Even after we waved goodbye to Mordechai Jefferson Carver’s detective agency in 2003, we knew that the day would come when “The Hebrew Hammer” would be needed once again to keep things kosher and kicks some righteous ass.
That day has come…and The Hebrew Hammer himself, Adam Goldberg (Inglorious Bastards), needs your help!
Let’s start with a little history lesson: written and directed by Jonathan Kesselman in 2003, the movie introduced us to Mordechai, a Jewish blaxploitation crime/anti-semitism fighter known as “The Hebrew Hammer” who must save Hanukkah and Kwanzaa from the evil machinations of Santa Claus’ son, who wants everyone to celebrate Christmas. The film starred Goldberg, Judy Greer, Andy Dick, Peter Coyote and Mario Van Peebles (in a cameo as “Sweetback”).
After an attempt to crowdfund a sequel by Kesselman failed to materialize in 2013, things went quiet for a little while. But then Election 2016 happened, as did the eleven months since that time; which convinced the pair that The Hebrew Hammer was needed now more than ever.
Goldberg and Kesselman announced that The Hebrew Hammer vs. Hitler, the long-awaited sequel, is in development through a crowdfunding platform site that fans can visit to invest in the project directly.
SyFy Wire had the opportunity to speak with Goldberg about the project, how the Donald Trump presidency served as a form of “muse” for the character’s return; the resurgence of anti-semitism, and the role social media plays in today’s cultural climate.
Here are some of the highlights:
● Though a sequel to The Hebrew Hammer had been discussed for some time, the election of Trump really helped get the wheels on creativity turning:
I guess the most recent impetus. Because, yeah, it had been just sort of dormant and I kind of just let it, sort of c’est la vie. And then I started to talked to Jon about the idea of actually doing a series of shorts. And this was sort a pilot premise to the short, the Hammer comes out of retirement. Instead of making a series of shorts, we just decided to sort of rewrite the script and take that concept for the pilot for the shorts and then do a campaign again. The other campaign that Jon did a few years ago was really something that Jon did and I wasn’t really involved in.
Before Trump got elected, I was talking to Funny or Die about maybe doing something. They like to do topical stuff, so I was trying to figure out a way for the Hebrew Hammer to get involved in what’s going on topically. It just all seemed so relevant, with all the demagoguery and everything. We were going to do literal ones. We had one, which was my favorite, about the Hebrew Hammer and Steve Bannon. And there was the Hebrew Hammer seducing Ivanka Trump. We had very, very, very literal ones that we wanted to do with Funny Or Die, but we just couldn’t’ work it out.
So, I reached out to Jon and started talking about that. And then we just got into discussing the script again. It was almost as though we had conceived of it prematurely in a way. That idea, The Hebrew Hammer vs. Hitler, came about in a conversation I had with him in like 2005. At the time, there was some stuff in the news, like the Mel Gibson s***, but we didn’t realize he represented this contingent of people who had been hiding in their basement until recently. And they’re still hiding in a basement behind their cartoon avatars, but it’s getting a little bit more visceral with these demonstrations, with their J.Crew models.
● For Goldberg, it’s not just that he’s seen a new rise in anti-semitism; it’s the new form of “preppy Nazism” that’s particularly disturbing:
Clearly these are people who didn’t feel like they had any real kind of conduit through which to voice their secret antipathy and misery and all of that. Obviously the internet has provided that, and what started out as 4chan and now has just gone everywhere Twitter, and basically the cabinet of the presidency, have obviously given these guys an opportunity to hitch their wagons to what appears to be something like some sort of conservative, right-wing nationalism or whatever. When it’s really just sort of preppy Nazism.
I always sort of referred to the anti-Semitism that I experienced, which was really nothing compared to what I interact with now, as America’s cuddly racism. Because people were always very casual about the way that they were anti-Semitic, and in a way that I don’t think that many Jews were cognizant of. I mean people have no qualms about saying, “nice Jewish boy.” Now, I know that that comes from an idiomatic Jewish vernacular, I think, but it gets kind of appropriated in a way that I always felt like was insanely condescending.
● Even though “The Hammer” goes back in time to fight Hitler, don’t think the movie’s not still relevant to society’s current woes:
When Jon and I first got together about this, I said, if we’re going to make a sequel, you know, we might as well go after Hitler, because really what else is there to do? Let’s just kind of get down to brass tacks. It was kind of like you’re reverse engineering a script. Now there’s kind of a prologue that’s more connected to the movie. It’s not literal. It’s basically, an infomercial star becomes president. And there’s this escalation of demagoguery and racism and all that. I was just like, well what’s slightly dumber than Trump becoming president? I guess an infomercial guy.
So Hammer, who’s living this quiet life in suburbia, is sort of rustled out of retirement to go save his younger hipper counterpart, who gets trapped back in Nazi Germany. So I take a s***ty time machine and try and find him. We’re going back in time. We run into Jesus. I mean, because there’s all kinds of issues with the time machine. Obviously, there has to be. So, yeah. There’s a lot of pit stops and detours along the way. Jon sort of likes to liken that aspect of it to Bill & Ted. It’s like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets Shoah.
● Finally, Goldberg has an interesting argument to make for why anyone-anyone-should invest in this project:
The key obviously is just to get this thing made. We’re doing something which is fairly new, which is this equity crowdsourcing thing. It’s kind of annoying because when you’re being trolled by Nazis, them saying “You’re begging for shekels,” I’m like, you f***ing idiot, Nazis can actually invest in the film and own part of it.
That’s what I keep tweeting, is like, you know, tired of the worldwide Jewish media conspiracy? Well, join us. You know, don’t you want to co-own the media? Well, okay. And I always think it’s funny, too, because it’s like either you’re like a loser who’s crowdsourcing and begging for shekels, or you own the media. But apparently there’s no in-between for Jewish people.