Throw the Jew down the well
August 22, 2004 3:13 AM   Subscribe

Highlights bigotry or encourages it?
Ali G comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's latest Channel 4 show, 'Borat's Television Programme', is being investigated by TV watchdogs following complaints about a sketch featuring an anti-Semitic song titled 'Throw the Jew down the well'.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "Sacha Baron Cohen's humour is ironic and actually highlights bigotry and ignorance." The irony being that Baron is himself a Jew.
posted by Jase_B (24 comments total)
Ah sh*t.
posted by Jase_B at 3:53 AM on August 22, 2004

posted by Keyser Soze at 3:53 AM on August 22, 2004

Get over it. This comedic routine (which sucks anyway, imo) is not going to start any religious fervor that was not already there.
posted by Keyser Soze at 3:54 AM on August 22, 2004

Personally I think it's absolutely hilarious.
posted by Jase_B at 4:00 AM on August 22, 2004

Unless you believe that showing that something exists is equivalent to encouraging it.
6 complaints! He must be doing something right.

The sticking point for me is that Chris Rock SBC has a 'license' to do this kind of thing because he is a nigger Jew. Why is it so different if someone else were to make the same joke? It seems to be a contentious area.

I see you have spotted the previous thread.
posted by asok at 4:01 AM on August 22, 2004

This is really a non-issue. The got six complaints. In the US, a sentiment as inncouous as "I like dogs" on TV or radip would probably generate more than six complaints from offended paranoid nutjobs and bored old people, and Britain is probably similar. The groups got a couple of complaints, so they'll pretend to investigate thoroughly and come to the conclusion "it's a joke. Lighten up."

which sucks anyway, imo

And you're entitled to your opinion. You must be really excited that Jeff Foxworthy has a new TV show.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:00 AM on August 22, 2004

I remember an old Saturday Night Live sketch where a prison was having auditions for Gigi. The prisoners came in one at a time to do their audition pieces, including Garrett Morris who sang:

Gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see
Gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see
When I kill all the whiteys I see, then whitey, he won't
bother me
Gonna get me a shotgun and kill all the whiteys I see

Before being dragged off. It didn't occur to me to call NBC to complain. Probably because I thought it was funny. It may have had something to do with it being a COMEDY show.

But that's just me, apparently. I'm insensitive.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 5:07 AM on August 22, 2004

Practically anything ever shown on British TV elicits some complaints from someone (usually Disgusted of Tumbridge Wells). Whenever we have particularly shitty weather, the BBC will receive complaints because their weathermen forecast it.

Personally, I'd like to know how many complaints they got about Channel 4 constantly broadcasting this hoary old bollocks year in, year out.
posted by influx at 5:33 AM on August 22, 2004


That song surprised me when I read it in an SNL anthology back in he 80s. I've been singing it ever since.

This verse was there too. I always thought it was a Steve Martin kind of thing -

Woke up this morning, saw both cars were gone
Woke up this morning, saw both cars were gone
I threw my drink across the lawn
posted by emf at 5:34 AM on August 22, 2004

Wow. First thing I thought of to post when I started reading this was "Kill whitey" and there it is. Are we culturally trained or what?!

I can see where some humor offends people. which is mindful to be aware of. I think it is a fine line from humor to being encouraging of hateful attitudes. Personally, not understanding this is unfortunate at best.

I don't find Ali G funny, in the least (nor Jeff Foxworthy if that was a stupid attempt at humor in itself.) All I could think of when watching his "Throw the Jew Down the Well" video is he found a redneck bar where you could say many things, probably far worse, and have the video camera capturing it all. The people would be singing right along. It's not humor to me.

Of course only a black person can make certain jokes, like Kill Whitey and here we are remembering it and laughing. Ted Dansons black face routine was questioned as being in good taste, but no one questioned whether it was funny or not. It just wasn't.

My parents found Fargo, the movie, completely offensive because it made fun of "my people." I stopped trying to win them over along time ago, the movie is just plain funny and for the most part, that is the way my peeps are. Everybody has their baseline, some have a valid point because of history; e.g. slavery, jewish persecution, etc. but that doesn't mean they shouldn't lighten up. Nor does it mean I will know what it is like to suffer racism and I will never fully understand the power of a word like nigger.

So, I am seeing two types of overreaction - those that can't seem to take a joke, and those that are knee-jerking saying lighten up. Each moves us away from understanding one another.

SNL I think road the line quite well in the 70's- which will make it memorable for sometime to come. Ali G is about as memorable as the rubber dog.
posted by fluffycreature at 6:02 AM on August 22, 2004

Ali G is the shit, innit.
posted by banished at 6:19 AM on August 22, 2004

Highlights? I thought this was going to be about finding racism in "The Timbertoes."
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:23 AM on August 22, 2004

If it's funny, it's innocuous.
If it's not funny, it's racist.
posted by destro at 8:17 AM on August 22, 2004

My parents found Fargo, the movie, completely offensive because it made fun of "my people."

My Mother did the same thing. On seeing the preview she got offended that they were making fun of Fargoans, but then eventually saw the movie and decided it was good. I never questioned her about the reversal.
posted by milovoo at 8:59 AM on August 22, 2004

The scene where Borat asks a defence instructor to teach him how to protect himself from a Jew's claws, was funnier.

Nothing compares to the wine-tasting scene, though, where Borat shows these old geezers polaroids of himself fucking his sister (censored for the tv) and the old guys take him to their heart! They think it's hilarious - (and not fake!) one even ends up kissing him on the lips as he leaves. Incredible.

Still waiting for the Kazakhs to complain, myself.
posted by Blue Stone at 9:12 AM on August 22, 2004

I think the show is probably more offensive to people from Kazakhstan. Who is he mocking on the show more then himself really?
posted by chunking express at 9:19 AM on August 22, 2004

So these complaints, they came from the rednecks in the bar?
posted by Krrrlson at 9:20 AM on August 22, 2004

Ali G's whole routine as Borat and Bruno is to go to a place where there are a bunch of dumbasses, and get them to say and do stupid things on camera. He frequently eggs them on by being stupid himself. The audience knows that he's just engineering a joke, but the subjects on the show are actually being themselves. That's the ambush. If anything, he just demonstrates how much latent racism and stupidity is sitting there in his subject. Perhaps this isn't so haha funny to some folks, but to others, it might even be called activism.

I'd be a fool not to understand why some people think Ali G is lame, but I think his shit is hilarious.
posted by scarabic at 10:10 AM on August 22, 2004

Hey you Whitehouse, ha ha charade you are...
posted by Vidiot at 10:32 AM on August 22, 2004

If you haven't seen the Ali G show, watch it. It's the funniest show on TV! I laugh till my side hurts and my drink comes out my nose.
posted by wsg at 10:43 AM on August 22, 2004

Those six people have obviously never seen The Family Guy.
posted by bingo at 12:18 PM on August 22, 2004

I think the show is probably more offensive to people from Kazakhstan.

The view from Kazakhstan..."It's just comedy really."
posted by chill at 3:30 PM on August 22, 2004

I watched the show and nearly wet myself laughing. Even so, I think however ironic it is, there will have been plenty of people watching who were laughing because, as they saw it, it was taking the piss out of Jews, just like plenty of people laughed at Ali G because they thought he was taking the piss out of black people, just as a significant proportion of Fawlty Towers' audience laughed at Basil Fawlty because they thought he was taking the piss out of Germans, not the ridiculous British attitude towards them.
posted by RokkitNite at 2:33 AM on August 23, 2004

I'm Jewish, and I thought that shit was hilarious, and not very surprising. I've got family in small-town Kentucky, so I know from where this ignorant groupthink comes- it's depressing and offensive, and needs to be called out as often as possible.
posted by mkultra at 8:30 AM on August 24, 2004

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