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Treatment of Circumcision on TV

S - Z

(Introduction A - M : N - R : TV Talk and Game Shows)

TITLE

SYNOPSIS

St Elsewhere
(UK)

A patient has a (surgical) foreskin restoration. A doctor becomes interested and rings to ask the patient's parents why he was circumcised*. The patient's father hangs up on him.

St Elsewhere
(US)

Shown in 1991

The hospital is approached by a local TV station that wants to air a series of one-minute medical information segments in their local news program, once per week. Dr. Victor Erlich (Ed Begley Jr.) is chosen for the job, and everyone wonders what he will choose for the topic of his first segment, but it's a secret right up to the minute of the live broadcast. Everyone at the TV studio (and everyone back at the hospital who are watching it live) are shocked and appalled to see that the bumbling Erlich has chosen circumcision as his topic. Erlich himself seems to be the only one who is oblivious to the fact that it is terribly inappropriate.

Victor presents the standard arguments, that circumcision is not painful, it promotes good hygiene, but some people just don't like it (he doesn't say why). He comments that some people believe that having a boy's penis look like his fathers' helps promote male bonding between them, or words to that effect. He wraps up his speech by saying if you choose not to have your baby boy circumcised you should pay extra attention to cleanliness so he doesn't get a "teeny weenie infection."

The stunned newscasters take a moment to collect their composure and then go on with the broadcast. The people back at the hospital think only a buffoon like Victor Erlich would choose such a distasteful subject for television at an hour when people are eating dinner.

The TV station decides to cancel any future segments.

Victor doesn't understand why, commenting that he thinks he did a really good job.

The contrast between the UK and US versions is striking: the UK doctor asks a father why his baby son was circumcised, the US doctor tells parents why they should be. All the focus is on the taste of talking about it at mealtime, none on the baby's feelings or rights.

Scrubs

January 2, 2003, Season 2: Episode 11 - My Sex Buddy

Official summary: Carla is flattered when Mr. and Mrs. Marrick (Don Tiffany and Stacy Barnhisel) ask her opinion on having their newborn son circumcised. Even though doctors and nurses aren't supposed to offer their own opinions, or give more than a general answer about anything, Carla advocates for not doing the procedure. When word gets back to Dr. Kelso, he tries to convince the parents that they should have it done.

Nurse Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes) and Dr John "J.D." Dorian (Zach Braff) are in a hospital room with a (bearded, overweight) father, mother, and newborn baby boy.

Nurse Carla: He's beautiful.

Father: I was wondering about circumcision.

Dr. Dorian: Well, you're a little old, ah, but I do have a roommate who's a surgeon, he owes me a favor, I could -

Nurse Carla: They're talking about their son, Bambi.

Dr. Dorian: Oh, well, now, see, that we're set up for.

Mother: Actually, we wanted to know how you felt about it, Carla.

Nurse Carla: Me?

Dr. Dorian (voice over): Don't get me wrong, Carla loves her patients. But she also loves how much they love her.

Nurse Carla: To be honest, I'm not a big fan. I mean, I've always wondered what the kid would say if it were up to him.

Cut to Baby: You wanna do what now? I just got this thing.

Nurse Carla: There are really no medical advantages to circumcision.

[

Mother:
and
Father:

I told you. And you wanted to slice into his manhood,
to pluck his fruit …
I'm not talking about medical. I'm talking about personal.

Dr. Dorian (voice over): That's just great.

Chief of medicine, Dr. Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), is meeting with the new parents in their room. Dr. Dorian is observing from the doorway.

[

Mother:
Father:

Well, you've always said you felt insufficient.
Dr. Kelso, my wife simply won't listen to reason.

Dr. Kelso: Mr. Merrick, even if your son isn't circumcised, he will still look like you. 'Course, he'll have to put on a couple hundred pounds. I'm kidding. You're a dashing man. Just dashing. Have you modeled?

Dr. Dorian leaves the doorway and confers with Nurse Carla.

Nurse Carla: Are they still going at it?

Dr. Dorian: Nah, Kelso calmed them down. I think we're okay.

Nurse Carla: We're not okay.

Dr. Dorian: What are you talking about? (Notices Dr. Kelso glowering over his shoulder.) Oh.

Dr. Kelso: Does this name tag say "Chief of Medicine"?

Dr. Dorian:Ah, yes, sir.

Dr. Kelso: Funny, because that couple back there thought it said, "Hi, I'm Bob, ask me about your baby's Johnson". Dammit, in my hospital, we do not go out on a limb with our opinions.

Nurse Carla: So, what, if a patient has questions in your hospital you just ignore them?

Dr. Kelso: Look, stay away from definite answers. Leave yourself some wiggle room. Say things like "We'll do what we can," or "We'll get back to you on that," or "Hell, I don't know."

Dr. Dorian: Couldn't think of a third one, sir?

Dr. Kelso: That was the third one. (aside) Assface.

(The topic of circumcision does not recur in the 30-minute episode. It is unclear whether baby is circumcised. While it is good to see the lack of medical benefits spelt out and "to look like me" justly ridiculed, and wonderful to hear the baby given a point of view, the mother's only reasons for leaving the baby intact are emotive.)

Dr. Perry Cox (John C McGinley) and his wife have a son, under a year, and in one of their boistrous conversations, they are fighting because he feels she has more say over their son than he has. He says "You're going to have to be the one to tell him why Daddy's wee-wee doesn't have a turtleneck like his."

His wife tells him to get over it.

A patient is told he has phimosis - "a hardening of the foreskin. As part of your treatment, you'll be asked to masturbate five times a week."

Phimosis is not a hardening of the foreskin. They seem to be confusing it with Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans (BXO), for which the treatment certainly does not involve cutting down on masturbation....

In surgery: Laverne asks, "I thought this patient was Jewish?"
Chris Turk (Donald Faison) confirms that he is.
Laverne explains that he is "uncircumcised".
Turk pulls a face. [This is both unprofessional and unlikely - even in the US, a doctor will have encountered plenty of intact penises]
Dr. Todd "The Todd" Quinlan (Robert Maschio) comes in and says that his appendicitis patient doesn't have an appendix. This means that the patients have been swapped.
Todd sees the patient's penis and shouts, "Whoa! What is going on here?!"
[presumably implying he knows the patient is Jewish and assumes all Jews are circumcised]

We are back to "Circumcision is Jewish" and "The foreskin is disgusting"

Seinfeld

Season 5, Episode 69, (1992-3) The Bris

Seinfeld is invited to be the godfather to Myra and Stan's baby.

Elaine: ... So, anyway, what exactly is involved in being a Godparent?

Jerry: (A LA DON CORLEONE) Elaine, don't ever ask me about my business!.... (SHEEPISH) "Godfather."

Myra: Nothing really.

Stan: The most important thing is to help with the bris.

[The scriptwriters are confusing the godfather with the sendak.]

Jerry: The bris?

Elaine: The bris?

Kramer: A bris? you mean snip snip?

Stan: Yeah.

Kramer: I would advise against that.

Elaine: Kramer. It's a tradition.

Kramer: Well, so was sacrificing virgins to appease the gods, but we don't do that anymore.

Jerry: Well, maybe we should.

...

Elaine: Have you ever seen one?

Jerry: You mean that wasn't -

Elaine: Yeah.

[The fact that the penis has to be mentioned so indirectly helps circumcision to be perpetuated.]

Jerry: No.. you?

Elaine: Ya.

Jerry: What'd you think?

Elaine: (SHAKES HER HEAD) No...

Jerry: Not good?

Elaine: No, had no face, no personality, very dull.
[laughter]
It was like a Martian.
[applause]
But hey, that's me.

[Imagine the outcry if she described black skin or frizzy hair in such terms!]

Jerry: Hey.

Crazy Kramer (Michael Richards) believes genetic engineers are creating "pigmen" in the hospital. [This serves to undermine everything sensible he says against circumcision.]

Elaine: ...could you do me a favor, could you tape the rest of the pigmen and the women who love them discussion and I'll listen to it next time I'm here. I've got to find a Mohel. [Viewed objectively, which is more outlandish?]

Kramer: You should call this off, Elaine. It's a barbaric ritual.

