Friday, July 31, 2009

Heeb: Roseanne Barr, Burnt "Jew Cookies"

You certainly don't have to be Jewish to find these images of Roseanne Barr, "Domestic Goddess Hitler," offensive.

Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters, writes:

Roseanne Barr has a history of doing and saying some truly disgraceful things, but this one really takes the cake...or the cookie in this case.

Her most-recent tailspin into the gutter involved a photo shoot with Heeb magazine wherein she is seen wearing an Adolf Hitler moustache and swastika as she takes burnt gingerbread "Jew Cookies" out of an oven.

Talk about bad taste!

Yes, that's Barr pulling a sheet of burnt "Jew Cookies" out of the oven.



Here, she's about to munch on one her baked goodies, a burnt Jew.



These photos and an article, "That Oven Feelin'," appeared in the Germany issue of Heeb.

Joshua Neuman, publisher of Heeb, tries to explain what these repulsive images are about. He attempts to provide some justification.

On Heeb's website, Neuman writes:

Many have been up and arms over our recent photo of Roseanne Barr as a "Nazi domestic goddess" in our Germany Issue, questioning how, as Jews, we could ever find any humor in such a subject. When I hear such sorrowful pleas, I want to cry from remorse, but I’m afraid the ensuing suds would cake the lenses of my glasses.

Yes, the story of this infamous satirist/Jewish grandmother pulling a tray of burnt "Jew cookies" out of an oven has been making its way around the Internet—stirring up all sorts of bizarre accusations towards her and completely ignoring the very particular context in which the image was created. So, for all of you coming to this website who haven’t yet seen the issue—or are unfamiliar with what we do in our magazine—allow me to explain.

Heeb is a satirical Jewish culture magazine that interrogates stereotypes and ideas (hopefully in creative ways) that many hold sacred in order to represent the complex and nuanced perspectives that many Jews have about their identities. When we depicted Sarah Silverman behind a hole in a sheet or Jonah Hill dressed as Moses holding two kegs as if they were tablets, we weren’t trying to be shocking—we were trying to communicate something truthful about contemporary Jewishness. Yes, that may sound impossibly high-fallutin, but it’s the truth and while we kind of don’t give a shit whether the magazine wreaks havoc on smug and sanctimonious visions of Jewish life, we do care when our intentions (or those of our collaborators) are distorted.

Virtually every pitch we received leading up to the publishing of our Germany Issue circled back to the Nazis and the Holocaust and almost all of them were humorous in nature. Naturally, our editors couldn’t help but wonder whether something new was happening in the culture— whether the taboo against joking about the Holocaust and the Nazis exerted as much power as it used to. Certainly Jews have been joking about the Holocaust since the Holocaust (I believe it was the Warsaw Ghetto where the Jewish inhabitants referred to Hitler regularly as “Horowitz”), but these jokes have largely been uttered in private or underground. In recent years, they have been ļ¬nding themselves in the most public of conversations.

...And what better way to capture this moment in popular culture than by having the original “domestic goddess” don the Fuhrer’s famous mustache? For better or worse, hasn’t the Holocaust itself been domesticated?

I don't buy Neuman's explanation at all.

He claims that his satirical magazine has a very lofty goal, "[interrogating] stereotypes and ideas (hopefully in creative ways) that many hold sacred in order to represent the complex and nuanced perspectives that many Jews have about their identities."

What a load!

I don't find anything creative about Barr dressing up as Hitler, pulling "Jew Cookies" out of the oven, and readying to bite into the head of one.

What sort of stereotypes and ideas are being "interrogated" here?

What is this alleged satire exposing about the culture?

Are Jews supposed to laugh at Hitler? Are the cookies challenging Jews to question some "nuanced perspectives" about their identities?

What are the photos of Barr revealing that is truthful about contemporary Jewishness?

Neuman doesn't say, probably because the images don't do what he claims they do.

They aren't a means to an end. The photos are the end, being shocking for no other reason than to shock.

This is wrong. It exploits the millions of Jewish men, women, and children who died in the Holocaust.

Neuman should remember that millions of non-Jews lost their lives in the Nazi death camps as well.

The horror of so many people being systematically put to death isn't funny.

There's no deeper meaning or purpose to the photos of Barr. They are what they are -- shameful.

Neuman says, "[W]hile we kind of don’t give a shit whether the magazine wreaks havoc on smug and sanctimonious visions of Jewish life, we do care when our intentions (or those of our collaborators) are distorted."

Smug and sanctimonious?

I don't consider it smug and sanctimonious to respect the dead and the survivors of the Holocaust enough to deem what was published in Heeb to be a complete disgrace.


Neuman tries to hide behind their intentions and he cries foul at the distortions of their intentions.

What distortions?

People have seen the images. They are entitled to their views, whatever Neuman and the magazine's staff intended. Neuman can't tell people how to interpret the photos. He has no right to tell them how to react.

Through the publication of the Barr Hitler photos, Heeb isn't examining a cultural shift about Holocaust jokes. That's nothing but a poor excuse for the inexcusable.


Neuman says he doesn't care if he wreaks havoc. Fine. Then he should feel carefree.

Of course, some people like what's in Heeb. I'm sure Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and those of his ilk appreciate the humor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's the Hebrew word for "asswipe"?