The Happiness Deficit

By Elke Weiss, October 12, 2012

 The Happiness DeficitWe begin today a series entitled “A World Without Israel.” In it, we look at the ways in which Israel’s existence has enriched American lives. Our first entry is from Elke Weiss, Law Student, Grad Student, Journalist, and Blogger who will be at Comic Con this weekend

I know that given world events pop culture seems like small potatoes, but our world would be bleaker without the contributions of Israelis. For example, all of our lives would be a lot poorer without Israeli Avi Arad’s work with Marvel Comics: X-Men, Iron Man, and the Fantastic Four. Given that Comic Con is the highlight of my year, I cannot express enough of the gratitude owed to Israelis by the Geek community. The popularity and success of the Avengers movie is due in no small part to Arad.

Of course, Israelis supplying incredible entertainment to the world is not new. Israeli film producers and distributors Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus of Cannon brought us cheesy but delightful action movies like Delta Force and brilliant classics like King Solomon’s Boys which changed American media. Cannon Distributors worked with celebrities like James Cameron, Chuck Norris, and Christopher Reeve, and films such as Captain America and Spiderman owe their origins to the work of Golan and Globus.

It may surprise you to learn that Israel is on your television even when you don’t have the news on. When TV Guide named Homeland the best show of 2011, it was the topic of every water cooler conversation and friends were arranging viewing parties for it. Facebook statuses changed to “Homeland is on, DO NOT CALL” and “OMG BRODY” overnight. But few realized that this critically acclaimed darling began as an Israeli show about prisoners of war returning home. Another wildly popular show, HBO’s In Treatment, was brought to the United States by Israeli actress (and Act for Israel founding member) Noa Tishby.

In fact, the entire world without Israel would be a darker place. It would be a world without brilliant Israelis such as the irascible Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat), the clever Natalie Portman (Thor), and the beautiful Noa Tishby (Big Love). Musicians owe a great debt to Israelis like Gene Simmons of Kiss and Hillel Slovak of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were pioneers in the field of music. Even now, Israelis like Miri Ben Ari, Idan Raichel and Mosh Ben Ari are lighting up the stage with innovative songs.

On a final personal note, I owe much of my fierceness to Haim Saban and Shuki Levy who brought the Japanese show Mighty Morphing Power Rangers to the United States and convinced me that if I was good and kind and strong, someday an alien would pick me to become the next Pink Ranger. I remember drawing Power Rangers all over my homework and running around the backyard yelling “It’s Morphing Time” at the top of my lungs (Sorry, Mom!), filled to the brim with girl power and believing just a little bit that it might work. Power Rangers is still on the air with its seventeenth incarnation and I look forward to sharing it with my niece when she’s a bit older and less tempted to use the moves on her brother.

I love Israel for many reasons, and this is the one I’ve been dying to talk for a long time. As I watch the Avengers movie again for the tenth time, I pay tribute to Israel, an entertainment light among nations. They couldn’t have done it without her!

Elke Weiss

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