Thursday, September 29, 2005

Since we're on the topic, I'm thinking about doing some suing myself...

First on the list is Mr. and Mrs. Ashton Kutcher, a/k/a Demi and Ashton. I was flipping though one of this week's rubbish rags and saw a photo of the two of them in full costume, dressed as babies, to celebrate PURIM at the L.A. Kabbalah Center. Neither of them is Jewish, and yet they are blatantly using the Jewish religion's holiday to garner publicity. Do they even know what Purim is? Do they even know that it's not one big secular costume party? Do they understand that Purim is a RELIGIOUS and JEWISH CULTURAL celebration of Jewish triumph over potential holocaust brought upon by the words of a biblical-times Hitler character named Hamen?

I think that might call for a lawsuit.

And that reminds me - I noticed last spring that Hot and Crusty, that ubiquitous so-called "bakery", was selling "Hamentashen", a special triangular-shaped, fruit-filled cookie eaten by Jews traditionally on and around Purum. The cookie is intended to work as a mockery of Hamen's tri-cornered hat. But it also tastes pretty damn good, especially if you are partial to apricot jam. So, Hot and Crusty, which is not a Jewish institution is profiting from the suffering of the Jews and the triumph of the Jews over Hamen, thanks to one hot-chick named Esther, who knew how to "work it".


Yes, Esther used her feminine wiles to talk the Ahasuerus, King of Persia, who happened to be her husband, out of exterminating the Jews of Persia. Pretty, sexy Esther, who neglected to tell said husband that she was a Jew, but who took her life into her hands by approaching her husband, the King, without a "summons" (an act punishable by death, even if committed by the King's wife). Which brings me to Madonna. Does she realize what she is co-opting when she decides that her spiritual name shall henceforth be Esther?


And going off the topic of theft of Jewish intellectual property, let's not forget that Madonna has been known to appropriate the British accent as well as a British way of life as a bid to better her image?


The only problem with suing in these cases is that everything we're talking about here is in the "public domain". Even ACTUAL copyrighted works end up in the public domain eventually. I believe the duration of copyright is life of the author (whoever created the work, regardless of whether it is a book - the word "author" is used by the U.S. Copyright Act to indicate anyone who creates a copyrightable "work", whether music, art, performance piece, movie, etc.) plus 100 years. Or something like that (I don't feel like doing the research on this - I am so done with that part of my life. In any event, copyrights eventually expire. So, I am kinda thinking that the story of Purim has probably reached its expiration date. And I'm kinda sure that no one can claim ownership of a Hamentashen anymore. Or the rights to the name, Esther. Or the right to use a British accent or to live in the Cotswalds with a couple of hounds and a horse.

Even if it just feels WRONG!

On the other hand, let's say that someone opened up "Joe's Jew Temple" in Toledo, Ohio, and let's say that the Temple hosted "Cheeseburger Fridays" and "Sunday Clambakes" and celebrated Christmas and Labor Day as its highest holiest of days. I would say that there would be some issues there of misrepresentation. And SOMEONE might have a leg to stand on in suing Joe for misrepresenting his "Temple" as an actual place for Jews to worship. I am not sure if there is a governing body for the Jewish people who could do so, and I am quite sure that Israel wouldn't have standing to sue Joe. But someone, perhaps "congregants" who were "misled" into worshipping at a place that turned out not to be a Jewish house of worship, might be able to sue. Is it a trademark claim? I don't think so. Trademarking is a way of identifying a product (Servicemarking is a way of identifying a service). It has to be unique, and it has to be owned by someone in order for anyone to sue anyone for an infringement. I just don't think that applies here.

Does it apply to the government of India attempting to create ownership rights in poses that are probably in the public domain? Does it apply to the supposed appropriation of Hindu (or Buddhist or Sikkh, for that matter) customs being used in the U.S. to enhance what may or may not be essentially a really good workout? It just doesn't seem to make sense.

OK, kill me now.



Anonymous said...

it's a very thin line. The way in which the west has a history of appropriating cultural practices with sheer disregard for the true practice is so common i think it is sometimes forgotten. It is important that people are reminded of the debt that is owed from this type of appropriation-- as frankly there are many ways in which this has happened where it has been blatantly ignored.

Though i see some similarities the whole kabbalah celebrity thing--it's not quite the same. You don't see people starting thier own religious system based on Kaballah, branding it and reselling it as "power kaballah", and designating themselves as "gurus" etc. etc...-- though who's to say this won't happen in the future.

I hear your outrage and I understand, but white cultures in this country and all over the world( especially when it comes to yoga)have been moving in and capatilizing on non white cultural heritage stuff for hundreds of years. This doesn't neccessarily make the whole yoga thing right-- but it doesn't make it wrong either.
You might feel very different if your parents were from India--like mine.

Anonymous said...

For want of the right understanding about his real nature (i.e., the oneness of the self with Absolute Consciousness), man remains deluded and considers himself limited, unhappy, miserable and beset with innumerable problems. In zen terms: all this stuff is monkey mind.

