01 November 2010

Am I the Only Under-50 American Jew Who Didn't Like the AJWS video?

Just like how the 'It Gets Better' campaign is all about the featured celebrities and not about the still-harassed LGBT teen, the Judd Apatow-produced ad for AJWS is another example of taking a very worthy and important cause and deep-frying it in ego and smothering it with a side of self-congratulatory condescension.

OK, before I continue on my curmudgeoned rant and in the interest of full disclosure, I did crack up at 4.25 from Brian Williams (I’m a laughing fool for gibberish) and Triumph (who sounded eerily like me at a wedding after a few gin & tonics)….only to vomit a bit in my mouth at the last part of 'goyim' cutting their teeth on one of  'our' languages. But it’s a Judd Apatow flick, which I suppose is meant to automatically trigger one’s gag reflex.

No less important than the argument that such multimedia campaigns satisfy primarily those who appear in them, this is another example of another Jewish organization trying to make itself relevant through online social media/network/blahblahblah to those youngsters among us apparently unable to comprehend the importance of the organizations’ daily mission. Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Tumblr – whatever it takes to get dem youngins’!

While it’s true that online social networks have the power to make connections between otherwise-distant peoples and resources, and not all online social media users are youngsters (as evidenced by the PS in AJWS’ own campaign to promote its video (*I might be turning 70, but I can tweet with the best of ‘em. Follow me: @ruth_messinger, emphasis added) – I cannot help but feel that social media and the under-50 set are inextricably linked in the halls of Jewish organizations, perhaps as a way of keeping us involved enough to forget we’re still not letting you make communal policy decisions.

Cue the latest example: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=166358540044295. Now my relationship with Jewish conferences is like my relationship with advanced math classes in grade school: I love them but I hate them. I love the euphoria, the optimism, the unending buffets, the unending inspeak with no need for simultaneous translation. All of that is for naught, however, when us youngsters are relegated to the kiddy table like it's one big Passover Seder.

How long ago was it that conferences were held hostage by youth delegates, demanding at least 25 percent representation on communal organizations' boards? Long enough that those same delegates are now in charge and clearly forgetful from where they came. It's all too easy for organizations to lament youth apathy but all too hard for them to alloacte a perceptange of their lay & professional leadership positions to those under 35 years of age.

I, like many in my age bracket, am able to comprehend complexity and nuance without the words “boobs” and/or “poop” being used. And I’m able to hold conversations without the use of my two thumbs or 140 characters.

In other words, it’s the same patronization as usual -- only this time, we're able to see just how many have drunk the Manischewitz in our News Feed.