Elaine: Perhaps one day when the pigmen roam free it will be stopped. Until then, off with their heads. [- suggesting she has very little idea what is actually involved.]

ELAINE LEAVES.

George: But Kramer, isn't it a question of hygiene?

Kramer: Oh, that's a myth. Besides, you know, it makes sex more pleasurable.

George: Yeah. So how does that help me?

Jerry: (TO George) Hey George, have you ever seen one?

George: Yeah, my roommate in college.

Jerry: So what'd you think?

George: I got used to it.

At the Bris:

ANGLE ON: KRAMER AND MYRA. SHE IS SOBBING.

Kramer: We're not talking about a manicure here. Don't believe them when they tell you it doesn't hurt. It hurts bad. It hurts really bad. Imagine, this will be his first memory. Of someone yanking the hat off his little man. I know you love your baby, but what kind of perverts would stand idly by while a stranger rips the cover off his 9-iron and then serve a catered lunch?

MYRA RUNS AWAY, SOBBING

Kramer (cont'd): She'll be okay. HE SLINKS AWAY. ELAINE ANGRILY CONFRONTS Kramer.

Elaine: What's wrong with you?

Kramer : Me? What's wrong with you?! How can you let this go on?

Elaine: Hey have you ever seen one of those?

Kramer: No.

Elaine: Well I have and believe me it's no picnic.

Kramer: Oh, how bad could it be?
{omitted...}

Elaine: (TO GATHERING) Alright. Has anybody here ever seen one?

Man: One what?

Elaine: ... you know

Man: I have.

Woman: I have.

Elaine: And?

All:(SHAKE THEIR HEADS) No...

George: I got used to it. {...omitted}

Kirt 33 November 5, 2009 at 3:45 pm on The Spearhead

... As an ‘intact’ Canadian, I was shocked to learn that circumcision is the norm in the US. Remember that Seinfeld episode where they are discussing circumcision? I didn’t get the jokes when I was younger. Someone on the show asks, ‘So, have you ever seen one that… wasn’t…?’ And I used to be like, ‘Umm… what does he mean, have you ever seen one that “wasn’t”? I’ve never seen one that was!’

Chuck Ross November 5, 2009 at 4:26 pm
kirt33:
re: “Seinfeld”
as a huge fan of the show, I remember feeling bad when I watched that episode. The kicker was Elaine’s wrinkled nose and terse, disapproving head-shake. I felt weird that I was uncirc when I became sexually active and such. I figured they’d never seen one before, and most of them hadn’t. I’m over the angst now though.

The Mohel arrives. He proves to be nervous, neurotic, and shaky: when Elaine leaves a wineglass at the edge of a table he lectures her about the danger of it falling, breaking and people later getting cut, going on to his hands and knees before the guests to demonstrate what might happen.

KRAMER DASHES INTO THE BEDROOM AND RELUCTANTLY BRINGS OUT THE BABY. BEFORE HE HANDS IT OVER, HE HAS SECOND THOUGHTS. HE GRIPS THE BABY TIGHTLY.

Kramer: I can't let you do this.

(AD-LIB) Kramer!

EVERYONE MOVES TOWARD HIM.

Kramer.: I can't let you do this!

PEOPLE GRAB HIM, TRYING TO PRY THE BABY AWAY FROM HIM. THERE IS A STRUGGLE.

ALL: (AD LIB) Let go of the baby! Kramer!

Kramer: No! No! I won't!

THEY FINALLY YANK THE BABY AWAY FROM THE DISTRAUGHT KRAMER. [As performed, Kramer does one of his legs-up falls and lets go of the baby, the father catches it and passes it to Seinfeld]

The Mohel is ignorant of the religious basis of circumcision and no prayers are shown. He regrets not having been a butcher like his brother. ("And, cows have no families. You make a mistake with a cow, you move on with your life...") He cuts Seinfeld's finger during the bris. Both accuse the other of flinching. Baby is circumcised. On the way to hospital Seinfeld (as if unaware of his own circumcision) complains: "Stitches? I've never had stitches. I'll be deformed. I can't live with that. It goes against my whole personality. It's not me!".

Elaine: How's the baby?

Stan: The baby's fine. There's nothing wrong with the baby.

Myra: The circumcision went fine.

Mohel: Thank god the flincher didn't harm the baby. [The irony of this remark is apparently unintentional.]

Stan and Myra make Kramer godfather for his concern.

Kramer
Kramer
"How can you let this go on?"

In his closing stand-up routine, Seinfeld says "For every job, there's someone willing to do it. He elaborates with reference to doctors specialising in unpopular parts of the anatomy.

Nature imitates art:

JTA, November 15, 2007

Sage hurt in brit mishap

A top Israeli rabbi was injured in a circumcision accident.

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, leader of the powerful Lithuanian religious movement, served as godfather at a Jerusalem brit Wednesday but suffered a deep cut to his hand, apparently when the mohel slipped.

The 97-year-old sage received stitches and was declared well. The baby was unharmed.

News of the accident had stirred anxiety throughout the fervently Orthodox community at Elisahiv's fate.

Participants at the brit agreed not to publish the mohel's name for fear of harming his business. He was widely assumed to have been nervous because of the eminent Eliashiv's presence.


Season 3, episode 38 (1991-1992) The Letter.

Elaine skips a bris in order to watch a baseball game.

Elaine: I could've been at my boss' son's bris right now.

George: (amused) You're supposed to do that?

Elaine: (shrugs) Yeah. (beat) What makes you think anyone would want to go to a circumcision?

George: I'd rather go to a hanging.

7th Heaven

Matt (Barry Watson), 21, eldest of the seven children of Eric Camden (Stephen Collins), a Protestant minister and his wife Annie (Catherine Hicks), has secretly married a Jewish girl, Sarah Glass (Sarah Madison), whose father is a Rabbi (Richard Lewis). Matt's whole family, includng the youngest, Ruthie (Mackenzie Rosman), wise beyond her years and funny, goes to his "fiancée" Sarah's parents' house for a Sabbath dinner to get acquainted. There they discuss Jewish practices.

Ruthie: What is it with this circumcision thing? (Everyone gags on their food; there are snickers all around the table.)

Annie (embarrassed): Ruthie!

Rabbi: Annie, it's OK. It's always a good time for knowledge. By the way, Ruthie, you should know that circumcision isn't only done by the Jews. But for Jews, it's called a bris, and it came from a covenant - a promise - that Abraham made with God to show that he and his descendents would continue to honour Him through Judaism.

Ruthie (with a disgusted look): I just wondered what made Him think of that - circumcision?! (The Rabbi smiles and laughs but says nothing. End of scene.)

Ruthie's incredulity is well-founded because the Rabbi's explanation explains nothing. He fails to mention that not only do others than Jews circumcise, but most USAmerican boy babies are circumcised, and not all Jewish boy babies are.

Matt announces he's considering conversion for marriage.

Ruthie (to Matt): So, does this mean you're going to have to get circumcised? (Much sputtering at the table again)

Matt: Ruthie, I - my - it's none of your business!

End of discussion, subject is changed.

See the myths above.

Later, Eric, overcoming his initial shock that his son is considering converting to Judaism, starts talking about the need to discuss this first:

Matt: Of course I was going to discuss it with you, I was just looking for the right time!

Eric: And when would that be, at the bris of your firstborn?

The real point of no return would be Eric's breaking of the glass at the wedding, but bris milah is a hot-button issue, and has been mentioned.

Seventh Heaven, see 7th Heaven

Sex and the City

Old Dog, New Tricks (with the running theme, can men be changed?) [In New Zealand, it was broadcast as "Old Dogs, New Dicks"]

Charlotte goes to bed with Mike for the first time.

C: Oh! You're... It's...
M: Uncircumcised. Is that okay?
C: No! Sure... Of course it is.

Narrator: It was not okay. The only uncut version of anything Charlotte had ever seen was the original Gone With The Wind.

C (to friends): There was so much skin. It was like a Shar-Pei!

