New Article: Weiss, The Politics of Yiddish in Israeli Popular Culture

Weiss, Shayna. “Shtisel’s Ghosts: The Politics of Yiddish in Israeli Popular Culture.” In Geveb, March 6, 2016.

 

URL: http://ingeveb.org/blog/shtisel-s-ghosts-the-politics-of-yiddish-in-israeli-popular-culture

 

Extract

The popular embrace, in newspapers and talkbacks, of Shtisel’s Yiddish stands in contrast to the unease with which Arabic is received in Israeli society, even on television; Yiddish is a softer, safer other for mainstream Jewish Israeli viewers. Yet Yiddish is not feminized and defanged, because Shtisel succeeds in challenging those stereotypes by displaying the breadth of Yiddish in the Israeli Hasidic context. Shtisel also humanizes Israeli Haredim, whose reputation among secular Israelis is often stereotyped to the point of invoking anti-Semitic tropes. Not all non-Hebrew languages in Israel are created equal.

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New Article: Barak-Brandes, Mothers in Contemporary Israeli TV Commercials

Barak-Brandes, Sigal. “‘And she does it all in heels’: Mothers in Contemporary Israeli TV Commercials.” Feminist Media Studies (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2016.1178160

 

Abstract

Although numerous studies have examined the image of women in advertising, the current study is exceptional in looking at the representations of motherhood and mothering practices in contemporary Israeli TV commercials, in an attempt to shed light on the ideological messages they reflect and promote. Sixty-four TV commercials were analyzed using critical discourse analysis. In many ads the mother is depicted as aesthetically pleasing and shapely. This inclusion of the beauty myth in all its cruel demands into the can-do mother myth, could lead Israeli women to a sense of failure as they compare themselves to the glamorous image in the ads and invariably fall short. The hetero-couple-headed nuclear family shown in many ads seems to be a conservative manifestation of the assumption that the “good mother” exists only in the framework of the normative family unit. It seems that in the context of the advertising genre, these are products that lie at the heart of family and couple relationships, and that it is therefore possible to speak of the commodification of the family. The study also found progressive images of the clever, resourceful mother alongside the pathetic, ridiculed one—a new kind of a “bad mother.”

Thesis: Melamed, Israeli Homemade Video Memorials and the Politics of Loss

Melamed, Laliv. Sovereign Intimacy: Israeli Homemade Video Memorials and the Politics of Loss, PhD dissertation. New York: New York University, 2015.
 
URL: http://gradworks.umi.com/37/40/3740826.html
 
Abstract

Sovereign Intimacy takes as its subject of investigation video memorialization of dead Israeli soldiers done by their close family and friends. Mixing private loss, home-made video production, military conduct, state politics, and an institutionalized commemoration, it redraws the affinities between affective intimacy and forms of governing. It delineates the reshaping of sovereignty by filial relationships, video practicing and aesthetics, state and military administration of death and mass media. Sovereign Intimacy inquires into the political currencies of mourning and loss.

The videos respond to an event triggered by operations of state violence—figured by military power—with a personal lamenting of the breaking of intimate ties. These videos are made by the family and for the family, through amateur and semi-amateur modes of production. Although they were meant to be privately circulated, this phenomenon emerged in tandem to the videos being broadcast on television during the events of the National Memorial Day.

Home-made video memorials become a standard of Israeli memorialization during the 1990s. Largely the result of waning public support of the Israeli occupation of the south of Lebanon, and of a growing disavowal of state authority, the phenomenon represented a potential challenge to hegemonic narratives and aesthetic forms, through the appropriation of memory and means of production. However, it did not make way to a new political voice to emerge. Instead, these videos emotionalized violence and victimized its deliverers. Furthermore, the broadcasting of the videos on television—allegedly as a tribute to the families, a communal gesture of listening and a call for solidarity—participated in a national economy of death in which the lives of Lebanese, Palestinians and marginalized people within Israeli society had no value. Lastly, the phenomenon of memorial videos normalized the growing militarization of civil society and neutralized any call for political action.

 

 

 

ToC: Jewish Film & New Media 4.1 (2016; special issue on genres)

Jewish Film & New Media

Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 2016

Table of Contents

SPECIAL ISSUE: GENRES IN JEWISH AND ISRAELI CINEMA

Guest Editors: Yaron Peleg and Yvonne Kozlovsky-Golan

 

New Article: Hakak, The Israeli Haredi Minority through the Camera’s Lens

Hakak, Yohai. “Filmed ‘Not During the Sabbath’: The Israeli Haredi Minority through the Camera’s Lens.” Visual Ethnography 4.2 (2015).
 
