What's the point?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 09:57:01 AM by Gary Hirsh

This site seems to go nowhere. The purpose of this site seems to be to search for Jewish crimes and unfairness. On this site, Jews have been refered to as "Hucksters", "Hustlers", "Whore Mongers", "Christ Killers", "Conspiritors", and if I read every post on this site, I am sure I'd see a few more. Then you back it up with examples of "Jews" who have used the same words to describe Jewish people. Again, you will find that sort of thing in any religious or ethnic group. There are far too many examples to list here, but perhaps the most notable example are Blacks who refer to other Blacks as "Niggers".

Any evidence you find of Jewish wron-doing, you can find for any other ethnic or religious group. The sad fact is that we are all the same: Human.

At first I was angered by what I read on this site, and my initial reaction was to lash out. Then, I decided to calm down and discuss these subjects rationally. But either way the results are the same. Whatever goes wrong in the world, people here look for a Jew to pin it on.

Thank God that this site represents only a small minority of unhappy, bitter people in search of a scapegoat. I have spent far too much time here trying to convince people that will not hear the truth because their anger will not allow it. I too have anger, but still I try to understand the variuos points of view. I have seen none of that from any else on this site. Which leads me to conclude that I am wasting my time here.

Good luck to all of you and may you find some happiness. But most of all, I hope that you will learn to take some responsibility for your own lives.


Re(1): What's the point?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:30:41 AM by mg

Mr. Hirsch.

Anyone who endorses the terrorist JDL organization -- as you have -- has no right to champion "honor" or morals.

You feign a wish to understand those who criticize Jewry, but, truly, you have NO interest in understanding the many, many legitimate complaints about Jews through history.

Refusal to "take responsibility" for one's own life is the CORE of Jewish identity. Jews REFUSE to take even a kernel of responsibility for the history of "antisemitism."

Here's an article about Jews who have threatened to kill a college newspaper editor because she allowed an article to a appear that wondered if Jews had any responsibility for anti-Jewish hostility, a hostility ("antisemitism") that has transcended class, culture, language, geography, and history).


Zionists Threaten To Kill California College Paper Editor, from Independent Media Center www.stlimc.org, July 19, 2003

"The offices of Santa Rosa Junior College's student newspaper were
locked temporarily following death threats against the editor for a
piece she published criticizing Israel. The piece in the biweekly Oak
Leaf appeared six weeks ago. Since then, 19-year-old editor Kristinae
Toomians has been the target of death threats from area jewish extremists.
The article, entitled "Is anti-Semitism ever the result of Jewish behavior?",
was written by Mark McGuire, a student. The piece took a pro-Palestinian
position. Rich Mellott, the adjunct professor who advises the Oak Leaf
staff, said he read the piece quickly and saw no reason not to run it.
"It was politically charged and there were a few inflammatory things,
but it wasn't libelous and it didn't incite people to violence," Mellott
said. "The First Amendment isn't there to protect agreeable stories."
Meanwhile, editor Toomians said the furor the article has been a learning
experience. "I was really nervous at first," she said "Because of death
threat letters and fliers left on my car windshield, "but I have a lot
of support here, and I'm feeling more at ease."

Re(2): What's the point?
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 00:12:51 AM by James Jaeger

About a year and a half after John and I founded FIRM, someone left a bomb -- the police described it as an incendiary device -- outside the offices of Matrixx Entertainment.

I called the police and a bomb squad came and evacuated the building as well as 2 city blocks for 2 hours. The device was exploded in the parking lot. No one was hurt. The event is recorded in the local papers and was on local network TV for anyone who wants details or does not believe it happened.

To this day, Hollywood apologists or people who want the message being put out by FIRM squashed, are high on the list of suspects. I turned over antagonistic posts from this site and the NG of misc.writing.screenplays to the local police and the FBI when they requested that I provide them with any information which might lead to a motive.

At, and shortly after, the time of the assault, I and our counsel felt it did not make any sense to announce or promulgating this event here or elsewhere due to the ongoing investigations -- but now it seems appropriate to announce it for the record.

James Jaeger

Re(2): What's the point?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:51:00 AM by mg

Mr. Hirsch. Readers might like to see what you refer to, so I post it again for easy reference. Is Yiddish folklore tradition that Jews are "thieves" and swindlers the same thing as Blacks calling themselves "nigger," as you say?

A peoples' entire folklore and a single word are not synonomous.

You don't like what you read. Pure and simple. It's denial. And that's a cornerstone of Jewish identity.

There's a clear Jewish hegemony in Hollywood (like so much else) and Jewish commentary at this forum is 100% denial and defensive apologetic about this subject.

The following list from international folklore is these days considered to be historically baseless, and irrationally "anti-Semitic":

* "A real Jew will never pause to eat till he has cheated you. (Serbian)
* "The Jew cheats even when praying." (Czech)
* "A real Jew will get gold out of straw." (Spanish)
* "So many Jews, so many thieves." (German)
* "A bankrupt Jew searches his own accounts." (Greek)
* "Bargain like a Jew but pay like a Christian." (Polish)
* "A Jewish miser will reject nothing more than having to part with his foreskin." (Russian)
* "A Jewish oath, a clear night, and women's tears are not worth a mite. (Venetian)
* "A Jew, if he cheats a Moslem, is happy that day." (Moroccan)
* "Mammon [money] is the God of the Jews." (Hungarian)
[ROBACK, p. 186-204]

Jewish scholar Leonard Dinnerstein notes the similar folk beliefs about Jews in the African-American community:

"There are several humorous tales about a 'Colored Man, a Jew and a White Man' in which the Jew is distinguished from other caucasians. The main thrust of almost all of these jokes is the compulsive Jewish concern for wealth." [DINNERSTEIN, L., 1998, p. 117 (of double pagination]

Like virtually all Jewish observers these days, however, Dinnerstein regards such folk tradition to be based on no facts whatsoever. As he decides, despite the fact that such folk traditions are part of every folk history wherever there have been Jews in any number,

"[Blacks] have imbibed the European-American folklore about the cunning and exploitive Jew whose ruthlessly amassed fortune is used to political and economic control of society. There is more mythology than substance in these beliefs, but that does not lessen their impact. These stereotypes have existed among Blacks since their socialization into American culture." [DINNERSTEIN, L., 1998, p. 873 (pages are doubly paginated)]

What Dinnerstein neglects to mention, of course, as do virtually all Jewish polemicists on this subject, is that these "stereotypes" have also been very much part of even Jewish folk lore, hence Jewish self-identity. What did the Jewish community think, and celebrate, about itself in its own traditions?

* "A Jew at a fair is like a fish in water." (Yiddish)
* "The Jew loves commerce." (Yiddish)
* "A Jew and a wolf are never idle." (Yiddish)
* "The Jew likes to poke his nose everywhere." (Yiddish)
* "Better in the hands of a Gentile than the mouth of a Jew." (Yiddish)
* "When the Pole thinks, he seizes his moustache, when the Russian thinks, he takes hold of his forelocks, and when the Jew thinks, he holds his hands behind." (Yiddish)
[ROBACK, p. 186-204]

As Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg note about Yiddish folklore: "This folk humor provides a means of indirect social aggression and at other times, it releases a mordant self-criticism." [KUMOVE, S., 1985, p. xx] The following are more examples of traditional Jewish self-identity from a collection of Yiddish folk sayings, [KUMOVE, S., 1985] further confirming certain troubling aspects of collective Jewish identity:

* "One need never suspect a Jew -- he surely is a thief." [p. 139]
* "It's good to do business with a thief." [p. 233]
* "If you steal -- you'll have." [p. 233]
* "What is smaller than a mouse may be carried from a house." [p. 233]
* "Petty thieves are hanged, major thieves are pardoned." [p. 233]
* "A thief gives handsome presents." [p. 230]
* "Before a thief goes stealing, he also prays to God." [p. 231]
* "Better with a hometown thief than a strange rabbi." [p. 231]
* "Thieve and rob if you must but be honorable." [p. 232]
* "God protect us from Gentile hands and Jewish tongues." [p. 196]
* "Live among Jews, do business among the Goyim." [p. 143]
* "If you steal enough eggs, you can also become rich." [p. 249]
* "A fool gives and a clever person takes." [p. 106]
* "Always take -- if you give me, I'll go away, if not, I'll stay." [p. 106]
* "Always take!" [p. 106]
* "The goy is treyf [forbidden] but his money is kosher
[acceptable]." [p. 126]
* "Offer a Jew a ride and he throws you out of your own wagon." [p. 45]
* "A sense of justice we want others to have." [p. 127]
* "Money rules the world." [p. 179]
* "Money is the best soap -- it removes the greatest stain. (p. 179)
* "Gold shines out of the mud." [p. 179]
* "Gold has a dirty origin but is nevertheless treated with honor. [p. 180]
* "The world stands on three things: on money, on money, and money."
[p. 180] [All from KUMOVE, 1985]

Jewish psychoanalyst Theodore Reik, in Jewish Wit (his volume about the subliminal psychological meanings of Jewish humor) notes:

"All kinds of deception and cunning, of fraud and trickery, devised and committed by Jews, either to get money or to avoid paying money, are exposed and candidly revealed by Jewish jokes." [REIK, T., 1962, p. 67]


"'My [husband] Morris was in Auschwitz. Ask him what he thinks of the Hasidim. Morris, come here,' she orders. He shuffles in like a Foghorn Leghorn auditioningfor a part, cigar clenched firmly between his teeth. 'What do you think of the Hasids?' Without missing a beat in he begins to intone,
'Huset Ganef
Geh Ka' Chrzanow
Koif a fayert
Lieg in drayert.'
(Hasid, you crook
Travel to Chrzanow, for a look
Buy a horse
Then drop dead, of course.)
It's a child nursery rhyme my grandmother used to chant on those rare occasions when she saw a Hasid in Nebraska."
-- An elderly Jewish couple in New Jersey, to Robert Eisenberger, Boychiks in the Hood. Travels in the Hasidic Underground, HarperSanFrancisco, 1995, p. 158]

(Note the majority of Eastern European Jews -- pre-World War II -- were Hasids).

Re(3): What's the point?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 05:27:55 PM by KK (Kevin the Kraut)

Jesus H. Christ, boy. You have no fucking shame! Is your point about Hollywood, or proving Jewish stereotypes. Here's a site that might be more to your liking:


Maybe you should post your comments there. It would be more in line with your thinking than that of the gentlemen who created this site.

Good luck with the JDL!
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:17:22 AM by HEY POT! THIS IS KETTLE! YOU'RE BLACK!!

Good luck to all of you and may you find some happiness. But most of all, I hope that you will learn to take some responsibility for your own lives.






Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:40:32 AM by John Cones


You are guilty of doing the same thing that you are accusing others of. You are lumping all the contributors to this site into the same category, and your generalizations are thus false. Any reasonably intelligent observer of this site should be able to quickly recognize that the two of us who created this site and have made most of the contributions to the underlying body of information posted here are quite moderate in our views compared to some of those not associated with FIRM that choose to post here (on both sides of the questions). If you have not been able to pick up on that fundamental distinction, you are either not really trying or you're just not that perceptive.

John Cones

Re(1): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 11:03:13 AM by George Shelps

by John Cones

You are guilty of doing the same thing that you are accusing others of. You are lumping all the contributors to this site into the same category, and your generalizations are thus false. Any reasonably intelligent observer of this site should be able to quickly recognize that the two of us who created this site and have made most of the contributions to the underlying body of information posted here are quite moderate in our views compared to some of those not associated with FIRM that choose to post here (on both sides of the questions).

___Your views and those of Jaeger are
not moderate at all---except in comparison to the rabid hater and anti-semite, Jenks.

(Actually, Cones and Jaeger are extremists and Jenks is off the charts)

In reality, Mitchell Levine and I are
the moderates. I am in favor of
diversity at the top in the movie
industry (and I'm sure Mitchell is as well) but I refuse to call for interference in the normal business
activities of private enterprise or
to prohibit businesspeople from hiring
and firing whom they wish---as long
as no anti-discrimination laws are being

By all means, if there's provable
hiring discrmination, enforce the existing laws. If it's merely a case
of nepotism, favoritism to friends,
networking according to culture, ethnic,or political affinity, then this
is within the zone of liberty (even
if we may not like it).

The best way to oppose these perceived
"injustices" is to put your head down
and go forward with your own career
and be an example for others. That's
what I recommend particularly to James
Jaeger. (And that's the way he used to
be before he became obsessed with FIRM)

Nepotism, favoritism, networking are
part of business life everywhere in the
world, not restricted to any one ethnic
group or industry. The best way to
combat it is to succeed in spite of it!

And that's what I consider a "moderate"

Re(2): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 11:32:57 PM by James Jaeger

>___Your views and those of Jaeger are not moderate at all---except in comparison to the rabid hater and anti-semite, Jenks. (Actually, Cones and Jaeger are extremists and Jenks is off the charts)

Why do you consider my views about reform extreme, George? We seem to want the same things as far as diversity at the top, fairer accounting practices to the profit participants, originality over violence, more inclusive unions without the catch-22, more and better distribution. Do you disagree with any of these goals?

>In reality, Mitchell Levine and I are the moderates. I am in favor of
diversity at the top in the movie industry (and I'm sure Mitchell is as well)

Okay, that's good. Then we in essence agree on an ideal. Why don't we try and build on this common goal rather than put so much animosity into the debate here?

>... but I refuse to call for interference

And what kind of interference do you dislike? I for one don't like government interference either. I for one would not like to see Hollywood, or any of the studios or independents, "regulated" in any way by the government. That would be a sad day were that to happen IMO.

>... in the normal business activities of private enterprise or to prohibit businesspeople from hiring and firing whom they wish---

I also agree here. I want business people to be able to hire who they are comfortable with and who they wish. This is a part of the ideal of freedom.

>as long as no anti-discrimination laws are being broken.

Okay, here's where the rub seems to be. We both want business to have freedom to hire who they want and we both don't want the government to come in there and regulate -- but if both these conditions prevail, it seems that the same people keep getting to play the game of movies to the exclusion of so many others. How can this be fixed without violating either of the two above ideals? Let's get creative here. Direct some of the invective at this site towards some creative solutions.

>By all means, if there's provable hiring discrmination, enforce the existing laws.

Maybe the existing laws should be explained better to executives. Maybe executives that break or bend them simply are not fully aware of the consequences of their acts. Maybe the solution to lack of diversity in Hollywood is better education. Maybe top executives in studios hire mostly liberal, not-very-religious, white Jewish males of European heritage because they're simply AFRAID to hire anyone else. The risks are too great. Hey, I can understand this, and even sympathize with it. When the pressure is on to deliver a picture, the only thing you can think of is getting the job done in the safest manner possible. This usually entails pulling in your good buddies. It's simply survival, not evil intentions.

