Monday, August 06, 2007

The frummers of the South Pacific

I'll bet you didn't know there were frum people in the South Pacific. Yessir, they are very active down there in the Republic of Vanuatu, home of the mythical "Bali Ha'i," and all that other South Sea Stuff.

The only problem is that these Frum people aren't Jewish. But if it makes you feel any better, dear LForD fan, their Frum religion (named after their prophet "John Frum") is a rejection of the Christian missionary cult. More information can be found here and here.

In fact, here is a web Page that purports to represent the John "From" movement, dedicated to "saving the people, bringing them the goods of the white man and freedom from the white man's 'devil philosophy.'"

And here is an account of a visit to a Frum village.

Now what I'm waiting for is the day when a black-hatter from Brooklyn ventures to Vanuatu and innocently mentions that he's "frum." My mind cracks up with laughter and shudders at the same time when thinking of the probable results.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ratatoullie -- A Jewish movie

It's time again for another LFordD movie review in our series of Jewish movies without overt Jewish content.

Today's pick is the new Disney/Pixar animated release, "Ratatoullie," which is not only about a treif restaurant, its hero is a rat! Not only that, the director/screenwriter is one Brad Bird, which belies the stereotypes about "Hollywood Jews." Nonetheless, I believe that this picture presents strong Jewish themes.

The basic storyline concerns Remy the Rat, who, unlike the rest of his clan, is sensitive to the tastes and odors of fine food. The other rats are happy enough eating just any old garbage. And while Remy's dad is grateful that Remy's talent allows him to be able to check for rat poison, he warns Remy not to have anything to do with humans, the mortal enemy of the rat. Naturally, Remy cannot resist, and before long is helping a clueless garbage boy produce haute cuisine. The whole movie is about Remy struggling to balance his rat identity and love for his family with his disgust at the rat culture (they steal yucky garbage) with his need to fraternize with humans, who are the only ones who can enable Remy to realize his personal dreams (as well as provide him with edible food, as normal rat chow makes him gag.)

If this isn't a metaphor for the Jewish experience during the last 200 years or so (with the rats standing in for the Jews and the humans for the goyim), then I'm a hareidi. In particular, the scene where Remy's dad is trying to convince his son that humans aren't to be trusted has such obvious Holocaust overtones that italmost embarrasses me to have to point it out. The ending, too, while cute and typically Hollywood hopeful, does not answer all the questions -- while Remy and his rat clan enjoy the friendship of some humans (and a certainly better lifestyle, or at least diet, than they had on their own, most humans still loathe and despise rats and would shut down any restaurant that dared allow a ratt prepare dinner -- even if the rat washed his hands before working with the food.