URL: http://www.vejournal.org/index.php/vejournal/article/view/80
 
Abstract

The Haredi (Jewish Ultra Orthodox) minority in Israel has an increased visibility in Israeli media in recent years. Many of its representations are negative and stereotypical. This article is an analysis of a documentary series about this minority group that the author co-directed also in an attempt to challenge these stereotypes. The article analyses the process of production of the series and the many decisions that had to be taken during it. It explores the difficulties in challenging the key stereotypes, especially in the context of Israeli commercial television.

 

 

 

New Article: Harlap, Reading the Israeli Television Miniseries Nevelot

Harlap, Itay. “Bad Television/ Good (post)Television. Reading the Israeli Television Miniseries Nevelot (Eagles).” Critical Studies in Television (early view; online first).
 
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1940161215626565
 
Abstract

Nevelot (Eagles) is an Israeli miniseries about two elderly men who, in their youth, fought for a Jewish Zionist underground movement in Palestine, and who in the present-day, embark upon an all-out, killing spree across the city of Tel Aviv, targeting exclusively the young. Whilst it does not directly address television (TV) per se, key scenes and paratexts convey that Nevelot is by no means ‘regular TV’, and that watching it constitutes a viewing experience which differs altogether from ‘regular TV viewing’; a practice often associated with passivity, femininity and victimhood. Employing terms from Zionist, gender and cultural discursive fields, Nevelot offers a fascinating commentary on contemporary Israeli society and the TV content it produces.

 

 

 

New Article: First, Common Sense, Good Sense, and Commercial Television

First, Anat. “Common Sense, Good Sense, and Commercial Television.” International Journal of Communication 10 (2016): 530-48.

 

URL: http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/3551

 

Abstract

In an era when identity is a hybrid process, it is interesting to examine whether and how it is possible to glean the presence or absence of certain cultural groups from their representations in a given culture. To do so, I employ two key Gramscian concepts: common sense and good sense. Using three research reports (from 2003, 2005, and 2011) that employed content analysis techniques, this article assesses the visibility of various subgroups in Israeli TV programs and majority-minority power relations in a variety of genres on commercial channels in the prime-time slot. This article focuses on three aspects of identity: nationality, ethnicity, and gender.

 

 

 

New Article: Shoshana, Reflexivity, Conformity, and Israeli Big Brother

Shoshana, Avihu. “Reflexivity, Conformity, and Israeli Big Brother.” Television & New Media 17.3 (2016): 243-53.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1527476415602779

 

Abstract

This article examines how regular viewers of the reality program Big Brother interpret the program in Israel. The findings of the study reveal that viewers emphasize the formal characteristics of the program stimulate them in a way that other reality programs do not. The interviewees report the program influences them in three ways: excessive preoccupation about personal reflexivity (talking with the televisual other), an experience of inundation, and the development of a new desire: “the desire to be discovered.” These three influences connect personal reflexivity to, inter alia, actions aligned with social control and the ideal-cultural self, which are at the foundation of psychological and neoliberal discourses.

 

 

New Article: Eyal & Te’eni-Harari, Advertising Food Products on Israeli Television

Eyal, Keren, and Tali Te’eni-Harari. “High on Attractiveness, Low on Nutrition: An Over-Time Comparison of Advertising Food Products on Israeli Television.” Health Communication (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2015.1026431

 

Abstract

This content analysis examines Israeli television food advertising. It compares 2008–2009 and 2012–2013, two periods immediately before and several years after regulatory, educational, and public-advocacy efforts have been advanced to raise awareness of and tackle the television–obesity link. Advertisements were drawn from a composite week sample aired on Israeli broadcast channels from 4:00 p.m. until midnight in each of the two periods. Nearly a quarter of ads were for food products, even after a significant drop over the years. The most common food categories included candies and sweetened drinks, whereas fruit and vegetables were among the least common products advertised. The most prevalent central message in food advertisements was that the product makes for an economically sensible purchase, with a much lower focus on the health qualities of the food products. Food advertisements were characterized by a very short duration and an increased reliance on emotional, rather than cognitive, appeal, especially in ads for low-nutrient foods. A significant increase was observed in 2012–2013 in the reliance on thin models in food advertisements, and these were most often associated with high levels of physical attractiveness, promoting the thin ideal. Findings are discussed in light of theory, previous research conducted worldwide, and audience effects. Implications are addressed for health and media industry regulation efforts.