>If it's merely a case of nepotism, favoritism to friends, networking according to culture, ethnic, or political affinity, then this is within the zone of liberty (even if we may not like it).

Yes it may be within the zone of liberty and, no, many of us do not like it. And I maintain that it is between 2 and 10 times as prevalent in Hollywood as in other industries.

So what might be a creative solution? Two things come to mind:

1. Education assurance
2. Risk insurance

>The best way to oppose these perceived "injustices" is to put your head down and go forward with your own career and be an example for others.

But you can't DO that because we haven't SOLVED the above problem YET. That's a non-solution Dude.

>That's what I recommend particularly to James Jaeger. (And that's the way he used to be before he became obsessed with FIRM)

And I got nowhere. Someday I'm going to try and write a detailed book of my journeys through Hollywood and then maybe you will understand why your suggestions are so unworkable to me.

>Nepotism, favoritism, networking are part of business life everywhere in the world, not restricted to any one ethnic group or industry. The best way to combat it is to succeed in spite of it! And that's what I consider a "moderate" position!

This position is non-committal and results in a non-solution. It's like saying, if you don't have any money, just go get some. It's also like saying adapt to the environment rather than adapting the environment to be more human-friendly. For millions of years, ever since we have been one-celled animals, we have been evolving to adapt to the environment. This is a slow and obsolete process now. Today we are evolving through technological means which means we have the ability to adapt the environment to our needs. Thus we need to adapt Hollywood to OUR needs as a society, not allow Hollywood to adapt us to ITS obsolete or pagan ways. Hollywood is NOT human-friendly in its current state. Maybe this can be changed but in order to remedy a situation you have to really break the problem down and engineer an answer that’s good from everyones point of view. So far, I don't believe the dialogs at FIRM have been addressing this approach enough. The situation in Hollywood goes far beyond such quaint things as nepotism, heritage, cronyism, discrimination, heritage and who's Jewish and who's not. It goes, I believe, to the core of human nature. And at that core I believe we have IGNORANCE and FEAR.

This brings me back to the two things I think have to be addressed with Hollywood:

1. Education.
2. Risk.

If top executives were somehow more aware of their stewardship in a democratic society, they might be more insistent on diversity. Hopefully the FIRM site is contributing to this awareness. I bet the tendency is already there in executives anyway, as human nature is such that one is always interested in the (liberal characteristic of) new and different, especially in Hollywood. I bet many top studios executives would love to work with a more diverse roster: more women, more African Americans, more people of Asian heritage, more conservatives, more moderates, more Muslims, Christians, Scientologists and Buddhists -- but fear prevents them.

And this takes us back to the consideration of risk. The Board of Directors in a publicly-held corporation hires (proposes and/or disposes of) the top executives. Thus to hire executives that are not from the usual management "talent" pool and to give them a $750,000,000 discretionary production fund for the year's slate which results in a negative cash flow creates a lot of fear and risk, not to mention angry stockholders and replacements. Thus, if there were some way to mitigate these risks, perhaps some sort of a (government-backed) insurance that indemnified directors of movie studios when they hired executives that were new or "unproven" -- maybe this could get the ball rolling towards more diversity in Hollywood. Or maybe stockholders need to be more tolerant and less demanding with a better understanding and appreciation of the three pillars of business: EMPLOYEES, CUSTOMERS and STOCKHOLDERS. Right now our society is hell-bent in the direction of pleasing stockholders even at the expense of employees and often customers. Were this to change, and more balance brought to the three pillars, maybe diversity would have a better chance in Hollywood where the risks are too high, the fears too great and ignorance of social impact is too prevalent.

James Jaeger

Re(2): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 11:25:19 AM by Anonymous

"The best way to
combat it is to succeed in spite of it!"

Tell this to the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto. "No big deal. Think positive."

Re(3): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 01:58:35 PM by Mitchell Levine

Perhaps you hadn't considered this, but the Warsaw Ghetto really isn't a good metaphorical parallel to Hollywood.

Re(4): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 02:29:30 PM by Anonymous

It's a fine parallel.

Shelps' point is that even if you are smothered by an ethnic other, cheer up. "The tough get going, " etc.

Shelps' says you have only yourself to blame for the situation you find yourself in, even if the deck is stacked considerably against you.

Re(5): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 05:00:10 PM by George Shelps

It's a fine parallel.

__To compare a struggling film-maker
to a victim of the Nazi ghetto brutality is obscene.

Shelps' point is that even if you are smothered by an ethnic other, cheer up. "The tough get going, " etc.

___No one is being "smothered." There
are many obstacles besides ethnic
barriers, there's also professional
jealousy and just plain greed...these
are even greater obstacles.

There are also idiots and morons to contend with---like you.

Shelps' says you have only yourself to blame for the situation you find yourself in, even if the deck is stacked considerably against you.

___I say nothing of the kind. But the
obstacles are not insurmountable and
no one here who says they are has been
able to name EVEN ONE PERSON who
was deprived of a film career because
of these obstacles.

Re(6): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 11:53:00 PM by James Jaeger

>___I say nothing of the kind. But the
obstacles are not insurmountable and
no one here who says they are has been
able to name EVEN ONE PERSON who
was deprived of a film career because
of these obstacles.

Well, what about you George? What's all this talk from you about wanting to be a director? What has denied YOU a film career?


Re(7): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 02:36:54 AM by George Shelps

by James Jaeger

>___I say nothing of the kind. But the
obstacles are not insurmountable and
no one here who says they are has been
able to name EVEN ONE PERSON who
was deprived of a film career because
of these obstacles.

Well, what about you George? What's all this talk from you about wanting to be a director? What has denied YOU a film career?

___My own mistakes.

Re(5): Gary's Off Base
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 02:55:06 PM by Mitchell Levine

While I don't deny that's true for a moment, it doesn't change the fact that the Warsaw Ghetto just isn't much like Hollywood, and even drawing the comparison is fuel for guys like Jenks.





ADL Attacks Mel Gibson
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 12:12:39 AM by Moishe the Goyim


ADL ATTACKS MEL GIBSON, Catholic League for Religous and Civil Liberties,
June 25,2003

"The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) yesterday issued another attack
\on Mel Gibson for his yet unseen movie, "The Passion." Catholic League
president William Donohue answered the ADL as follows: "In its news
release of June 24, the ADL seriously misrepresented the position of
the Catholic bishops regarding ‘The Passion.’ It said that it had ‘joined
with the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in April, 2003 to assemble Jewish and Catholic scholars to evaluate an early version of the movie’s screenplay.’ It then said it welcomed the remarks by the Catholic scholars. But what it didn’t say is telling. "The ADL did not say that the Catholic panel was unauthorized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Nor did it say that the USCCB has since apologized to Mel Gibson for reviewing a movie it hasn’t seen. Nor did it say that the script
was stolen. Nor did it say that both the ADL and the USCCB have returned
the stolen screenplay to Gibson’s Icon Productions. "One person who has seen the movie, and has translated it into Aramaic and Latin, is Jesuit Father William J. Fulco, a National Endowment for the Humanities professor of ancient Mediterranean studies at Loyola Marymount University. He not only insists that the ADL has nothing to worry about—‘there is no hint of deicide’—he also says that the specific concerns raised by the ADL are baseless. Is there brutality in the film? Yes. Indeed, it would be historically dishonest to portray the crucifixion in a non-violent manner. "Every Sunday Catholics recite the 1,700 year-old Nicene Creed,
and every time they do they mention that Jesus was ‘crucified under Pontius Pilate.’ They do not say Jesus was killed by the Romans. Nor
do they say He was killed by the Jews. They individualize the guilt. That anti-Semitic Christians have sought to blame ‘the Jews’ deserves condemnation. But fairness dictates that Gibson not be put in that camp. As he has said, ‘Neither I nor my film is anti-Semitic.’ That’s good enough for the Catholic League and, we trust, for fair-minded Americans of every religion."




Normal Business Practices?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 01:49:55 PM by John Cones

Obviously, George Shelps has no idea what "normal business practices" are and he has no idea how extensive the unfair, unethical, unconscionable, anti-competitive, predatory and illegal business practices of the major Hollywood studios have been and continue to be. Anyone interested can look at the monograph entitled "337 Business Practices of the Major Studio/Distributors" or see "Film Finance and Distribution--A Dictionary of Terms" which includes the entire list of 337 business practices and/or "The Feature Film Distribution Deal", which also discusses such practices. There is no excuse for anyone being ignorant of such matters.

John Cones

Re(1): Normal Business Practices?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 04:03:04 PM by George Shelps

by John Cones

Obviously, George Shelps has no idea what "normal business practices" are and he has no idea how extensive the unfair, unethical, unconscionable, anti-competitive, predatory and illegal business practices of the major Hollywood studios have been and continue to be. Anyone interested can look at the monograph entitled "337 Business Practices of the Major Studio/Distributors" or see "Film Finance and Distribution--A Dictionary of Terms" which includes the entire list of 337 business practices and/or "The Feature Film Distribution Deal", which also discusses such practices. There is no excuse for anyone being ignorant of such matters.

__This is your usual arrogant post.

I have read the book FATAL SUBTRACTION
and other books of this type and I am
quite aware of the shoddy practices
that go on. I've been involved in
a film lawsuit as a plaintiff myself.

Wherever the law has been broken, civil
or criminal, we have remedies and they
should be pursued, but you haven't
proven a linkage between these evils
and the so-called "control group"

Lack of diversity does not
lead automatically to shabby business

Re(2): Normal Business Practices?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:04:46 PM by James Jaeger

>Lack of diversity does not
lead automatically to shabby business

Sure it does. Lack of diversity is a manifestation of discrimination: a shabby business practice.

James Jaeger

Re(3): Normal Business Practices?
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 05:27:58 PM by Anonymous

Let's have a look at NBA coaches then. Compare the number of Black players to the number of Black coaches. Blacks have a real problem with the NBA over the lack of diversity in NBA coaching. But in reality, it's because there are not enough Black coaches in the college ranks. The problem is there. If there aren't many college coaches that are Black, there will not be many that are qualified for the NBA.

Perhaps there is a lack of diversity at the top in Hollywood, because there is a lack of diversity in performing arts colleges.

Also, there has been a lot of talk in this group about Jews not being portrayed in a negative way in films and TV. When I was growing up. (50's and 60's) the Jew in the show was always the clown, the little fat banker, the comedian, or the store keeper. The doctors, lawyers, Corporate CEOs, atheletes, and heros were always square jawed WASPs.

Yup, it appears that Hollywood really has characterized people unfairly in TV and films.

Re(4): Normal Business Practices?
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 05:39:59 PM by Mitchell Levine

If you'd like to see some more negative images of Jews in film, catch Batman Returns, They Live, Die Hard, Family Business, Deep Cover, Times Square, or most early 90's-era Fox TV shows.

Re(3): Normal Business Practices?
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 00:13:51 AM by George Shelps

by James Jaeger

>Lack of diversity does not
lead automatically to shabby business

Sure it does. Lack of diversity is a manifestation of discrimination: a shabby business practice.

___Lack of diversity is not---in itself--a manifestation of illegal



Jewish depiction of African-Americans in film
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 03:30:24 PM by Moishe the Goyim

There's of course no "J" word in this article, but we know who rules Hollywood, don't we?

Jews have had the luxury of defining the ethnic other for decades. And here's a good example where, since it is taboo to say the word "Jew," they conveniently slide into the murky realm of "whites," wherein "whites" may be criticized for the stupid films out of Hollywood:


Face of an angel Hollywood is frequently casting African-Americans in spiritual roles. Is this positive or patronizing?,By David Sterritt,
The Christian Science Monitor,
July 11, 2003

"What do the films "Bruce Almighty" and "The Green Mile" have in
common with "The Family Man," the "Matrix" movies, and "Ghost"? All
feature black characters whose main function is to help a white hero
through magical or supernatural means. These are Hollywood's "black
angels," whose popularity has surged in recent years - so much so that
in an episode last year of "The Simpsons," Homer mistook a black man
in a white suit for an angelic visitor, all because (according to his
embarrassed wife) he'd been seeing too many movies lately. Of course,
there are many films aimed at African-Americans that star blacks in
a variety of parts, from villainous to heroic. But casting blacks as
angelic characters has become an increasingly common trend in mainstream
movies. For their part, many African-Americans see this heavenly designation
as less than beatific. Filmmakers like Spike Lee have spoken out against
such roles, calling them patronizing and unrealistic. "Black-angel movies
appeal to a genuine desire for reconciliation among whites and blacks.
But they also exploit a distorted fascination with blacks that many
whites have," says film historian Krin Gabbard, who will explore this
subject in his book "Black Magic: White Hollywood and African-American
Culture," due out next year. "In vast amounts of entertainment and culture,
whites have trouble regarding blacks as real people. That's depressing,
but true" ... But the list of heavenly visitations could stretch all
the way down the Walk of Fame. In 1998's "What Dreams May Come," Cuba
Gooding Jr. plays an angel who leads Robin Williams, who is in heaven,
on a quest to rescue his wife from hell. That same year, Andre Braugher
provided comfort to fallen angel Nicolas Cage in "City of Angels." A
seminal film was "Ghost," where a psychic played by Whoopi Goldberg
helps a murder victim (Patrick Swayze) communicate with his widow, Demi
Moore. Ms. Goldberg won an Oscar for her role. "Hollywood has to tread
a very fine line," Gabbard says. "It can't keep putting blacks into
subservient positions ... because that would turn off the huge black
audience. So in these [black-angel] movies, at some moments [a black
character] gets to have total control over the white people. That way
blacks don't feel demeaned, and whites don't feel ... threatened, because
the blacks aren't really from their world, they're from heaven. "And
heaven appears to be administered by white people," he adds, "because
the black people [in these films] only give their help to whites. John
Coffey only helps one character who isn't a white person in 'The Green
Mile,' and that's a mouse!" ... Such figures are isolated from the black
community, and also from the complicated world of politics, dissension,
and difficult moral questions. Hollywood's recent pattern of casting
blacks in idealistic roles and evading "the real world," is exasperating,
say many race-conscious critics and filmmakers. "These movies don't
really deal with race," says Armond White, an African-American cultural
critic for the New York Press, a weekly newspaper. "They deal with the
desire of white filmmakers to patronize black people ... by portraying
them as kindly, beneficent helpmates. "These aren't progressive ideas,"
he adds. "They're a fantasy sold mainly to people over 40, whose thinking
is a vestige of the civil rights era. Younger people are less interested
in this, because the commercial media encourage them to think racism
doesn't exist anymore. 'Eminem showed anyone can be black!' But he's
really Elvis redux - another white performer appropriating black styles
to get fame and money."

