The increased visibility of Jews and Judaism in the mainstream media should be obvious to most people who actually partake in secular culture. On this blog we’ve recently discussed a new movie on competitive bar-mitzvahs and further back we noted a Comedy Central special titled Heroes of Jewish Comedy.
While these examples cover only the most superficial aspects of cultural or ethnic Judaism1 we are also noticing a more overtly religious Judaism being portrayed. Many blogs are covering the Orthodox Jew(s)2 on NBC’s The Apprentice, and the of course, there’s everyone’s favorite Lubavitch rapper Matisyahu who recently played MSG.
I’m bringing this up because just the other day I heard Matisyahu’s King Without a Crown (Stubb’s version) on Z100 in the middle of a party mix featuring your standard trance music and Reggaeton. But as odd as that cultural placement was, it *still* wasn’t the most bizarre I have seen.
That honor goes to MTV’s Real World Season 7 (Seattle). Cast member Stephen3 demonstrated his connection to Judaism4 in the casting special by lighting Shabbat candles. While such choreographed displays of ritual are commonplace, MTV did have chutzpa to play Just One Shabbos in the background.
MBD on MTV. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Still I’m curious if anyone out there can top it. Open question: what is the most surreal interpolation of Judaism in mainstream culture you’ve personally seen?
1. Also see Seinfeld and to some extent Jon Stewart.
2. As of this post, one of two was eliminated.
3. You know, the guy who slapped Irene.
4. I forgot if he actually converted or just hung out with Jews in college.