Scene4 Magazine: Arthur Meiselman

Arthur Meiselman

Once More With Feeling

One of the prime purposes in my life is re-purposing: things that serve one dated purpose and do not change much when pressed into another date and time. The thrift of memory. Think clothes, forgotten lovers, and vibrant viewpoints. And so, on this missing month in the ancient Jewish calendar, this invisible month which I was born into, I've repurposed and merged two prior pieces which my oldest brother particularly liked and which I dedicate to his memory. He passed away a few days ago at the heroic age of 98. Independent, in his own home, with remarkable genes.


The Myth of Jewish Hollywood


Now what about this Jewish thing. For one, there were no Jews in ancient biblical times. If there was a Jesus of Nazareth, he was not a Jew… he was a Semite, a Middle-Easterner, and a man of color, not a Christian evangelist with blue eyes and blond hair. There were no Christians then. If he existed, his mother, his apostles, his supporters, his detractors were the same… call them Semites, Hebrews, Israelites, but don’t call them Jews. The Jewish culture emerged in the 15th century Europe. At that time in the Middle East and in Africa and China, they were still Semites. In Northern Europe, they absorbed a version of middle-high German and merged it with strains of dead ancient Hebrew and whatever Slavic language that they happened to find wherever they were allowed to settle. Their culture and language became “Judisch” or as the Anglos say: Yiddish.


In Southern Europe, they did the same except they used Spanish as the base which they brought with them when they were mercilessly shoved out of Spain just as Columbus was voyaging to find a new place for them to merge.


The new place was “The New World”, America. In the early 20th century, some American Jewish merchants, who had learned merchandising in the merchandising mecca of New York City, recognized that the new entertainment of moving pictures had a promising future. They merchandised the hell out of it.  They became distribution kings. As with all good business plans, they looked to control their product. So they began producing it. And as with all good production plans, they looked for better and cheaper. At that time, there didn’t seem to be anywhere better and cheaper than the Los Angeles basin (still true today, depending on how you define better and cheaper). That’s where they went, along with a number of other entrepreneurs who were not Jewish. Together they created Hollywood and the rest is hyperbolated history.


It’s important to note that most of the Hollywood power (the money), even during the Golden studio era was and still is controlled by banks and financial groups that were and are… not controlled by Jews–that were and are… controlled, in large part, by White Anglo-Saxon Christians. It’s also important to note that most powerhouse media organizations, print, radio, television are controlled by the same indigenous pale-faced cultural group.


And it’s important to note that during the notorious Blacklist period of the 1950’s, a disproportionate majority of those who were condemned and a disproprtionate majority of those who did the condemning by naming names… were Jewish, heralded in a disproportionate Christian Congress, police establishment and media. This during the reign of the pale-faced Dwight Eisenhower, which was proportionately appropriate. 


Five Reasons Why Cinema Is Dying


Well it's not really dying. Rather, the prevailing art-form of the 20th century is expanding like the universe into an amorphous stew. And like all stews, cooked and cooked and eaten at every meal, you eventually can't tell the wine from the potatoes.


Five Reasons:

1. There's just too much.
When film became cinema, a hundred years ago or so, we had radio, an intimate, in-the-quiet-of-the-mind form of theatre, and the telephone, better than two cottage-cheese boxes and a piece of string though not quite as intimate, but closer to the intimacy of face-to-face, person-to-person contact. Then came recordings, then came film, then came cinema, then came Hollywood, then came television, then came video tape, then came the stew. Today we have video, it's everywhere... on computers, on phones, on billboards, in the toilet, on refrigerators, in beds. The word film has become an anachronism—movies, we make movies.


