Part 4

We have recently defined Freud’s terms, the id, ego, and superego for the sake of playing with a new understanding of what it is about American pop-culture that sends young Israelis flying to the mall for the latest Rihanna album or happy meal. Allow us to divide young Israel in the same fashion as the mind: the id would be the part of this group that endlessly craves all of the food, attention, and love it can get. The ego would be that part that tries to rationalize the basic desires by performing a balancing act between the id and the superego, the latter of which takes in the societal rules and regulations. I would like to argue, then, that it is the id of young Israeli culture that most thirstily craves American pop-culture, for it is the kind of goods coming out of MTV and McDonalds that are most immediately satisfying: they are the cheapest, take the shortest amount of time to achieve, and take the least amount of conscious thought. The battle between the id, ego, and superego of young Israel is clear: id-ruled young ones want it all, and ego-rationality belongs only to those who can differentiate between the movies that one can watch while talking on the phone and eating a burger, and those that take concentration and, if I may say, intellect. But who, then, informs the ego so that it may protect the id from receiving every bit it pleases? As we learned, it is the superego that learns to cope by first, living with and imitating parents, and second, by following the rules and regulations of society. The difficulty would seem in our case, then, that what society is dishing out is aimed at the id, rendering the ego helpless in the face of such juicy junk as Top Model and 90210.

McDonalds GenerationAfter all of what’s been discussed, one thing we can say for sure is this: American pop-culture, by its very nature, will always be the most accessible and masturbatory form of food and entertainment. It aims to satisfy—it goes straight for the id—and in such a young and, as I said, “culturally vulnerable” place like Israel, it seems the only thing that will stop its ultimate takeover is very early education. And what about the networks and companies that are allowing the dribbling in of this crap? They are more or less completely unstoppable – they in fact are paying for the leakage. And they now have a hold of what we crave, so much to the point that they’ve picked on what White Castle has reminded Americans endlessly: “It’s What You Crave!”

Maybe, despite the repugnance that I’ve expressed in these posts, you still may, “but is American popular culture really so awful?” No, it can be quite fascinating actually. The real concern arises out of the thought of every new generation of Israelis acting more and more like infants to later and later stages of life, until one day – if there are no other forms of cultural entertainment besides all that dribble I’ve mentioned – we may cease concerning ourselves with anything else, including how to remain the historically rich, diverse, and culturally remarkable place that we in fact really are.

In the next and final post of this series, we’ll hear from some Israelis and Americans on the subject, both here and in the States, in order to find out if my concern is such a concern for others. Perhaps what defines Israeli culture is all a matter of personal perspective, or it could be that the infusion of American into Israeli culture is somehow seen as necessary for the future; in any case, it seems a topic worth discussing.

Written by Alana Sobelman