Rarely does an episode of House go without a Jewish reference, even when Jewish Doctor Cuddy isn't in the storyline. Cartoons - notably the Simpsons and South Park - have explored Jewish identity. And now, The Family Guy aired a show last night called "Family Goy," in which Lois Griffin discovers that she's Jewish. But what's strange is that recently, in pop culture, there seems to be Jewiness everywhere.
One of the most-talked-about films of the month is the Coen Brothers' most recent oddity, "A Serious Man," which explores the 70s era midwestern Jewish childhoods of the Coens through an opening midrash of sorts in Yiddish with English subtitles, and shows life in Hebrew school where teachers refuse to speak English in class. In that scene, the audience is forced to join the students in their bewilderment, because neither of them gets subtitles for the Hebrew conjugations being taught in the class. This film, my friend Lindsay noted, is "Jewier than @estherk's friend list." (She's not wrong. I claim it's Jewier than "Yentl," but my friend Wendy disagrees. Oh well, it wouldn't be Jewy without Jews failing to agree. Maybe I should propose a debate titled, "Which one is Jewier, Yentl or A Serious Man?" for this year's LimmudLA conference.)
Listening to the radio, you might hear the Black Eyed Peas' latest, a song called "I Gotta Feeling." Released this summer, the song's increased in airplay to at least 150 times a day on every radio station in Los Angeles. Well, in case you haven't heard, there's both a "mazal tov" and a "l'chayim" in the lyrics (check out the clip above, around 3:17 in, for the one-two Hebrew punch). While it's slightly surprising to hear Hebrew in an American pop song, you might remember that the BEP have always been very popular in Israel, perhaps for including the region in the song "Hey Mama" ("Then we drop bombs like we in the middle east") or for proclaiming big love for the country when they tour there. What's next? Prediction for 2010: Kanye West interrupts a Black Eyed Peas concert, changes his name to "KanYiheyeh B'Seder" and starts blogging for Benji.
Even Ahmadinejad may boast Jewish roots. Well, not "boast," actually - more like "vehemently deny while threatening to bomb Israel." But as Jewlicious pointed out, this was something that our resident prophet/animation guru William Levin came up with as a joke in a Birthright Israel recruitment video: turns out that the best comedy has reality (or at least, a potential reality) as a basis. If the rumors are true, it just fuels additional questions - if Mahmoud's mom was Jewish, would my parents consider him an acceptable potential match? Does he have the right of return? Is he related to Lois Griffin? Does he pay retail?
I can't watch every news broadcast or TV show (or can I?), so if I've missed some important pop cultural moment this week, I blame Sukkot. (Why not? I'm sure if you say "schach" enough times it damages your vocal cords and renders you forgetful. Someone needs to research that.) What'd I miss? You tell me. (You always do.)