Friday, March 02, 2007

Kristallnacht of the Living Dead

(a pitch created just for you by Simon)

Time for a pitch meeting.

Hey, everyone. Soooo sorry I'm late. La Cienega was the motherclusterfuck of all time. Did you order yet? Good, I didn't want you to wait. I'm just gonna do the chopped salad and a Pellegrino. Thanks.

So how was your Purim? Me, I drank so much I couldn't tell the difference between Haman and Mordecai. Then I kept drinking, until I couldn't tell the difference between our strategic allies in the Bush administration's new Middle East policy redirection and the guys who are blowing up our troops.

What? Oh, that's just my new phone. It has this feature where if you don't pick it up after ten minutes it makes a sound of wailing and lamentation. It'll stop in a sec.

So, listen, as soon as this thing crossed my desk I thought of you guys. I mean, I just knew you'd get it.

How's that halibut, good? Great.

OK, we open on a Jewish screenwriter — a handsome, moody, Adrien Brody type, or maybe Sacha Baron Cohen in serious, stretchy, Oscar-grubbing, look-mameleh-I'm-a-real-actor mode.

What's that? Yeah, I suppose Stiller could do it.

Anyway, he's a successful guy. He's written some action blockbusters full of blunt Anglo-Saxon cops facing down creepily literate Euro-villains, and made enough cabbage to install himself in a swanky Midcentury pad in the hills. But now he's working feverishly on a new kind of project. It's a more personal thing. He doesn't care about the commercial value. He's silenced his inner critic, and the inner accountant who sits on the inner critic's shoulders. He's putting every feeling he's ever had about being a Jew into this piece, and it's the best thing he's ever written. It's as though his psyche is getting a colonic — all the pride and shame and fear and doubt of his four decades of interior life is spilling into this thing.

There is no writer's block; we see no hackneyed sequences of crumpled pages or mountains of cigarette butts. He's working the keys of his Powerbook with the dexterity and soul of a legendary saxman.

But just as he types the words THE END, he hears a fateful pounding at the door of his fabulous home. The thumping grows insistent. When he opens the door he imagines that he is hallucinating.

For there stand the legions of undead antisemites from throughout the ages. Moldering Nazis, their rotting insides visible through the holes in their shredded uniforms. Skeletal inquisitors of Spain, their ivory fingerbones clutching at the infidel. Undead Klansmen, each fondling a threadbare noose with dessicated hands. Decaying drunks of old Europe, their redneck rage reanimated.

It takes the writer but a moment to register what he knew in his heart to be the truth from the moment he began writing: It is his screenplay that has done this. By writing loudly and truthfully about being a Jew, he has unleashed the pogrom to end all pogroms.


Jews are being hauled off, rounded up, dragged down into the muddy earth by these Hebrew-hating haunts of history. Family, friends, neighbors — their cries of woe mingle with the hideous laughter of their persecutors, driving the writer to the vestibule of madness. The fault is his! His work, which he flattered himself was some generous offering of his creative soul, marked their doom. He has betrayed his people, and only he can rescue them.

But how? Can he fight these spectral foes with guns? With knives? With his uncallused, unworthy hands?

At last he realizes what he must do: He must unwrite these evils one at a time, like wiping letters from the forehead of a golem and consigning it to the earth. He must turn his gifts precisely on each phantom, making his words into swarms of arrows that shatter them to crow's meat. Every legend, every allusion, every fable, every reference, every trope in his quiver must stretch back against the bow, ready to strike!

It's going to be a long night. He puts on a pot of coffee. The shit is ON.

I figure we can make this puppy in Vancouver for $80 mil, tops. Might be fun for Spielberg, or Sam Raimi or Rob Reiner, or ... I dunno, Eli Roth. In any case, you'll want a Jewish director. Or Guillermo Del Toro.

Are you in, or what?


Do screenwriters who make screenwriters their lead characters really imagine they're fooling anyone? Don't get us wrong — it's nice to imagine writers are lanky, intense-eyed vintage-clothes-horses instead of nebbishy types with problematic eyewear, blotchy skin and a waistline-dooming predisposition for pizza, gelato and Bailey's Irish Cream. Present company excepted, of course.

But today's pitch is also about what this whole blog is about. The fear of speaking JEW out loud. The thing that makes your mom uncomfortable, like you're walking down the culture's back alley in some kind of religio-cultural slutwear, just asking for it, when the goyim are trying so hard to keep their natural Jew-bashing urges in their pants and treat us, you know, almost like equals. Which could explain why, as Sera noted in a recent post, so many Jewish writers create so many non-Jewish characters, and the ones who ARE Jewish are just sort of decoratively so, like the gay best friend in the chick flick who never gets laid.

The biggest pogrom of all wasn't that long ago. Our parents', um, jumpiness is understandable. But we need to shed the superstitious belief that we summon these terrors by ceasing to be afraid to speak our true-blue Jew selves, loudly and clearly. Antisemitism isn't some symptom that can be regulated with megadoses of Semitic quietude. It's a pathology fed by a sickening welter of fantasies, and we Red Sea Pedestrians aren't responsible for any of them. When persecution comes, it will mean that someone has found it useful to turn that pathology to some new purpose. Whether we are loud or quiet, observant or irreverent, bearded or tattooed will be of little consequence in the unfolding. But being louder, prouder, more candid, more vocal, hotter about who we are (and who we aren't) WILL make a difference in our own lives.

But let's be honest: we're not living under the shadow of a new mass roundup. Are we going to wait until Pesach to chill at the table like we own the place? Stop walking on eggshells, chaverim!

And whatever movie we need to make, let's get cracking.

1 comment:

Pseudonym said...

I'm in!