Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Prince or Princess: On the making of a kosher transgendered ad

Prince enlarged- Copy - Copy

A show's coming to town. Not quite to our part of town but targeted for our womenfolk though the performances will actually be held in the Camden Town Hall.

Prince or Pauper, it's called with the subtitle 'Judge not what thou sees'. That should be 'seest' but let's not get too pernickety over some archaic usage. No cultural event round here can do without its share of controversy though it has been relatively mild in this instance. The rabbis have so far steered clear but with a week to go there is still ample time to pull a rabbit in the last minute so keep your fingers crossed, if that's the right phrase. The Prince will be played by a princess which come to think of it is no worse than Lady Macbeth being played by a man. Yet despite this overstepping of modesty some schools have played safe and banned their charges from attending while others have left it to parental discretion.

Since there've so far been no rabbinical interdictions the opinion-free ad sheets are free to carry ads for the event. They never lose. Either it's ads for the event or it's ads for the bans and if they're lucky it's one followed by the other. The ads however are not without problems of their own: how do you advertise a female only production without a photo of the actors?

Actors should hold up a mirror to nature, we're told, but since there are as yet no kosher mirrors that pixelate the fairer sex mirroring actresses' faces is no mean feat. You can advertise ‘ladies’ and ‘girls’ since even the kosher dictionary has not excised them, yet. But publishing a photo of them, well that’s an altogether different dimension.

Trust however a yiddisher kop to come up with a solution and what you see above is the result. An androgynous looking boy standing in for a girl. Yentl in reverse if you like but it does the trick. Boys ogling the ad see only a boy which is permitted by even the most stringent of authorities while the girls get a heimisher version of Justin Bieber to develop a crush on. The rabbis too are happy since it is written that transgendering is no transgression and as the subtitle says, 'judge not what thou sees[t].

There is still however one slight problem. What of the boy who thinks it's a girl? Or to borrow that famous hypothesis proffered by our famed thinker, Ben Yitzchok, apropos Shloime Gertner's malkele song, what of the boy struggling on a difficult passage in the Talmud humming to himself a girl's name, Go- forbid? And what of the zealots who might call for the public burning of the ad unless concrete proof is provided that the 'girl' is actually a boy? Far more serious than some driving licence ingenuity, this really called for the thinking shtreimel so as to come up with a talmudic wheeze.

You won't be surprised that after much throwing around of brains our optimum minds did it again. It was decreed that every advert should carry a health warning in the shape of 'Thanks to Yisroel for posing for the photos.

Now that's what you call seichel. Girl acting as boy, named boy posing as girl, boys get a boy to fill their minds during the drearier bits of 'Two grabbing a garment' and 'The heifer that gored a cow' and the girls will pay anything to see their latest kosher heartthrob. And as for homoerotic thoughts and worse that could be engendered by photos of a she-boy in drag, only a filthy mind could suggest that images of young kids could do that to our pure neshomelech.

And so we get our own kosher culture in the shape of thespians who will ‘show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.’

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, 28 November 2011

Words words (kosher) words

Letters (not) published in The Write Lines, the famous letters page that arrives from parts other publications won't acknowledge to exist

CCI27112011_0000 - Copy

Dear Editor

Like all heimishe yieden everywhere I was overwhelmed by hakoras hatov for the dedicated chosheve askonim who have made available the kosher dictionary. I immediately went out to the Hill to get one so that my children ke"h should no longer cholilo come across posule words when doing their homework. (Mentioning homework reminds me of the letter I wrote last year about the geferleche load of homework the girls are given so that they can't help their mothers in the evening, but now I am writing about something else.)

I had barely sat down to browse the new dictionary when I landed on my behind after noticing the word 'bum'. I didn't chas v'sholem go looking for such words but it literally stuck itself in my face. Luckily my children were not yet home so I could stick the pages together because oi lorosho v'oi lishcheino and I can't bear my children knowing other words that are tome from sitting so close to that disgusting word. But it made me realise that, like lettuce, how important it is to check even something with a hechsher. If rachmone litzlon that word crept in who knows what else might chas v'cholilo have been overlooked.

I am mamesh trembling with shock after searching a bit deeper at some of the words the Rabbonim didn't get to notice. I know I must be careful at the words I use in your publication which spreads yiros shomayim and ruchniyes to our kehille but it is equally important that parents are not chas vesholem nichshel. I ask those with heilige oigen to please look away but how can we tolerate our teiere neshomelech looking up words like 'butt', 'buttock', 'bottom' and 'breast'? I am ashamed to say this but even the word 's-x' was not taken out. What kind of chinuch are we giving to our precious kinderlech by including such miese verter? My father olev hasholem would wash our mouths with soap if we mentioned much more eidele words and here we have the worst possible words noch with a hechsher!

I immediately called my husband who told me not to do anything until he comes home from koilel because it's a sha'le if you must put it in sheimos as it has a hechsher or whether you are allowed to burn it because of those words. He agreed absolutely that such a book has no place in a yiddishe shtib and we must be so careful not to fall into the hechsher trap. I can now understand how meat from the same hechsher came to be transported with dovor acher after seeing those chazerishe words in a book certified by a lemehadrin authority.

What I think is even more shameful is that I saw in the Tribune by my friend's house (we don't buy beshite any papers) that Rabbonim who are fluent in English went over this dictionary before giving it a hechsher. First of all are such Rabbonim really suitable for us erliche yieden? And second of all how can we now trust a rov if we know he has sifted through all this shmutz? Maybe that's why there is no haskome because even the Rabbonim were ashamed that they had to read such treifene books. And third of all maybe that’s why they left in all those words and it's a simen they can't even talk such good English. They for sure can't talk French because they left 'lingerie' lying about in full view of the boys and rachmone litzlon even 'thong' was stuck in. Do they know the achrayus of publishing such a book? No wonder so many children are going off the derech if their precious neshomolech get to see such tomene words.

But I don't want to be nichshel with loshen hore and rechilus and also we must be dan lekaf zechus. The Rabbonim did include ‘spank’, beat', 'pinch', 'smack' and 'hit'. Boruch Hashem the Scrooges shlito also remembered to leave out 'Christmas' and even had the seichel to cut out 'fossil'. But couldn't they also remove 'evolution'? Isn't there enough kfiro that we need some more with the best hechsher in the world?

I also hoped at least they would include some heimishe English words like cheder, yeshive and shiduch. No wonder those chachomim from Oxford were so nispoel of the request for such a dictionary (besides that they required the cost of 2000 copies to be underwritten). The Rabbonim allowed them to teach our children narishe words like 'lugubrious' and 'rumbustious' which no one will anyway ever use but were ashamed to allow Hashem and mezuze? The Tribune thinks it was a kidush Hashem but it's really a huge chilul Hashem if you can't include 'God' and not even 'G-d'!

May we be zoiche to kedushe and to be nitzel from all the nisyoines that today's dor produces even with a hechsher.

A Dedicated Yiddishe Mame

***

Dear Editor

I heard rachmone litzlon that some children have developed a new game where they have to guess words and then look it up in the kosher dictionary. If the word’s in they lose a point and if it's out they gain a point. My eyes are filled with tears writing this that such a michshoil could come out from a koshere dictionary and the musar haskeil is to avoid using Rabbonim who can speak English which boruch hashem is not so bad by us.

An Experienced Mechanech

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,