just happened to be a WASP" in that episode, whereas in all those other eps...

If we had a comprehensive list showing that actually the bad guy was always a WASP, that would put the lid on that.

Also its been noted that L & O take real world stories and tweak them in utterly trivial ways like swapping the racial identities of victim/perp. So a good feature would be note these episodes and match them to the source story. Throwing further unwelcome light upon the makers intentions.

can't believe my eyes said...

""So, yeah, I don't think we can assume Strangelove was not Jewish.

So we're to assume that Lionel Mandrake and President Merkin Muffley were also Jewish because they were played by a Jewish actor? "

So Strangelove was supposed to be a Jewish Nazi?

I think you're reading WAY too much into this."

Of course. The film, Dr. Strangelove, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb," was based on a book by a British author. Kubrick had renounced America and was living in England, hence the anti-American strain. Dr. Strangelove was not in the book and was a Kubrick/Terry Southern addition. Kubrick understood the complexity of human events to an extent few others ever have. "Nazi" is an archetype of no fixed address and many aliases, depending on where they turn up and who's hosting the event. However, Dr. Strangelove was NOT supposed to be literally Jewish. He was definitely supposed to be German although the film didn't really explore the good doctor's childhood and family. I think Werner von Braun was, unjustly perhaps, the model for him.
This was too briliant a movie not be chock full of subtext. Strangelove was not scripted to be a Jewish Nazi. duh. This was 1964. But can't you see how the resemblance to Kissinger is part of the joke? That toothy little rat smile? The subtle changes of expression with every thought passing. That Sellers himself, the real Sellers, is part of the dark, dark, sparkling joke?
That Sellers playing the American President and the British, stiff-upper-lip, always rational soldier who saves the day and remains calm with insanity all around him, is also part of the joke? When the Americans aren't protecting the rights of Coke machines or shooting down their own men while worrying about bodily fluids, they are shagging in back of the war room. It is sort of anti-American, but at the time, the probability of nuclear destruction was seen as an immediate matter of life and death. If ridiculing the perps could reign in the insanity, so be it.
btw, Sellers was also supposed to play the yahoo who rides the bomb to its destination, but broke his leg before he get the Texas accent down.

Anonymous said...

But can't you see how the resemblance to Kissinger is part of the joke? That toothy little rat smile? The subtle changes of expression with every thought passing.

I never thought the good doctor looked or sounded anything like Kissinger. He sounded like a stereotypical Nazi villain from grade-B Hollywood thrillers. I might, however, be willing to buy it as, in part, a subtly wicked swipe at Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb and avid war-monger. Making Strangelove an obvious, literal Nazi would have been a real kick in the balls to Teller, a Hungarian Jew who lost members of his family to the Holocaust.

Svigor said...

It's not as if these negative characterizations are offset by a lot of normal, good guy Jewish roles.

This is true, but I don't see why we need explicit Jewishness as criterion. Drop that and Jewish self-portrayal is overwhelmingly self-serving. I don't mean self-congratulatory, btw -- two different things. Self-serving: "we're not threatening, in fact we're the complete opposite of threatening"; "at worst we're annoying, but it's okay because we're pretty smart (but not aggressively so!)" etc.

Jews present the narrative of themselves that they want presented. It excludes Jewish ethnocentrism, aggressiveness, bigotry, predation. It portrays Jews as neurotic, plucky heroes who are really nerds at heart but overcome their own meekness (lol!) to achieve fulfillment or social good.

In short, they play the victim/plucky hero.

I mean, how hard is it to figure out what Jews figured out way before they made Hollywood: people, or at least, Americans/Europeans, are suckers for the downtrodden hero and tend not to gravitate to the ubermensch? Everybody hates the too-perfect hero. The point of the narrative is to be loved (or pitied), not hated (or envied), and to disarm hostility to Jews insofar as is possible.

As far as roles like Cruise in Tropic Thunder go (saw a few minutes of this and it took me a minute to figure out who he was, loved the bit where he had the grip punch the director), who knows? Maybe they're recapitulating the 70s a bit, when Jewish identity was more salient in film. But a few drops in the ocean don't make a wave.

Which is really the point here - Jewishness is simply not on the mass media radar, any more than Jewishness was on the label of the culture of critique. A few Jewish filmmakers having fun with other people's money notwithstanding.

I've come to realize that a great many Jews have a very twisted view of the world in a lot of ways. E.g., they can argue as if anti-Semitism is really a problem in the media (e.g., coverage of Israel). Wow! Yeah, that blockbuster Spielberg film last year about the Settlements was a real blow, eh?

can't believe my eyes said...

"Making Strangelove an obvious, literal Nazi would have been a real kick in the balls to Teller, a Hungarian Jew who lost members of his family to the Holocaust."

Hadn't thought of Teller.
Teller, Schmeller, Sellers. You are right about the torturous humor of making Dr. Strangelove resemble, even obliquely, any Jewish person only 20 years after WWII. To quite a few people, Teller was as controversal as Kissinger. Sellers schtick on the Nazi mannerisms was at least as funny as the less noted Obama imitation of Musolini during his campaign. It's a shame Sellers is not still alive. The star of "Being There" would so appreciate current events.
Someday they'll look back on the past 100 years we've just had, and marvel how we didn't connect the dots.

Anonymous said...

When the Americans aren't protecting the rights of Coke machines

Interesting. I remember seeing Dr. Strangelove for the first time at 19 and being so struck by the audience laughing at the soldier defending the Coke machine. I thought, wow, people laugh at decency.

wendal said...

Hadn't thought of Teller.

Let me place a vote for Dr Sidney Gottlieb, the head of the CIA's mind control program, who had a club foot and a passion for folk dancing. It's uncertain if either Kissinger or Gottlieb were famous enough by 1964 for Kubrick to have known about them, but if they hadn't existed, Kubrick would have to make them up.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I remember seeing Dr. Strangelove for the first time at 19 and being so struck by the audience laughing at the soldier defending the Coke machine. I thought, wow, people laugh at decency.

Lets be fair here. In the context of that scene Mandrake is - literally - trying to save the world and the Major, quite likely having just killed fellow Americans, is quibbling over the fate of a Coke machine.