A Shar-Pei   A foreskin
(left) a Shar-Pei and (right, to the same scale) a foreskin.
The same comparison is used in Nip/Tuck

F1: You've never seen an uncircumcised one?
C: I'm from Connecticut!
F2: Reminder; you're dating the guy, not the penis.
C: Aesthetics are important to me.
F1: It's not what it looks like, it's what they can do with it.
C: Well, I don't need one that can make its own carrying case!
F3: Personally, I love an uncircumcised dick. It's like a Tootsie-Pop: hard on the outside, with a delicious surprise inside. *
(94KB .wav file)
C: I don't like surprises. I like it all out there where I can see it.
F4: Same here. I'm sorry, it is not normal.
F2: Well, actually it is, something like 85 percent of men aren't circumcised. *
C: Great! Now they're taking over the world!
F2: Honey, it's a penis, not Godzilla.

(116KB .wav file)
F3: Hey, if 85 percent aren't circumcised, that means, I've only slept with 15 percent of the population, tops.
F2: Why, you're practically a virgin.
C: You know, he's a nice WASPy guy; what went wrong?
F1: Well, maybe his parents were hippies and just didn't believe in it.
C: I am so circumcising my kids.
F1: I think you can pay people to do that now.
C: I don't ever want to know there's a woman out there calling my son a Shar-Pei.
F3: All I'm saying is uncut men are the best....
F1: They try harder.
F3: ...I should know. I've slept with five of them.
C: Out of how many?
F2: Infinity?

Later:

M: What happened last night, you're not the first woman to react that way, I've gotten that most of my life.
C: Really?
M: Yeah. And I've decided to do something about it. I've been uncomfortable for too long, so - I'm getting circumcised.
[Gypsy violins start]
C: Can you do that?
M: Well, yeah, I mean, it hurts, and it takes a long time to heal, but - but I'm willing to do that, I want to feel good about making love.
C: But that is so - sweet.

Mike gets circumcised. It was extremely painful ("On a scale of one to five, I'd give it a 72.") and is again when he gets an erection.

Narrator: A week later, Charlotte finally got her chance to break in her new merchandise.
[Zipper]
C: [Gasps]
M: What do you think?
C: It's perfect. (In fact it would still be swollen and bruised.)
Narrator: It was like her birthday and Christmas rolled into one.
M: You realise this makes me a virgin?
C: I'll be gentle.

Later, when Charlotte starts to make plans for them together:

M: I don't think I'm ready for this to be, y'know, like a big thing. ... I just feel like I can't be tied down. There's a whole new me happening, I feel like I should get out there and share it.
C: You wanna share your penis?
M: Well... yeah! I mean I feel like I owe it to myself to take the doggie out for a walk around the block, y'know?
Narrator: Charlotte never saw Mike again. She realised you could take the Shar-Pei out of the penis, but you could never take the dog out of the man.

The above sequence conveys a variety of anti-intact prejudice.

  • The woman who prefers intact men is the slut.
  • Intact men are only good lovers because they (know they are inferior and therefore) try harder.
  • Charlotte is going to circumcise any sons to conform to the prejucides of hypothetical future women, on the assumption that they will all think as she does.
  • Mike's "feeling good about making love" depends on him fitting others' expectations.

What the man might prefer, how missing part of his penis might affect his sex life - or hers - are not addressed. It is not clear how far the scriptwriters' tongues were in their cheeks when they wrote of intact men not being "normal", or "what went wrong" when Mike's parents left him intact, but that might go over the heads of most of the audience.

Sure, it's only a comedy - but would a TV sitcom that featured men discussing the modifying of women's anatomy in the same terms ("to break in his new merchandise"), or white people decrying the aesthetics of black skin or kinky hair, ever reach the screen?

A correspondent has gone to the trouble of editing the script and changing the sexes, coming up with lines like:

C: Oh! You're… It's…
M: Not infibulated. Is that okay?

C (to friends): It was so loose. It was like jello!
F1: You've never .... an uncut one?
C: I'm from Sudan!

F3: Personally, I like natural vaginas. Their labia are like doors to a hidden world.
C: I don't like surprises. I like it all out there where I can see it.
F4: Same here. I'm sorry, it is not normal.

C: You know, she seems like a good submissive girl; what went wrong?
F1: Well, maybe her parents were Americanized and just didn't believe in it.
C: I am so infibulating my girls.

M: What happened last night, you're not the first man to react that way, I've gotten that most of my life.
C: Really?
M: Yeah. And I've decided to do something about it. I've been uncomfortable for too long, so - I'm getting infibulated.
[ceremonial music starts]

Facts are not this show's strong suit:

  • The foreskin is actually softer than the glans.
  • Significantly less than 85 percent of men in the world are intact, since 16 percent are Muslim.)
  • A full moon is shown rising at 2am (they always rise at sundown.).

In another episode, they hold a bris for the baby boy of Charlotte York and her Jewish husband, but there is no serious discussion. (According to Orthodoxy, if she is not Jewish, nor is the baby.)

Shameless
(US version)
Season 2, episode 12: "Fiona Interrupted".

In the previous episode Sheila and her new boyfriend Jody kidnapped her grandson from the hospital before her daughter Karen could give him up for adoption. (Karen tried to sell him.)

In this episode, Sheila and Jody are changing the baby's diaper. Jody is trying to remove the hospital idenitity bracelet from the baby's ankle.

Sheila: You're an angel. A blessing. My little Kung Pow blessing.
Jody: Hmm. Gotta figure out how to get this security thing off.
Sheila: What a big, beautiful, panda-Pooh Bear boy you are. (gasps) Oh, look. He's still got his little dingy-ding skin. Should we get him circumcised?
Jody: Hell, no. Let that extra derma ride. [Jody has appeared naked in an earlier episode and is circumcised.]
(Later, they discuss what to name him.)

Jody (holding a knife to remove the ankle bracelet): Hm... it's pretty tight. I don't want to slip and cut his leg off.
Sheila: Well, you could clip his ankle bracelet and his foreskin at the same time.

Baby is not circumcised, but the message is "circumcision is trivial".

Same season, a later episode.

Veronica is adamant she will not circumcise any baby boy.
Fiona tells her "You have to. It's so dirty."
Kevin says there is nothing wrong with being circumcised.
Veronica emails Fiona a bunch of details about complications etc, and it is implied that Fiona changes her mind and circumcises.

The Shield

Season 3, episode 30, production code 5012-03-304. 'Streaks and Tips'

Vic has a bet with the decoy squad, the loser to streak through the office. Someone asks him if he is cut or uncut. He wins the bet, so we don't find out.

The question might be irrelevant, unless we are coming from the position that "the foreskin is disgusting" and onlookers ought not to be exposed to one.

Shortland St
(New Zealand)

Over a series of episodes, a patient presents for foreskin restoration (only surgery is considered) and turns out to be a wimp and a no-hoper. A young man (played by Martin Henderson), influenced by him, briefly considers restoration, but is tricked into changing his mind, by a doctor who - abandoning his ethics completely and lying through his teeth - proposes to perform it immediately without anaesthetic using huge and comic instruments, a rare descent of the show into farce. Circumcision is criticised, but restorers more so.

The Simple Life

Season 2: Road Trip. A "reality" series in which two pampered airheads, Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, forsake their wealth and accept internships on the US east coast.

At the dinner table with the Cash Family:

Eldest son: What's the funniest thing you guys ever seen on the road?

Paris: The nudist beach - it's hillarious!

Nicole: Yeah, and some of the guys were uncircumcised, and it was fuckin' disgusting.

Paris: OK, Nicole, that was too much information. (Both girls laugh, the Cash family is silent.)

The Simpsons
(cartoon)

Season 3, Episode 6, "Like Father, Like Clown"
First broadcast October 24, 1991

Krusty the Clown (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) (finally) fulfills a promise to have dinner with the Simpsons, during which he reveals his Jewish heritage, and his estrangement from his father, who expected him to follow in his footsteps by becoming a Rabbi. Seeing how distraught he is, Bart and Lisa set out to reconcile Krusty with his father.

They confront Rabbi Krustofsky while he is performing a circumcision. Krustofsky makes a comment like, "I'm still not convinced, and this is hardly the time or place to discuss it!"

- presumably only because it is delicate and solemn, not because it would be ironical for a man to discuss his relationship with his own son while cutting a baby's genitals on behalf of the baby's father.

Episode 1506 EABF01 SI-1501, "Today I am A Clown"
first broadcast December 7, 2003

Krusty the Clown (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) finds he is missing from the Jewish Walk of Fame and learns it is because he never had a Bar Mitzvah, so he reunites with his father (a rabbi) and sets about having a belated one.

