Mike Myers’ classic characters—plus Madonna and Babs—together in a buddy flick about anti-Semitism. What could go wrong? By Rachel Shukert
Now that the public face of nihilism has increasingly become ruddy, well-fed, and bellowing in a country-fried accent something about how compromise is a Judeo-Bolshevist invention, it’s hard to remember that there once was a time when our cultural image of an adherent to this most ridiculous of philosophies was altogether different. Sleeker. Cooler. Artier. German.
Nobody embodied—or satirized—that Platonic ideal better than Dieter, the iconic SNL character sprung from the mind of Mike Myers, which was arguably the most fertile terrain in ’90s comedy, populated by various charter members of various hilariously specific subcultures, each of whom had somehow been selected to host their own talk show. Dieter’s show was Sprockets,a virtuosically bizarre rendering of what might happen if Klaus Nomi was the host of Crossfire, involving disturbing black-and-white video, a mysterious monkey that favored guests were exhorted to touch, and of course, “the time on Sprockets when we dance” a jerky assemblage of geometric movements that would not be out of place in a Merce Cunningham piece.
Despite, or perhaps because of, his cultlike appeal, Dieter never reached the dizzying heights of Wayne Campbell, Myers’ most famous SNL creation, having been denied a starring role in his own feature film. Such a project was green-lighted in 2000 and set to feature then up-and-coming new talents Will Ferrell and Jack Black in supporting roles and looked to be yet another smash hit waiting to happen. Until, that is, Myers unexpectedly pulled out, citing unresolvable issues with the screenplay (which he himself had written, no fewer than 14 times) and triggering a series of lawsuits that, depending on what you thought of The Cat in the Hat, effectively ended his non-Shrek film career. The script was shelved, never to be seen again by human eyes.
That is, until now. Comedy news website Splitsider managed to get a hold of a copy and has kindly reported back, Harry Shearer-style. The verdict? Pretty good! Pretty, pretty, pretty good! A little dated, perhaps, but that’s to be expected, and given the unprecedented nostalgia of the pre-Millennials (i.e., we’re mostly too broke and depressed to make up our own art, so we spend a lot of time tearfully combing Tumblrs strewn with the detritus of our Elysian childhoods), not unviable in today’s marketplace.
But why not really reach into the vaults? Maybe Dieter isn’t enough; maybe it wants to be a buddy picture. And for the role of Dieter’s buddy, allow me to nominate my favorite of Myer’s great triumvirate of sketch comedy creations: the big-haired, butter-adoring, Streisand-worshiping, mighty taloned Linda Richman, the host of “Coffee Talk.” Dieter and Linda. A buddy film reconciling postwar German Nishilism with postwar American-Jewish bagels and lox and buttah culture: There’s a truth and reconciliation committee for you. If you tell me you don’t want to buy your tickets right this minute, I’ll call you a damned liar (or, you know, under 30).
Here’s the pitch: Conceptual artist Dieter, despondent over what he sees to be the detrimental effect of reality television breaking the last taboos (after the Kardashians, how can one ever be disgusted again?), decides to make the most offensive piece of art ever made, after which he will commit suicide. To that end, he gathers Miley Cyrus, Terry Richardson, Paula Deen, and a small troupe of acrobatic dwarves in furry bear costumes and sets off for the Museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where he plans a remake of Jerry Lewis’ unreleased master-shonde, The Day the Clown Cried. He didn’t reckon, however, with running into the Temple B’nai Israel Synagogue Sisterhood delegation on their biannual heritage tour, led by one Linda Richman, who isn’t very amused by his project. They get into an altercation, Miley Cyrus is wounded, Paula Deen helplessly offers sticks of butter only to be told she is pronouncing it incorrectly and besides, they had flaishich for lunch, and eventually, both Dieter and Linda are arrested by overzealous concentration camp guards—excuse me, docents—on crimes of attempted assault and Holocaust denial.
