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 common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.