 

 

 

New Article: Ofengenden, Therapy and Satire in Contemporary Israeli Film and Literature

Ofengenden, Ari. “National Identity in Global Times: Therapy and Satire in Contemporary Israeli Film and Literature.” The Comparatist 39 (2015): 294-312.

 

URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2015.1103877

 

Extract

To conclude let us step back and look at the effects of all of these transformation narratives together. These and other novels and films engage in a sustained reusing of the past and successfully transform the way people articulate their identity. They do this with an empathic retelling of the national story like Oz, with the German or Arab Israeli other as in the film Walk on Water and Arab Labor, or with a crazed narrator like Kaniuk’s and Castel-Bloom’s. Therapeutic interventions end with a working through of displacement and immigration, a heightened awareness of the effects of the Holocaust, and a new appreciation of the creative potential of Jewish identity and culture. Self-critical satire breaks open a monolithic national identity, exposing its constructed nature and calls for creative transformations. We can now ask why these two narratives are so central to the way literature and film re-imagine national identity in contemporary times. I think that the answer lies most prominently in globalization. International flows of culture, goods, and people help strengthen civil society in its critique and parody of state violence and state agents. Somewhat paradoxically, globalization also leads to a demand for specifically national narratives in the international market. In a recent talk, Salman Rushdie pointed out that contemporary writers are increasingly asked to mediate the story of a nation for an international audience. Indeed that is what his own Midnight’s Children did for India, what J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace did for South Africa, Toni Morrison’s novels for the U.S., and Oz and Grossman for Israel. Thus we get narratives that are called to represent the nation on an international market but heal, critique, or poke fun at it at the same time. The system in which Hebrew literature finds itself has radically changed. Previously this system or field was constructed as a national field; now the field is constituted as semi-global. Some actors achieve international success while others remain domestic. Some mediate and explain the national story on the global stage while others parody the nation in order to change it.

Israeli national-cultural discourse is not a sole expression of some underlying economic forces that determine its content. However, its expression is a result of creative adaptation to economical and political pressures and opportunities that have become more and more global. Mainstream literature and culture has responded by articulating narratives that simultaneously reflect feelings of lack of political agency and an empathic apologetic self-representation for the global other. Minor literature in Israel saw an opportunity in the weakening of the state to articulate a critique in the form of parody that attempts to reconfigure national identity.

 

 

 

ToC: Israel Studies 21.1 (2016; Narratives of the 1948 war)

Volume 21, Number 1, Spring 2016

Table of Contents

Representations of Israeli-Jewish — Israeli-Palestinian Memory and Historical Narratives of the 1948 War

Edited by Avraham Sela and Alon Kadish

New Article: Perkins, Translating the Television ‘Treatment’ Genre: Be’Tipul and In Treatment

Perkins, Claire. “Translating the Television ‘Treatment’ Genre: Be’Tipul and In Treatment.” Continuum 29.5 (2015): 781-94.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2015.1068730

 

Abstract

In Treatment (2008–2010) was the first Israeli series to be remade for US television, and its largely positive critical reception established a reputation for Israel as a home for quality drama – setting the stage for the remake of Hatufim (Prisoners of War, 2009–2012) into Homeland (2011–). This article takes up the case of In Treatment to examine how the process of transnational television remaking can illuminate the concept of US quality television in the millennial era. Arguing that the aesthetic and industrial brand of ‘quality’ is defined by the theme and device of transformation, the article analyses how the American remake gradually diverges from the original series Be’Tipul (2005–2008) to accentuate this concept in its stories and narrative style. The resulting text presents the quintessential contemporary example of what I call the television ‘treatment’ genre: a mode of programming that operates by centripetal narrative complexity to present ‘serial selves,’ or characters whose time in therapy produces progressive or regressive modifications in their emotional state. When read against the more halting and circular narratives of Be’Tipul, this format demonstrates a clear socio-cultural remapping of its topic: where therapeutic culture in America is presented as a site that is underpinned by contested neoliberal ideologies on the government of subjectivity.

 

 

New Article: Zanger, Between Homeland and Prisoners of War: Remaking Terror

Zanger, Anat. “Between Homeland and Prisoners of War: Remaking Terror.” Continuum 29.5 (2015): 731-42.