Krusty the Clown

In a pre-Bar Mitzvah interview, asked if he was circumcised, Krusty replies, "Yeah, and then some."

Later, on his TV show, Krusty says, "I'm going to impart our traditions the way our people have done for centuries - through animation". He shows an "Itchy & Scratchy" cartoon (a regular feature of his shows, consisting entirely of outrageous gratuitous violence, at which Bart and Lisa Simpson always laugh uproariously).

Itchy & Scratchy

Title (in psuedo-Hebrew lettering while Klezmer music plays):

A BRISS BEFORE DYING
[Image of Scratchy the cat in a yamulka holding a scalpel chasing Itchy the mouse]

Itchy as a baby lies on a table in front of Scratchy, in a room with a Menorah, while several Jewish mice watch.

Scratchy: Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olom
(Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe.)
Boreh -
(Creator -) [the beginning of a generic blessing, as over food etc.]

Scratchy about to circumise Itchy

(He holds up a flashing scalpel).

Itchy reacts, then jumps up on Scratchy's head and pulls out his eyes. Scratchy swings the scalpel and cuts off his own ears. Itchy jumps down on Scratchy's nose, and Scratchy cuts that off. Itchy escapes by jumping on Scratchy's right shoulder and Scratchy cuts off his own right arm (with his left hand). Scratchy then successively (and very quickly) cuts through his own chest, thighs, calves, tail and tie, finally cutting off his left arm, and collapses in a heap. Itchy picks the heap up and puts it through a mincer. The eyes come out blinking.

Itchy forms the mincemat on to a tube, pokes it into a fire and blows it into a goblet (with eyes that still blink). He wraps it in a napkin, steps on it and shouts "Mazel Tov!" (A reference to the ceremonial breaking of a glass at a Jewish wedding. "Mazel Tov" [literally "good luck"] corresponds to "Congratulations!") The other mice applaud.

The End

The whole cartoon lasts 30 seconds. Itchy is not circumcised.

Krusty: That's what I believe now.

This revenge fantasy might apply equally to any man's view of his circumcision. The message must be among the most Intactivist ever screened on US television.

The video is at Youtube.

[There are two continuity errors in the segment:

  • Itchy throws Scratchy's eyes out the window, but they reapper when the remains of Scratchy come out of the mincer.
  • A menorah on the wall behind Scratchy vanishes. Stone tablets appear in a diffeerent place on the wall.]

images © Fox TV

Episode 350: "Don't fear the roofer"

Marge: C'mon kids, First we're going to visit grandpa. Then we're taking the dog to the V. E. T.
Santa's Little Helper: Urr?
Marge: And we're taking Bart to get C. I. R. C. U. M. C. I. S. E. D.
Bart: Whuh?
Marge: I'll tell you what it means when it's over.
(.mp3 file, 76KB)

It's not mentioned again. Santa's Little Helper proves such a hit at the nursing home that they leave him overnight and presumably don't take him to the v e t, but it's not clear what, if anything, happens to Bart. (This is an exceptionally cruel episode, even of The Simpsons, with references to hanging, suicide, repeated shooting with nailguns, knocking out with a mallet, and a prolonged sequence of Homer getting electroshock for giving wrong answers to Dr Hibbert's trick questions.)

This is a big letdown after the promise of Krusty's exposé. The best that can be extracted from this is a weak linkage between circumcision and castration. Apart from that, it seems to be saying that circumcision is trivial.

(season finale)
Bart is kicked out of Springfield Primary School and Homer and Marge send him to a Catholic school. Bart is about to take his first communion. Marge, Rev. Lovejoy and Ned Flanders confer.

Ned: Once they seal the deal, there's no turning back. It's like the Jews with their (makes "scissors" gesture with two fingers) snippety-snip.

As usual, circumcision is presented as purely Jewish. Ned's ignorance (or ignoring) of gentile circumcision is doubly odd in the light of the earlier episode.

These pages proposed a more striking hypothetical scenario several years ago.

Episode 225 AABF18 "They Saved Lisa's Brain"

Chief Wiggum is looking through a copy of the Springfield Constitution, mumbling the contents, which include "human rights and routine circumcision".

For those words to be juxtaposed is a step forward.

"Labor Pains" Series 25, Episode 05

Homer helps a woman to give birth in a stuck lift. He holds the baby and exclaims

It's a dude! (admiringly) And he's uncut! Very Euro!
It's a dude! And he's uncut! Very Euro!
(click to see clip)

Homer's ignorance of how males come to be "cut" or "uncut" at the heart of the joke is parallel to the implicit assumption of many adults in circumcising societies that "men are either circumcised or not" as if it were a given, a variant present at birth.

(The baby is born with a navel but no umbilical cord or placenta.
This is all a nice riposte to the several babies who have been shown on the big and small screen as anomalously circumcised.)

(The word "dude" has come a long way from its origins:
dude /du:d, dju:d/ n. & v. slang (orig. US).L19. [Prob. f. G dial. = fool (cf. LG dudenkop stupid head’).]
A n. 1 A fastidious, aesthetic person; a dandy, a fop. [Almost "a pansy"] slang. L19.
2 A holiday-maker in the western US, esp. one who holidays on a ranch; a tenderfoot. L19.

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

[Now, to Homer, by way of "admirable man", L20, it means "male".])

Six Feet Under

(2nd season)

Older brother Nate and girlfriend Brenda are going to a (woman) Rabbi for pre-marriage counseling.

Younger brother David: Are you thinking of converting?
Nate: Why not? I'm already circumcised.

This ground-breaking show grants that having to get circumcised would be a hardship. It avoids the twin pitfalls of "Only Jews are circumcised" and "All men are circumcised" (but not "All Jews are circumcised"), but for the sake of a gratuitous reference to circumcision (it can't be news to David), it falls into the trap of presenting a conversion of convenience as unproblematic.

Skins (UK)

Drama series following a group of teenagers in Bristol, South West England, through the two years of secondary school. Plot lines explore issues such as dysfunctional families, eating disorders, adolescent sexuality, substance abuse and death.

Rich (Alexander Arnold) approaches "the Angel of Death" (Scarlett Sabet) in the school library:

(1:05)

Richard: Hello. (Silence.)
I'm Richard Hardbeck. How are you? (Silence. She slams her book shut.)
Um, OK, so ... What sort of music are you into? (Silence.)
What do you like to do for fun? (Silence.)
Listen, do you - do you wanna come out for a drink with me?

Angel: No.

(Loud music starts. He turns away, then turns back.)

Richard: No, actually, why not?

Angel: Why not?

Richard: Yeah.

Angel: Because I'm too pretty for you. Because you're weird-looking. Because I can smell your pants from here. But mostly - because I would rather rim the shit-smeared arsehole of a dead horse with AIDS than even consider the possibility of touching your wiry, gangrenous, vile, inadequate, half-circumcised, horrifically smelly, pubescent dick! OK?

In the (British) context, "circumcised" would have been bad, and "half-circumcised" implies "even worse".

Season 7, Episode 4 "Pure" (First aired on 22/07/2013)

Cassie Ainsworth, accompanied by her co-worker, Jakob, visits her father Marcus and her younger brother, Reuben in their home in Wales. Cassie, Jakob and Reuben sit around the table as Marcus prepares a meal. He places some sausages (presumably pork) onto Jakob's plate.

Jakob: (awkwardly) I don't think I can eat these. It's the, uh, Jewish thing.
Reuben: Did they cut your willy off?
Jakob: No, just a...tiny little bit.
Reuben: I'm not Jewish, am I, Dad?
Marcus: No! You're six!

The effect of circumcision is minimised (as it doubtless was to Jakob). The non sequitur is unexplained.

A link to the episode (Not available worldwide)

South Park

Episode 204: Ike's Wee-Wee, first broadcast May 20, 1998

Ike

Ike, adopted, is to be belatedly circumcised because "All Jewish kids have circumstitions", which horrifies the other kids: their reaction (38 KB .wav file - here is the text) is appropriate, and they smuggle him away to Canada. They substitute a dummy, which ... convinces his parents he is dead. The kids take pity on them and they go to Nebraska and find him.

