[Marxism] Finally, a reason to support Sacha Baron Cohen

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 15 20:07:09 MST 2006

Nick wrote:
>But I wonder when Cohen will satirise middle class English Jews.

I don't know about that exactly, but keep in mind that Larry Charles 
directed Borat. He was the also co-director of Seinfeld with Larry 
David and now works on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" with David. Both Larry 
Charles and Larry David are Jewish.

Jewish News Weekly, Friday May 8, 1998
Critics call show `self-hating': Was `Seinfeld' good for Jews?

NEW YORK -- Considering how many of the "Seinfeld" writers are Jewish 
-- more than half the team, at least -- it's no surprise the show 
would be rife with jokes about parents in Florida, girlfriends who 
keep kosher, Jewish singles events and even Nazis.

After a top Jewish television executive reportedly dismissed the 
original pilot for "Seinfeld" as "too Jewish," NBC gave the show a 
second chance a year later, in 1990.

Now, as Jerry and his sidekicks close their nine-year run atop the 
Nielsen charts, and as millions of devoted fans around the globe 
prepare to watch the show's final episode Thursday night, it is 
obvious that the characters' quirky witticisms and neurotic, oddball 
idiosyncrasies are not too Jewish for America.

But was "Seinfeld" good for the Jews?

In a recent article in the Washington Post, television critic Tom 
Shales declared that the sitcom was not "too Jewish" but too 
self-hatingly Jewish.

There's no doubt that Shales' argument holds water. Think of some 
episodes that dealt specifically with Judaism:

*After the non-Jewish character Elaine seeks counseling from a rabbi, 
he then divulges one of her secrets on a national television talk show.

*A neighborhood soup stand's exacting chef-proprietor is called a "Soup Nazi."

*The mohel that Elaine finds for a friend's child's brit milah is so 
high-strung that he mistakenly cuts godfather Jerry's finger instead.

*Jerry's arch-enemy, Newman, catches Jerry and his current girlfriend 
making out during "Schindler's List."

*In an episode titled "Shiksappeal," Elaine discovers that Jewish men 
like her because she is not Jewish.

Rabbi Jonathan and Judith Pearl, co-directors of the Jewish 
Televimages Resource Center, a project that traces the way Jews are 
depicted on television, agree with Shales.

"`Seinfeld' became unfunny" whenever it "dealt with Jewish issues," 
says Jonathan Pearl, a media scholar and Reconstructionist rabbi 
living in Queens, N.Y.

"I think when someone pokes fun out of love and affection, it comes 
through no matter how stereotypical or offensive it might seem," he says.

But the Pearls, who will soon publish their first book on how Jewish 
themes and characters have been portrayed on television, feel 
"Seinfeld" is blatantly hostile toward Judaism.


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