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.)
Members of Students for Justice in Palestine speak at the “Palestine Without Borders” session at the 2018 United We Dream National Congress. Photo: Youth Empowerment Alliance.
A pro-Israel group on Thursday denounced an “antisemitic” session recently hosted by an immigrant youth organization, which compared Israel with Nazi Germany and equated the movement for Jewish self-determination with white supremacy and genocide.
69% of progressives are ashamed to be Americans, but 63% are proud of their political ideology instead. The majority don’t attend religious services, but 73% list politics as their preoccupation.
Numbers from one poll showed that, “religiously unaffiliated Democrats were more than twice as likely to have attended a rally within the past 12 months compared with their religious peers” and were “significantly more likely to have contacted an elected official or to have donated to a candidate or cause” or “bought or boycotted a product for political reasons or posted political opinions online”.
Campus Week: A guide for Jewish students and their elders
Anti-Zionism ghettoizes Jews from the rest of the justice movement, putting a wall around us that separates us from other marginalized people. It cannot be reconciled with any movement striving for inclusivity. It denies us access to solidarity-based movements which should be fighting for equality, for historically oppressed peoples. As American Jewish students return to campus, they should prepare to be challenged academically and intellectually, and should also prepare to challenge movements that don’t respect Zionism and their Jewish heritage.
The Jerusalem Post reviewed a video showing two speakers who called for the “liberation of all of Palestine 48” and “we must take a stand and boycott Israel. BDS.” The slogan to “liberate all of Palestine” reverts to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 and is widely considered a euphemism to cleanse Israel of Jews.
The German Middle East expert Thomas von der Osten-Sacken wrote an article on the website of the Austrian-based think tank Mena-Watch, with the headline “Speaker at indivisible demonstration calls for Israel’s destruction.” The protest was called #unteilbar (indivisible) by its organizers.
From 1998 to 2008, 5.4 million Congolese died as a result of civil war. Most of the Congolese asylum seekers in Israel came during this period.
It is now the turn of hundreds of asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to be deported back to their country. The Foreign Ministry has implied that the conditions that justified collective protection to Congolese asylum seekers no longer prevail and that there is nothing to prevent them from returning home safely. The Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) has given them 90 days to leave the country.
With its decades-old track record of murder and mayhem, Hamas has already secured itself a place in the annals of infamy.
From bus bombings to underground terror tunnels to the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets and projectiles at Israeli towns and cities, the Islamic extremist group has repeatedly found new ways to sow widespread death and destruction.
Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the standard of living for the Palestinian people in Gaza has steadily declined, even though Israel gifted the Palestinians with thriving agricultural lands, productive greenhouses and beautiful beachfront communities.
Every once in a while, I come across a book that I can say changed the way I understand the world I live in. Raymond Ibrahim’s new book, Sword and Scimitar, altered the way I understand the development of our civilization – I mean the one that America inherited from Europe and made our own. It drove home to me how little I knew about the way Islam – in the form of attempted and often successful conquest – really changed the way our civilization evolved and the way it grew to understand itself.
American Thinker: “How War with Islam Shaped and Defined Us”
“In the Hadith, the Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews,” Hatem Bazian reportedly declared, “until the trees and stones will say, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!”
That was in 1999.
Two years later, Bazian had co-founded Students for Justice in Palestine. Three years later, 79 members of his new SJP hate group were busted for disrupting a Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
Iran is a formidable enemy. A large country of more than 80 million people, endowed with energy riches, it has always been a regional power. Having an imperial past and revolutionary zeal (since the 1979 Iranian Revolution), Iran nourishes ambitions to rule over the Middle East and beyond. Furthermore, theologically there is no place in Iranian thinking for a Jewish state.