Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another Aish video insults our intelligence

Received by email:
I wanted to share with you an amazing Rosh Hashanah video featuring one of Israel's top break dance teams. We hope that you can post this video on your site, blog, Facebook or twitter accounts and hopefully we will get the entire Jewish nation excited about the upcoming Jewish New Year.
The message  was sent by an executive at Forbidden Fruit Media, and it refers to the new Aish Hatorah  video currently making the rounds.  Both the message and the video sort of make my skin crawl.

If you haven't seen it yet, the video starts with a bored, bright-eyed kid in a Jewfro worrying that Rosh Hashana will be a snooze. "Oh no," a black hat wearing friend assures him. "It'll be great. Let me show you" On cue, the speaker is joined by a team of break-dancing, park-our performing rappers, who proceed to bounce around leaping off walls, performing back flips and trying just a little too hard to let us know how cool and hip they are.

The problem, of course, is Aish is neither cool nor hip.  And a deeper problem is that reducing the majesty and marvel of Rosh Hashana to a poorly performed break-dance with inaudible lyrics is sort of like serving a Happy Meal to the guests at your wedding feast. This is supposed to get the "Jewish nation excited about the upcoming Jewish New Year?" This? Are we that low brow?

Here's some past commentary about other Aish Videos that have made us wish to hurl
After the jump, I give you a classic example of song and dance used in a film to achieve a narrative objective, a objective that isn't much different from what Aish attempts to achieve in their video.  In both clips, the main character dances and sings his way to overcoming another party's objection. Ginger Rogers can't see what's so great about Fred Astaire, but by the end of the musical number she gets it - and so do we.  In the Aish video, the Jewfro has similar doubts about Rosh Hashana. When the music stops his doubts are relieved, but ours are not. In the Astaire clip the lyrics and choreography tell the story. They show us why Ginger should be with Fred. In the Aish video the dance is just a distraction that fails to sell us on the holiday, or to explain why we should give it a second thought.

Perhaps next year, an organization will go to the trouble of making a viral video that actually conveys some of what makes Rosh Hashana outstanding

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