Re(1): Jewish depiction of African-Americans in film
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 05:39:50 PM by Anonymous

No "J" word? You said it 3 times before you got to the point of your story. You really are a clown!

Guys, this is more fun than a Klan rally!

Asian Americans Need Not Apply
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 04:50:48 PM by M. Nakamura

Fox Reconsiders Charlie Chan Ban

Charlie’s Angels Sequel Angers Asian Americans

The crime-fighting female trio that captivated America with their mastery of espionage, martial arts, and skin-tight leather pants is back again. Teenage girls across the country may be ecstatic about the film sequel to the blockbuster hit Charlie's Angels, but some fans aren't so pleased with Full Throttle. Among the skeptics is an organization of Asian American moviegoers that is somewhat goaded about scenes in which Lucy Liu's character, Alex, introduces her parents: a white father, played by John Cleese, and a Chinese mother, who only appears in an old photograph.

Much uproar from the Asian American community has surrounded Lucy Liu for her over-sexualized "dragon lady" role in Ally McBeal, but for the most part, her role as Alex Munday in the first Charlie's Angels film was celebrated as an attempt to show the non-stereotypical side of Asian Americans. Alex Munday was portrayed as an Asian American woman with vigor and confidence, an exceptional rendering that wasn't constantly epitomizing cheap Oriental clichés. But the implication that Liu's character is biracial -- half Asian and half white -- has the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, an organization dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating balanced and sensitive portrayals of Asian Americans, steaming. "

Extras Wanted. Asian Americans Need Not Apply

Given the period in which "Mona Lisa Smile" is set, the exclusion of Asian American and other minority actors might be understandable. But this controversy points out the disproportionate and unfair nature of the moviegoing public's appetite for period films that evade questions of race by focusing on the dominant white perspective and denying the historical relevance of people of color. Will a major studio ever tell the stories of Wellesley's Asian American students and their forebears? -- Ed.

Who's who?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 05:39:12 PM by Anonymous

Would you guys mind posting a mini-bio? I understand who James and John are, but what do the rest of you have to do with Hollywood?

Re(1): Who's who?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 05:41:09 PM by Anonymous

Nothing really! It's just a bunch of angry white people on a witch hunt. Care to sit in and roast some marshmellows? LOL




Who wrote this?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 05:54:59 PM by Anonymous

"What had to be reckoned heavily against the Jews in my eyes was when I became acquainted with their activity in the press, art, literature, and the theater. All the unctuous reassurances helped little or nothing It sufficed to look at a billboard, to study the names of the men behind the horrible trash they advertised, to make you hard for a long time to come. This was pestilence, spiritual pestilence, worse than the Black Death of olden times, and the people was being infected with it! It goes without saying that the lower the intellectual level of one of these art manufacturers, the more unlimited his fertility will be, and the scoundrel ends up like a garbage separator, splashing his filth in the face of humanity. And bear in mind that there is no limit to their number; bear in mind that for one Goethe Nature easily can foist on the world ten thousand of these scribblers who poison men's souls like germ-carriers of the worse sort, on their fellow men."

Was it MG? or

Re(1): Who wrote this?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 08:28:51 PM by Mitchell Levine

Hitler in Mein Kampf.

Re(2): Who wrote this?
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 09:12:24 AM by Anonymous

Bingo! But is sounds like MG doesn't it?

Re(1): Who wrote this?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 06:18:53 PM by Anonymous

"The Jews, I find, are very, very selfish. They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment. Yet when they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the under dog. Put an underdog on top and it makes no difference whether his name is Russian, Jewish, Negro, Management, Labor, Mormon, Baptist he goes haywire. I’ve found very, very few who remember their past condition when prosperity comes."

MG or?

Re(2): Who wrote this?
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 01:33:42 PM by Anonymous

No Dipshit, it was Hitler in Mein Kampf.

Re(2): Who wrote this?
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 01:11:15 PM by Anonymous

Harry Truman. It's been in the news the last few days.

Re(2): Who wrote this?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 06:32:15 PM by Anonymous

"The Jews, in the natural history of the social animal world had the world-historic mission to bring out the predator in mankind. They have finally completed the task."

MJ? Or?

Re(3): Who wrote this?
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 01:12:55 PM by Anonymous

The author of this statement is Moses Hess. Hess, who was of course Jewish, is considered in Jewish scholarly circles to be the real "father" of Zionism, influencing Theodore Herzl and the founding of modern Israel.

Re(3): Who wrote this?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 08:33:12 PM by Anonymous

This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States)... this worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the 19th century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire."

Posted on July 12, 2003 at 01:40:27 PM by Anonymous

This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States)... this worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the 19th century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire."-Winston Churchill

Writing on 'Zionism versus Bolshevism' in the Illustrated Sunday Herald, February 1920

Re(1): Bingo!
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 04:56:31 PM by Anonymous

Another drunkin gaping asshole heard from!

Re(2): Bingo!
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 10:23:11 PM by A shiker is a goy


Re(3): Bingo!
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 10:46:59 PM by Anonymous




Onward Christian Soldiers!
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 06:01:52 PM by Moral Minority


(AFDJ) Washington DC - The Christian Coalition wants to save America by
taking it over, so says the religious group's leader, Ralph Reed.

"America has reached a spiritual crossroad," announced Reed in a press
hearing today. "We can no longer hope and pray for our leaders to do
the right thing. Starting today, we will be taking over this country
and saving it from itself."

Reed outlined his plan by which local, state, and federal supporters
already in key government positions will begin the conversion of America
from a democratic republic to a theocratic one.

"We already have most of the government offices firmly in our control. It is only a matter of converting the laws of this country to following God's law."

According the the Coalition, the US Constitution will hereby be declared
null and void. In it's place will be a new Constitution based on the
bible. Key guarantees include the union of church and state, and
absolute religous freedom providing that religion is recognized by the
Christian Coalition.

The White House had no comment at the time, but aides say President
Clinton is threatening to call in the National Guard and order the
arrest of Reed and others on the grounds of treason.

Reed laughed at that report. "He can try. But more than half the
soldiers in the National Guard are solid Christians."

House Speaker Newt Gingrich asked the people to remain calm. "In the
end this will be a good thing," he said as he addressed the House.
"This will only be a temporary measure at worst, and once it's over
we'll have a much stronger nation. Strong in both personal and moral

Telecommunciations News And Report, Copywright 1997




Fear and Hostility
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 09:28:19 PM by Eire

The often hostile division between Jew and Gentile began long before the Roman era, continued through the early and middle Christian era, and survived in various form up to and through Jewish Emancipation. Mutually hostile perceptions continued throughout the nineteenth century in Europe, so it is no surprise that many Jews brought their hostile perceptions with them across the ocean and passed it on to their children in America. Irving Howe notes of these children: "Trying hard to be evenhanded, such younger Jews would say that they remembered from their youth outbursts of antigentile feeling by their parents, contempt for churches and goyim--and why were these any better in principle than hatred of Jews by gentiles." Since American society has such a Christian character to it, it is not surprising that hostility toward Christianity in America in ways mirrored hostility toward Christianity in Europe. There was good reason for this hostility: "Not many Jews could or dared bring it to speech, but many Jews seemed persuaded that as long as Christianity survived, so must anti-Semitism."

In many cases, this hostile image of Gentiles and Gentile society has faded only slowly. A very recent cover story in New York magazine, for instance, features many examples of negative views toward American Gentiles. In the article "Being Jewish" Philip Weiss sets the tone with his comments on Gentiles: ". . . the Yale students, who I pictured as blond and slightly dull-witted . . . sought out our intelligence. But they could never fully understand us. And as for ourselves, we held them in a certain contempt." Attempting to come to grips with his own hostile views toward Gentiles, Weiss explores the views Jews around him have of Gentiles. For instance, a speech by famed attorney and Jewish activist Alan Dershowitz caught his attention:

Four years ago, Dershowitz published a book, Chutzpah, filled with bitter assertions about Jews' "emerging second-class status" in America. The Christian right was conspiring to marginalize us, Dershowitz said; Jews must "combine" and accumulate power so as to protect themselves, he urged. No matter its vintage, anti-Semitism made the author of Chutzpah angry and defensive. Martin Luther should be "forever cursed" by Protestant churches because of the beliefs he held about Jews--and on it went to George Bernard Shaw, H.L. Mencken, and Immanuel Kant. . . . Then he made a statement I can't imagine from the author of Chutzpah: "There is in our tradition, understandably but tragically, an anti-Gentile bias that we must root out."

In his article, Weiss shares some very candid aspects of his past:

I now see the culture of the shtetl in everything about my extended family as I was growing up: in its mistrust and sometimes hatred of outsiders . . . My family . . . regarded Wasps with considerable mistrust. They were cold and aloof; they had bad taste. We made fun of their clothes and their mindlessness. They had wooden relationships with their children. They were responsible for violent, idiotic misadventures like Vietnam and Bonanza and riding motorboats around at night. They wasted time on sporting and the outdoors, for which there was nothing to show, and, lacking the ability to express themselves to one another, doped themselves with alcohol.

Ironically, despite these insights into his own and his family's worldview, and despite a happy marriage to a Gentile, Weiss continues to harbor a strong subconscious hostility toward Gentiles, viewing them as alternately repulsive and inferior. "When I'm too exposed to my wife's family, I have almost a physical reaction--I feel sick inside and crave my native habitat." As we will see in other cases, Weiss too feared and despised Gentiles from the hinterland:

Five year ago, my wife and I were driving through Montana on our honeymoon when I told her about my family's ideas of specialness. She rapped on her window. "No more special than him" she said.

A red pickup went by with a country-looking driver, the very embodiment of all the values that my family had kept at bay. Probably not that smart, either. And given the landscape, a Jew-hater too. "Him!?" I said.

Anti-Semitsm and Fear of Gentiles: Irrantional Phenomena?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 09:40:13 PM by Eire

What might account for Philip Weiss's intensely negative overall impression of the American Gentiles among whom he has lived--by his own admission--comfortably and in safety? Is there something within either the Jewish tradition or within the recent collective experience of American Jews that justifies or at least explains this? If the Holocaust is the chief explanatory factor, why can attitudes similar to Weiss's be found prior to the Holocaust, going back, in fact, to the founding myths of Judaism? Can fear of Gentiles belong to the irrational realm to which many believe anti-Semitism belongs? The following testimonials suggest that just as some elements of irrational beliefs can be found among anti-Semites, Jews too can be prone to this weakness.

Prior to the Holocaust, most American Jews were still in the intermediary stage between immigrant and insider to the culture; a pronounced sense of rivalry or opposition could be found. The "ordeal" of full emancipation was not yet over, as Cuddihy has shown with respect to one representative American example:

"We were in some ways, . . ." Leslie Fiedler writes of his Freshman Composition class at City College of New York in the late thirties, "like a class in an occupied country, a group of Alsatians or Czechs, say, under a German master." "We were forbidden Yiddishisms as we were forbidden slang; and though we had our censors outnumbered, our ignorance and shame kept us powerless." Thus were urban Jews force-fed a language "whose shape was determined by antiquated rules of etiquette (usually called `grammar'), . . . a language capable of uttering only the most correctly tepid Protestant banalities no matter what stirred in our alien innards." Fiedler enlisted in a kulturkampf against these WASP "standards of an established alien taste. . . . I would know," he writes, "what I wrote against as well as for: against their taste as well as for our own."

For a member of his generation, Fiedler's sentiments are easily understood, just as Irving Howe has explained. Rather than seeing any evidence of anti-Semitism in such an encounter with a representative of the reigning WASP culture, Howe writes of his own similar experience that "The pained embarrassment that seeps through this recollection was due less to anyone's malice or ill-will than to inherent difficulties in making the transition from immigrant home to American school. And about that there was little parents, teachers or children could do."

Jews often turn to humor to diffuse their own ambiguities about Gentile culture and at times to reinforce their own particular prejudices.

Sigmund Freud and others have revealed deeper meanings beneath the surface layer of humor. In America, Jews have been in the forefront of constructing the modern sense of American humor, so much so that by 1965 one observer of American popular culture could note:

Turn to any TV variety show, await the stand-up comic, and chances are good that he'll come on with accents and gestures and usages whose origins are directly traceable to the Borscht Belt by way of the East European shtetl and the corner candy store. His material is a million light years removed from the old-style Bob Hope-type monologue. . . . It is involuted, curvilinear, ironic, more parable than patter. . . .

"His material" was also likely to contain thinly veiled expressions of hostility toward Gentiles as well. The tension and anxiety produced by living among a majority that does not necessarily share the same values and can be violent has engendered a certain strain of humor with respect to Gentiles. Jewish creations in American humor sometimes contain veiled hostility toward Gentiles, while others contain overt hostility. Theodore Reik, for one, has found such "aggressive themes" and "hostility toward non-Jews" in Jewish humor, this being an example:

Little Moritz sees an historical film showing the early persecutions of the Christians. During a Roman circus scene in which many Christians are thrown to the lions, Moritz breaks out in sobs and says to his mother: "Look at that poor little lion there, it has not got any Goy to eat!" Under the disguise of duty for the neglected beast is an old hatred and repressed cruelty toward Gentiles. It breaks through here, surprisingly, and reaches the emotional surface.

Irving Howe explains this hostility by offering an exegesis of comedian Sid Caesar's humor. "Using a term from the Yiddish vernacular like gatkes, was making fun, in a fairly harsh way, of the impulse shared by many second-generation Jews to hide the `low' or `inelegant' aspects of their past from gentiles--and, indeed, from themselves. But in doing this," Howe continues, "he was also expressing a certain disdain for gentiles who, without having the faintest notion of what gatkes might mean, still tuned in and laughed at Sid Caesers's comedy routines."

John Murray Cuddihy also explores the hostility imbedded in much Jewish humor, paying close attention to what Freud had to say on the subject. Philip Roth also illuminates the nature of dislike of Gentiles while at the same time mercilessly skewering his family and other Jews over their debilitating hatred of Gentiles. Here, to round out his earlier tirade against his mother's insistence that he not eat with the shvartze cleaning lady:

She whispers to me in the hallway, the instant I come in from school, "Wait, the girl will be finished in a few minutes . . ." But I will not treat any human being (outside my family) as inferior! Can't you grasp something of the principle of equality, God damn it! And I tell you, if [my father] ever uses the word nigger in my presence again, I will drive a real dagger into his fucking bigoted heart! Is that clear to everyone? I don't care that his clothes stink so bad after he comes home from collecting the colored debit that they have to be hung in the cellar to air out. I don't care that they drive him nearly crazy letting their insurance lapse. That is only another reason to be compassionate, God damn it, to be sympathetic and understanding and to stop treating the cleaning lady as though she were some kind of mule, without the same passion for dignity that other people have! And that goes for the goyim, too! We all haven't been lucky enough to have been born Jews, you know. . . . Because I am sick and tired of goyische this and goyische that! If it's bad it's the goyim, if it's good it's the Jews! Can't you see, my dear parents, from whose loins I somehow leaped, that such thinking is a trifle barbaric? That all you are expressing is your fear? The very first distinction I learned from you, I'm sure, was not night and day, or hot and cold, but goyische and Jewish! . . . I happen also to be a human being!

