The Jewish creators of the Comedy Central series “Drawn Together” have a message about a perceived affront to Israel in an Internet game based on their equal-offender series: Watch the movie before casting judgment.
Cable network Comedy Central drew fire from Israel activists because of its Website game “I.S.R.A.E.L. Attack!” – later changed to “Drawn Together: The Movie: The Game” – based on the “Drawn Together” animated reality TV series and movie. Media watchdogs such as Honest Reporting interpreted the character Intelligent Smart Robot Animation Eraser Lady – I.S.R.A.E.L. – as a slander against the Jewish state.
|Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser are the Bergen County natives behind the Comedy Central series “Drawn Together,” which sparked outrage over the Website game “I.S.R.A.E.L. Attacks!” based on the show.|
“Drawn Together” places parodies of video game and cartoon stereotypes together in a house Ã la “Big Brother.” The series ran four years on Comedy Central before cancellation. After that, Dave Jeser, originally from New Milford, and Matt Silverstein, originally from Oradell, created “Drawn Together: The Movie,” which featured a fictional network out to erase the reality show characters with the I.S.R.A.E.L. robot.
Jeser, who comes from what he described as a very Zionist family, told The Jewish Standard that he understands how the character, taken out of context, could be seen as anti-Israel, but that’s not how it was written for the movie.
“The characters in the show are very simplistic, misguided, and uneducated characters, so when they heard that I.S.R.A.E.L.’s coming after them they’re going to be as afraid as the typical Hollywood folks we work with,” Jeser said. “We turned it on its head when you find out I.S.R.A.E.L.’s there to save the day.”
“It’s less a comment on Israel and the world than a comment on the silliness and stupidness of the characters on the show and their unwarranted fears of the unknown,” Jeser said.
Honest Reporting in particular lashed out at the game, alleging that the I.S.R.A.E.L. robot “plays on an association of Israel as a child killer.” The group also castigated Comedy Central for the character Jew Producer, the executive who runs the reality show and has a loudspeaker for a head.
“Some people seem to think or suggest in the game I.S.R.A.E.L. the robot was running around killing children, which is not the case,” Jeser said. “In the end, I.S.R.A.E.L. comes to her senses, doesn’t want to fight, wants to peacefully coexist, and saves the day. It’s probably the least offensive part of the movie. It just happens to be what spawned the game.”
As for Jew Producer? “That is me or Matt,” Jeser said. “We are the Jew producers of the show. We relish in that title because ultimately we are the ones who get to tell the characters in the show what to do.”
Jeser, a graduate of Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County in New Milford, met Silverstein while attending Dwight Englewood School in Englewood. The two write for Fox’s “The Cleveland Show.”
After changing the game’s title, Comedy Central pulled it in its entirety from its Website last week. The cable network, part of Viacom, did not return calls for comment.
The network put together the game on its own, and Jeser said he and Silverstein didn’t even see it until they heard about the controversy.
The “Drawn Together” incident comes just weeks after Comedy Central censored the image and name of Mohammad on two episodes of “South Park.” This led to accusations from Honest Reporting of double standards at Comedy Central toward Muslims and Jews.
Jeser and his partner supported “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker but understood Comedy Central’s dilemma in trying to protect its employees.
“We’re dealing with a culture that’s living in almost medieval times that wants to kill and stone other cultures for offending them,” Jeser said. “While the rest of the world is living in the 21st century, where they start Facebook pages when they’re upset.”
This isn’t the first time “Drawn Together” rubbed some people the wrong way. One episode upset a number of Asian advocacy groups because the Pokemon parody Ling-Ling tried to get his driver’s license and turned out to be a horrible driver.
“We make fun of everyone and everything,” Jeser said. “There’s really nothing off limits. The last thing we wanted to do was make fun of everyone but not ourselves and our own people. Laughter’s the best medicine and we’re all very sick and need more of it.”