To understand the Zohan & his story, a rough sketch of the plot is necessary. A Jewish soldier stages his death to escape the never-ending war with the Palestinians. He flies to America to start a new life as a hair-stylist & eventually marries. Not your usual comedy… Treason & desertion are disguised as patriotic sacrifice; – this seems to be the low road to private happiness. It appears America is the solution to Israel’s problem. The truth might be the opposite, which is not usual in a comedy. After all, the story that suggests men may be other than warriors shows us America through a man’s eyes.
Zohan Vir is most startling because he is filled with democratic lust. He has sex with many old women. He is uninterested in money, which he receives with ease, & self-confident – & in pleasing everyone, why shouldn’t he be? Apparently, democracy & the new world go much farther than we knew.
Our disgust with democratic sexuality suggests sexuality as such finds democracy abhorrent. We adore the young. The old are unattractive – which they admit, in loving the young. The old women love Zohan, not old men… Apparently, in America there are no old men. Sexuality does not require equality, nor desire reciprocity; lovers & beloveds tend to be different people. Or else poets would soon be out of business, or thrown out of the city…
In the end, the newly American Jew meets his parents. Seeing what turns out to be his mother’s back, he makes sexual propositions. – That is the thrust of the comedic conceit: Its energy must be carefully channeled through the plot so that it will not explode. At the end, the family abandoned in the beginning can safely return. This note of danger lingers, suggesting the seriousness of the problem of incest. As it turns out, Israel stands for family, particularly for patriarchy. America stands for a kind of global democracy, which could include both Palestinians & Israelis. This project is problematic, to say the least, as is proper.
The young are then left to lead the democracy. It recognizes no special titles to power & prominence, it is energetic & fickle, & it is no respecter of prudence or the prudent. The story therefore leaves it to the young to find the solution to the problem of democracy. They will teach their old parents new tricks. This shows us how democrats see their problems. The change from a Jew soldier to an American artist shows the change required by democracy. This will tend to reduce all conflicts & its promise depends on the simultaneous satisfaction of every human being’s desires. Provisionally, it must be said democracy is godless.
The most daring comedy made by Adam Sandler. Must see.