He is told, "We're just going to snip it. It'll make it look bigger." Because he is Canadian, the mohel produces a pair of snippers in the form of a maple leaf.

Mohel

A stranger appears who says he never misses a bris. Ike is circumcised. He says "Ouch", gets up as if nothing had happened, and all the others want to be circumcised.

Since Ike's birth parents are not Jewish, he is not Jewish and need not be circumcised. This episode was reportedly written by one producer to comfort the other when his son was being circumcised.

The word "circumstition" was first coined by the author of these pages in 1996 or 7, and had a permanent presence on the WWW some time after October 1998, but the "South Park" scriptwriters probably coined it independently - an idea whose time had come.


Several webpages describe this as the funniest South Park episode, and generally stress the other plot (about the school counsellor being sacked). Matt Heffernan's South Park page summarises the episode without ever mentioning that the circumcision takes place.
Episode 1205, "Eek! A Penis!" First broadcast, April 9, 2008

Mrs. Garrison (formerly Mr. Garrison) regrets her sex change operation and wants to return to being a man. She sees on the news that scientists are able to grow a human ear onto the back of a mouse. Using all of her money and some of her male DNA, the scientists are able to grow a new penis for Garrison on to a mouse. It is shown throughout as already circumcised. (If this is because Mr Garrison had been circumcised as a baby, it would be an example of Larmarkism, the discredited theory that acquired characteristics can be inherited.)

For South Park, the Movie: Bigger, Longer, Uncut, see the Movies pages M-Z.

Stargate SG1

Cult science fiction series. Series 8, episode 809, "Sacrifices"

Teal’c (Christopher Judge), a Jaffa (former slave race), is talking to his son Rya’c (Neil Denis) after Rya’c's wedding:

Kar’yn and Rya’c marry

Kar’yn, Master Bra’tac, Rya’c

TEAL’C: You have chosen the location for your shim’owa very well.

RYA’C: Master Bra’tac said this is where you took my mother.

TEAL’C (smiling): Indeed. Rya’c. (Rya’c turns and faces him.) I can think of no better mate for you than Kar’yn, and I am certain your mother would have felt the same.

RYA’C: Thank you. (He puts his hand on Teal’c’s shoulder. Teal’c reciprocates, then they hug.)

TEAL’C (once they have broken the embrace): Before your departure, there is a matter that bears discussion.

RYA’C: Father, I am aware of the ways between a man and a woman.

TEAL’C: Good. Then you are prepared for the Rite of Or’nok. (Rya’c looks horrified.)

RYA’C: Surely it is not still expected?

TEAL’C (looking very serious): On the first eve of shim’owa. My advice is that the knife be as sharp as possible.

RYA’C (staring at him in dread): Perhaps Kar’yn is right. Not all of the old traditions are worth holding on to.

(Teal’c looks at his son seriously for a moment, then his face breaks into a grin.)

TEAL’C: Indeed.

Teal’c

Teal’c

(They start to walk down the corridor again.)

RYA’C: What of you and Ishta?

TEAL’C: What of us?

RYA’C: Well, your relationship would be much easier if you’d both admit you are in love. For us all.

TEAL’C: Perhaps one day – when I am as wise as you are.

Commentators infer that the Rite of Or’nok is circumcision of the groom, perhaps perfomed by the bride. Teal’c's final comment implies he never liked doing it, and is glad Rya’c is giving it up. Rya’c is not circumcised - or Or’nokised.

Agree? Here's a bumpersticker.
''End the Rite of Or'nok'' bumpersticker

Strangers With Candy

Episode #102 A Burden's Burden

Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) has been giving a baby boy to take care of for health class. After one sleepness night of watching the baby, she abandons it on a local playground so that she can hang out with her friends. Teachers Chuck Noblet (Stephen Colbert) and Geoffrey Jellineck (Paul Dinello) find the baby and report Jerri to the principal. The following day, Principal Blackman (Greg Hollimon) and Coach Wolf (Sarah Thyre) tell Jerri that she is deep trouble for what she has done.

Jerri: Why? It's still alive and has a full head of hair.
Principal: Jerri, that's not the point.
Jerri: Is this because I circumcised it?

The baby is given back to Jerri so that she may complete the assignment, but she tries to sell him on the black market. After pinning the attempted crime on her new class partner Tammi Littlenut (Maria Thayer), she returns the baby to Coach Wolf. Principal Blackman tells Jerri that she must be "exceptionally unfit for motherhood."

Since it is not conceivable that she circumcised the baby, either the show's makers have no idea how serious circumcision is (medically as well as ethically), or she does, and is making a joke so stupid it is ignored.

Strong Medicine

Parents from a Middle Eastern country bring their early-teenage daughter in to Rittenhouse Hospital to have her circumcised, saying "She'll be a social outcast", "She'll never find a husband", etc. if it isn't done.

The girl doesn't want it done, and the two doctors, Dr Dana Stowe (a Harvard-educated surgeon directing research studies, played by Janine Turner) and Dr Luisa Delgado (a major character, played by Rosa Blasi), do their best to talk the family out of it, saying how it's an outrage, mutilation, dangerous, etc.

The parents leave the hospital without checking out, apparently planning to have it done clandestinely in the US or elsewhere.

The two doctors discuss the matter:

Dr Stowe: You know, there's really not much difference between this and what we do to little boys in the U.S. [or words to that effect]

Janine Turner
Janine Turner (Dr Stowe)

Dr Delgado: Well, I had Marc [her teenage son] circumcised, but I didn't cut his whole penis off.

...discounting what Dr Stowe said, as if anything short of cutting his whole penis off was acceptable. As usual, the implication is that if (and it's a big "if") FGM is always worse than MGM, then MGM must be all right.

In one of the side stories, parents of a newborn argue over whether or not they should circumcise their son. The mother wants to but the father says no. The receptionist, Lana, breaks the deadlock, telling them it's not how it looks, it's what a man does with it.

Implying that appearance is the only consideration

Suburgatory

NY Mag
December 6, 2011

Ten Secrets and Spoilers From the Creator of Suburgatory

By Josef Adalian

... ABC's off-kilter family comedy starring Jane Levy and Jeremy Sisto as New York City expatriates attempting to survive in the land of SUVs and big box stores. ... we checked in with creator and showrunner Emily Kapnek ...

Fred (Chris Parnell) has a penis phobia.

Not all penises, mind you. He's afraid of uncircumcised members only. This fun fact will be revealed in an upcoming episode in which Dallas (Cheryl Hines) introduces Fred to a new friend of hers. "It sends Fred into a cold sweat when he hears [the new pal] is all natural," Kapnek says. "Why does it bother him? I'm not sure." Also, if you're wondering just why the married Dallas would know the condition of another man's member, all we can say is that it relates to a major (and yet very logical) plot twist coming up early next year. (Tonight's episode offers a clue.)

That apparently refers to this scene:

Fred and another woman are playing croquet. Dallas comes onto the green arm-in-arm with a tall blond man, saying,

Dallas: Hi Fred, this is [Sven]. He's from Iceland. He's uncircumcised!

(Fred drops his mallet, but Sven has already reached out and grasped his hand. Fred withdraws it as if unclean. His friend produces a spraycan of foam that she sprays on his hand, and he rubs his hands vigorously together.)

Voice over: Having the wrong partner can really put you off your game.

This is so gratuitous it may perhaps be a self-parody.

30 Rock

Sitcom about a fictional TV show of the same name produced at 30 Rockerfeller Plaza, New York. Season 2, Episode 206, first aired November 15, 2007

Kenneth (Jack McBrayer): "We Parcell's are neither wealthy nor circumcised but we are proud."

Implying that circumcision is associated with wealth but only exceptionally with pride. ("Circumcised" could also be a metonym for "Jewish".)

Thirty-something

Episode 63 (or 401 - 4th series, 1st episode) "prelude to a bris"
[The extraordinary title suggests a gentle piece of music - and gives away the outcome.]
(Written and directed by Richard Kramer)
first broadcast September 25, 1990

With a black screen we hear gentile Hope Steadman (Mel Harris) giving birth to Leo. At home, her Jewish husband Michael (Ken Olin) tells her they must decide about a bris.