Anonymous said...

this is true. but u can't ignore this stuff if it affects you at a personal cultural level.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but why *cultivate* it with so much energy?

Anonymous said...

Please don't get me wrong--I'm not angry. Not at all---Thats how you cultivate toooooooooo much energy-- i just think it is important to acknowledge the issues-- and deal with them on a case by case basis. Some people grow up in enviroments where they don't even have to care about things like this-- I was not one of them--- thats all--and thats from where my own personal/cultural persepective comes from on these yoga issues.

i think YC has every right to be appalled by the whole thing--from her own personal and cultural perspective.

Susan said...

The people who started L.A. Kabbalah center? The ones that were on 60 Minutes! They certainly were McKabbalahing Kabbahala! It it "Power Kabbalah", they are selling it as a commodity to people, strings, water, tee shirts.Total farce. Brittany, Paris. I'd be pissed if I were a Jew.

At least sue Brittany for defamation of character for mothers everywhere. You would only understand if you were a mother.

Person who's parents are from India, are your parents practicing yogi's?

Anonymous said...

Do you go to this temple? Do you know Demi or Ashton or madonna? do you really care who makes a profit off of a cookie? No offense, but it seems a bit judgmental to decide what is right and wrong for others. So dont go to that temple, dont buy that cookie, dont read trashy magazines if they make you feel like sueing people.
Whats so wrong with adopting cultures that you feel an affinity to? Whats wrong with being open to new belifes and ideas? adopting cultures and practices is not new and last I heard you make money off of being a yoga teacher.
Let Demi and Ashton do what they want, it dosn't directly affect you in the slightest, let them sell cookies and let madonna talk however she wishes, at the end of the day what difference does it make to you?
You want to stand up for jews everywhere? then be a good jew, prey, forgive and live for g-d.
America is a whole contry made up of many cultures, english isn't this lands native tongue. in fact, jews, christians, white people and black people, hindus, sikkhs are all from other places, none are native. we adopt things, we create new things, its what people do, so what, since when is it your job to stand up and defend the authenticity of other cultures.

Oh and if you want less debate and harsh comments, stop writing posts in the form of questions.
All you can control is you. So be the change you wish to see. judging others is mean and shows insecurity within yourself.

Anonymous said...

To the previous anonymous poster who concludes "judging others is mean and shows insecurity within yourself":

1. Well, Dr. Freud, you really describe YOURSELF very well. I guess it takes one to know one.

2. You just don't have a sense of humor, do you?

3. You just don't have an I.Q. of over DUH do you? In other words, you didn't understand YC's post at all.

4. You also don't believe in the First Amendment, do you?

5. I say "vaporize" from this blog forever, because, inter alia, your grammar is at the level of a second grader.

Anonymous said...

nice counterpoint,
"takes one to know one?"
"no sense of humor"
"first ammendment?"
Bad grammer?

Seriously, Okay sure I was a bit judgmental too, ill admit that. But jeez. What someone else does in a trashy magazine, especially an actor, so what. what does that have to do with anything? Who is any of us to judge anyone else. Im working through it just like anyone else, I admit it, At least Im being honest about it.
But Iwould at least hope for a response from YC rather than another anonymous poster insulting my (shudder) grammer.
as for the sense of humor, believe me Im laughing right now.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Lauren, I guess I never thought about it that way. I do think the new Kabbalah practitioners are amusing as Judaism clearly states that you must be Jewish, (born, converted) to practice Kabbalah, and while I do remember Madonna going to Israel, I don't think she or Demi/Ashton are really Jewish? Why break the actual laws that you supposedly studying?

I don't have any more answers than you do.

Anonymous said...

Bad grammAr and bad spelling. It's not "grammer."

Anonymous said...

"Why break the actual laws that you are supposedly studying?"

Funny argument, for those of us who subvert Ashtanga rules, eh?

Anonymous said...

Since I don't study Ashtanga, I guess I don't fall into that category...

Susan said...

OMG who are you fools?
Why don't you reveal yourselves to each other and battle it out elsewhere?
How about some intelligent discourse, or at least something funny LIKE LAUREN"S BLOG!
It's funny. It's sarcastic. It's intelligently written.
Get a clue.

Anonymous said...

madonna and brittney and demi etc have kaballah as a form of trying to do some soul work. who cares? frankly i wish i didnt even knoe who they were. american media is so celebrity driven...

Lauren has yoga and blogging/diary writing as a form of soul work to. who really cares?

i think it is sad to spend so much energy putting these types of ideas into a written form. But everyone has to have something to work with through this crazy and very short existence called life.

all you can do is work on yourself, other's lives and how they live them really have no value unless it is putting a hinderance on who YOU choose to be.

Copyright 2005-2007 Lauren Cahn, all rights reserved. Photos appearing on this blog may be subject to third party copyright ownership. You are free to link to this blog and portions hereof, but the use of any direct content requires the prior written consent of the author.

About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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