I know Mel Gibson has become easy blog fodder, here and elsewhere, but I can’t help but make one observation since the vast majority of Jews I know seem unwilling to accept his apology for his anti-Semitic tirade of 2006 and his portryal of Jews in “Passion of the Christ.” Since he hasn’t worked much lately, there was a lot riding on his latest film with Jodie Foster, “The Beaver,” a depressing flop that earned just $105,000 from its limited release weekend. At the same time, the Marvel superhero blockbuster “Thor” debuted with $66 million.
The films are aimed at different audiences, but it’s likely that when “Beaver” – about a manically depressed man who communicates via hand puppet – has its full release on May 20, there will be far more theaters showing “Thor,” about a Norse God who becomes a modern day superhero. That film not only co-stars proud Jewish A-lister Natalie Portman – who recently helped get a Hitler-praising designer fired from Chrisian Dior – but comic-book Thor was created and popularized by Marvel Comics kingpin Stan Lee, nee Lieber, whose scribblings have made him one of the most successful Jews in entertainment and distracted tens of thousands of young minds (including your blogger’s) from their homework.
So a powerful, legendary Avenger brought from myth into action by a Jew to defeat an anti-Semite … sounds a trifle like of the old tale of the Golem, to me. A stretch? Perhaps. Blame my vivid imagination on Stan Lee. Just don’t blame me for starting any wars.
And … what can I add to the controversy over an Orthodox supposed news organization altering a White House photo to retroactively exclude our secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, from the company of powerful men engaged in national security work. Apparently, the concern was that this could lead to mixed dancing in the White House situation room.
The irony here is that when Mrs. Clinton ran for Senate, and while she was in office, ultra-Orthodox Jews – far from ignoring her — had no trouble presenting their myriad issues and seeking her help. There was even an investigation into allegations (still unproven) that four chasidic men from Kiryas Joel who bilked the government in a fake-yeshiva scheme were pardoned by President Bill Clinton as he left office in a bid to gain that voting bloc’s support for his wife’s election that year. Ultra-Orthodox Jews also have no problem lobbying for grants or help from other women in positions of power, such as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. And yet some editors — and the rabbis who can make or break them — will balk at publishing their picture.
It should be noted that ultra-Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch Jews have no difficulty at all featuring women in their many publications and promotional materials. As far as we have heard, celebrating the accomplishments and participation of Chabad women in that movement’s extensive Jewish outreach program has not led to an outbreak of sinful behavior (or mixed dancing). Most Modern Orthodox newspapers – a niche that may be the fastest growing in the troubled world of print media — have no issue printing photos of women, even on the front page. Many have prominent women staff members and feature columns and articles by women writers.
If they think their readers can’t handle the image of powerful women, haredi or chasidic papers like Der Tzitung would do well to leave out future photos of mixed-sex gatherings instead of doctoring them again. Apart from being intellectually dishonest, it presents religious Judiasm as ridiculous in the eyes of the world, a transgression far worse than casting eyes on a woman who has earned a position of authority.