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Friday, January 14, 2005

The Ten Commandments, Modern Version

The news that ABC is making a new version of the Ten Commandments has hit like a bombshell. Thanks to a careful, pajama-based investigation, Bridegroom Press was able to obtain a transcript of the screenwriters’ actual conversations as they put together what is sure to be a crowd-pleasing epic! [Note: The names of the writers have been changed to protect their identity].

Writer 1: Alright, we’ve got to write a movie about Moses, so…
Writer 2: Wait I’ve read this book, right? It’s by Margaret Mead and…
Writer 3: Mead? You fool! It was Margaret Mitchell and it’s about how this Southern belle…
Writer 1: Uhhh, guys, no, that would be Gone with the Wind. We’re doing a story about Moses. You know, in the Bible?
Writer 2: Bible?
Writer 1: Yes we’re supposed to be using the latest biblical research to write it and…
Writer 3: Well, that would explain this stack of books over here, wouldn’t it? I thought it was just the leftoevers from the desk of the religion reporter that got fired yesterday.
Writer 1: No, those books are…
Writer 2: (picking up a book) Hey, look, there’s some guy called JEPD in here. Who’s he and how the hell do you pronounce that name? It doesn’t look Jewish to me.
Writer 1: Look, no, wait, JEPD is just this theory about who wrote the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.
Writer 3: JEPD wrote them? Huh, go figure. So how do you pronounce his name?
Writer 1: You don’t pronounce his name it’s an acronym. It stands for Yahwist, Elohist, Priestly and Deuteronomical sources. You see, throughout all of history, everyone agreed that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, dictating the books to his secretary. But the latest biblical research contradicts thousands of years of agreement. It says there were really four different groups of people who wrote the Torah and Moses actually had nothing to do with it. The strict JEPD theorist denies all the prophecies and miracles in Scripture and insists there is a rational explanation for everything, that none of it involves God.
Writer 2: Well, that sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Writer 3: I’m in. After all, everyone knows you don’t have to believe in God to be a Jew. Ok, so we’re going to have to work in that "Moses was a Jewish atheist" angle.
Writer 1: No, wait! Moses wasn’t an atheist, the JEPD theorists are - at least most of them are.
Writer 2: What are you talking about, Moses wasn't an atheist? The JEPD guys would know, since they wrote it, right?
Writer 1: But they didn't write it, there is no JEPD, that’s just a theory invented by a bunch of 19th century German theologians. They just invented theories about who wrote the Torah!
Writer 3: Invented theories? Whaddya' mean? They’re like, scientists, right? Scientists always tell the truth. Just ask ‘em. Why would they invent stuff?
Writer 1: Because the guys who came up with this were 19th century Germans and they hated Jews! In fact, contemporary Jews, people like Solomon Schechter, called German Higher Criticism "the higher anti-Semitism." JEPD effectively says all Jews are liars.
Writer 2: Wait a minute! You mean JEPD is anti-Semitic?
Writer 3: Oh, I read you - that makes JEPD pro-Palistinian. You know, the Palistinian side of the Moses story has never been told. We’ve got to work JEPD in here somehow.
Writer 2: Yessss, what a great idea! I see a room with four guys, named Yahweh, Elohim, Priester and Deuteronomy and these four guys…
Writer 1: No, no, no, no, NO! Look, the guys we’re writing about lived in tents not buildings and you can’t name them Yahweh or Elohim because those are Jewish names for God! B’nai B’rith will say its blasphemy and they’ll be right!
Writer 2: Alright, alright: we’ll call them Yah’right, Elian, Priest and "Do Her" because like, the fourth guy is always doin’ some chick. Anyway, they follow Moses around, see, but they don’t pay any attention to what he says because he’s a religious fundamentalist, see, and…
Writer 1: Do you guys have an Excedrin? Thanks (gulps it down dry). Look, let’s not do that part of his life right now, ok? Let’s start with his birth and rescue from the river.
Writer 3: Oh, river shots! Great special effects opportunity. Alright, I see a patrol boat…
Writer 1: No. No patrol boat. That’s not how it happened. The Egyptians were killing all the male boys because the Jews were having more babies than the Egyptians were, and..
Writer 2: Well, infanticide in cases of fetal deformity is ok, but what about the local Planned Parenthood clinic? I mean, didn’t these Jews use condoms? All the Jews I know use condoms.
