Why Can’t Jews Fight Crime Too?

So, a couple of months ago I’m visiting my parents for the High Holidays and I’m watching Letterman, and Dave asks actor/screenwriter Seth Rogen about the rumors that he’s going to be writing and starring in a Green Hornet movie. Letterman infers that Rogen is an odd choice to play the dashing radio and TV hero (basically a high-tech Lone Ranger). To which Rogen shrugs and says, “Jews hate crime too! Why can’t Jews fight crime?�

This strikes me as interesting for any number of reasons. For one thing, Seth Rogen isn’t your father’s Jewish comedian. He’s a member of the new pantheon of hip, urban, modern celebra-Jews, like Sarah Silverman and Sasha Baron Cohen. I find that refreshing. I mean, I was getting a little sick of the whole stoop-shouldered, “Can I do your taxes?� type of Jew that so many people are familiar with.

And I think it’s interesting that Seth Rogen usually plays Jewish characters, but it’s not like you know he’s Jewish because he’ll pause in the middle of a scene and say, “Oy, my prostate is killing me!� You know he’s Jewish because he’ll make a raunchy reference to touching a Hebrew school classmate’s junk (as in The Forty Year Old Virgin), or he’ll wax rhapsodically about the bad-ass Jewish action heroes in the film Munich (as he did in Knocked Up). See, this is a Jewish character I can relate to.

It’s also interesting that Seth Rogen is primed to play The Green Hornet. Because that would make him the second plus-size hipster Jewish comedian IN A ROW who was developing a comic book movie project with the word “Green� in the title. See, not too long ago, it was announced that comedian (and fellow Red Sea Pedestrian) Jack Black was going to star in a movie based on the DC comics property Green Lantern, about an interplanetary cop in emerald tights.

Supposedly, the script would’ve been an action comedy. Too bad the project was put into turnaround, because it would’ve been a really interesting choice. Some comics fans balked at the idea of Jack Black being Green Lantern, because that would have automatically made the film a comedy. But those comics fans need to really start taking their Ritalin and stop taking this stuff so damn seriously.

Now the Jack Black Green Lantern project is now relegated to that “Woulda Shoulda Coulda� pile of film projects, and it does make me wonder: If the Seth Rogen Green Hornet movie ALSO falls by the wayside, does that mean that ANOTHER zaftig Jewish comedian gets to then develop a “Green Something� superhero project? Will we see Evan Handler (Californication, Sex & the City) as Green Arrow? Will Sarah Silverman gain a hundred pounds and play Green Flame? (Look it up. Better yet, don’t.) Is this just a trend that will continue until one of these “Green� projects actually gets made? The mind boggles…

Arie Kaplan is a writer for MAD Magazine who also writes for film, TV, and comics. Arie’s first book, Masters of the Comic Book Universe Revealed!, is in bookstores now. His second book, chronicling the history of Jews in comic books, will be published in fall 2008 from JPS. Check out his website, www.ariekaplan.com.

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