Friday, June 04, 2010

Hasidic Drug-Smuggling and Adventures in the Thoughts of a Ph.D. Student

I saw the movie Holy Rollers this week. It's based on the true story of Hasidic Jews involved in drug smuggling. I thought it was ... interesting. Firstly, I didn't think there was any demonizing of Judaism involved (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with telling a true if not amazing story about Jews; I am not one who believes in pretending Orthodox Jews of any stripe are problem-free). But it was pretty clear that the evil in the movie was drug smuggling, not Judaism.

I did find the depiction of Judaism interesting, though, mostly because the movie got lots of stuff right about that world (some of the lingo, the garb, some of the attitudes), so I found the things it got wrong (like lighting the menorah on Chanukah during the day) interesting and sometimes surprising.

I don't know where the information about Hasidic Jews was coming from for the movie, and obviously they got some stuff wrong—it's a whole different world with its own norms and rules and customs. How could a movie writer and director get it all right? Maybe we can't ever truly understand other worlds.

Which worries me because it says disturbing things about the validity and accuracy of the academic research to which I have essentially sold my soul or at least my sanity and my sleep. The exciting thoughts in the life of a Ph.D. student.


At 6/6/10, 3:15 PM, Blogger beverly said...

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At 6/7/10, 11:55 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Beverly, you're definitely right, but, still, I wonder if even a Ph.D. candidate can truly "know" a new world. Can we really truly understand a new culture?


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