NEW YORK (JTA) — For a few days this year, they clogged up our Facebook feeds and then, perhaps, our subconscious. In our list of the top viral videos of 5774, we bring back those videos that had you hitting “share” again and again.
Prairie dogs under Gaza
What was supposed to be a Hamas war anthem translated into Hebrew to scare Israelis — “Up, Do Terrorist Attacks” — turned into a hit in Israel, propelled by its catchy pop hook and poorly pronounced Hebrew. Mocking the song’s Hamas producers, Israelis appropriated the tune to create their own versions, such as this one in which the Hamas lyric “Demolish [Israel] down to her foundations” is placed in the mouths of prairie dogs from “The Lion King.”
Drake becomes a man
Drake’s opening monologue on “Saturday Night Live” turned into a reimagination of the black-Jewish rapper’s bar mitzvah (oh yes, he had one). There’s a lot of code-switching, a few stereotypes and some sharp-eyed jokes. It all culminates with Drake dropping rhymes over “Hava Nagila.”
Stewart gets an earful
“Daily Show” host Jon Stewart has never been shy of controversy, and he stirred up plenty of it with his commentary during the conflict in Gaza. Rather than back off, Stewart and Company mocked the criticism in a segment where even Stewart’s most timid offerings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provoke invective from each side. Stewart’s beleaguered expression — and tongue-tied silence — says it all.
Jason Derulo’s 2013 hit “Talk Dirty to Me” featured a bit of Jewish flair when it sampled klezmer-infused Israeli band Balkan Beat Box. This year, Vintage Klezmer brought things full circle with a klezmer cover of the hip-hop hit, including a full verse in Yiddish. Seems like the old tongue can still turn a few new tricks.
Nice Jewish boy gets naughty
When yarmulke-clad 12-year-old Josh Orlian took the stage at “America’s Got Talent” in his tucked-in shirt and hiked-up jeans, he looked like the epitome of the nice, dorky Jewish boy. And then he opened his mouth and the penis jokes began to fly. Whoa! Orlian may go on to tell better jokes, but he will never again achieve such shock value. And Mel Brooks says Jewish humor is dead!
Bar mitzvah rhapsody
If you are concerned that the modern American bar mitzvah is turning into a festival of glitz and performance at the expense of thoughtful Jewish engagement, this will be cold comfort to you. In this apotheosis of the cheesy bar mitzvah video, young Jorel offers an elaborate and shockingly well-executed adaptation of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” complete with elaborate choreography, family member appearances, fancy editing and blessedly in-key singing.
Hamas, caught red-handed
Shortly before the close of this summer’s Gaza war, Indian news network NDTV captured on camera what nobody else could: Hamas fighters surreptitiously setting up and then firing a rocket at Israel from a densely populated residential district in Gaza. The video spread like wildfire in part because it was a rare glimpse of Hamas fighters, and the Israeli government brandished it as evidence of Hamas malfeasance. That prompted the Indian reporter who produced it to explain that, though he knew it might be used by the Israelis as propaganda, its journalistic importance made it impossible to ignore.
Jerry Seinfeld has been on the comeback trail with his hit web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” (If you haven’t seen the one with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, do yourself a favor and watch it; we’ll wait.) In February, Seinfeld brought things full circle when, in honor of the Super Bowl, Jerry went for coffee with his old friend, George Costanza (as played by Jason Alexander).
Buckets of challenges
The ice bucket challenge started as a viral bit of summer fun, combining social media, a good cause and an opportunity to see friends and celebrities douse themselves and look silly. Then came the copycat challenges. Enter the Middle East conflict. There was the hummus challenge from the Israel Defense Forces, the rubble bucket challenge from Palestinian activists and even the blood bucket challenge from supporters of the movement to use Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Yep, nothing spells summer fun like a bucket of blood.
The ‘Frozen’ Chosen
The hit song “Let it Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” first went viral as the song of choice for cute little girls, posted on Facebook by adoring parents. But then a few clever Jews realized that with just a slight tweak this aria to personal freedom could become “Let Us Go,” a Passover sensation. And lo, it was so, and the Internet was filled with versions from ukulele reggae to a cappella.