Michael's mother, Barbara (Barbara Barrie), comes to visit and unexpectedly brings her new lover, Ben Teitleman (Alan King). Michael doesn't get on with Ben.

Everyone pesters Michael about the bris, giving him advice on what kind of mohel to get. They all go to a science museum and have little conversations while walking through a model of a heart. The men and women then separately discuss circumcision, the men while jogging, the women in the kitchen.

Michael tries to talk to Hope about whether they should have a bris or not, and she finally expresses doubt that they should have one at all, since Michael's religion doesn't seem to mean much to him.

A rabbi (Philip Sterling) visits Michael, who quickly figures out that Ben sent him, but manages to stay civil while ushering him out.

Hope and Barbara talk about the pros and cons, which leads to Hope sniffling a little, wondering if the circumcision will hurt Leo, asking what the meaning of the ceremony would be for them and the baby.

Michael tells Ben bluntly that it was out of line to send a rabbi without asking first.

Michael and Hope argue bitterly about Ben's role, and how Michael is uncomfortable with his own Jewishness. Hope asks what the ceremony would mean for all of them.

Michael wonders what makes someone a real Jew. Ben tells him that he is one anyway, practicing or not, and he must decide whether he will "break the chain." [Notice that these two ideas are contradictory.] Michael imagines Leo approaching his thirteenth birthday - Leo (Joshua Smith) is neither interested in his family's past or in having a bar mitzvah.

Hope tells Michael that she's worked it out for herself (unlike him) and that she wants their son to be a "part of something." [...by having part of something taken from him...] They decide to go ahead with the bris.

At the bris, Gary has been selected (as sendak) to hold the child and seems nervous about it. Ben shows up suddenly and Michael makes a quick switch, asking Ben to hold Leo instead.

Leo is circumcised.

The parents' discussion is almost entirely about their feelings, and apart from a brief reference to the pain, involves Leo only symbolically.

Till Death Us Do Part (UK)

BBC comedy (1965 - 1975) Alf Garnett (Warren Mitchell) is racist, sexist and anti-Semitic, skewering those prejudices.

Alf Garnett: It's yer Jews, i'n'it ... getting their tribal mutilations on the N[ational ]H[ealth ]S[ervice].

His daughter Rita (Una Stubbs) (laughs disdainfully): It's not mutilation.

Mitchell said in an interview he had his son circumcised only to please his (Jewish) father.

'Til Death

Sitcom (based on the above) about a long-married couple [he's a goof, she's a nag, very similar to Married with Children] (with newlyweds next door) Season 3, Circumdecision (Episode 6, 10/8/08) (To view, click on TV Shows (at left), 'Til Death, Circumdecision)

Kenny (J.B.Smoove) freaks out after losing his swim trunks at a water park and his new girlfriend notices he isn't circumcised. When he decides to go under the knife, Joy (Joely Fisher) is impressed by his efforts to please a girl he hardly knows and badgers Eddie (Brad Garrett) to accompany her to six weeks of musicals in the park. Eddie loathes musicals and bets on them with Joy that Kenny will not go through with it. He takes Kenny to a bris so he can see what circumcision looks like. The baby's screams turn Eddie against the idea. His ex-wife Tina says she wanted him to be circumcised for years, but when he rings her, she dumps him. He eventually decides to be circumcised (reason not given) and Eddie forces him to go to the musicals with them, where Eddie refuses to co-operate with a singer performing "If I were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof.

 

The show has a total of 19 negative references to the foreskin and positive or trivialising references to circumcision, but only 5 of the reverse kind:

1

2'0”

Kenny: She saw something that didn't quite work for her.

2

2'15”

Kenny (confessionally): I'm not circumcised!

3

2'27”

Eddie: That's funny, most guys have to apologise after sex, you have to apologise before.

4

4'57”

Eddie: I'm cute as a button down there.

5

5'46”

Joy: Just because Kenny is going to pimp his ride...

6

6'41”

Kenny's friend 1: I can't believe you' not taken care of down there.[ [What a sick euphemism for what circumcision actually entails!]] That's disgustin'!

7

6'45”

Kenny's friend 2: I saw a [intact] man at the gym once. I almost passed out.

1

6'48”

Kenny's friend 3: Leave Kenny alone. It's not that gross. [A very weak defence]

8

6'50”

Kenny's friend 2: Why are you getting' all defensive? We're just tryin' - Ohh (they all shrink back)

2

6'56”

Kenny's friend 3: That's right [I'm intact]. And the women love it.

9

7'20”

Kenny: [After I'm circumcised] I'm going to nude beaches, make love with the lights on, I'm gonna get a pair of jeans with a zipper. [Like a circumcised penis never gets caught in a zipper...]

10

8'20”

Kenny's other friend: No, I don't have to sit down to pee. [The unheard - and preposterous - jibe implies effeminacy.]

11

9'26”

Eddie (to rabbi): I need you to stall the pss pss. [Not even a euphemism]

12

11'47”

Kenny (at Bris): This is the most beautiful thing I have ever been part of. I wanna go next.

3

11'59”

(Baby screams) Kenny: Oh hell, no!

13

12'47”

Kenny: The picnic is off because there's no circumcision. Nobody's doin' nothin' nice for nobody.

4

13'22”

Kenny: You shoulda seen what they did to little Ziff! He was just a baby!

14

14'32”

Tina (Eddie's ex-wife): I've been askin' him for years to take his junk to the tailors'.

15

14'43”

Joy: He chickened out.

16

14'52”

Tina: Hmph! Well that's too bad. Because that, and somethin' in his wallet beside stamps and condoms, might get him a second chance at this.

17

15'17”

Joy: If you get a little - procedure done there's a certain lady who might be interested in gettin' with yuh, sexually.

18

15'27”

Joy: Tina would give you another shot if you did this thing.

19

16'47”

Kenny: I'm doing this for a sweet little girl who loves me for what I am - well, for 99% of what I am.

5

18'32”

Eddie: You're the reason I'm here. You're going to suffer right along with me. An' let me tell you, this is going to hurt only slightly less than what you're getting done on Monday.

The effect of this kind of steady drizzle of anti-intact propaganda on a young intact man can only be imagined.

21 Up
(MTV)

UK documentary. "Born in the USSR"

A Kazakh Muslim man tells how he caused an uproar in his village when he kicked his circumciser in the face, because he didn't want it and he knew it would hurt.

What he does not tell is how he was then presumably held down by several men and circumcised by force.

Two And A Half Men

Episode 9.18, The War Against Gingivitis

After several references in the episode to oral sex;

Lindsey: Evelyn, Alan tells me you do a lot of traveling

Evelyn:  Yes, I love it; the classical architecture, the exotic cuisine, the uncircumcised men. (pause) Although, one could make a case that falls under exotic cuisine.

It is also progress that US TV sitcoms let it be known that not all men are circumcised.

2 Broke GirlsComedy, Series 3, Episode 13 first broadcast December 16, 2013 "And the French Kiss"
Official summary: After Caroline [Channing, played by Beth Behrs] has an incredible make-out session with Max's pastry school teacher, Chef Nicholas (recurring guest star GILLES MARINI), Caroline finds out something that makes her wish it never happened.

Caroline gropes Nicholas and is relieved to find he's not "wearing a floppy beret".

Subtext: A prejudice against foreskins and the men with them is normal. Gilles Marini is in fact intact.

Ugly Americans

(Adult cartoon)

Mark Lilly (voice: Matt Oberg) is a young man in the Department of Integration in an alternate New York. He works with former wizard Leonard Powers (voice: Randy Pearlstein). They encounter the xenophobic Frank Grimes (voice: Larry Murphy) in a corridor.

Grimes (pushing Mark against a wall): Ya know what makes me sick? ... What makes me sick is him, (making a "gay" gesture with his fingers) getting all gay with the immigrants.

Mark: What did they ever do to you, anyway?

Grimes (indicating his ring finger): You see that? (Taking the false finger off with a "Pop!" like a cork) No, you don't. Lost it in a Restilian riot. (Pulling up his trouser leg to reveal a large bite from his knee) No kneecap. Thanks very much Mr Werewolf. (Unzipping his fly [revealing darkness]) My foreskin was bitten off by a creature - (he reaches in: cut to shocked expressions of his onlookers) and I don't even know what it was!

