I finally saw Zohan for the sake of anthropological research.
My advice to you: DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE
Sandler plays Zohan, the premier Israeli killing machine. He’s basically an assassin who is referred to by the more heroic and guilt-assuaging term of “counter-terrorist” throughout the movie by both Israelis and Palestinians.
It’s being touted as some sort of progress that Sandler actually hired a few Arab actors to portray Arabs. But the lead Palestinian characters are all played by non-Palestinian actors:
John Turturro as the “Phantom”, an ego-maniacal, morally corrupt and barbaric Islamic fundamentalist; Rob Schneider (in what amounts to “Black Face”) as Salim an idiotic, fanatical wannabe terrrorist; and Emmanuelle Chriqui (a Morrocan Jew) as Dalia, the stunning, yet supremely oblivious Palestinian love interest.
All of the Palestinian characters in this movie are portrayed as naive at best, and more often as reactionary, amoral and absolutely moronic.
Zohan is depicted as hyper-sexual, as well as physically powerful and dominating. There are endless montages of him banging old women; spooging all over the place with hoses, shampoo, hummus etc.; and kicking ass. In the end, Zohan takes the moral high ground and puts aside the conflict to save the lives and livelihoods of both Israelis and Palestinians. AND he walks away with the beautiful Palestinian girl.
Zohan is a comedic characterization of the over the top machismo and militarism that permeates modern Israeli culture. Not only are the Israelis depicted as supremely powerful, but also as morally superior to their Palestinian counterparts.
There were only 2 things that I found SUBVERSIVE about this film:
1-the display of the Palestinian flag and the reference by an Israeli character to Salim’s home as being in Palestine
2-having the love interest be a desirable Palestinian woman
That made me think though… are we so beaten down as a people that any acknowledgment of our existence is cause for celebration? That the idea of a Palestinian woman being beautiful and desirable is an act of subversion?
Are we as Palestinians and Arabs so desperate to have a voice in the American pop culture narrative that we would be proud to be represented in such a pathetic, unfunny, humiliating and racist movie?
That just makes me sad.