|Don’t you know that when you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise whether you do or not?
In the last couple of years it became common practice for Israeli newspapers to stuff themselves with supplements which look at first like genuine newspaper addition, but are actually just advertisements posing as articles. This is an effort, I assume, to give the inherit deceitful nature of advertising an air of objective news coverage.
[singlepic id=9 w=150 h=230 float=right]There is one such monthly supplement about cell phone models, one about office equipment, and a few that feature an array of products, linking fashion trends with things you can purchase. A new supplement which fits the latter is titled: URBAN – GET A LIFE STYLE [sic].
When I first laid my hands on it I thought I was reading it wrong, as I myself often feel the uncontrollable urge to tell people searching for style to get a life – and so having the very source of evil inadvertently tell the same to its readers, thinking it is a clever play on words – well, that just brightened up my day.
I started flipping through the magazine and had to really fight my gag reflex. The pages were filled with pseudo-new-age mantras, one nauseating mantra before each of the magazine sections [emphasis and capitals theirs]: It’s not who you’re sleeping with BUT where in the lodging section, Food is like desire. It’s much better in a PRETTY package! in the dining section, It’s not who you’re talking to BUT what you’re talking with in the cell phones section, There are two ways to achieve HAPPINESS: Be in love or drink fine wine in the wine section, There’s electricity in the air GET IT! – yes, you guessed it – in the electrical appliances section.
And then I hit the mother lode in the accessories section:
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You see, it is quite rare to be able to summarize a critique into a single sentence, much rarer to be able to summarize it to a single word – but to find one such word published by the very people the critique speaks against, well that is as close to force majeure as you can find.
Yes, excessories is exactly how I would spell the unnecessary daily purchases done by people trying to fill the void in their soul, and here it comes from the advertiser’s mouth. Oh! The humanity…
When I first stumbled upon the website Engrish.com which meticulously documents the Japanese’s futile attempt at mastering the English language, I laughed so hard at ‘those stupid Japanese’. I assume this is exactly what non-Israelis do when they look at us, as we also show the same negative correlation between how cool the natives revere the English language and how poor their actual English-language skills are.
Hat tip to The Viral Workshop.
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israeli Minister of Education Yuli Tamir, scraping the bottom of the making-the-Holocaust-cool-enough-for-our-apathetic-kids barrel, has declared a national project in which high school students will compete to gather the most glass marbles, in an effort to collect 1.5 million marbles, one for each Jewish child perished in the Holocaust.
Paper Clips is a 2004 award-winning documentary about middle school children from the city of Whitwell, Tennessee who tried to collect 6 million paper clips to commemorate the estimated number of Jews who lost their lives by the Nazis.
A young aid probably handed the minister a copy of the movie and she must have thought that this idea is, like, totally cool and stuff – and decided to create her own governmentally funded spin-off project.
I have watched the movie last year and thought it was very moving, so how can I be against a similar project this year? Am I just pro paper clips and anti marbles? Please watch the Paper Clips film trailer now before reading the rest of this post:
Okay, now let us examine the differences:
The rural community of Whitwell has a population of less than 2000 residents, all of them white, all of them Christians.
A middle school history class about the Holocaust made the children aware of the fact that they have never met a Jewish person, nor can grasp the notion of six million people.
The children started writing letters to some people, explaining their project and asking them to kindly send one paper clip.
The project continued for a number of years.
Without giving too much away I will just say that this simple idea started a chain of events and made a difference in the lives of the students, the school and the city.
As a Jewish person, I have found the movie to be inspirational, as it documented contemporary kids who were not obsessed with pop culture and shopping, who were not apathetic when taught about events that happened half a century ago in a country they have never visited to a people they have never met.
That is why I did not linger over the gut feeling that linking paper clips and people is a bit simplistic and might be considered in bad taste by some people.
Now let’s get back to Tamir’s idea:
The esteemed minister initiated a government initiative in which school children from all over Israel will compete with other schools, to see who collects the most marbles.
Most of the children will most likely buy the marbles, to increase their chances of winning.
The project will probably be time-restricted, to make sure the attention-deficit youngsters will not lose interest.
These children will not be encouraged to meet a Holocaust survivor and learn about his ordeals.
These children will not be encouraged to investigate how many of their own relatives perished in the Holocaust.
These children will not be encouraged to learn about recent incidents of genocide.
These children will not be encouraged to investigate xenophobia in their own environment.
Oh no, these children are encouraged in a government funded project to collect marbles, in an effort to quantify the suffering and prove once and for all that our Holocaust was bigger and better than everyone else’s, and being in the Holocaust* was a total bummer.
I believe this is another clear sign the empire is sinking.
*Israeli children may often say ‘he was in the Holocaust’, subconsciously referring to the Holocaust as a physical place.