It is a plus that losing his foreskin is listed among negatives.

Undeclared

Season 1, Episode 12 "Truth or Dare", first broadcast 29 January 2002

American college student Marshall Nesbitt (Timm Sharp) and his British roommate Lloyd Haythe (Charlie Hunnam) compete in a game of Truth-or-Dare with friends Lizzie and Rachel. Marshall exits his room holding a ruler and announces his penis size.

Marshall: Six.

The scene cuts to Lloyd:

Lloyd: Six and a half. No mohel, no mohel.

Marshall takes back the ruler and heads back to his room.

Marshall: Give me five minutes. Five minutes. (Lizzie and Rachel giggle.)

Implying circumcision shortens the penis, but "Only Jews circumcise."

Undressed
(MTV)

[Official summary] Nice-guy Brett and his new girlfriend Shay are ready to go all the way. But when things start heating up and Shay pulls down his boxers, she realizes he's uncircumcised. Dismayed, Shay takes off, leaving Brett heartbroken. He's determined to win her back and will do anything…including going under the knife. Will he really go through with it? And is Shay worth self-mutilation? And what about that sexy co-ed, who loves her men au naturel?

Shay tells her boyfriend Brett (Wole Parks) she wants him to be circumcised.

Wole Parks as Brett in ''Undressed''

At first he agrees, to please her. Her friends and his all tell him not to do it. The girls tell Shay not to make him, because they can't be sure they will like it. Annie (Rachelle Lafevbre) shows Brett what circumcision is like using a banana. She says she had never seen "one" before and asks if she can see his. He shows her - in the interest of science, of course - and she is very impressed, saying how beautiful it is.

Annie inspects Brett

She then wants to touch it, and they have sex - again, purely for science...

Brett's roommate tells him not to do it and asks what if he finds out that sex isn't any good circumcised. He replies that he'll do it for Shay anyway. The roommate says she will just find something else she doesn't like. Brett agrees that's a risk, and they cook up a plan to test the theory.


In the next episode, Brett is in bed with the covers drawn up to his waist. Shay is beside him on top of the covers. She says, "You did it. You got circumcised?" He tells her he did, but it was no big deal, because now with lasers they can just "beam the foreskin off". She falls for it, and is happy he had done it for her.

When Brett reaches for a condom, Shay sees a mole on his back and says he has to get that removed before she will have sex with him.

He says, "The problem is not my foreskin..." She agrees, "It's me." She just told him to get circumcised in an effort to get out of the relationship. Brett says no matter what he did it wouldn't be enough for her.

Brett starts dating Annie.

This is progress. No-one gets circumcised - and the summary uses the m-word!

The Venture Brothers

(Animated)
Official summary: Hank [Christopher McCulloch] and Dean [Michael Sinterniklaas] Venture, with their father Doctor [Thaddius] Venture [James Urbaniak] and faithful bodyguard Brock Samson, go on wild adventures facing megalomaniacs, zombies, and suspicious ninjas, all for the glory of adventure. Or something like that.
Hank and Dean Venture are relatively identical twins, only born six minutes apart, who live for the thrill of adventure. Their dated vocabulary and high-pitched voices are intentionally annoying, especially to their father ...

Unofficial summary: The Venture brothers ... are ... teenaged idiots who think, act and talk like it's the sixties (though it takes place in the present). ... Dr. Venture ... [really can't] stand them.

Dean: Hank! I had my pubes shaved. I'm gonna put them under the pillow for the tooth fairy!
Hank: Did the doctor see that creepy dog dork of yours?
Dr. Venture: Hank, don't brag to your brother about your circumcision

Another gratuitous swipe at the intact penis and the men who have one, apparently just intended to gross the audience out.

Episode 8: Ice Station - Impossible!

Dr Venture (trudging through snow, complaining about the cold): Oh great - I think my foreskin just broke off.

Trivialising.

Season 3, Episode: 6, "Dr. Quymn, Medicine Woman" First Aired: July 6, 2008

In the Amazon, the Ventures meet Dr. Tara Quymn, with her identical twin daughters, Nancy and Drew. She takes them to the village of a tribe that has been attacked  by a creature called a " wereodile". Hank becomes infatuated with Nancy and Drew, but they become infatuated with Dean, and try to seduce him, to no avail. Hank inadvertantly helps defeat the wereodile and is "rewarded" by the natives with a warrior circumcision that makes him ill. Realizing that Dean is still intact, Nancy and Drew are immediately disgusted by him.

In the first season, Hank was circumcised, but his clone, activated in Season 2, was intact up until this episode. The writers just can't seem to find enough opportunities to say "the foreskin is disgusting".

Waiting for the Boatman
(UK Radio)
BBC. First broadcast 16 March 2012. Official summary: The painter Mario Minniti (David Tennant) has travelled to Naples to seek out his old friend and former mentor Caravaggio. But on arrival, the great painter is nowhere to be found. In a bid to track him down, Mario retraces Caravaggio's last known movements. His search reveals a life lived dangerously. By Stephen Wakelam

In the church of Santa Maria della Sanita, Minniti learns there is a picture of Jesus' circumcision by Caravaggio:

Minniti (aside): And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.

Sr Pierra: It's here, the side chapel. It will be moved here into the main body of the church, finally.

Minniti (aside): A ladder, and a couple of boxes to stand on.

Sr Pierra: The way he painted, things - figures - seem to emerge.

Minniti (aside): Dark ground and a cluster of shapes. One figure at the top, more or less complete. An old man, hands raised. (to Sr Pierra) Simeon?

Sr Pierra: Yes.

Minniti(aside): The Virgin at the centre was a pink base, no more than the rough shape, with an oval of paile ground, waiting for the Christ child. Another figure, a few rapid brush strokes, browns and greys, was leaning in. An eye. Half a face, in profile, near centre of the canvas. (to Sr Pierra) Who's the one- the, the eye, leaning in to the child - the High Priest?

Sr Pierra: He inclined to his being a rabbi, a mohel with scalpel or knife? "The Executioner", he called him. What he understood was the theology of the picture. The first of the wounds our Lord suffered. There would be blood, under the knife. We agreed that it would be explicit.

Minniti: He would enjoy that.

Sr Pierra: "The Nativity with the Knife", he called it.

Minniti learns that Caravaggio has been killed on the way to Rome, and goes back to the church:

Minniti (aside): The Circumcision. It was hard to see him making much of the subject. A nativity with a knife. The knife, glinting, would be at the dead centre of the canvas, the focus. A week-old Christ child, unsuspecting of the pain, and blood under the knife, a sort of small-scale execution, and the executioner, the rabbi, that eye, half a face.

Minitti learns from Caravaggio's former lover, "Cecco", (Francesco Boneri) that Caravaggio had been blinded in one eye by three attackers, two holding him down while one slashed his face. Cecco says his heart was no longer in the painting.

Minitti: A Circumcision....

Cecco: He'd got plans for it.

Minitti: He wasn't working from models....

Cecco: Nope. Fom his mind's eye. Memory. His hands were shaking. Look, what do you notice about the eye? The rabbi, the one who's doing the circumcision? The executioner, he called it.

Minniti: Looks as if he'd started with the eye and was working outwards.

Cecco: Nah, look closely. It's sightless!

Minniti (gasps): Ah!

Cecco: His left eye!

The painting is real.


click for larger

It was completed in 1612 by Giovan Vincenzo Forli and a commentator says "it is impossible to discern Caravaggio's original intentions" but it is entirely plausible from the way he painted intact males - and if he portrayed the mohel as blind - that Caravaggio deplored circumcision.

Waking the Dead
(UK)

Forensic drama, BBC1 TV (Series 7, Pieta, Part 1)

A young war crime victim may have been a Muslim. Forensic pathologist Dr Eve Lockhart (Tara FitzGerald) says he could not be, because he was not circumcised.

Peter Boyd (Trevor Eve) is told that Muslim boys are circumcised when they are 8 years old - as soon as they can read the Qu'ran. He responds that it would hardly be an incentive to learn.

Eve replies, "On the contrary, it's an important rite of passage from boyhood into manhood."

The age actually varies regionally. Both of the last two statements could be true, but Eve's non sequitur discounts Boyd's realistic appreciation of the pain involved.

