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.)
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.