Update 1/2010: Hadar Ratzon now has an official website at HadarRatzon.co.il
I have already posted an elaborate list of the top annoyances plaguing the Israeli Internet*, but wherever my mouse takes me I encounter more and more prototypical examples:
Let’s say you’re watching the film Rendition (2007), and you notice a breathtaking actress:
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You wait until the movie ends, and by scanning the credit list you find out her name is Hadar Ratzon:
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You come home from the cinema, and anxiously google it:
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Of course you did not really expect to find an official HadarRatzon.com website, as that may cost up to ten (10!) dollars a year, but the first result is her agent and it seems promising:
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Guess again! Three photos and a website error – this is all the information you get from the company that gets a significant percentage off her income. Could there be a better example to prove that Israeli companies do not consider the Internet a marketing tool, nor a knowledge acquisition tool?
* For a lack of a better term, ‘Israeli Internet’ is what I call the ad-hoc collection of websites run by Israelis.
Thanks to reader koko, I stand corrected. I must have been mesmerized by Fatima Fawal (Zineb Oukach) and her middle-eastern features, that when the credits rolled I mixed her up with Safiya (Hadar Ratzon). As koko suggested, Safiya is the lover and co-worker of Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal). Here is a frame of hers from the film:
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And another one, just to make it up to her:
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Either way, my critique of the Israeli Internet still stands – it just so happens that this entire post started by a case of mistaken identity.
[singlepic id=2 w=320 h=240 float=right]Monopoly is the best selling board game in the world, sold in 103 countries and produced in 37 languages. Game manufacturer Parker Brothers has launched a worldwide vote to find the 22 greatest cities in the world to be included on the new MONOPOLY Here & Now: The World Edition game board. You can cast your vote online and make sure your favorite city will be included and maybe even placed on the highest rent property. I know many right-wing Israelis would take this as a chance to further the notion that Jerusalem is the ‘eternal capital city of the Jewish people’ – so I just wanted to give you the heads up.
Voting period ends February 28, 2008.
Hat tip to Albert C. Veldhuis from the Monopoly Lexicon.
I am usually against armchair activism in all its forms, as I believe Israeli citizens should protest on the streets just like their French and Italian peers. With regards to the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, I have seen banners, online petitions and Facebook groups – each one trying to convince me that the boys will be brought home just as soon as one million members sign up.
I feel different about this coming protest and that is why I am posting about it:
On Thursday, January 24, 2008, people who care enough to leave their houses are encouraged to participate in a grassroots activity that hopefully will grab some media coverage. Students from Emek Yizrael Academic College are asking people from all around the world to drive to their local airport and stand for a while in the arrivals hall, holding a blank A4 paper – with no name on it, as a symbol for the agonizing wait for the soldiers’ arrival. Protestors are encouraged to document themselves in photos and video, to be posted on the (now-defunct) project’s website www.missingthem.net
This act of performance art is intended to raise awareness within the regular meeters and greeters holding name signs of people arriving shortly, and by word of mouth raise awareness among people that will be told of the act later that day by the original bystanders. While the electronic media might cover this event, I am pretty certain the honest effort and true emotions will be filtered by the cold flickering TV screen.
Come if you can! Come if you care!
[singlepic id=1 w=320 h=240 float=right]A couple of months ago when it came to my attention that Hilary Swank starred in the 4th Karate Kid film, The Next Karate Kid (1994), I was sure of two things: the movie sucks – and I absolutely have to see it.
Swank is one of my favorite female actresses since I left the cinema after watching Boys Don’t Cry, and could not speak for an hour, so when I stumbled upon this nugget of film trivia I knew I must witness how someone goes from a B-movie debut appearance to an Academy Award performance just five years later.
Well I managed to get my hands on a copy of The Next Karate Kid film and after watching it now I can honestly say it is everything I expected and even less:
A third sequel to a successful movie, taglined ‘Who says the good guy has to be a guy?’, this film had failure written all over it. The plotline was not believable, the characters had no depth, and I absolutely loved every minute of it.
As a Swank fan I watched this movie with fond eyes, the way only a mother could look at her child as he embarrasses the heck out of her, performing in the living room on a holiday in front of the entire extended family. The benefit of knowing this poor teenager (19 years old at the time of the shooting) would stand at the LA Shrine Auditorium in five years and accept an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, knowing this made all the difference.
I am very much against letting children watch television, and if my nine months old niece was more eloquent, she would describe a TV set as a box with flickering colors that shuts down as soon as you move your head towards it.
I also like the artist Hanoch Piven very much, and so it is with mixed feelings I announce that his new TV show for kids will air twice daily in Israel starting today (6:55am and 5:45pm) on the Hop channel. In each 5 minutes episode Piven will create colorful portraits from found objects.
Here is the opening sequence as posted by Piven on his blog: