Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale

I must momentarily return to Snark mode to comment on a new video making the rounds in the BDS ether.

This was created by that august Canadian film professor John Greyson who was last seen trying to gin up enthusiasm for a boycott of Tel-Aviv produced and themed films at the Toronto Film Festival (which, needless to say, resulted in those movies selling out).Actually, that’s not quite right, he was very last seen forging James Cameron’s signature to a letter to film schools, asking them to boycott their Israeli colleagues. (All together now: Oy!)

Anyway, the last three quarters of this made-for-Internet agitprop vid is standard Gaza boilerplate (Siege! Starvation! Humanitarian flotilla! Violation of 50-jillion international laws! Blah, blah, blah!) remarkable only for its limited cinemagraphic imagination (i.e., it’s something high-school kids with a copy of Adobe Premiere could have knocked off in a couple of hours – confirming the theory that those who can’t make films teach film school).

But I suspect it is this film’s opening sequence which has delighted the boycotters so much.In it, aging rock stars such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, who played Israel this year, are mocked by having their faces Video-shopped into the credits for Gilligan’s Island (yuck, yuck, yuck).

Now I yield to no man in my limited patience with pop stars (of any age) making political statements about subjects over which they have no understanding.But in this case, Dylan, Simon et al were not making a political statement; they were just playing to international fans in one of the few countries in the region where they could actually enjoy their visit.

In fact, until the BDS cru decided to put pressure on these same aging rock stars they now ridicule (doing everything from harassing them at concerts to pleading with them on hands and knees to screw over their fans in “Apartheid Israel”), there was no political controversy surrounding performers strutting their stuff before Jewish (and Arab) audiences in the Holy Land.

It was the boycotters who decided not just the personal but everything was political, going into near orgasmic frenzies when 50-60 year old Elvis Costello and the 90-1000 year old Gil Scott Heron decided to cave in to their wishes and blow off their Israeli fans (only to end up being dissed by everyone from Johnny Rotten and Elton John to Gene Simmons and Deep Purple – once more: Oy!).

And now that their attempts at cultural boycott have failed as spectacularly as all of their other efforts, the BDSers have decided to flip these same rockers the bird claiming, in effect, that people like Dylan and Simon playing Israel has no political meaning whatsoever beyond putting them into the attempted-comedy cross-hairs of humorless non-entities like John Greyson.

When trying to find a metaphor for this phenomenon, I first thought of heel (i.e., bad guy) pro wrestlers like Rowdy Roddy Piper and his stooges bullying smaller face (good guy) wrestler until Andre the Giant showed up to confront them, at which point Roddy and company march off howling “We don’t have time for you!”But then this bully/coward image was replaced by that of a small child insisting, with regard to the present he lost by being naughty, that “he never wanted that stupid thing anyway.”

But then all these images ultimately gave way to a man in a leather jacket riding a surf board.What the hell am I talking about?Tune in next time to find out!

Film Boycott Update

For this blog’s 100th post, I wanted to provide updates on the James Cameron-Israeli film boycott flap. The latest news come from The King of the World himself who basically tells the boycotters in no uncertain terms to fuck off (I’m paraphrasing).

Check out the latest here and here.

Oh and I just noticed that his colleagues at York University are none-too pleased with the originator of this hoax and have overwhelmingly voted to take part in the Israeli film program their colleague was calling on the film world to boycott.

As with all attempts at cultural boycott directed at Israel, every action by BDS activists creates an overwhelming and opposite reaction.

Cameron BDS-Hoaxers: We’re a Joke!

Well, it looks like the James Cameron – Boycott story has hit the papers. And, surprisingly, the people responsible for circulating this letter (who never fail to pipe up whenever one of their beloved film boycotts is the subject of media coverage) have chosen to go mum (at least with regard to answering reporter’s inquiries).

Apparently, the paper was able to obtain an e-mail that contained one of the boycotter’s explanations for this apparent hoax: It was a joke.

