Friday, April 27, 2007

Wonderful Country Goes Down with a Nuclear Bang

The hugely popular Israeli satirical news show, ארץ נהדרת ("Eretz Nehederet" or "It's a Wonderful Country"), ended with a bang tonight. Eretz Nehederet was in its third season, and is watched by Israelis of all ages. The show usually pokes fun at whatever news items or personalities had headlined that week, but today viewers had something special in store.

Bumbling Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accidentally fires a missile at Iran, which he promptly blames on the equally disliked Defense Minister Amir Peretz. This of course leads to retaliation, and the show counts down the 59 minutes Israel has until an Iranian nuclear bomb is dropped on the country. The whole slew of characters is brought out: Hezbollah's Nasrallah, who expresses regret at losing his favourite enemy; Arkadi Gaydamak, who offers a space in his bunker for the sake of social justice; the disgraced President Moshe Katsav, who tries to claim it; and Uri Geller, the British-Israeli magician who attempts to stop time.

Very disappointing and insulting once again was the character of Condoleezza Rice. Throughout the show, she has been presented as a finger-snapping, hand-clapping, head-bobbing, street-slanging stereotype. The character is so far from the real thing and so irrelevant to the actual person and her doings that instead of political satire, it's simply racism [relevant footage starts at 2:22].

Since the show ended with a nuclear holocaust, it's unclear whether there will be a fourth season.


ariel said...

Wow, not only was the Condy caricature entirely irrelevant, it was embarrassingly bad. I only wish I knew of a good way to make Israelis see how stupid such portrayals are. Unfortunately, most Israelis I know, including those who consider themselves leftists, refuse to acknowledge that racism is in any way endemic to Israeli society. Instead, they like to point to the language of political correctness as evidence that Americans are obsessed with race and lack a sense of humor. But the fact that Eretz Nehederet's writers chose to fixate solely on Ms. Rice's race indicates how unreflective Israelis really are regarding race matters. They literally lack the conceptual tools to analyze their own behavior in this regard. Except in the case of certain intellectuals and some of those who have spent significant time abroad, I have found it almost impossible to penetrate Israelis' inflated sense of their own no-nonsense approach to the world in order to make them understand that pernicious racial thinking often lurks in a variety of linguistic and cultural tropes. Of course, the same could probably be said about much of the rest of the world, and even here, where many people seem to think that political correctness is about suppressing thought rather than preventing the reproduction of unconscious racism (which is not to say, of course, that PCness cannot be employed cynically to actually suppress through or stifle discussion).

J. said...

Wow, I've encountered very similar reactions with some Israeli friends. They just don't get it. That Condy character is an example of the worst, unreflective and shallow humor.

Amos said...

For a second there, I thought they were trying to impersonate Wanda Sykes (also badly). Anyway, it was super-stupid.

Ariel, you're right on about that diagnosis; it's really annoying, the "no-nonsense" bullshit that a lot of Israelis pride themselves on.

I liked some of the lines from the anti-Zvi Yehezkeli skit though, and the David Broza impersonation - if you've ever been to a concert, it's kind of true, that guy won't stop! Which is fine, of course.

What did you guys think of Assad? That was okay.