Writer 3: I gotta’ agree on that one. We have to make this believable. Also, we have to send a good social message, ya’ know? So the Jews had defective condoms and didn't know it…
Writer 1: (head in his hands) Look, his mother covered a basket in pitch, placed him in the basket, and put the basket in the river, then, the Egyptian…
Writer 2: ....Wait. Just. A Minute. Bub. You can’t go putting tar - that’s what pitch is, right? - you can’t put tar into a river. What is this, the Exxon Valdez, version 1? No, that’s not green friendly. The Earth-First people we’ll be after us with axes, and I don’t want my friends killing me over this. I vote we change that tar basket to one of those inflatable rafts.
Writer 3: Yeah, or maybe like an Indian dugout canoe. That would be even better. Gotta stay with the time period, ya’ know. I’ll just pencil in "canoe".
Writer 1: Ok, whatever. Look, when Moses grows up, he kills a slave-driver.
Writer 2: Well, we can keep that part in anyway. Maybe put a burning torch in his hand and have him raise a great cry, something like "Power to the People" or "Workers of the World Unite - You have nothing to lose but your Chains!" as he cuts the guard down with an Uzi. The Uzi is a Jewish thing, right?
Writer 3: Oh, yeahhhhh, it is…. Hey, man, that Uzi move, that’s brilliant!
Writer 2: Thanks, man. You touch me…. Figuratively I mean…. No, I mean really figuratively. Really.
Writer 3: (backing off) Well, ok, we’ll discuss that later.
Writer 1: (groaning) So he’s in the desert and he meets this girl and…
Writer 3: Meets a girl? Great! We can have a belly-dance scene, then an orgy. Then he loses the girl, but they both hook up with a few of the shepherd guys and realize it isn’t working, they should be together, so then…
Writer 1: (head rocking back and forth on the table) Fine. Fine. You write that up. I’ll edit it later. Whatever. Look, He’s tending his father-in-law’s sheep and he sees a bush in flames but it is not consumed.
Writer 3: Sheep? Does he, like, have a thing for the sheep? Because if he does, I know this guy, and…
Writer 2: Wait, how can a bush burn and not be consumed? I’m betting there was an oil spill somewhere nearby. That’s probably it. This bush was in the middle of an oil spill. OK, we’re gonna have to write the setup, you know, some guy near a bush and he yells "Oil spill" and then runs because he’s afraid the Egyptian government will sue his ass…
Writer 3: Oh, good idea. And if he spilled it on the sheep while he was trying to get the candle wax going, that would explain the flames…
Writer 2: Yeah, we can make this like a pre-Kinsey thing, and tie in all the … hey, wait, do you know if Moses smoked?
Writer 1: (opening his eyes and lifting his head off the table) Smoked?!?!
Writer 3: (turning to Writer 2) Well, slim, he can’t be a smoker, because he’s the good guy, right?
Writer 2: Well, yeah, but he got married! To a woman! Duhhhh….
Writer 3: Well, ok, yeah, right, you have a point. Alright, he’s a smoker I figure Lucky Strikes.
Writer 2: What, are you an idiot? He smokes Camels, you loser.
Writer 3: (hitting his head with his hand) Damn, of course. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Writer 1: (to himself) We’ve been talking for an hour and haven’t even got to the plagues…
Writer 2: Plagues? You mean like AIDS and gonorrhea and syphilis and stuff? Oh, man, we can write that up as part of this secret Egyptian government plot to kill all the…
Writer 3: No way. No way. Look, we have to make this Arab friendly. So that means Moses came up with all this stuff in a secret lab in the desert, he invented these weapons of mass destruction and..
Writer 2: Exactly! And the Egyptians got wind of it and invaded in self-defense!
Writer 3: We are sympatico, boyfriend!
Writer 2: Well, I guess you are kind of cute. Hey, what are you doing for dinner?
Writer 3: Maybe, you boyfriend!
Writer 1: (from a curled fetal position on the floor) I tell you what. How about you guys head on out and I just sit here and bang my head against the floor for awhile.
Writer 2: (as he and writer 3 leave holding hands) You know, he’s always been into that masochism thing.
Writer 3: Maybe we can work that into the script. You know, Moses banging his head against a rock or some stone tablets or something, hitting his head so hard that the stone breaks. You know, like a Jewish "Dumb and Dumber."
Writer 2: Wow, you are a genius! (hollow drumming sound in the background)
As you can see, ABC’s new version of the Ten Commandments promises to be a real humdinger!

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