I admit it.
When I grow up, I want to be Sarah Silverman.
Are you shocked? Appalled? Ready to stop reading my blog? Stop sending your kids to my house?
Hold your horses. I’m not about to parade in a bikini or straddle my Chihuahua in front of your innocent child. And while I occasionally might accidentally let the “S” word slip in my house, I promise never to say any of the forbidden “C” words in front of your kid.
I want to be like Sarah Silverman because that girl eats societal taboos for breakfast and spits them out like they are nursery rhymes. Does she get flack for going overboard? Sometimes. Does it stop her? No.
Quite the opposite, in fact. Despite soliciting billionaire Sheldon Adelson this week by offering to perform “traditional lesbian sex acts” (and then demonstrating said acts in an NSFW YouTube video ) in exchange for his promise to transfer donations from Romney to Obama, Silverman has escaped relatively unscathed in the Jewish press.
In Ha’aretz, Natasha Mozgovaya labels the Schlep Labs-produced video “vulgar” (which it is by most standards of the word), but concedes that said vulgarity “won’t prevent it from receiving numerous clicks.” (It’s received upwards of 260,000 so far.)
Rob Eshman of The Jewish Journal glosses over Silverman’s adorable brand of borderline porn with a “that’s how politics works these days,” and instead gently takes her to task for focusing only on Adelson and not on “unaccountable campaign financing.” He’s less concerned about her explicit language than with the idea that Silverman’s antics are only fueling the fires of Jew-haters.
JTA Editor-in-Chief Ami Eden’s harshest criticism is that “Scissor Sheldon” is “less funny” than her previous pitch for Obama (“The Great Schlep“). But he also admits that perhaps his distaste for the raunchy video is a symptom of his “getting older.”
Overall, most of the news media — not just the Jewish press — reported the story with a tongue-in-cheek “indecent proposal” headline and a sheepish giggle. That’s it.
Man, that nice Jewish girl can get away with murder.
But you know what? I’m less jealous that she can be raunchy and crude and still come off as the kind of girl you want to bring home to your mother, and more grateful that there is a Jewish woman out there who can bust right through the unthinkable in order to get her point across and to motivate people (especially young Jews) to think.
There are very few people who would dare – and even fewer who could pull it off with the kind of charm that Sarah Silverman brings to the table (couch?). True, it’s easier to be confident when you already have an established following based on your willingness to take risks. But while years on the stand-up comedy circuit may have hardened Silverman to criticism, she’s still human. And no human is unafraid of exposing herself to criticism.
We need more people willing to take risks on behalf of causes that mean a great deal to them. Safety and decorum only get us so far. This is not to say I want to see any old Jewish celebrity parading online in her bikini for any old cause. But I’m in awe of Silverman — she not only made a career out of speaking the unspeakable, but she uses the unspeakable as a catalyst for action and change.
And yes, I aspire to emulate her passion and conviction, if not her style.
Yesterday, I admitted to some of my friends that the Silverman video brought to my attention a political matter I had been ignoring up until that point. One friend expressed alarm at my admission. She wrote:
I think the fact that you — an informed, educated and smart woman — weren’t aware of Adelson’s contributions until this video speaks to what I’m saying. No one pays attention to important things till someone does something idiotic/crass.
But the entire world is half asleep, I explained to my friend. We are so inundated with content and information, and so overwhelmed by multi-tasking, that we simply cannot pay attention to every single “important” story.
What I sacrifice in being informed about politics, I said, I make up for in awareness about current events in Israeli hi-tech, for instance, or wellness.
The common denominator, apparently, between all of us over-informed, over-stimulated people is “idiotic and crass.”
Sarah Silverman, with intention and authenticity, closes the gap, and gets us all engaged in the conversation.