As a further example of Jewish humor, Steven Whitfield shares this relatively innocuous but revealing joke about Gentiles: "Why did God create goys?" "Somebody has to buy retail." Whitfield notes that Moritz Saphi "may well have been the first writer to perceive Jewish wit as `the defense and weapon of the oppressed,' a way of getting revenge and a form of stress management." As an example, he discribes a pious Jew on his deathbed who announces that he wants to covert to Christianity. Shocked, his family asks why. "Better one of them should go than one of us."

Cutting humor about Christianity is at times a staple of Jewish American humor, though Jews have been careful to gauge the reception such humor among Gentiles is likely to receive. One comic who pushed these limits--further than many Jews of the era would have preferred--was Lenny Bruce. In a "funny variation on Jewish delusions and gentile nightmares," Bruce joked about Presidential contender Barry Goldwater:

So dig. Goldwater lives in Arizona. He did a switch, man. He says, "Frig it. I'll keep my name and I'll change my religion." That was his bit.
That's weird, you know? Finally we have a man in--that's going to be Goldwater's last step: gets in, gets before the T.V. cameras for the acceptance speech, and he rips off the mask and you see the big nose and the semitic look and the spittle coming out and [Goldwater screaming vindictively] "YAHAHAHAAAAAA! WE'LL BURN ALL THE CHURCHES!"

In a Chicago nightclub, Bruce performed one of his most famous routines:

You and I know what a Jew is--One Who Killed Our Lord. I don't know if we got much press on that in Illinois--we did this about two thousand years ago. . . . And although there should be a statute of limitations for that crime, it seems that those who neither have the actions nor the gait of Christians, pagans or not will bust us out, unrelenting dues, for another deuce.
Alright, I'll clear the air once and for all, and confess. Yes, we did it. I did it, my family. I found a note in my basement. It said: "We killed him . . . signed, Morty." And a lot of people say to me, "Why did you kill Christ?" "I dunno . . . We killed him because he didn't want to become a doctor, that's why we killed him."

(In an ironic--or not so ironic--observation, one scholar writing about Bruce notes how Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel "had carefully grafted the news report of Lenny's death into the fade-out of the haunting `Silent Night' . . . `Comedian Lenny Bruce died today in his home in Los Angeles . . ./Sleep in Heavenly Peace. . . .' For these two Jewish boys raised in Queens the comedian was clearly a Christ figure, and they were turning a lullaby celebrating the birth of Christianity into a dirge for a Jewish death . . ." )

Love of the shiksa, social acceptance, and Gentile gullibility
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 09:45:31 PM by Eire

Novack and Waldoks relate a joke that is a good summation of three Jewish themes relating to Gentiles: love of the shiksa, social acceptance, and Gentile gullibility:

Three Jews who have recently converted to Christianity were having a drink together in a posh WASP country club. They started talking about the reasons for their conversions.

"I converted out of love," said the first, and noticing the dubious looks on his friends' faces, he continued: "Not for Christianity, mind you, but for a Christian girl. As you both know, my wife insisted that I convert."

"And I," said the second, "I converted in order to rise in the legal system. You probably know that my recent appointment as a federal judge may have had something to do with my new religion."

The third man spoke up: "I converted because I think that the teachings of Christianity are superior to those of Judaism."

"Are you kidding?" said the first man, spitting out his drink. "What do you take us for, a couple of goyim?"

This joke, Stephen Whitfield writes, "reveals more than a hint of contempt toward a sister monotheism. It slyly stabs at the mental inferiority ascribed to non-Jews, whose religious creed is too preposterous to be credible." This sentiment is in evidence in another Jewish joke:

Three recent converts to Christianity were being tested.

"What is Easter?" the first man was asked.
"Easter is when Jesus was born."

"Go back and study," they said to him.
"What is Easter?"
"Easter," said the second man, "was when Jesus split the Red Sea."
"I'm sorry," he was told. "You'll have to do some more studying.
"What is Easter?" the third man was asked.
"Easter," he said tentatively, "was when Christ was reborn."
"Excellent. Please continue."
"Well," the man said cautiously, "he was in the grave for three days. . . ."
"Very good; and then?"
"And then he came out, saw his shadow--and went back in!"

As Whitfield concludes, "Just as Jews would hardly welcome the prospect of national exposure to self-deprecating jokes about disagreeable Jewish traits, so too the gentile majority could not be expected to relish the aggressive and insult humor that was directed at non-Jews."

With respect to Gentile cultural achievements, Jews sometimes engage in a bit of humor as well, as when the Jewish Daily Forward joked about the Yiddish translation of Shakespeare--"Translated and improved by A. Cahan." Of course, these humorous forays may show contempt for things held in high esteem by Gentile culture. Stephen Whitfield, for example, notes the prevalence of Jewish comedians who humorously inflict damage on icons of classical music--Victor Borge, Woody Allen, the Marx Brothers, etc. In revealing the attitudes that underlie such humor, Irving Howe himself reveals a great deal: "In [the Marx Brothers'] films the disassembled world is treated with total disrespect, an attitude close to the traditional feeling among Jews that the whole elaborate structure of gentile power is merely trivial."

Jewish Attitudes "From Below"
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 09:59:58 PM by Eire

In postwar America, and certainly since the 1960s, it is harder to explain the continuation of the oppositional stance many Jews have taken, particularly when the track record for Jewish-Gentile comity has been so positive. To maintain a fear of Gentiles--the posture of the "defensive Jew"--is anomalous. And this fear may well create a sense of hostility toward the object of Jews' fears: American Gentiles. In his book Members of the Tribe: On the Road in Jewish America (1988), Ze'ev Chafets consistently found a mixture of fear and hostility with openness and acceptance. This short "history from below" section highlights the possibly irrational aspects of Jewish fear of their Gentile neighbors, building on the "defensive Jew" theme from the last chapter.

Chafets notes that "Very few American Jews, especially those born since World War II, have personally experienced anti-Semitism more virulent than a curse or a snowball. . . . The paradoxical fact is that most American Jews feel both very much at home and not quite safe." Chafets interviewed Jerry Krouse, who grew up in the southern city of Natchez. "Now I'm not saying I'm perfect, either," admits Krouse. "In fact, I'm about the most prejudiced person my wife knows. I believe most Christians hate Jews. They think we killed Christ if you want to know the truth. I'm anti-Christian myself, and I guess that's pretty strange considering that both my wife and my mother are Christian women." Another example is Ben Waldman, a Jew in charge of Pat Robertson's Jewish campaign, who told Chafets, "Jews are incredibly bigoted in their attitudes toward born-again Christians. For one thing, they think they're all the same--they don't know that they vary greatly among themselves."

From the Northeast comes another example. Colchester, Connecticut, just outside Hartford, became a New England farm shtetl when immigrant Jews bought land and took up life there. Sid Einhorn, who was born and raised on a poultry farm in Colchester, describes the few Gentile neighbors they had: "Fine people. A goy's a goy, but they were fine people."

In the Midwest, just outside Detroit, Chafets met Jody Kommel, whose mother Eve came to America as refugee from Hitler and is now commodore of the Great Lakes Yacht Club, which is a Jewish club with a problem: Christians want to join, which is splitting the club into two factions, "those who favor a quota to retain the Jewish nature of the club, and those who oppose it as a form of reverse bigotry." Jody lives in Grosse Pointe, allegedly a bigoted WASP enclave, and is married to a Gentile, yet she feels uncomfortable with the Christmas tree they have begun putting up in their house. "Listen, being Jewish is the most important thing in the world to me. I don't know where the feeling comes from, but I feel it in my gut. I sometimes almost get sick. I'll hear something on television about Jews, or maybe meet another person, another Jew I didn't know was Jewish, and I get a hard lump in my chest, a feeling of pride and a feeling that I need to protect this other person."

In New York City, Chafets writes, "Anti-Semitism has pretty much been licked on the Lower East Side, but the district leaders keep a wary eye on the rest of the country." Many Jews, drawing on articles "gleaned mostly from the Orthodox Jewish Press of Brooklyn," are intensely worried about "Ku Klux Klan atrocities in Alabama, Connecticut, and other such godless precincts. They pronounced the names with distaste, shaking their heads at the mere mention of these exotic regions--places where you couldn't fix alternate side parking even from Yom Kippur . . ."

This lack of knowledge about the rest of the country contributes to what can only be termed "fantasies" about Gentiles living in the vast areas between the two coasts of America. It comes as no surprise, then, that New York City is the birthplace of the Jewish Defense League (JDL).

A Neutral Public Arena
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:06:19 PM by Eire

Another area in which an amorphous Jewish sense of hostility toward and fear of American Gentiles can be found concerns religion. Many Jews have actively used the courts and other means of adjusting public life in order to remove or mute the presence of symbols and words they find offensive or potentially threatening. For example, as Stephen Feldman documents in his book Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas, there has been a decades-long effort to make a major Christian holiday less public in America. At a practical level, his plea has already been translated into cultural fact: "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" are now ubiquitous greetings as the end of December nears. Feldman could write such a book because by the 1990s few Christian Americans would notice such a work or take offense. This was not always so.

In 1952, for example, George S. Kaufman appeared on a popular television show one week before Christmas and was asked what he wanted for the holiday, to which he replied, "Let's make this one program on which no one sings `Silent Night.'" The response from the audience (largely Gentile, one would presume) was fast and furious; Kaufman was removed from the show. (Decades later, a popular comedy show, Saturday Night Live, could feature a skit called "Merry Christmas, Dammit!" in which the relationship between Donny and Marie Osmond, two Gentile sibling pop singers, was portrayed as incestuous, and the Virgin Mary was described as "that virgin chick" in a jazzed up version of "Silent Night." That Eddie Murphy--in his popular "Gumby" guise--played a humbug Jewish character only showed how much sensibilities had changed by then.)

As an important public and private symbol of the Christmas season, the Christmas tree has drawn its share of attention, much of it negative. In 1978, for example, when novelist Anne Roiphe wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times "about being Jewish and having a Christmas tree," it "provoked an enormous reaction, almost all of it hostile." Her article was seen as contemptuous of Judaism and ignorant of Jewish history. This response prompted Roiphe to reconsider "the dark side" of assimilation. "Shortly after the fallout from her newspaper piece, she began a study of the Talmud and Jewish history under the guidance of rabbinical scholars." To the extent the New York Times is a public forum, portraying Christian symbols negatively, as respondents to Roiphe's article did, was no longer a risk, at least not with respect to the Christian side.

Jewish aversion to Christian symbols has indeed resulted in a much more neutral public arena. As political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg, in his much under-appreciated 1993 work The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, writes:

. . . religious symbols and forms of expression that Jews find threatening have been almost completely eliminated from schools and other public institutions. Suits brought by the ACLU, an organization whose leadership and membership are predominantly Jewish, secured federal court decisions banning officially sanctioned prayer in the public schools and creches and other religious displays in parks and public buildings.

Of course, as a "melting pot," American society is a product of a mixture of public and private symbols from different faiths, races, classes, ethnicities and so on. Writer Mark Steyn takes a light-hearted look at how Jews have responded to Christmas in a largely Christian society like America, making it a society where "Jesus, Mary and Joseph are for home and for church; Santa, Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman--the great secular trinity--are for everybody":

It's 1934 . . . and it falls to a Jew to introduce Tin Pan Alley's first Christmas pop standard. Isidore Israel Itkowitz--or Eddie Cantor--doesn't much like the song, but his wife talks him into it:

`He's making a list
And checking it twice,
He's gonna find out
Who's naughty or nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town . . .'

In just 60 years, those words have become as familiar to most Americans as the Pledge of Allegiance. `Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer' has gone down in his-to-ree in only 45 years. He's not just for Episcopalians and Catholics--and who better to teach little girls `that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity' regardless of the colour of their nose? Johnny Marks had such a hit--it's one of the biggest sellers of all time--that he founded his own publishing house, St Nicholas Music, and devoted the rest of his life to composing seasonal songs, from `Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' to a beautiful setting of Longfellow's Civil War poem, `I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day'. . . . In the New World, the most potent Americana--observational or aspirational--is created by Jews. Perhaps the Yankees took the sleigh rides and winter wonderlands for granted, but you had to have grown up in the lowest East Side ghetto to see that

It's a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy
As they pass around the coffee and the
pumpkin pie . . .

Jule Styne . . . was born in the Jewish slums of Bethnal Green and liked to say that it was coming from that background that made him understand the dreams of ordinary Americans. With Sammy Cahn, he wrote:

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

. . . Irving Berlin understood. . . . Today, the calendar turns to Berlin anthems, to `Easter Parade'; and `God Bless America' and `White Christmas'. They had white Christmases in Temun, Siberia, where he was born, but it's not about the weather: a white Russian Christmas wouldn't be the same. . . .

Of course, this compromise allowed strains between Christians and Jews to stay below the surface, allowing the hostility many Jews felt toward a Christian majority to find vent without the Gentiles really noticing. Philip Roth, as usual, mines this symbol of cultural confrontation and turns it into another of his hilarious passages:

The radio was playing `Easter Parade' and I thought, But this is Jewish genius on a par with the Ten Commandments. God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and then He gave to Irving Berlin `Easter Parade' and `White Christmas.' The two holidays that celebrate the divinity of Christ--the divinity that's the very heart of the Jewish rejection of Christianity--and what does Irving Berlin brilliantly do? He de-Christs them both! Easter he turns into a fashion show and Christmas into a holiday about snow. Gone is the gore and the murder of Christ--down with the crucifix and up with the bonnet! He turns their religion into schlock. But nicely! Nicely! So nicely the goyim don't even know what hit 'em. They love it. Everybody loves it. The Jews especially. Jews loathe Jesus. People always tell me Jesus is Jewish. I never believe them. . . . Jews don't want to hear about Jesus. And can you blame them? So--Bing Crosby replaces Jesus as the beloved Son of God, and the Jews, the Jews, go around whistling about Easter! And is that so disgraceful a means of defusing the enmity of centuries? Is anyone really dishonored by this? If schlockified Christianity is Christianity cleansed of Jew hatred, then three cheers for schlock. If supplanting Jesus Christ with snow can enable my people to cozy up to Christmas, then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Jewish involvement in minimizing the symbols of a group it finds threatening deserves more than just a footnote because it suggests that conceptually, here too those who identify strongly as Jews see themselves in an oppositional relationship to the (Christian) majority, though the Jewish-Christian anatomy of this kulturkampf is often veiled somewhat. After all, nominally secular groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union are in fact often indistinguishable from ethnically Jewish ones. As J.J. Goldberg notes in Jewish Power,
Within the world of liberal organizations like the ACLU and People for the American Way, Jewish influence is so profound that non-Jews sometimes blur the distinction between them and the formal Jewish community.
"You get this all the time in comments from congressional staff," says ACLU attorney Bob Peck. "They say, `Next time you come, bring along members of other religious groups. Don't just bring more Jews.' . . . It's simply clear to them that we have this background. Many of our leaders are recognizably Jewish. And it's clear there are things that we will understand more readily, because of who we are."
Indeed, Aryeh Neier, the dean of American human rights activism, says that over the course of his career--as director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki Watch, and now George Soros's Open Society Institutes--he has been allied with the main Jewish organizations "90 percent of the time."

