Sarah Silverman’s obscene antics and shock politics
Can the cute-turned-adult comedian's latest political stunt be followed by the Israeli lefty showbiz folk?
Everyone remembers Sarah Silverman’s video during the 2008 campaign, when she was urging nice Jewish girls and boys to get their ‘fat Jewish asses on a plane to Florida” and convince their grandparents to get over their latent racism and vote for Barack Obama.
The pro-Obama push was called “The Great Schlep” and in that video, Silverman was at the top of her “cute young Jewish girl with a potty-mouth” game, wearing barrettes, with a plaid collar peeking out of a brown T-shirt. She looked so wholesome at the time, passionately urging her peers to convince their grandparents that Obama is ‘the goodest person we’ve ever had as a presidential choice.”
Yes, she did curse a lot, as she always does, including the “F” word, the “S” word, the “A” word into her rant, and even making up some creative curses of her own like “douchenozzle.” In her inimitable anti-politically-correct-while-being-politically-correct style, she said that Jewish grandparents could be brought closer to Obama by reminding them of everything elderly Jews have in common with black people (they like to wear track suits, shiny jewelry, and ‘all their friends are dying.’)
Sure she was dirty, but she was adorable. Any Jewish grandma would want to pinch her cheek - and then give her a playful smack and tell her to wash her mouth out with soap.
Four years later, Sarah is still politically passionate, but a lot more, shall we say, adult in her appeal. I can’t quite imagine what her Bubbe would think of the new video she’s made that has sped its way around Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the blogosphere and much of the press over the past 24 hours.
This time, she is less well-groomed in a grungier T-shirt and sweatshirt, her hair pulled back. And this time, she has offered billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson the pleasure of partaking in a ‘traditionally” lesbian sexual act called ‘scissoring’ (I’d like to see how many people Googled that word recently …) if he agrees to give the $100 million he has offered to give Mitt Romney- and give it to Barack Obama instead. And in it, she demonstrates the act with a Chihuahua. Wearing a bikini.
Despite the fact that unlike ‘The Great Schlep,’ the Scissor Sheldon campaign does not have a Yiddish name, it is also very much aimed at the Jews – it’s sponsored by something called the Jewish Council for Education and Research. The website that hosts the video also contains a ‘Stop Sheldon’ petition declaring:
“Billionaires are giving Romney a record-breaking amount of money for this campaign. One of these men, 78-year old casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has committed to giving 100 million dollars to Romney. Adelson is the same man who stopped backing AIPAC for supporting aid to the Palestinians, freely mocked Obama at a Birthright event, and who Republican Senator John McCain suggests is bringing foreign money into American elections.
Adelson has said "he will do whatever it takes" to defeat President Obama. American Jews overwhelming reject both Mr. Adelson's views and his outsized role in this election. Tell Mitt Romney to reject Sheldon Adelson’s support. Sign this petition to keep Adelson’s money out of politics.”
On one hand, Silverman’s campaign is already a success. She’s gotten people’s attention, which is what politics is all about. Thanks to her uninhibited willingness to hump a dog while wearing a bikini, she’s sent a loud message to many people who may have otherwise never heard of Sheldon Adelson or his influence on the U.S. presidential campaign to pay close attention. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on your politics.
On the other hand, I’m beginning to worry as to whether behavior today must be circus-like or extreme in order to grab public attention. Any taste I had for extreme political behavior evaporated this week after two attention-getting stunts - most tragically, Moshe Silman’s self-immolation, and, more recently, far-right MK Michael Ben-Ari’s decision to tear the New Testament to shreds in front of a camera.
At least Silverman’s stunt didn’t hurt anybody - except maybe the dog - or denigrate anyone’s religion … and it was funny.
I’m wondering if such a move could ever happen in Israel. Certainly, one could argue that Adelson holds as much, if not more, sway over Israeli politics than over American politics, with his unswerving support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political campaigns, and his continued support via his media holdings. Yet, have we seen any Israeli actresses offer Adelson sexual favors in exchange for funding different candidates or for butting out of Israeli politics and focusing on the casino business? Nope.
I don’t know if that means that our lefty show biz folk are less politically committed or just have better taste. Or maybe they just worry more about what their grandma would say.