Zohan : Politically Incisive or Just Plain Racist? You decide.

Adam Sandler tackles the MidEast conflict by using comedy to make fun of both sides, and draw parallels between Palestinians and Israelis. But what exactly is he trying to say?

Here is a link to a NY Times article that talks more about the political overtones of the film.

I’m going to see it and then I can comment more, but if you’ve seen it send me a comment with your thoughts.

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8 responses to “Zohan : Politically Incisive or Just Plain Racist? You decide.

  1. Probably can’t help here. I was interested in seeing it, but the reviews have been pretty awful, and not because of the politics.

  2. found this in a search for “racist” and “zohan,” after watching it and being somewhat put off. I can’t seem to intelligibly articulate the ways in which the movie seemed askew, and was hoping to find someone else’s analysis. Upon seeing a written request, I thought I’d give it a try anyway. Don’t blame me for the crap below, you asked!

    The times article compliments the movie. “Mr. Badreya … said that by offering Arab or Muslim characters that are in any way divergent from the usual Hollywood stereotypes, ‘Zohan’ is a step in the right direction.” and “It’s 70-30. Which is great. We haven’t had 30 for a long time. We’ve been getting zero. So it’s good.”

    despite steps in whatever direction, i don’t see it escaping a racist undertone. it’s depiction of mildeastern immigrants seemed unintentionally shameful and well within some unfortunate stereotypes. Like always seeing the asain delivery boy or martial arts master, movies rarely find those of middle eastern descent beyond taxicabs and small shops. This is worse. In this movie, such limitation is the desire of very capable men.

    There are two extraordinarily powerful military personnel who have comedic super powers. Sandlers’ character picks bullets out of the air, swims as fast as a jetski, and is able to satisfy sexual interests like no other. These supermen have outrageously modest aspirations: hair stylist and (*spoiler*) shoe salesmen . Though, as The Times indicates, the movie was designed for 13-18 year old (suburbian) boys who are more likely to understand such an identity conflict, rather than find infinitely capable characters bound by an immigrant’s entrance to the american myth. Even so, the aspirations of those welcoming Sandler’s character are also similarly humble. The film makes a point to address the death of american dreams (e.g. race car driver) in favor of an electronic store, but shows no immigrant achieving or even aspiring for a more prestigious living. The assumption throughout the film appears to be that mild-eastern immigrants are only capable of driving cabs, working electronics or beauty salons, or, at best, owning a small shop. And, further, there is no desire for any other way.
    In addition to this, oppositional identity is enforced when the ‘good guys’ are able to advance (only to better facilities) by undermining the evil plot of corrupt white businessmen. Another stereotypical dichotomy perpetuated.

    also, as with most male-targeted blockbusters, sexism was a given. Being surrounded by a plethora of young attractive women indicated success and status for various characters in the film. Though it was presented in a way that lacked an ageist bias. Sandlers’ character put out nearly exclusively to older women while in the States. Additionally, the movie did well to recognize the sexual interests of women as meaningful. However, female characters were sorely underdeveloped and one dimensional, even the protagonist love interest.

  3. Who wants to see a movie about a hyper- sexual Alpa male Israeli boy-toy ( al be it a tacky one), who, through no fault of his own– his po0r little country is at war, after
    all– is a highly trained assassin whose sole mission is to kill Arabs and protect one of the most racists states standing today? Oh, right, we should sympathize with him because all he wants to be a hairdresser and come to America.

    It’s Adam Sandler’s arrogant and disgusting playbook once again. This time his movie attempts to normalize the situation in the Middle East by supposedly making everyone “human” and ridiculous. The problem however,
    is that the main character is the Israeli. Americans sympathize with the Israeli historical narrative and current situation, while at the same time looking up to and glamorizing the Israeli military and soldiers.

    Films like these and so many others, like Munich, allow Israelis to be complex, funny and even simple people while Arabs are shopkeepers, taxi drivers and terrorist and thats about it–something American’s learn and internalize from TV and our elected reps and expect to see.

    The American film community continues to fetishize, exoticize or degrade actors of color by only casting them as the white dominant culture sees them. When is this going to end?

    Arab actors, like other actor of color deserve good, complex roles that are front and center, not relegated to racist stereotyped character roles.

    Once that happens, let the comedy that is the human existence and its relationships flow!

    I won’t see this movie.

  4. Princess Leah

    Went and saw it. Waste of money. It was DUMBFOUNDING- I’ll sum it up in a few words below:

    Sterotypes:

    1. Israeli men are sex crazed maniacs who like to screw 65-70 year old women at least 6 times a day.
    2. Israeli men like larger set women.
    3. Israeli men are depicted as stupid.
    4. Arab men are depicted as stupid.
    5. Arab men are depicted as terrorists.
    6. Both Israeli’s and Arabs like Mariah Carey and her big fake tits and are obsessed with playing hackie sack.???
    7. Adam Sandler does not know shit about women. (Why in the hell would a hot, 30 something woman want a man after he has openly slept with over 100 senior citizens in front at her business, …GROSS.)

    Finally, if you want to see every 15 year old spuge reference in the book, it is here sprinkled through out the film in juvenile symbols from hummus, to shampoo, to mayonnaise, etc.

    This film is undebatable and obscene, the closest thing I would compare it to is B-porn, or more likely Z-porn if there was such a thing and
    uber boring.

    The end.

  5. Let’s start with a little history. “Palestine was never ever in the entire history an independant entity. It is a fabrication by the romans who conquered it from the jews. They changed it’s name in a cynical manner to remove any jewish claim to it. The new “Palestinian” movement started in the 1960’s and only took hold after the 1967 war. In that war which was initiated by aggression on the part of Egypt Jordon Syria and more arab countries. Israel defeated a force many times it’s own size and reconquered the “occupied territories”. The desputed land up until then was not Palestine, rather it was partially Jordon and Syria.

  6. Feel free to rewrite history, “Joe Smith”, as you see fit. The reality is that for the past 2000+ years there has always been a land called Palestine where Jews and Palestinians both lived sometimes harmoniously and other times not. I refuse to deny or erase anyone else’s history, or justify my own to you.

  7. I like Adam Sandler movies but I was a bit put off by this one depicting all white guys as either racist hicks from the south or money grubbing business tycoons.

  8. i thought it was really good and funny as hell. It put the arab/israeli conflict into perspective… as an arab i dont think this racist i think it was a good film. But then again i enjoy adam sandler commedis which are not always the most popular. however i still think that the state israel should realise that its occupying palestinia terrotory. theres no two ways about it. Im not saying that one should deny the states existence and etc. but they must somehow intergrate the two populations. Afterall the society that we inhabit today is so multiculture and diverse, in another 50 years everyone will be living everywhere. There is no room for Racism.

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