Re(1): A Neutral Public Arena
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:07:04 PM by Eire

Norman Podhoretz admits that such heavily Jewish groups often oppose Christian groups in America, ridiculing their beliefs and attempting to undermine their public position. Yet, open discussion of this ethnic/religious jockeying is hardly encouraged, possibly because, as Benjamin Ginsberg suggests with respect to an earlier quote on religious symbols, Jews determine what is to be considered anti-Semitic, and, once so considered, "Jewish influence" sees to it that such discourse disappears. "As a general rule, what can and cannot be said in public reflects the distribution of political power in society; as Jews gained political power, politicians who indulged in anti-Semitic tactics were labeled extremists and exiled to the margins of American politics."

This practice has a long pedigree in America, as Ginsberg shows. Prudently anticipating that Gentiles might resent opposition to cherished institutions such as school prayer and "other forms of public exercise of religion," three leading secular Jewish organizations were sure to diminish "the public visibility of Jews in the opposition to school prayer and other forms of religious exercise." For example, in the early 1950s, the American Jewish Committee "insisted that the ACLU find both a non-Jewish plaintiff and non-Jewish attorney for its ultimately successful attack on a New York state law providing for released time from school for religious instruction." In 1962, in a school prayer case, the New York Civil Liberties Union "insisted that both the plaintiff and lead attorney be non-Jews. As a result, the case was assigned to William Butler, who happened to be the only non-Jew on the NYCLU lawyer's committee."

One other area worth considering in my attempt to outline a Jewish sense of opposition has to do with the use of the Christian calendar, which, David Baile writes, "in the West . . . imposes Christian teleological assumptions on all events it describes. For this reason, many Jewish scholars prefer to use B.C.E. and C.E. . . . although even that seeming neutrality speaks for Christian rather than Jewish time constructs."

As in the case of Jewish activism on behalf of African Americans (to be considered later), appeals to a universal sense of justice or equal rights may mask specific ethnic interests. A great reliance, for example, on the constitutional roots of separation of church and state may serve as the immediate rationale for promoting or opposing various policies, but behind it may be ethnic and religions tensions resulting from group competition. Perhaps Irving Howe has it right: "The culture of the Jews, no matter how comfortably nestled into crevices of American society, remains fundamentally apart: at odds with, perhaps even alien to, the host culture, at least insofar as being Christians or Jews still affects our lives."

Though such Jewish hostility toward Gentile Americans continues in myriad ways, it has not been without its creative elements for American culture as a whole. The interplay between American Jews active in the production of American culture and Gentiles has produced an invigorating dialectic. Together, Jews and Gentiles in America have forged a vibrant, more sophisticated culture than would have existed without Jews, though many Jews have often shown the desire to remain "a people apart." Such are the ironies of the evolution of culture.

Anti-Christian themes
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:18:42 PM by Eire

Offering a key insight about this string of anti-Catholic movies, Medved writes, "The most important point to keep in mind about all these movies and their grim and skeptical view of the church of Rome is that their negativity is never answered by simultaneous releases that offer a sympathetic treatment of Catholicism." Medved writes that in the fifteen years prior to publishing Hollywood vs. America, he could think of precisely one film "that presented a sympathetic view of the Church" (Romero, 1989), and even then, it was one that originated outside the Hollywood mainstream. Such a pattern indeed mirrors what John Murray Cuddihy views as Freud's animus against Rome and suggests that "the ordeal of civility" remains alive and well in the precincts of Hollywood.

Medved then proceeds to list anti-Protestant imagery:

Crimes of Passion (1984). As a sweaty, Bible-toting Skid Row evangelist, Anthony Hopkins generates the same warmth and charm he brought to his famous role as Norman Bates in Psycho.

Poltergeist II (1986). This sorry sequel to the successful horror film of 1982 featured a hymn-singing preacher from beyond the grave who leads a band of demonic Bible-belters in trying to drag a hip suburban family down to hell.

The Vision (1987). An impressive cast is utterly wasted on an insipid sci-fi fantasy about conspiring Christians who use hypnotic TV technology in a ruthless plot to take over the world.

Light of Day (1987). This somber stinker, written and directed by Last Temptation screenwriter Paul Schrader, portrays a prominent midwestern minister as a pious, pompous fraud.

The Handmaid's Tale (1990). Some of the industry's most prestigious performers appeared in this pointedly political polemic about what life might be like if Christian fundamentalists came to power in America. As portrayed in the film, these religious zealots are considerably less lovable than the Nazis, who at least had stylish uniforms to recommend them.

The Rapture (1991). Mimi Rogers plays a buxom swinger, addicted to group sex with strangers, who sacrifices these satisfactions when she makes a sudden commitment to Christ. . . . Before the end of the film her "faith" causes her to take her six-year-old daughter out to the desert where . . . the heroine takes a revolver, holds it to her daughter's head, and, while mumbling invocations of the Almighty, blows the child's brains out.

Medved also notes the surfeit of gratuitous anti-Christian scenes in Hollywood films, such as the director Rob Reiner repeatedly focusing on the tiny gold cross worn by Kathy Bates, the sadistic villain in Misery, or De Niro's character in the remake of Cape Fear. In the original 1962 version with Robert Mitchum, Mitchum's character played the menacing role without reference to religious symbols, yet in the 1991 remake, De Niro plays a member of a Pentecostal church and carries a Bible under his arm in several scenes. This symbol of Christian as irrational threat can also be seen in Under Pressure, a 1997 movie starring big-name actor Charlie Sheen, where Sheen initially plays a hero fireman. As the move develops, however, we see that he has separated from his wife and child, and that he is a strict disciplinarian fond of quoting Christian scripture. This view is cemented when the filmmakers almost exactly recreate a scene from Apocalypse Now, in which Sheen's real father, Martin, lies sweating on his Hanoi bed, the ceiling fan spinning slowly above him. In the scene from Under Pressure there is a difference: the camera slowly pans down to Charlie Sheen's chest to reveal a crucifix around his neck. There had been none in the original.

Medved notes that made-for-television movies are equally as grim regarding Christian identification. For example, in the miniseries The Thorn Birds, handsome Richard Chamberlain plays a tormented priest who has broken his vows of celibacy. William Shatner, in his post-Captain Kirk role of "T.J. Hooker," tracks down a "ruthless, Scripture-spouting crook who leaves Bibles as calling cards at the scene of his crimes." ABC's "The Women of Brewster Place" shows a preacher luring a woman to his bed, while in one episode of "UNSUB" a certain "Bishop Grace" murders two teenage girls in his congregation. NBC's "In the Heat of the Night" aired an episode in which "Reverend Haskell" expires just after enjoying an affair with one of his parishioners. Two "Bible thumpin' hayseeds" appear as kidnappers on "Shannon's Deal," paired up with "a devout Christian who murders his wife and then justifies the killing as 'an act of God . . . unstoppable as a flood.'"

Christianity has fared just as poorly on animated TV shows. For example, Fox Television Network's "The Simpsons" featured a scene in which the family gathered around the table to say grace, and Bart solemnly intones, "Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing." A more egregious animated account of disrespect comes in the Christmas episode from South Park called "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo." A parody of the 1965 television special "A Charlie Brown Christmas," this version features a human feces as the spirit of Christmas, the obvious message being that "Christmas is shit."

At the local school of this white, small-town Rocky Mountain community, Mr. Garrison, a racist, anti-Semitic teacher (he wants to get rid of Mexicans and taunts Kyle, the Jewish boy) directs the Nativity play. Kyle's mother, as a Jew, objects to the mixing of church and state, to which Mr. Garrison replies, "Oh, God, you're not gonna lay that Hanukkah crap on me, are you?" To drive home the message that Christmas is a time that Jews suffer (and that Christians are insensitive to that suffering), one of the students says, "Kyle's mother is here to ruin Christmas."

Excluded from a trip to the local mall to ask for presents from Santa, Kyle yells to his departing friends, "Wait! I may not have Santa, but I do have Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. . . . He comes out of the toilet every year and gives presents to everybody who has a lot of fiber in their diet." To one of the other boys, Kyle yells, "You're gonna be sorry when you see me riding on Santa's sleigh with Mr. Hankey, Fat Ass!" Christian intolerance is reinforced by the boy's reply: "You're not gonna ride on Santa's sleigh `cause you're a Jew, Kyle!" Later, the scene shifts to Kyle's home, decorated in Hannukah style. While brushing his teeth, Kyle is visited by Mr. Hankey, a feces wearing a Santa hat. Jumping out of the toilet bowl, Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, sings a song about Santa and Christmas. The starkest comment in the scene comes when this animated feces writes "Noel" in excrement on the mirror.

To finish the Charlie Brown Christmas special analogy, in which everyone chimes out "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" only after Charlie has realized the true meaning of Christmas--which has Christ at its center--the South Park characters wish Kyle a Merry Christmas only after he has taught everyone, through Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, that Christmas and Christianity are shit. To be sure, this show takes swipes at Jewish individuals, but it never attacks Judaism as a religion. Coming as it does during one of the most important Christian holidays, its anti-Christian message is manifest. As with the Jewish radicals in the sixties, antipathy toward the majority culture (and its religion) is intense, to the extent that it seems as if an effort is being made, as Rothman and Lichter write, "to estrange the Christian from society, as he [the Jewish radical] feels estranged from it." (This antagonism toward Christmas mirrors the real-life episode mentioned earlier about writer Anne Roiphe, who had grown up with a Christmas tree and had published an article for The New York Times entitled "Christmas Comes to a Jewish Home." The article, one will recall, "was greeted by an avalanche of angry, often hostile, letters from Jewish readers. The mail came from close friends as well as from strangers; almost everyone who wrote was enraged that Roiphe appeared to be recommending her assimilated life style to others." )

Re(1): Anti-Christian themes
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:19:30 PM by Eire

This association of Christianity with brutal violence is featured again in a Nicholas Cage thriller of 1998 called 8MM. As a private detective, Cage's private investigator Tom Welles is summoned by a wealthy WASP family to clear up an uncomfortable discovery. The patriarch of the family has passed away, and when looking through his important documents, his widow finds an 8mm film that depicts sexual abuse of a nearly naked teenage girl, a depiction that ends with a bloody scene of the girl being hacked to death with a large knife. The point in question is, does this represent a real slaying? As a modern psychological thriller goes, such a premise is not unusual. For our purposes, however, the choice of a family name for this household is telling: they are the "Christians."

In an attempt to verify the authenticity of this snuff film, investigator Welles delves into the underworld of pornographic movie making and finds nightmarish characters, the worst perhaps being "Machine," a giant of a man who wears a black leather mask as he pornographically punishes or kills his victims. Welles has tracked him down to a lower-class neighborhood of single-family homes, where Machine still lives with his mother, a God-fearing, church-going woman. As Welles listens in, Machine's mother tells him, "I really wish you were going to church tonight." She then goes outside to the waiting church bus, which has the inscription "Faithful Christian Fellowship" inscribed on its side. Perhaps this could be read in different ways. That her son does not attend church may be responsible for his evil ways; a steady dose of Christian teaching might cure him of his errant tendencies. As I read it, however, by explicitly identifying him as a Christian, the film both exposes what it sees as the hypocrisy of the Church's teaching and shows its inability to shepard a member of its flock. Paired with Welles's confirmation that the snuff film is indeed real and was commissioned by the late Mr. Christian--that "Mr. Christian" was directly responsible for the sex slaying of a teenage girl--the view that this later depiction of the "Faithful Christian Fellowship" is a positive reference seems weak. Further weakening any argument that this scene could be read sympathetically is the fact that the director of 8MM is Joel Schumacher, who two years earlier in A Time To Kill had shown an egregious depiction of two white Gentiles who rape a ten-year-old Black girl, beat her savagely, then attempt to lynch her. Thus, the Christian scenes in this movie fit a negative pattern seen in other films by this director and, for that matter, throughout modern American film.

America’s favorite bigot, a philo-Semite?
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:22:23 PM by Eire

In contrast, the Jewish image on television has been much less negative. In one of the first large studies of Jewish images on TV, The Chosen Image: Television's Portrayal of Jewish Themes and Characters, authors Jonathan Pearl and Judith Pearl write:

Since the inception of network television half a century ago, hundreds of popular TV shows have portrayed Jewish themes. Such topics as anti-Semitism, intermarriage, Jewish lore and traditions, Israel, the Holocaust, and question of Jewish identity have been featured in a wide range of television genres. . . . What is the television image of Jews and Judaism that emerges from this fascinating wealth of programming? In nearly every instance, the Jewish issues have been portrayed with respect, relative depth, affection, and good intentions, and the Jewish characters who appear in these shows have, without any doubt, been Jewish--often depicted as deeply involved in their Judaism .

In their analysis of Jewish themes and characters, the Pearls offer a fascinating look at how one of the most popular modern television stars taught tolerance through a wide range of scenarios:

By the end of his twelve years on prime-time television, Archie Bunker, Americans best-known bigot, had come to raise a Jewish child in his home, befriend a black Jew, go into business with a Jewish partner, enroll as a member of Temple Beth Shalom, eulogize his close friend at a Jewish funeral, host a Sabbath dinner, participate in a bat mitzvah ceremony, and join a group to fight synagogue vandalism. While the famed style of All in the Family (and its sequel, Archie Bunker's Place) was unique, its inclusion of Jews and Jewish issues was far from unusual.

Just as we saw earlier how American Jews embraced a policy of assimilation, later to evolve into one more of separateness and pluralism in the sixties, a similar transformation was happening with respect to television, albeit a decade later. "For much of its early years," the Pearls write, "television did indeed take on the role often attributed to it of a great homogenizer--a common medium relaying images of unity and harmony to America's diverse population. Throughout its initial decades, TV programs brimmed with notions of assimilation and fitting in." At one time, the Pearls conclude, "the medium conveyed the overriding message that it was important for everyone to fit in and be essentially like everyone else."

