Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hollywood's Most Pernicious Image

by the Bray of Fundie

Not Yoizel in Gibsons Passion. Not Pacino in Scarface. Not Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. No it's not an image exemplifying any of the three cardinal sins of Avodah Zarah, Gilui Arayos or Shfikhas Damim at all. It is the cute little cricket from Pinocchio. IMO the imagery and mythos of Jiminy Cricket is the most subversive, anti-religious subliminal message ever produced by Hollywood and an utter perversion of what it means to be a human being.

Why? Because while the former images promote and romanticize evil the depiction of an extrinsic conscience perverts our self-perception and erodes our very will to resist evil. Jiminy Cricket thus undermines our capacity to battle evil.

The not-so-subliminal message of Jiminy (the Pinocchio narrative) is that "conscience" AKA the inclination to good is something external to the being. Remember the whole Pinocchio story is about "achieving" humanity. It is a not so thinly veiled "Let Us make Man" redux. Positing conscience as extrinsic to "the man" means that the essential "me" wants to "run with the wild boys". Any pangs of conscience to do/be otherwise come from external sources trying to impose THEIR will upon me e.g. parents/teachers/society etc. In other words the "real" internal essential me is wild and bad. As such people will view transgression as an assertion of autonomous identity and as a means of self-actualization. While the pursuit of virtue becomes a weakness, a suppression of self, a surrender to external pressure. The fact that conscience is depicted as a chirping little insect also conveys the message that conscience is an atonal gragger-like nudnik that achieves it's goals by the attrition of shrill repetition.

This puts the Torah idea of the Tzelem Elokim =Man in the image of G-d on it's ear. Before the initial/original sin it was the Yetzer HARA = inclination to evil that was a kind of diabolical inverted Jiminy Cricket. It was a serpent and not a cricket to be sure, but it was clarified evil and external to the human beings that it tried to seduce and influence. Adam could not have been confused. When he ate from the forbidden fruit he knew that he was allowing his "serpent" to be his guide. Even after the sin when the yetzer hara HAD been internalized this is not to say that the Yetzer Tov was externalized. Furthermore for Jews we still view our intrinsic will to be identical to HaShem's and our thoughts, words or deed to the contrary to be the work of extrinsic factors:
גלוי וידוע לפניך מי שאמר והיה העולם שרצוננו לעשות רצונך- ומי מעכב על ידנו? שאור שבעיסה ושעבוד מלכיות= "It is revealed and known to You, O He who spoke and the world became, that OUR will is to do YOUR will. And who/what prevents us (from doing so)? The "Yeast in the Dough" (a euphemism for the inclination to evil) and our subjugation to the temporal kingdoms (i.e. our diaspora among the nations of the world)"

Seeing as Jiminy Cricket is the very antithesis of the Torah's hashqafa on humanity it's hardly surprising that the name derives from a polite expletive for the founder of X-tianity, the major Western religion most antithetical to Torah.

This post was inspired by a particularly odious one penned by The ...Ahem... Jewish "Philosopher" in which he takes the position that People are intrinsically bad and that Torah/religion is a cricket-like extrinsic civilizing influence. I'd also like to mention how utterly wrong-headed Alter and Dov's reading of Yaakov wrestling with the angel is in light of this.
Buy his book. (please)
Buy his wife a gift (please)

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