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2015.1068733

 

Abstract

The Israeli series Prisoners of War (Hatufim, Keshet, Israel, Gideon Raff, 2009–2011) and Homeland (Showtime, US 2011–2013; developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series with Gideon Raff as one of the producers) is a special case of hypertextuality (Genette 1982). Both serial dramas revolve around prisoners of war who have returned home and their families, intelligence agency operatives and terror organizations operating behind the scenes. In these serializations of the thriller genre, narratives of paranoia and conspiracy render invisible terror visible on the screen. The focalization of the various plots and sub-plots as well as their reception spaces are different however. Prisoners of War tells the story of three soldiers who are kidnapped, held captive for 17 years and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder on their return home. The series was broadcast at a time when intensive negotiations were underway for the release of three IDF soldiers who had been kidnapped. Homeland, on the other hand, places centre stage a female CIA operative (Claire Danes) who suffers from bipolar disorder. The first season was broadcast in post-9/11 America while American soldiers were still fighting in Iraq. Both series therefore directly address their audiences and relate to the public sphere outside the studio. The reception of these texts incorporates their meaning as reconstructed by their publics. Thus, while both series involve a ritual of scapegoating as a means of resolving conflict, each reflects and produces its own repertoire of reality (‘realemes’). Interestingly, a traumatic excess is inscribed on both male and female bodies as each series rewrites its own society’s myth: the binding of Isaac in the Israeli Prisoners of War and Joan of Arc in the American Homeland.

 

 

New Book: Lavie, from HaBurganim to In Treatment (in Hebrew)

Lavie, Noa. From HaBurganim to . Tel Aviv: Resling, 2015 (in Hebrew).

 

Lavie

 

 

Against the flood of a global and local television genre considered “inferior” – “reality” TV – there are growing public, official, and scholarly voices who distinguish between purely commercial television and quality, or even artistic, television. The quality discourse, which originated in the United States, revolves mainly around serialized drama shows, which as a television genre is even a competitor to the cinema in its artistic innovation.

Israeli television is heavily influenced by this global quality discourse. Moreover, during the 1990s Israeli television was revolutionized with the privatization of the television market in Israel and the establishment of commercial TV channels and cable and satellite channels. This revolution enabled, in parallel with the institutionalization of the global quality discourse, the production of original Israeli TV drama series immeasurably higher than during the sole reign of the IBA. Accordingly, this book explores how the serialized television drama became a “quality” television genre which is treated as a work of art in every respect.

This book does not deny the possibility that there is such thing as “high art,” or television productions that bears artistic marks; but Noa Lavie’s sociological spotlight seeks to illumine the struggles and the social and organizational causes that defined, beginning in the 1990s and down to the first decade of the 2000s, drama series such as “The Bourgeois” or “In Treatment”, along with other series, as high-quality and artistic television. This is achieved through an analysis of interviews with prominent creators of television drama in Israel, analysis of TV reviews published in major newspapers, and an account of the institutional-organizational field and the technological, regulatory, and other changes it underwent in the early 1990s.

 

Dr. Noa Lavi is the head of the political communication division and a lecturer in the School of Government and Society at Tel Aviv-Yaffo Academic College.

 

 

 

New Article: Lavie & Dhoest, Quality Television in the Making

Lavie, Noa, and Alexander Dhoest. “‘Quality Television’ in the Making: The Cases of Flanders and Israel.” Poetics (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.poetic.2015.08.006

 

Abstract

This article discusses the properties of ‘quality television’ as constructed within the field of television production. It does so by analyzing the discourse of television creators and critics in two countries, Israel and Flanders, taking a theoretical approach based in part on Bourdieusian theory. Most academic work about ‘quality television’ concentrates on Anglo-American television drama series. In this paper we offer a different perspective by focusing on two small but prosperous television markets outside of the Anglo-American world. Our findings suggest that the quality discourse in both countries contains autonomous-artistic alongside heteronomous-capitalist ideological elements, apparently under the influence of the Anglo-American discourse of quality. Our findings also suggest that both ideological elements contribute to the cultural legitimation of the television drama series in both countries, though the capitalist discourse plays a more evident role among creators than among critics. Finally, we also discuss the differences between the Flemish and the Israeli discourses of ‘quality television.’

 

 

New Article: Bourdon and Ribke, The Politics of Television Audience Measurement

Bourdon, Jerome, and Nahuel Ribke. “Ratings, the State and Globalization: The Politics of Television Audience Measurement in Israel.” Media, Culture & Society (early view; online first).