These TV-world assimilationist themes continued into the 1970s, as witnessed by, for example, an episode from the popular comedy series The Partridge Family:

Young Danny Partridge, with a crush on a classmate who is a rabbi's daughter, tells her he is Jewish so that he can date her. Later, when Danny's family is invited to her home for Shabbat dinner, the rabbi asks Danny if he would recite Hamotzi, a Jewish blessing before eating bread said Friday nights over the challah as part of the traditional Shabbat meal. A flustered Danny must reveal his secret to the rabbi's family, which is forgiving and welcoming. When the rabbi proceeds to say Hamotzi, Danny erupts gleefully, announcing, "Hey, it's like grace!" His mom makes it even clearer: "See, people aren't as different as they think. We may have different beliefs, but we're all pretty much alike." The rabbi gives final approval to these sentiments, with a resounding "Amen to that."
. . . These characters were not ashamed of being Jewish. Indeed they unabashedly recited their Jewish prayers and proudly cited their Jewish texts--But those are just like ours! these shows told Christian America. While TV's early Jewish characters were proudly Jewish, and being part of a minority religion was depicted as certainly acceptable, the overriding sentiment was that of sameness and similarity--that we could all get along with each other because everything was basically the same.

This assimilationist message "corresponded to conditions behind the small screen. For many of television's Jewish producers, writers, and network executives, who were seeking their own assimilation and acceptance into American culture, it was useful to create characters who could demonstrate that there was little difference between Jews and Gentiles . . ." This mood and message, however, would change. Just as in 1967 a wide array of American Jews realized how deeply Jewish they were at the start of the Six-Day War, television's Jewish producers, writers et al. must have realized how Jewish they, too, were, for television themes "would change with a cataclysmic shift that took place in the late 1970s. . . . almost on a dime the drive to assimilate screeched to a halt."

Obviously, this anti-assimilationist message was not only a Jewish one. The civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties (and the growth of the Black Power Movement in that latter decade) produced searches for and pride in non-WASP identity among various groups, and this was reflected on TV. For example, the miniseries Roots was an extraordinary success when it aired in 1977. "Suddenly it became not only acceptable, but almost obligatory to wear one's heritage on one's sleeve. Melting pot was out; ethnicity was in." Jews, too, had their own miniseries, the heavily promoted Holocaust (1978). Not surprisingly, this Holocaust identity took root among many American Jews, one reason being that assimilation had previously made inroads among Jews. Perhaps overstating the case a bit, the Pearls write that "Hollywood's assimilationist Jews . . . no longer possessed a unique identity to distinguish them." Asking themselves "Now that we are like everyone else, who are we?" Jews felt that "little or nothing" of their identifiable heritage remained.

Of course, neither Hollywood Jews nor most American Jews were as completely assimilated as the Pearls believe, as is evidenced by the very product these "Jewish producers, writers, and network executives" created from the late 1970s onward. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the emergence of Chanukah portrayals on TV. This progression is a metaphor for the growth in Jewish identification among many American Jews, as well as the growing number of Jewish themes and characters on television.

Chanukah made its TV appearance, the Pearls argue, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, though "this newfound awareness of Chanukah was manifested merely through passing references on TV shows" featuring Christmas themes. What came to be known as the "Christmas-Chanukah season" evolved, however, and to the extent Christmas was minimized, Chanukah was emphasized. Through the 1980s Christmas and Chanukah shared a "Christmas spirit" on TV as shown in, for example, a 1988 Christmas episode of Day by Day, in which a toddler at a day-care center wears a large Jewish star and a menorah hangs on the wall.

Another example appeared in Northern Exposure, which features Dr. Joel Fleischman, an isolated Jewish doctor from New York:

It was Christmas time and Fleischman, the town's lone Jew . . . admires the beauty of the Christmas trees around him and finds allure in their aesthetic and evocative appeal. Yet he rejects them for himself, explaining that he is Jewish and that "a Christmas tree is a major Christian symbol. Traditionally Jews try to avoid Christian symbols." (This in itself was a rare-for-TV yet forthright statement that the ubiquitous, seemingly secularized Christmas tree is indeed a Christian symbol.) . . . By the show's end, Fleischman removes the tree from his home and deposits it on the front lawn of his Christian girlfriend. "I have something that I think belongs to you," he tells her. "I tried. I really did. I gave it my best shot. It just--didn't work. Scratch the plum pudding and there's a matzah ball underneath. I'm a Jew, that's all there is to it."

Christmas for Jews
Posted on July 11, 2003 at 10:23:39 PM by Eire

About this time, however, an "unraveling of the TV-melded Christmas-Chanukah holiday" began to gain speed and "the celebration of Chanukah on its own merit rather than as a decorative bauble to a Christmas scene" emerged. In an episode of Frank's Place, for example, when a non-Jew is invited to a Chanukah dinner at the home of lawyer Bubba Weisberger, the audience is treated to a lengthy and positive account of the holiday, one "without any thought of Christmas" (which the Pearls applaud). On an episode of the 1992 WIOU, "Chanukah held center stage. The defacing of a Chanukah menorah in a public park by anti-Semitic thugs became the occasion for series regular Willis Teitlebaum" to explore his feelings and Jewish identity. This linkage of Chanukah with anti-Semitism was also the theme of a an episode of Sisters, when vandals attacked a Jewish restaurant.

What is problematic in this progression, however, is the degree to which a positive portrayal of Chanukah has grown while Christmas is denigrated in a way inconceivable some thirty or even twenty years ago. "Jewish producers, writers, and network executives" have given us "Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo," while "the younger set have been treated to stories, lore, and fun treatments of Chanukah on such popular children's vehicles as Shari Lewis's Lamb Chop's Special Chanukah and Nickelodeon's Weinerville Chanukah Special and Rugrats Chanukah Special." "At one time," the Pearls conclude, "children's fare in December was awash in Christmas images; the diversity of observance that these newer shows present is a healthy and refreshing development."

While the Pearls have presented Jewish themes other than Chanukah (bar and bat mitsvahs, weddings, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, etc.), the above section presents a palimpsest of one Jewish theme that has become standard fare on modern American TV shows. And it shows the degree to which the Jewish presence in Hollywood has been translated into shows with Jewish themes. What the Pearls write about this transformation can serve as a metaphor for the overall transformation Jews have effected on American culture more broadly:

Jewish matters have driven story lines, shaped characters, defined issues, and made appearances on countless TV shows throughout the decades. Indeed, the presence of Jewish themes on television has been a constant throughout the history of television. From its earliest days until today, the great reflector of American life has simply recognized the active place of Jews within that life.

In a sense, what we are seeing is one aspect of the Jewish-Gentile kulturkampf in modern America, one played out in the visual media. From the Jewish side, suspicion of and hostility toward Gentiles is common, which, given the long history of anti-Semitism, is psychologically understandable. Indeed, Hollywood insider Benjamin Stein confirms and analyzes this animosity. In the 1976 essay "Whatever happened to small-town America?" he explores television's consistent hostility to rural (read Christian) America:

Small towns now have lots of people who didn't like big cities in the past because big cities had too many Jews, and a truly great number of the people who write movies and television shows are Jewish. It is hardly surprising that many of these writers should not be enamored of small towns. . . . What is at work is an ethnic/cultural polarity. The typical Hollywood writer, from my experience, is of an ethnic background from a large Eastern city--usually from Brooklyn. He grew up being taught that people in small towns hated him, were different from him, and were out to get him. As a result, when he gets the chance, he attacks the small town on television or the movies. . . .
The television shows and movies are not telling it "like it is"; instead they are giving us the point of view of a small and extremely powerful section of the American intellectual community--those who write for the mass visual media. . . . What is happening, as a consequence, is something unusual and remarkable. A national culture is making war upon a way of life that is still powerfully attractive and widely practiced in the same country. . . . Feelings of affection for small towns run deep in America, and small-town life is treasured by millions of people. But in the mass culture of the country, a hatred for the small town is spewed out on television screens and movie screens every day. . . . Television and the movies are America's folk culture, and they have nothing but contempt for the way of life of a very large part of the folk. . . . People are told that their culture is, at its root, sick, violent, and depraved, and this message gives them little confidence in the future of that culture. It also leads them to feel ashamed of their country and to believe that if their society is in decline, it deserves to be.

Three years later, Stein revealed other aspects of this "ethnic/cultural polarity." In The View from Sunset Boulevard, Stein provides us with a potent example of contempt for rural Americans. He shows how Norman Lear's production company, TAT, created two shows in the late 1970s set in small towns: Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Fernwood 2 Night. "In both shows, what Marx called `the idiocy of rural life' comes across powerfully. The small Ohio town of Fernwood, not quite rural and not quite industrial, is full of bigots, Klansmen, quacks, hillbillies, and religious frauds."

Stein devotes a chapter to contemporary Hollywood views of the military as well, finding in informal interviews that TV writers "clearly thought of military men as clean-shaven, blond, and of completely WASP backgrounds. In the minds of a few of the people I interviewed, these blond officers were always a hair's breadth away from becoming National Socialists. They were thought of as part of an Aryan ruling class that actually or potentially repressed those of different ethnic backgrounds." This conflation of diverse Gentile groups seems to be a common pattern. It also might explain why Stein found with respect to the military that of the "number of different viewpoints [that] pop out from the TV screen, most of them are negative." It is--like Hollywood portrayals of Christmas--part of a kulturkampf, but one, significantly, shown largely from the Jewish side.

I further explore this kulturkampf in the final chapter, where I focus exclusively on cinema and present my own readings of a variety of prominent Hollywood films of the last four decades and show how Jewish identity, Jewish-Gentile relations, etc. are presented.

Jewish Imagery in Film
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 03:04:08 AM by Eire

In the last chapter, I analyzed a variety of Jewish themes and characters from film and television and offered an overview of the role this imagery plays in visual media. This chapter provides a sampling of Jewish film topics viewed not only thematically, but also by individual movie, by actor, and by director. Obviously not meant to be all-inclusive, the key point is that this kind of analysis suggests the richness of Jewish imagery of itself and of Gentiles as seen on the silver screen. At times, the sense of opposition to Gentile culture is implicit, at other times explicit. It is the filmic rendition of the common Jewish them of being the outsider surrounded by a potentially or actively hostile Gentile population. The first film analyzed adds an interesting historical twist to this chapter.

Quiz Show
Quiz Show (1994) reproduces the 1950s television quiz show scandal in which a prominent young WASP university professor, Charles Van Doren, was unfairly given answers to questions before the show. The previous champion was an intelligent young Jew from New York, and his scripted loss to the WASP enraged him to the extent that he went to Washington to reveal the scandal to a Congressional subcommittee. The narrative in the film and in real life are broadly parallel: Jews, through hard work and intelligence, challenge WASP hegemony in America, but since WASPs still have unfair advantages, they win at the expense of others, including Jews. With Ivy League quotas and a hundred other slights still fresh in mind, Jews are ready to finally stand up for their rights. This is the background to Quiz Show.

In Quiz Show "Jews are everywhere . . . as they were in the actual imbroglio that in 1959 was compared to the Black Sox scandal of 1919." For Brandeis historian Stephen Whitfield, Quiz Show is presented as a morality tale in which Jews are perpetrators and victims of television fraud . . . Jews are shown wearing black hats and white hats, because they were indeed sucked into the vortex of a scandal that mixed duplicity with unchecked avarice and ambition." Lower middle class resident of Queens, Herb Stempel (John Turturro), plays the Jewish "schmuck" who, for the sake of dramatic interest, "must be the fall guy. He must lose to a fresh face, a more interesting champion--someone who can appear not on smart enough to triumph on Twenty-One but suave enough to `get a table at 21.'"

Those behind the scenes who engineer the fall are also Jews--"cunning Jews," no less. Dan Enright (David Paymer) and Al Freedman (Hank Azaria) fix the show in order to boost ratings, thereby generating more profits for the sponsor of the show, "The company that sells Geritol." The head of this company, portrayed in Quiz Show by impeccably dressed Martin Scorsese, is, according to Stephen Whitfield, "probably drawn from Charles Revson, whose cosmetics company sponsored (and fixed) a rival program, The $64,000 Question, on CBS."

While such unflattering public portrayals of Jewish characters might "generate concern at the Anti-Defamation League," they do not because the negative characters are balanced by the appearance of the true hero of the story, a Jewish lawyer who has risen through the educational, political, and social ranks to rival the staid power of WASPs such as Van Doren. Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow) plays the Harvard-educated government lawyer who catches on to the goings on in the New York television game show world. Making his entrance in the movie's opening, Goodwin's ethnicity is hinted at by the car showroom salesman's slip of the tongue in saying Goodwin's name; he confuses it with "Goodman," which is plausibly Jewish enough. (Later, a receptionist makes a more blatant assumption when she mangles his name--"Goldwyn.")

As Quiz Show progresses and the tension between the Jew and WASP heats up, Goodwin reveals his ethnic origins to Stempel when he assures Stempel that he knows what a certain Jewish delicacy is. Later, food is again the signifier of ethnicity; in the rarified air of the Athenium club, Goodwin has lunch with the Van Dorens--father and son. Ordering a Reuben sandwich, Goodwin caustically notes that while the sandwich he is eating might be named "Reuben," there are precious few "Rubins" in attendance at the club. At that time in the 1950s, successful Jews were knocking on the doors of the most prestigious clubs and corporations in America.

Whitfield's analysis of this film is generally sound, but I believe he falters when he argues that Goodwin is genuinely torn between the desire to do what is right and the desire to spare Van Doren in order to enter the very social class from which Van Doren hails; a more realistic reading is that Goodwin's motives are more combative, as novelist Philip Roth shows in his version of the kulturkampf. Playing off the Quiz Show scandal, Roth inserts a scene into Portnoy's Complaint that portrays a more naked anti-Gentile animus than is shown in the film:

I was on the staff of the House subcommittee investigating the television scandals. . . . and then of course that extra bonus, Charlatan Van Doren. Such character, such brains and breeding, that candor and schoolboyish charm--the ur-WASP, wouldn't you say? And turns out he's a fake. Well, what do you know about that, Gentile America? Supergoy, a gonif! Steals money. Covets money. Wants money, will do anything for it. Goodness gracious me, almost as bad as Jews--you sanctimonious WASPs!
Yes, I was one happy yiddel down there in Washington, a little Stern gang of my own, busily exploding Charlie's honor and integrity, while simultaneously becoming lover to that aristocratic Yankee beauty whose forebears arrived on these shores in the seventeenth century. Phenomenon known as Hating Your Goy and Eating One Too.