2. Everyone is a moviemaker.
All movies are disposable, here now, gone in a minute, an hour, two hours. Also gone is the thrill of touching a round can with 'film' in it which you could even hold up to a light and see pictures. Now we have nothing but 1's and 0's. We have photos of photos of photos. And they end up stewed in video. Hey, you... YouTube me and I'll YouTube you. Everyone in Hollywood, and Bollywood and London is a moviemaker. Here's my camera, here's my shoot, here's my edit (if I edit!), here's my movie. I'll show you mine if you show me yours. I'll be the doctor, you be the nurse, and then we'll switch.


3. Videoless videos.
Have you noticed the number of people who talk, chit-chat, get upset, get depressed about a video they haven't seen? Have you noticed that they've noticed that you haven't seen it either? Sometimes they get enraged because you haven't seen what they haven't seen. It begs the question... so what is a video?   


4. Movieless movies.
Have you noticed the number of people who talk, chit-chat, get upset, get depressed about a movie they haven't seen? Have you noticed that they've noticed that you haven't seen it either? Sometimes they get enraged because you haven't seen what they haven't seen. It begs the question... so what is a movie?


5. The final 100% relentless dominance of merchandising.
Even though your personal physiological value is about $1.98USD, your image could be worth a fortune. We call it Reality TV. In Hollywood they call it Reality Blockbustering. In the "Everyone is a moviemaker" world, they call it "See Me, I can be, I want to be, a Rich Star" (also known as the "rock&roll syndrome" because that music stew has so many people who can't sing, or play or write music but still do the three-cornered 'hat-trick'... money, fame and... money&fame).


Merchandising, or known by its more polite euphemism, marketing, has always been at the base of cinema because cinema has always been a business, the movie business. Though a number of great films were made despite the intrusion of marketing, merchandised they were. With the rise of the corporate studios in the 1920's through the past 50 years, merchandising, sorry – marketing, cooked at the core of cinema and finally became the meal itself. In Hollywood, the Mike Todds and Spielbergs and Bruckheimers learned the U.S. Mint's secret of how to print money... which they did relentlessly, frame by frame, as cinema lost and loses its purpose and some of its potentially great films.


Case in point – Ridley Scott's Prometheus.
I admire Scott... he could have become the first Master Filmmaker of the 21st century. Deeply influenced by two of the four master filmmakers of the 20th century – Stanley Kubrick and David Lean, which he acknowledges – Scott has created three masterpieces (please, I try to use that term carefully)... The Duellists, Alien and Kingdom of Heaven, along with three other great films... Blade Runner, Legend, and Blackhawk Down. He's nearly 78 now and he has 125,000 projects on his "gonna get this done" list before he flies off into the fog of his logo. Maybe it's 126. One would think that after 200 commercial advertising projects before making his first film, and after 30 years of commercial V-for-video and television profit-makers, Scott, like Kurosawa, would have mused himself into a final, personal project or two. That could have been Prometheus. It isn't. But it's made a fortune at the box-office.


Now what about my mother. She was a Yiddische Mama and therefore, an incarnation of the Virgin Mary. Got that? Mary was a Yiddische Momma too... well, a Hebrewische Momma. My own conception was not just immaculate, it was beyond immaculate. And my Momma was Jewish, so she skipped around the Jesus-connection because she had a direct line to her god. She would go into a closet and talk to–him, her, it. She would get advice, guidance, and comfort. It was a special relationship.


One day, my ‘madonna’ was particularly distressed. It was revealed to her that her favorite nephew had a liaison, or as it was called then, “a do-it” with a man. Those were fearful, Gay-bashing, Satan-is-Black-and Hell-is-Queer days. So she went into her closet to talk to her god. She cried and wailed and flooded the little dark room with her misery. Then (as it was revealed to me later in whispers) a voice came, a disembodied, non-directed voice which said: “Take comfort, fegela (little bird), at least he’s doing it with a Jewish boy.”


Rest well Dave.

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Arthur Meiselman is a playwright, writer and the Editor of Scene4. He also directs the Talos Ensemble and
produces for Aemagefilms.
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©2015 Arthur Meiselman
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October 2015

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