When Israeli humor goes overboard
Let’s face it – Israelis and Americans, despite having superficial similarities have tons of cultural differences. I’m not talking just about the lack of personal distance, use of deodorant or inability to stand in an orderly line.
Israelis see no problem in using a certain X-rated English four-letter word as a common part of their vernacular, on TV, in meetings, and in songs. Likewise, their sense of humor can sometimes veer over the good taste meter into truly offensive.
That’s what seemed to have happened last week, when Israeli startup MyCheck launched their new app to enable diners to pay their bills online from their table, with a gala YouTube mini-drama clip featuring none other than super model Bar Refaeli.
In the musical video which starts off lighthearted , a waiter tries to get close to Refaeli who’s dining alone at one of his tables. But it turns dark in the last couple minutes when a groggy Rafaeli is told by the waiter that’s he’s drugged her food. She’s then
led into a darkened room at a restaurant by the waiter who stands in front of her, brandishing a large knife, which he sharpens dramatically.
What this date rape scenario, which has been called ‘horrifying’ by online pundits, has to do with paying your bill more conveniently is apparently only clear to MyCheck. But when approached by the Times of Israel, the company decided to cut the last 20 – most offensive – seconds from the clip.
“We decided to shorten the movie after we understood it may offend people,” explained MyCheck’s CEO Shlomit Kugler to The Times of Israel. “Our aim is to entertain, not to hurt anyone’s feelings, although personally I think it is very funny.”
It’s uncertain what Bar Rephaeli thought of playing the date rape victim, or it was just all in a day’s work for her. Watch the clip for yourself and decide.