This parable of Jewish-Gentile competition and struggle can be seen as a symbolic portrayal of the fall of WASP hegemony in the late fifties or early sixties and the ongoing "rise of the Jews." Just as the "ur-WASP" Van Doren had been exposed as a fraud and the Jew vindicated, real life Jews after WWII broke out of most constraints imposed on them by WASP cultural hegemony and began building their own power base in intellectual, cultural, political, economic, and--as the Goodwin characters shows--moral spheres of modern American life.

In Quiz Show the Jew succeeds in trumping the WASP. Patricia Erens points to a similar theme, one, however, that carries less virtue than Quiz Show. In two films, she notes portrayals where Jews have "duped the WASPS," though some critics viewed the portrayals as anti-Semitic. In The Candidate (1972) Robert Redford plays the innocent WASP Bill McKay (one wonders if this role informed Redford's direction of Quiz Show). Running for the Senate, McKay is supported by Marvin Lucas, who has, Erens argues, typical Semitic characteristics --"black beard, glasses, intelligence, and sarcasm." Lucas hires an "ad-agency genius named Klein" to "win the vote." "Whether or not Lucas is meant to be Jewish, he is a Jewish type and surrounds McKay with Jews. In contrast to McKay (Redford is the ultimate WASP), all appear as dark-haired, aggressive, and cynical." In contrast, McKay keeps his purity. "The implicit message emerges," Erens concludes, "Jews have duped the WASP."

The other "dupe the WASP" film which Erens suggests is anti-Semitic is Hearts of the West (1975), which presents two images of early Hollywood types, one of whom "speaks with a foreign accent and possesses a number of peculiar habits. . . . When he entertains amid the lavish decor of his home, he serves bagels." Erens notes that "floating in and out of the movie are a whole array of Jewish types in the capacity of executives, technicians, costumers, and party guests." Erens quotes film critic Richard Goldstein's displeasure with the movie: ". . . [the film] is as distressing as cocktail party anti-Semitism, and its bias is just as difficult to confront. Here is a winsome little comedy, in which venal Jews oppress innocent Christians . . ." Though Erens believes one of the main characters is likable, "the Jews come off as exploiters, especially in contrast to the naivete of the young cowboy hero, Lewis Tate (Jeff Bridges)."

The Jewish-Gentile conflicts portrayed in these films may be evidence of a larger tension between the two groups in America. As a film that depicts the fault lines of this conflict right when it was about to go "hot," Quiz Show is a useful introduction, for the timing of the actual quiz show scandal of the late 1950s was indeed consistent with the explosion of Jewish stars and Jewish characters in Hollywood films of the sixties. And with this explosion came myriad approaches toward interrogating the meeting of different cultures, Jewish and Gentile. An exploration of how one of those stars made his appearance, and how his roles in the following decades featured this Jewish theme and others, is the subject of the next section.

Dustin Hoffman and his Jewish Persona
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 03:15:01 AM by Eire

Film critic Kathryn Bernheimer writes that Dustin Hoffman "rarely plays explicitly Jewish characters (his performance as comic Lenny Bruce in Bob Fosse's Lenny was an exception), but many of his roles carry strong Jewish undercurrents." Indeed, Hoffman's roles can be used as a trope for the emergence of Jewish themes and identities in modern Hollywood. This section examines the case of Dustin Hoffman, exploring how his Jewishness, how many of his movie characters, and how some of the themes and scenes in his movies come together to illuminate Jewish identity and its role in movie making. Among the common Jewish American themes will be that of the Jewish stand-up comedian; Jewish men pairing up with the "golden shiksa"; the Jewish struggle with Nazis; and the Jew as intellectually and morally superior to the Gentile.

Characteristic of many American Jews, Hoffman is only loosely attached to formal Judaism. Whitfield writes that "Dustin Hoffman's second wife has also encouraged him `to do what I've been wanting to do for many years, which is to become more observant and pass that on to my kids. There are a few things that I really want to do before it's too late,' the actor added. `I want to learn Hebrew. And I would love to be bar mitzvahed.'" While these formal symbols of Jewish identity lay in Hoffman's future, his ethnic concerns are discernible as far back as the late sixties in The Graduate, continue into the seventies with Marathon Man, into the eighties with his Broadway performance in Death of a Salesman, and on into the nineties with Outbreak.

Breaking the chronology, I would first like to examine an explicitly Jewish role Hoffman played, that of graduate student Babe Levy,in Marathon Man (1976). Writing about the Holocaust, Bernheimer--in contrast to Novick and others--notes that the "posttraumatic terror and dread that scarred the culture's psyche was also vividly manifested in a series of fictional films of the 1970s focusing on ongoing Nazi activity." Marathon Man is one such film representing a standard post-Holocaust theme: Jew confronts Nazi and prevails, giving vicarious victory to today's American Jews over those who had killed so many fellow Jews during the war on another continent. In this film, Hoffman plays a Jewish character who encounters one Christian Szell, "a character clearly modeled on [Nazi sadist, Doctor Josef] Mengele." Szell "engages in a battle of wits and will" with the Jewish graduate student. The setting is believably Jewish--New York City--and the story begins with one of intense concern to the Jewish community: "the harrowing point that the Nazi menace still stalks our world."

In the opening sequence, Szell's brother Klaus removes from a safety deposit box diamonds stolen from Jewish concentration camp prisoners and gives them to an unknown confidant. Returning home, Klaus's German-made Mercedes breaks down, blocking the road, and a fight ensues with a loud-mouthed New York driver who happens to be Jewish. The Jewish driver opens the ethnic hostilities by gratuitously calling Klaus a "kraut meathead." From there, the conflict descends into "Jude-Nazi" namecalling, then escalates into inner-city car combat. Ignoring traffic signals and racing through crowded New York City streets, both drivers crash into a fuel oil truck and die in the ensuing inferno, as a congregation of Jews look on in horror.

Jogging through Central Park, Babe briefly pauses to observe the conflagration, but quickly resumes his training. As further establishment of the "Jew vs. Aryan" motif of the film, a tall goyische runner passes Babe, taunting him. Incensed, Babe does all in his power to overtake the Aryan, but fails. (In an ironic reversal of a concentration camp scene, a large German shepard nips at the Aryan jogger's heel.) Babe's weakness and character here are "linked to his background. Babe is nervous, compulsive, and competitive. Anxious and eager, he is also tenacious." Returning home after his run, he is also powerless to ward off the taunts of a group of Puerto Rican youths outside his apartment. In addition to being a Columbia University graduate student (suggesting Jews' higher intelligence), Babe is haunted by the suicide of his famous historian father. His father had been "hounded by McCarthyites," which is but a thinly-disguised reference to the heavily Jewish makeup of those Communists and "fellow travellers" investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Next, we are introduced to the former Nazi. Searching for his brother's lost diamonds, former death camp dentist Christian Szell resorts to torturing Babe by drilling sensitive points in his teeth without the use of anesthesia. Here, Szell is resorting to his old Nazi practices, but Babe finds the inner strength to resist and in the end he prevails. Summing up the meaning of the story, Bernheimer writes,

Marathon Man, in which Mengele serves as a symbol of demonic evil, evokes the horrors of the past. It warns of the ongoing threat of anti-Semitic fanaticism while allowing the Jew vicarious revenge and a cathartic victory. Like a number of fantasies of the era, Marathon man seeks to redress the wrongs of history by symbolically restoring power to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust who suffered terribly but, unlike Babe, were not able to defeat their enemy.

What neither Erens nor Bernheimer note, however, is the gratuitous conflation of actual Nazis with Gentiles in general. Take, for instance, Dr. Szell's first name: Christian. It is not "Adolf" Szell, nor is he referred to as "Nazi" Szell. Instead, he is Christian Szell. Thus, the audience may suppose that Nazi dentist Christian Szell is a Christian, and, therefore, Christians are Nazis, which, though an obvious logical fallacy, may be the subtle message nonetheless. In fact, this tendency among many Jews to conflate disparate groups of Gentiles is not uncommon, as was seen earlier in this dissertation and will be seen later. Just as in recent academic writing there has been a tendency to group all Germans with Nazis, among post-war cultural artifacts in America can be found instances of conflation of Nazi war criminals (and other blatant anti-Semites) with Gentiles in general. While Marathon Man understandably plays out a fantasy of revenge against the Nazis, the film may also be tinged with a more general animus toward Gentiles.

If Marathon Man was lightly tinged with hostility toward Gentiles in general, then Lenny (1974) is positively driven by it. Actually, that is not entirely true: while Jews both real and on the screen are often hostile toward Gentile culture in general, there is a powerful undercurrent of attraction to a certain type of Gentile--the "shiksa goddess"--which is precisely how Lenny begins. In 1951, a Gentile woman working in a strip joint meets the youthful Lenny Bruce (Dustin Hoffman). By way of introduction she asks about his name, prompting Bruce to explain that his original name, Leonard Schneider, was "too Jewish." Their romance explodes. Early on, Bruce buys a roomful of flowers for his lover, and, when he arrives to meet her, he sees her posed naked on the bed among the flowers. "Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It's a shiksa goddess." Unfortunately, this shiksa turns out to be a bad mother (she is incarcerated for two years for possession of illegal drugs ), and Bruce is saddled with raising their daughter by himself, the first of two movies in which a Hoffman character marries a Gentile woman who cannot provide as a mother (the second is, of course, Kramer vs. Kramer).

Bruce is quite candid about his Jewish background and the relationship of Jews and Gentiles. As seen in Part One, Bruce displayed his caustic humor toward Christianity in a nightclub rendition of one of his most well-known routines, One Who Killed Our Lord. In Lenny, Bruce makes many cracks about the Pope and Christians in general, but says nothing negative about Judaism. In fact, he has a warm relationship with his mother and aunt throughout.

Two other minor "Jewish" themes in the movie are the concept of tikkun olam and the role of the Jew as prophet, even deviant or madman. In one act, Bruce jokes that his wealth and fame rely on the fact that the world is so imperfect. If it were perfect, he would have no sources for his cutting humor about hypocrisy and injustice. Noting his own hypocrisy, however, he reflects on how little he gives to "repair the world." In Bruce's mind, his role as "deviant" is clearly related to his desire to fight injustice. Irving Howe called him "a prophet corrupted who ranted against corruption, a lacerated nihilist at once brilliant and debased." Lenny Bruce, Howe writes,

had an astonishing gift from getting to the more tender portions of our cultural shame, prodding and pricking them into red inflammation. He broke past the genteel falsities of social concord, he undermined the necessary surface of social manners. . . . he wanted to lay waste the world, while pleading, when it yanked him before its courts, that he was just a man of constructive purpose, "a Jew before this court." At the end, as his act became an action, his fantasy a delirium, and his prophecy a mere fix, it all collapsed into cold literalism.

Howe might have made more sense of Bruce's sensibilities had he investigated Bruce's views of Gentiles, for Bruce's animus appears most directly to be aimed at the Gentile society in which he lived. Whether he aimed to repair that damaged world or just attack it is open to legitimate question.

Re(1): Dustin Hoffman and his Jewish Persona
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 03:16:54 AM by Eire

While Hoffman succeeded in playing a classic Jewish role in Lenny, his first big role came in The Graduate (1967). But is the existentially pained protagonist in The Graduate even Jewish? Patricia Erens thinks not, since she fails to include this movie or any of its characters or themes in her exhaustive study The Jew in American Cinema. On the other hand, Kathryn Bernheimer takes it for granted that Hoffman plays a "Jewish hero." "Apathetic, ambivalent, and indecisive," his character finds that "Love is the (apparent) answer. . ." In fact, Bernheimer compares Hoffman's character to that of Neil Klugman, the Jewish protagonist in the film adaptation of Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus. Desser and Friedman go even further, asking "Can anyone doubt that Dustin Hoffman's Ben Braddock . . . is Jewish, just as the sensibility behind the camera is equally Jewish?

I believe that Hoffman's character in fact plays out one of the most pointedly Jewish dramas in modern film. Though the movie uses WASP characters and settings throughout to mask the Jewish undercurrent, the final scene reveals the strong sense of estrangement from and hostility toward Gentile (read Christian) society, and highlights the Jewish man's longing for the "shiksa goddess." Sleeping with both mother and daughter from an arch-WASP family, Hoffman's character Ben succeeds in carrying out a Jewish fantasy--literally "fucking" WASP women while "fucking over" their men (or, as Roth conceived it, " This Jewish theme in general, and its specific renditions in The Graduate and Portnoy's Complaint, merit further attention. Here, Roth serves as a useful source for some Jews' thinking on the desire of Jewish men for Gentile women:

Shikses! In winter, when the polio germs are hibernating and I can bank upon surviving outside of an iron lung until the end of the school year, I ice-skate on the lake in Irvington Park. . . . I skate round and round in circles behind the shikses who live in Irvington. . . But the shikses, ah, the shikses are something else again. Between the smell of damp sawdust and wet wool in the overheated boathouse, and the sight of their fresh cold blond hair spilling out of their kerchiefs and caps, I am ecstatic. Amidst these flushed and giggling girls, I lace up my skates with weak, trembling fingers, and then out into the cold and after them I move, down the wooden gangplank on my toes and off onto the ice behind a fluttering covey of them--a nosegay of shikses, a garland of gentile girls. I am so awed that I am in a state of desire beyond a hard-on. My circumcised little dong is simply shriveled up with veneration. . . . How do they get so gorgeous, so healthy, so blond? My contempt for what they believe in is more than neutralized by my adoration of the way they look, the way they move and laugh and speak--the lives they must lead behind those goyische curtains! Maybe a pride of shikses is more like it . . .
So: dusk on the frozen lake of a city park, skating behind the puffy red earmuffs and the fluttering yellow ringlet of a strange shikse teaches me the meaning of the word longing. It is almost more than an angry thirteen-year-old little Jewish Momma's Boy can bear. Forgive the luxuriating, but these are probably the most poignant hours of my life I'm talking about--I learn the meaning of the word longing, I learn the meaning of the word pang. There go the darling things dashing up the embankment, clattering along the shoveled walk between the evergreens . . . I want Jane Powell too, God damn it! And Corliss and Veronica. I too want to be the boyfriend of Debbie Reynolds--it's the Eddie Fisher in me coming out, that's all, the longing in all us swarthy Jewboys for those bland blond exotics called shikses . . .

Then, in a telling confession to his psychiatrist, Portnoy reveals "What I'm saying, Doctor, is that I don't seem to stick my dick up these girls, as much as I stick it up their backgrounds--as though through fucking I will discover America. Conquer American--maybe that's more like it." And this is exactly what Ben Braddock and the Jewish "sensibility behind the camera" in The Graduate are doing.