Video for people in the UK. Torrent for those outside. Thanks to NORM-UK.

The War At Home

(Fox) "Episode 114: How Do You Spell Relief Broadast 28 February, 2006

Dave Gold (Michael Rapaport) is discussing with a male co-worker that his wife Hillary (Anita Barone), wants to have a fourth child. The co-worker suggests he have a vasectomy, which he refers to as "snip-snip".

Dave ...I'm Jewish. One 'snip-snip' down there was enough for a lifetime. (Canned laughter)

Implying that all (and only) Jews are circumcised, but at least suggesting that genital operations are in general undesirable. The word 'circumcision' is, typically, avoided.

Thanks to http://www.norm-uk.org

Episode 118: 13 going on $30,000

Thirteen-year-old Mike Gold (Dean Collins) wants to have a bar mitzvah, and in preparing for it, becomes ultra-Jewish, including learning Hebrew even though it's "a new age synagogue and the rabbi says God doesn’t care what language you do it in." The rabbi says, "The three most important days in a man's life are his bris, his bar mitzvah and his marriage..." The parents point out that he didn't have a bris but was instead circumcised in hospital. Dave says something like "Yeah... we don't want 'm walking around with a turtle neck..." (applause)

The rabbi says the only way for him to have a bar mitzvah is to have a 'ceremonial bris' [hatifat dam berit] first, in which his penis is pricked to draw some blood. Mike changes his mind about having a bar mitzvah.

... suggesting that if he had had any choice, he would have refused to be circumcised too.

Unsuprisingly, the programmes writers are confused: Mike's mother Vicky is a practising Catholic, so if Dave is Orthodox, Mike is not Jewish. If, on the other hand they are Reform, Mike is not obliged to undergo hatifat dam berit.

The Wayans Brothers

Brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans play brothers Shawn and Marlon Williams

Marlon is suing his older brother Shawn. Shawn is cross-examining him:

Shawn: And when you were born, who came to the hospital and gave you their favorite blanket?

Marlon: I don't know. I was only a day old and still in pain from my circumcision.

Seems to assume circumcision is automatic. Though it emphasises the pain, it also trivialises it by making it the focus of a joke.

Weeds

Adult soap opera. Series 5, Episode 8, A Distinctive Horn, first broadcast 27 July 2009

A baby is born to Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) and Esteban Reyes (Demián Bichir), a Mexican politician, who refuses to have his name on the birth certificate. So she turns to her Jewish brother-in-law Andy (Justin Kirk), to put his name instead. He agrees, but while changing the baby, he says,

Andy: Woah! Bun's still on hotdog.

Nancy: Oh right. I'll take care of that. Next checkup.

Andy: No no no no. A bris, with a mohel and a rabbi, bagels and whitefish. Those are my demands.

Nancy: Demands?

Andy: That's right, because I'm the papa. (Klezma music starts and continues into the next scene.) I'm the papa. Tradition.

Nancy: Oy.

Cut to Andy still holding the baby, but now at the bris. A glimpse of the operation.

Silas (Hunter Parrish): Who are all those people?

Shane (Alexander Gould): The Rabbi brought them. Apparently you need ten Jews to watch him lose his dickhead or it's not official.

Baby is circumcised He cries fretfully but does not shriek. Andy winces.

Rabbi: That's it. Mazel Tov! Let's name the baby.

The supper. The rabbi sits by the boys.

Silas: Nice work rabbi.

Rabbi: Why thank you. I've been at it a long time

Shane: What d'you practise on?

Rabbi: Goyim.

Shane: It's a barbaric ritual.

Rabbi (gravely): It's a sign of a covenant, between our people and God.

Shane: It decreases pleasure.

Rabbi: Paid for my summer house. Excuse me. (He makes his escape.)

In a sub-plot, Silas' drug-dealing colleague Doug agrees to let entrepreneur Dean slam Doug's dick [sic] in a desk drawer in return for some marijuana, saying "If I'm hard, it won't be so bad." At the crucial moment we cut to a shop next door and see the people's reactions to his screams. The parallels between the two themes is not noted.

Note the assumption that baby must be circumcised. Shane's comments are a sign of the times.

Watch video

Will & Grace

Season 4 Episode 64405
PAST AND PRESENTS
written by Tracy Poust & Jon Kinnally
first broadcast October 4, 2001

Karen (Megan Mullally) buys Grace (Debra Messing)'s boyfriend Nathan (guest star Woody Harrelson) a motorcycle. Grace is ashamed of her own small present.

GRACE: Uh, well, that's just - that's just really - that's part one of my present, and wait till you see part two. You're just gonna- You're gonna- Aah! Um, not - not today. It's a Jewish thing. You know how we like to stretch out the gifts.

NATHAN: Oh, you Jews are great - except for that circumcision thing.

Grace laughs nervously and the scene ends.

As if only Jews are circumcised - but it is progress that Nathan doesn't like it.

 

Three hypotheticals

1. A prediction:

The X-Files

A mysterious sickness strikes a remote village. It turns out that the local GP refused to circumcise any babies. Scully is skeptical but Mulder organises a mass circumcision. The plague vanishes. The citizens rejoice and Mulder is invited to the next village to be Master of Ceremonies at another mass circumcision, where nothing goes wrong and nobody feels any pain.

2. A wish:

The Simpsons

One of the boys (probably one of the bullies, Martin Munz or Jimbo Jones) is circumcised and comes back boasting about it. The other bullies sneer at anyone who is not. Bart wants to be "circle-sized" too. Homer defends Bart's wish, saying "A boy should look like his father." Marge imagines Bart looking like Homer (on the couch drinking Duff, burping), growls "Rrrrrrrrrr." Homer says, "If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for my son. It's not as if they're going to cut part off his pee-pee or something." Bart repeats this remark to Lisa. Lisa whispers in his ear, "Well, actually, Bart...." Bart screams "Noooooo!" with tongue waggling. Bart is not circumcised.

Unfortunately:

"There are weekly fan-written Simpsons scripts posted on the Internet. I can't read them - I will be accused later on down the line of having stolen somebody's idea. But I love the idea of it."

- Matt Groening in "Wired" Feb 1999

And sadly:

This month, [Larry] Doyle, the proud father of a newborn son, Benjamin, discusses perhaps the most important issue he has faced as a dad.
"The big question, I suppose, is did we circumcise the child?" says Doyle, who writes for The Simpsons and is a former editor at New York and Spy.
"Yes, we did, and it looked like it hurt a lot. But after they brought him back, my son looked me in the eyes and said, 'Thank you, Daddy.' I don't know if that means anything."

- Esquire, June 1999

Yes, Larry, it means you're a dickhead.

The Simpsons did treat circumcision negatively in an episode broadcast on December 7, 2003, then somewhat trivially in an episode broadcast in May 2005. Doyle is no longer mentioned as a writer for The Simpsons.

3. Another wish:

Futurama

After drinking Slurm (the most addictive soft drink in the Universe), Leela overcomes her usual repugnance and goes to bed with Fry. But she suddenly leaps out of bed, calling him a freak. He consults Dr Zoidberg who finds (luckily the wall chart his consults happens to be for male humans) that part of his penis is missing. Consulting a very dusty book (Fry has to show him how to open it), he discovers that circumcision ended in the year 2008. Fry is devastated, but Bender offers to retore his foreskin by stretching. Fry declines but is so touched by the offer that he forgets his woes.

Actually, I didn't write this, Arthur C. Clarke did it for me.


"The Cyber House Rules": a real episode
Leela goes to a reunion of her Orphanarium, where she was teased for having only one eye and had a crush on handsome, bland Adlai. She is still teased, but Adlai is now a doctor who specialises in facial surgery. Bender adopts 12 of the orphans for the sake of their stipends, including one who has an ear on her forehead. Fry especially is adamant that Leela should stay as she is, but Adlai implants a (non-functional) second eye in Leela, making her happy to be like everyone else. She and Adlai decide to adopt the little girl, who is being teased as Leela was: ADLAI: Oh well, if you really want that one, I can give her an operation to make her acceptable.
LEELA: She doesn't need an operation! She's fine the way she is!
ADLAI: Oh, and I suppose you were all right the way you were?
LEELA: Damn right I was!
And she demands that Adlai remove her own extra eye.

 

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