Not Chosen, Just Posin'

I just got a job with a Jewish magazine. I'm not Jewish. They think I am.


Monday, July 24, 2006

This weekend I attended an out-of-town conference. The presentation I enjoyed most was about branded entertainment in terms of integrated product placement in movies, media tie-ins, etc… I couldn’t help but visualizing my new tabloid being strategically read by Natalie Portman in the next inevitable string of Holocaust movies (the world will never get tired of creating and watching these things, and with such tight demographics, my magazine’s subscription base would surely soar from just a 5-second spot).

Anyhow, the speaker’s underlying message was that an emotional attachment is key to convincing a consumer that he/she likes your product. A consumer can make a rational list of characteristics he/she is looking for, but what ultimately makes the buying decision is this emotional attachment. The attachment is so strong that it convinces the consumer that the product at hand actually attains all of the desired attributes…even if it clearly does not.

Before I jump into my clever little office segway, I’d have to say that the Britney Spears/K-Fed thing has to be the most prominent example of the “Emotional Attachment Drives Rationalization” theory, that I’ve ever seen. Britney made a list (albeit a short one) of things she wanted in a partner:

1). Good baby’s daddy
2). Good looking
3). Wants to settle down
4). White trash or “down to earth,” whichever term fits
5). Non-Celebrity

Each of these factors has the whole “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” alibi, but there’s no doubt that Britney’s inexplicable emotional attachment to Kevin is best demonstrated by the above described theory. She created his good qualities in her mind so that she could explain why she, oddly, loves him so much.

The same rule applies – I think – to a male colleague of mine who just got engaged to the prototypical shiksa princess, despite his previous allegiance to the Jewish woman. The thing with Judaism—and to most of you, this is old news—is that the religion, like a strand of DNA, is passed on to the child by the mother. Thusly, when my colleague marries his non-Jewish fiancé, their child will technically not be Jewish. However, his emotional attachment to his fiancé has counteracted this fact. Now he is in the rationalization process where he is reorganizing the elements so they fall into his thought paradigm correctly.

When I (naively) asked him how he planned to raise his future children now that he's marrying outside the religion, he said they would be raised Jewish, only they would inherit it from him.

I gave him an inquisitive look, which must have displayed my ignorance, and he explained that they would be “Reformed” – a sect of Judaism that is more lenient than its strict counterparts.

My God, I thought. The whole Jewish religion is rationalizing on his behalf. That is great! While Jews don’t actively seek converts, they try their darndest to keep the tribe members they’ve got. If this means rationalizing and creating easier ways for members to follow along, then so be it. "Not only are you forgiven, we've created a whole new sect for you and your cronies." Talk about a religion that caters to its peoples' needs. I could get used to this.

I guess this idea is somewhat equivalent to the Catholic confessional phenomenon, except that it's not nearly as telling or guilt-inducing. On that note, I think Reformed Catholicism would be a step in the right direction. Divorce, pre-marital sex and condoms would make more than a serious debut in our somber churches. Plus, it would keep believers coming back for more.

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