Just to be clear, the person explaining the behavior of the “Team Boycott” is a fully grown adult. I need to mention this because I occasionally have to deal with similar excuses for inexcusable behavior, but usually from my children (both of whom are below the 11-year-old age threshold needed to attend Hogwarts).

It was a joke, it was a parody, it was a pun… That’s their response to why a letter sent to film schools, written in a deadly earnest tone, asking them shun their fellow film makers because of their Israeli nationality, concluded with fake signatures from not just Cameron, but Jane Fonda as well.

“Take me seriously!!!” cries out from every sentence of their original letter. “We care about the suffering masses more than you do! We are the moral lodestone you should follow! Do what we say because we are serious thinkers, serious activists, serious people!”

And then when their hand gets caught in the cookie jar, and this turns out to be just the latest in a long, long line of boycott-and-divestment related hoaxes, their only response is to say “just kidding” and pretend the whole thing never happened.

I’ve written before about how many BDSers seem to live in a fantasy world constructed to make them feel far more significant than they in fact are. But dwelling too long in such a land seems to be leading to an extreme case of self-infantilization – at least among certain university film professors.

BDS Avatar?

The best BDS hoax story yet has just arrived from Canada, causing one of those truly “you can’t make this stuff up!” moments.

I spent much of last year chronicling the tendency of boycott and divestment activists to make fraudulent claims of victory, from the academic hoax at Hampshire, to false claims that the financial firms Blackrock or TIAA-CREF or companies like Motorola had made financial decisions for political reasons.

More recently, the forging of signatures on boycott petitions made its debut in the UK, so it was just a matter of time before this practice found its way to North America.

The story actually begins last Fall when a relatively obscure Canadian film maker, John Greyson (also a teacher at York University), pulled his work from the Toronto Film Festival in protest of that festival’s inclusion of movies from Tel Aviv in their celebration of international urban cinema. This action was accompanied by a petition declaring the festival was, in effect, celebrating Tel Aviv and thus the brutality of “The Occupation,” the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza who struggle to live while Tel Avivians make movies, blah, blah, blah.

This non-story got some ink when a collection of celebrities (including Jane Fonda) signed onto the petition, with some of them (again, Jane Fonda) eventually signing off. As usual, supporters of Israel rallied, the press railed at this attempt at censorship masquerading as artistic “solidarity” and Israeli films were the hit of the Festival.

Flash forward to 2010 when a new petition began circulating around film schools asking them to not participate in this June’s Tel Aviv Student Film Festival because (you know the drill).

The letter itself is worthy of dissection as an example of mental gymnastics (trying to portray an unambiguous attempt to punish a country by boycotting its film makers as something other than the shunning of artists in the name of someone else’s politics). But the real interesting part of the story is the signature section which features none other than “The King of the World” himself: James Cameron.

Now (as far as I know) the Canadian-born Cameron has never had a word to say about the Arab-Israeli conflict, and his name on such a letter would certainly represent a coup for boycott promoters. If it was real. Which it’s not.

As near as I can tell (and details are still coming in) this letter was initiated (and/or promulgated) by the same people involved with Toronto Film Fest boycott fiasco. Supposedly a press conference on the matter was scheduled for today, but was mysteriously called off. This may just have something to do with the fact that someone who saw the letter contacted Cameron’s people and discovered he not only didn’t sign the document, but he’s never seen it and is demanding answers as to how his name got onto such a letter.

In short, the hoaxers who seemed to be trying to leverage famous names to give their project credibility now face the wrath of one of the world’s richest and most powerful film makers. Forgive me a little shadenfreude, but what I would give to be in the home/apartment/dormroom/studio of those who thought they could get away with such an obviously exposable fraud.

I’ll post more details on the story as they become available, but we seem to have clearly entered an age when the sheer scale of BDS failure after a decade of so much intense effort has left boycott and divestment advocates somewhat unhinged. That, or they simply continue to believe that their self-righteous fury allows them to do absolutely anything, even if (or especially if) it involves treating the public (or, in this case, peers in the film making world) like absolute idiots.