 

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0163443715594034

 

Abstract

This is a study of the introduction to Israel of a technology for measuring television audiences, the ‘People Meter’ (PM), focusing on its political aspects. It links the new practice to the history of the state, precisely to the emergence of the neo-liberal state, which brought about a new relation to numbers, using an increased quantity of statistics for the regulation of economic sectors. In Israel, the state, in both its old (government ministers, administrators, state-owned/public channels) and new (regulatory bodies) guises, has been deeply involved in audience measurement. Next, the study situates the history of audience measurement in a global context, examining the ways in which both public actors, and private actors associated with international marketing groups have domesticated a new mode of regulation for audience measurement – the Joint Industry Committee (JIC), and the new ‘state-of-the-art’ technology – the PM. Third, it considers the political role played by audience figures in the fight over the representation of the public and of specific minorities in the public sphere: the Arab minority in Israel, the Palestinians and the settlers in the occupied territories, the Jewish minorities from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and from Ethiopia.

New Article: Kohn, Mehubarot: A Peep without a Show

Kohn, Ayelet. “Mehubarot: A Peep without a Show.” Jewish Film & New Media 3.2 (2015): 170-92.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jewish_film_new_media_an_international_journal/v003/3.2.kohn.html

 

Abstract
The Israeli television series Mehubarot (Connected, 2009) follows five Israeli women who use their performance before the camera—through both visual and spoken texts—as a means of biographical representation which blends public and private aspects of their daily lives. This article examines the use of spoken language as a central tool for signaling sincerity and closeness on the series’ visual stage, focusing on the unique setting of Israeli society and the exclusive genre of a televised diary in its written and spoken modes.

Unlike blogs or videos uploaded to the internet, which are contemporary precedents for this kind of intimate exposure in the public arena, the genre under discussion relies on established conventions of television and cinema to convey intimacy. Mehubarot is inspired by documentaries and films that use voiceover as an established device for informing the viewers of the characters’ thoughts. In its methods of presenting the “diaries,” the series also adopts patterns of confession and exposure commonly used in televised platforms that follow ongoing projects of identity construction, and frequently present them as journeys of self-discovery and personal development. Following a discussion of the series’ unique features, the article’s second part focuses on the journalist Dana Spector and the contradictory readings of her private-public identity, social and family identity, and “celebrity” identity in their transfer from the newspaper column to the television arena.

 

 

New Article: Steir-Livny, Holocaust Humor, Satire, and Parody on Israeli Television

Steir-Livny, Liat. “Holocaust Humor, Satire, and Parody on Israeli Television.” Jewish Film & New Media 3.2 (2015): 193-219.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jewish_film_new_media_an_international_journal/v003/3.2.steir-livny.html

 

Abstract
The politicization of the Holocaust has been reflected in Israeli culture from the late 1940s in cinema, literature, theater, and poetry; in the last several decades, it has also been depicted on Israeli television. Most of the representations of the Holocaust in the first decades of Israel’s existence were dramatic. But from the 1990s onward, Israelis also began to address the subject through satire. The case studies in this article focus on the satirical skits performed on episodes of The Chamber Quintet (Hahamishia Hakamerit; Matar Productions, Channel 2-Tela’ad, Channel 1, 1993–1997) and Wonderful Country (Eretz Nehederet; Keshet Productions, Channel 2-Keshet, 2003–2014). Diverging from arguments that these humorous skits addressing the Holocaust disrespect the Holocaust and its survivors, this article maintains that they instead articulate the powerful position the Holocaust holds as a constituting event in the consciousness and identity of younger generations in Israel.

 

 

New Article: Wuensch, Trauma, Guilt, and Ethics in BeTipul and In Treatment

Wuensch, Michaela. “Trauma, Guilt, and Ethics in BeTipul and In Treatment: The Universalist Approach and (Jewish) Particularism of Psychoanalysis in Transnational Television.” Jewish Film & New Media 3.2 (2015): 119-40.

 

URL: https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jewish_film_new_media_an_international_journal/v003/3.2.wuensch.html

 

Abstract
This article compares the Israeli television show BeTipul with its American adaptation, In Treatment, with regard to the subtle Jewishness of the Israeli show and its universalist conversion into a non–Jewish-American context. It asks why the adaptation was stripped of its Jewishness, and it relates this fact both to the question of psychoanalysis as a “Jewish” science as well as to Paulinian universalism. Questions after the fluidity and evasiveness of Jewish identity in general and in popular culture in particular arise, as well as the question of how psychoanalysis can be transferred to television. Both series are also analyzed from a psychoanalytical perspective as comprising a cultural unconscious.