Ultimately, they are released, but Linda’s tour group, now in the thrall of Liz, Linda’s bitter rival/best friend (played by Madonna) has moved on to Bergen-Belsen without her. Dieter agrees to escort a distraught Linda across Germany, but unbeknownst to her, he will be recording their trip in order make a film titled “Travels With Old Jewish Woman,” which he plans to enter in the annual Anti-Semitic Film Festival in Gaza. The trip starts out rocky, but slowly they form a grudging rapport in the manner of such things, and when they arrive at Belsen to find themselves foiled once again by Liz, whose rich son has surprised the women by flying them all out to Jerusalem for a Barbra Streisand concert in the Old City (without Linda, and winning the presidency for Liz once and for all), he comes along. (The anti-Semitic film festival is at the same time.)
A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch.
A slight drop in the number of antisemitic incidents in Berlin during the first half of this year is no excuse for complacency, the city’s antisemitism commissioner emphasized on Thursday following the publication of statistics for hate crimes targeting Jews in the German capital from January-June 2019.
“Antisemitism remains a serious problem that we cannot tolerate in Berlin,” Lorenz Korgel — the city’s commissioner for combating antisemitism — told local news outlet Berliner Morgenpost. “The number of antisemitic incidents remains at a high level. ”
People wear kippas at a demonstration in front of a Jewish synagogue denouncing an antisemitic attack on a young man wearing a kippa, in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)
The population of the State of Israel has increased 2.1% since last year, according to a report released in time for Rosh Hashanah by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Today, there are 9.1 million citizens of Israel, of which some 6.7 million (74%) are Jewish, the report shows. The country’s citizens also include 1.9 million Arabs (21%) and 0.4% of “others,” including Christians and those of other minority groups.
A women holds up a sign against anti-Semitism at a rally in New York City on Sept. 22, 2019. Photo: Rhonda Hodas Hack.
JNS.org – Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in front of City Hall in New York on Sunday, calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other municipal leaders, as well as those on the national level, to act against antisemitism and the wave of antisemitic hate crimes taking place against the Orthodox Jewish community.
The beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 17, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.
On the eve of the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the Jewish year of 5780, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released its traditional end-of-the-year findings.
Israel’s population now stands at 9.092 million people — 6.744 million (74.2 percent) of whom are Jews, with 1.907 million (21 percent) Arabs and 441,000 (4.8 percent) listed as “other.”
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason. Photo: Instagram.
Drew Seigla and Stephanie Lynne Mason play Pertshik and Hodl, whose love story takes them all the way to Siberia in the award-winning show by the National Yiddish Theatre.
Sep 30, 2019 0Jeremy Hunt, the British Foreign secretary, has recently commissioned a report on the persecution of Christians, most acutely occurring in the Muslim World, and especially in the Arab/Muslim...
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“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” — Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
“Israel must, in the most blunt and clear way possible, illustrate to Washington that the prosperity of Jordan is a first-rate Israeli security and strategic interest.” — Former head of Mossad Ephraim Halevy at “Between Jerusalem and Amman: 25 Years Since the Signing of the Peace Agreement Between Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Institute for National Security Studies, Sept. 25, 2019.
A thought came to mind the other day.
For all the bluster about Judaism and anti-Semitism in America, I am not convinced that far-out-left and liberal young Jews, who have been very strident and even threatening on Israel-related issues and local American political battles, have done much on the ground to confront and quash, one way or another, attacks on Jews. They have portrayed themselves as gliding along a moral highway but have permitted immoral actions to exist quite close to home, far from Gaza (did any of them recite a public Kaddish in the town square for murdered and injured Jews, or their damaged and desecrated property)?
One of the hallmark features of Yom Kippur are the communal sins which we need to repent for. Most Jews focus on what we have done personally towards G-d and towards others. Little thought is given to how we could be better as a community. Or the sins we bear as a community.
However, the communal recitation of the Al Chet, repeated over and over on Yom Kippur is to drive the point home that we are responsible for one another
Incoming freshman Member of Knesset from the leftist, Democratic Union list, Yair Golan, did it again. Golan’s constant delegitimization of his political opponents on the right, smacks of the same delegitimization that tyrants, dictators, demagogues and assorted totalitarians always use, just before the Putsch.
In that regard, he’s right when he said recently, “I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that radicals with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government.” Think “
As Israeli frustration mounts about violence coming out of Gaza, the idea of a ground invasion, and once and for all to finish with Hamas aggression, becomes more appealing. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this approach, saying, “There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime.” While sympathetic to this impulse, I worry that too much attention is paid to tactics and not enough to goals. The result could be harmful to Israel.