The early action in The Graduate (directed by Jewish Mike Nichols, "an immigrant from Danzig, who had stepped off the Bremen right before World War II," ) gives little clue as to what possible Jewish themes it might have. Not until the church scene at the end, where Ben races to the church to break up his true love's marriage to a blond goy, does the strong Jewish undercurrent of the movie reveal itself. In a scene priceless for its symbolism, Ben arrives at the church too late; his lover has just pronounced her "I do" and is kissing her new husband. Climbing into the second-floor choir loft, Ben screams out "Elaine! Elaine!" Turning to him, Elaine realizes that Ben is the better choice, and she abandons both altar and new husband to be with him.

Before getting away, however, Ben faces a furious group of Gentiles: Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, and young Gentiles big enough to be the defensive line of an Ivy League football team. First comes Mr. Robinson, whom Ben has cuckolded. Grappling at the foot of the church stairs, Ben delivers a blow to the gut, and Mr. Robinson falls. Next, Ben faces a bevy of blond-haired young men, sparkling white teeth flashing in the crystal lighting of the church. To defeat them, Ben grabs a gilded five-foot cross and swings wildly into the seething sea of Gentiles. Thus, keeping them momentarily at bay, he takes Elaine outside the church and bars the doors with the cross, completing his escape. Has there ever been a scene so that so starkly combines the Jewish male yearning for the shiksa with revenge over Gentile society?

The final example of a Jewish Hoffman movie can be understood once we have explored his previous Jewish movies, for the themes remain consistent: the shiksa, the Nazi-like image of the white (blue-eyed) Gentile, the superior intelligence of the Jew. Outbreak (1995) represents the Walter Mittyesque fantasies of the dominant group in Hollywood. In Outbreak, Dustin Hoffman plays an eccentric but elite scientist who agrees to save society from a mad military man bent on controlling America through biological warfare. The theme is heroic outsider scientist saves society from corrupt and malevolent insider elite, or, more specifically, Jewish outsider saves society from Gentile elite (which Bernheimer dubs "Jews to the Rescue" ).

For starters, Dustin Hoffman plays a brilliant scientist (a "smart Jew"), a role which is not so unthinkable given the enviable percentage of American Nobel Prize winners in science and medicine who are Jewish. In addition, Hoffman's character, Col. Sam Daniels, is married to a beautiful blonde (the shiksa theme). From Hoffman's omnipotent vantage point, he can see what is good and bad for society, and the Gentile elite--represented by the military (the Cossack or Nazi theme)--are a "them" who must be confronted (in this case, a United States Army general, the evil mastermind, chillingly portrayed by Donald Sutherland, replete with white hair and piercing blue eyes, a suitable Aryan). Colonel Daniels appeals to the masses to follow his lead to save themselves from imminent destruction at the hands of the corrupt elite. After some unconvincing heroics--such as jumping from a helicopter onto the fog-enshrouded deck of a ship at sea--he succeeds. Not only does he succeed in defeating the corrupt general, he finds the cure for the lethal "outbreak," saves his dying (estranged) wife's life, then gets her back in the end. Just as in other movies examined here, Hoffman's characters have exhibited a wide range of common Jewish themes. ").

Steven Spielberg
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 03:22:32 AM by Eire

Stephen Spielberg represents an ambivalent case of Jewish identity and the construction of culture, at least earlier in his career. Prior to filming his Academy Award-winning Schindler's List (1993), some film analysts found Spielberg's Jewishness to be relatively minor as far as his film products were concerned. For example, Lester Friedman, whose interest in Jewish images is well known, wrote just before the release of Schindler's List, "Spielberg's cinema seems to demonstrate his unwillingness to focus overtly on Jewish characters, although his mother was raised as an orthodox Jew amid other relatives who were part of the Yiddish theater and Vaudeville."

Yet, there were signs that Spielberg was more influenced by his Jewish identity than Friedman or others recognized. For instance, on doorposts of Amblin Entertainment "there are many mesusas--the miniature prayer scrolls observant Jews attach to door frames--in wood cases that match the pueblo decor." In addition, his mother had a kosher restaurant in Hollywood called the Milky Way. Brought up in an Orthodox household, Spielberg told one interviewer that "his earliest memory from childhood--the imaginative source of nearly all of his most important movies--was of an Orthodox synagogue in Cincinnati, with old men wearing beards and black hats springing brightly out of a darkness akin to the onset of Creation or to a movie theater before the projection rolls." A brief exploration of Spielberg's identity, then, may show how Jewishness has left its marks on American culture.

There can be little question that a student of American culture needs to consider the power of a producer of culture like Spielberg because, as New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner writes, Spielberg is
the most popular filmmaker in the world and the king of an entertainment empire whose esthetic--a sort of right-minded, irony-free, thrill-seeking esthetic--has permeated the cultural landscape. His creations live on not only in classroom discussions but also in theme parks, on lunch boxes, in TV commercials. His reach is so great and his power so boundless that when people in Hollywood talk about him, it sounds as if they are talking about God, with one difference: people are not afraid to badmouth God.

Such Hollywood hyperbole is to be expected, but clearly Spielberg has left an impressive mark with the movies he has directed and produced. As for translating identity into film product, a whole stable of writers and critics have tried to understand what makes Spielberg tick. For instance, in "Steven the Good," journalist Dubner locates what he believes is the animating light in Spielberg's life. After Spielberg discusses the kind of American morality embraced by Norman Rockwell, Dubner writes that Spielberg "might well have been describing himself, of course. For more than 25 years," Dubner continues, "Spielberg has been an astonishingly good storyteller, and his films have come to represent a morality that it seems churlish to argue against, a morality of populism and patriotism, a morality derived more from intuition than intellect, a morality that yearns above all for goodness to trump evil."

Indeed, with only a few exceptions, this seems quite true. Comparing himself to the Boy Scout that he once was, Spielberg reflects on the suburbs of his youth that have become such common fixtures of his movies. After spending his early years in Cincinnati, the Spielberg family eventually moved to the comfortable suburb of Scottsdale, Arizona, where Spielberg disliked being "a scrawny kid in gentile suburbia," a place where he felt it was possible to get hit in the mouth just for being Jewish. Later, for his last year of high school, the family moved again, this time to Saratoga, California, which Spielberg described as being "as gentile as gentile can be."

Despite these Jewish concerns, it was not until Schindler's List that Spielberg fully embraced his Jewishness on screen. As journalist Dubner writes, Schindler's List "stunned his critics; seemingly overnight, he was reborn: Oscar winner, public Jew, a filmmaker who could, for the most part, balance his competing passions for rigorous storytelling and moral uplift." This progression from a Jewish upbringing to an early adult diffidence toward things Jewish to a conscious re-embrace of Jewishness every bit embodies the theme in Part One characterized by the line "I had not known how deeply Jewish I was!" Further, Spielberg's specifically Jewish activities have increased; he has established the Shoah Visual History Foundation and the Righteous Persons Foundation, the latter of which uses profits from Schindler's List to aid Holocaust and Jewish-continuity projects ($37 million as of 1999).

Still, one still wonders if Spielberg's earlier films were as bereft of Jewish sensibilities as many critics believe. With the confirmation that came in 1993 of Spielberg's "public" Jewishness, one might return with more confidence to his earlier movies to search for Jewish subtexts. Toward that end, there are ample clues. For example, as far back as the mid-seventies, Spielberg was casting a Jewish actor as a Jewish character. Asking "How Jewish are Mr. Spielberg's pre-Schindler movies?," two biographers "are struck by Mr. Spielberg's casting his self-described alter-ego, Richard Dreyfuss, as the implicitly Jewish protagonist of Jaws and Close Encounters."

In the 1980s, Spielberg's Jewish themes became a bit more pronounced. For example, though the third rendition of the Indiana Jones saga makes the hero's quest "uniquely Christian" by revolving around the search for the Holy Grail (the chalice from which Christ is said to have drunk at the Last Supper), the original, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), was more plausibly a Jewish tale. In addition to director Spielberg, there were the two Jewish writers, Philip Kaufman and Lawrence Kasdan. (Producer George Lucas is a Gentile.) Film experts Dresser and Friedman argue that Raiders "reads as Jewish insofar as it postulates the existence of the Ark of the Covenant of Hebraic Law, literally, the casket containing the Ten Commandments." Needless to say, the familiar theme of revenge against the Nazis sits in the fore.

American Tail (1986) is another Spielberg creation, one which revolves around a family of Jewish mice who are menaced by Russian Cossacks and Russian cats. Fearing for their lives, they make the decision to emigrate to America because, we are informed by one song, "There Are No Cats in America," a line which suggests a belief that American Gentiles would be much less anti-Semitic than Russian ones. This animated film becomes a historical telling of Spielberg's immediate predecessors' lives and their transition from a tenuous existence in Russia to a safe and successful one in America.

Between directing the two previous films (and while directing the sequel to Raiders, Spielberg's production company, Amblin Entertainment, released Gremlins, which Time characterizes as being "developed and `presented'" by Spielberg and being one of his "children too." In fact, the movie begins with a panoramic shot of the mythical town of Kingston Falls, U.S.A., and the intro reads "Stephen Spielberg presents Gremlins." The question in this case is, to what extent did Spielberg influence the content of the film? After all, the director is Joe Dante, the producer Michael Finnell, and the screenwriter Chris Columbus. Yet, the film has what may be scenes with Jewish sensibilities.

Lester Friedman offers a generic rule of thumb which may apply here, since by 1984 Spielberg was most certainly a Hollywood power with whom to be reckoned:

To write as we do about directors will strike some as naive because commercial filmmaking is obviously a collaborative effort that depends on many people, technologies, situations, and conditions beyond the control, conscious or unconscious, of any so-called auteur. Yet, those involved in filmmaking know that almost all production crews function via a hierarchy. Anyone may contribute ideas, but one person (usually the director) must ultimately decide what is and what is not include in the final work.

In the case of Gremlins, could Spielberg's sponsoring of the movie have had a major impact? Stylistically, this film is completely Spielbergian. It begins in a setting typical of Spielberg--the suburban paradise. Snow is on the ground and local residents are preparing for Christmas. One telltale sign that Gremlins is a Spielberg movie is that the father is of little consequence, appearing on at the beginning and the end of the film. Spielberg's difficulties with his own father, some have suggested, are responsible for this absent-father theme. Openly blaming his father for his parents' divorce when he was in his teens, Spielberg always had a distant relationship with his self-absorbed father. Thus, one critic writes, "The pathos of the absent father remains the mostly deeply felt emotion in Mr. Spielberg's universe." On the other hand, writes Richard Corliss, "the mother figure is the repository of strength and common sense."

Re(1): Steven Spielberg
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 03:24:15 AM by Eire

In Gremlins, the protagonist, Billy (Zach Galligan) receives a cute "mogwai" from his inventor father, but the creature spawns siblings that are far from full of holiday cheer. On the contrary, they bring violence, mayhem, and death to this otherwise happy time of year. For instance, when Billy's mom is home alone making Christmas cookies and listening to Christmas music on the phonograph, she is attacked by a squad of hideous gremlins, long in tooth and with murder on their minds. After stabbing one through the heart, the mom dispatches another with a deft push of the blender switch, turning the previously Christmas-cookie-aroma-filled kitchen into a bloodbath. Retreating to the living room, she is literally attacked by the Christmas tree, which is full of gremlins. This conflation of a joyful Christian symbol with diabolical evil is a central device of the whole movie.

For example, when the police pass by Billy's neighbor's house, they are greeted by the neighbor, dressed as Santa Claus, running about helplessly as gremlins eat into his brain. Next, Christmas caroler gremlins arrive at grouchy old Miss Deagle's door, only to send her flying out the second-floor window of her house in a malfunctioning motorized chair.

The scenes which tie this movie in with a distinct Jewish sensibility come with two otherwise extraneous dialogues between Billy and his girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates). Coming out of the blue as it does, apropos of nothing, its message is worth attention. Passing a group of Christmas carolers singing "Silent Night," lights twinkling on the snow-covered outdoor trees, Kate suddenly and soberly states that Christmas is when "a lot of people get really depressed. . . . While everybody else is opening up their presents, they're opening up their wrists. It's true. The suicide rate is always the highest around the holidays." When she volunteers that she doesn't celebrate Christmas, Billy asks, "What, are you Hindu or something?" Quite obviously, this reference to a non-Christian religion is meant to stress that not 100% of Americans are Christian. Historically, the non-Christian group in America that has had mixed feelings toward Christmas is not Hindus, but Jews. Here the mask is in place but the true message is easily discernible, the code intelligible.

Much later in the movie, after the gremlins have wreaked havoc on Kingston Falls, Kate launches into a startling egregious horror story about Christmas, one that is completely independent of the blood-thirsty gremlin theme, leaving one wondering what the added anti-Christmas animus serves to accomplish. Surveying the rubble left by the marauding gremlins, Kate intones that now she has another reason to hate Christmas. She then recounts a bizarre tale of a Christmas past. When she was nine, she and her mother were decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, waiting for father to come home from the office. They waited, but he never came. Christmas came and went, then, four or five days later, as the temperature dropped, Kate went to make a fire; "And that's when I noticed the smell." Thinking it was a dead cat or bird, they called the fire department to clean it out, but instead "they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He'd been climbing down the chimney on Christmas Eve, his arms loaded with presents. He was going to surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck, died instantly. And that's how I found out there was no Santa Claus."

Because of the inclusion of two negative scenes completely unrelated to the gremlin horrors, this film cannot be easily dismissed as a Tim Burton-esque Nightmare Before Christmas because of the serious nature of Kate's dialogue and their obvious message quality. On many levels, those who created this film do not wish to portray Christmas positively. As we find out later with Schindler's List, Spielberg indeed has a strong Jewish identity. That he has indicated that he felt like an outsider in the Gentile communities in which he lived would suggest that one of the most culture-laden holidays of the year--Christmas--holds some ambiguity, if not hostility, for him. (Recall Stephen M. Feldman's "critical history" account in Please Don't Wish Me a Merry Christmas of Jewish anguish regarding Christmas.) As head of the studio which produced Gremlins, Spielberg is able to choose who writes, directs, and interprets the films he sponsors. The final point, then, is that I have read Gremlins as Spielberg's own conflict with Gentile Christmas.

Re(2): Steven Spielberg
Posted on July 12, 2003 at 03:26:05 AM by Eire

Finally, I wish to shift gears in order to briefly comment on Spielberg's latest mega-hit, Saving Private Ryan (1998). In this case, we might surmise that the movie is a parable for what Gentiles (Ryan's three dead brothers--Ryan, of course, survived) sacrificed so that others might live, including, among others, Jews in Europe and America. This theme certainly goes against much Jewish discourse today on what Gentiles did NOT do--think of Goldhagen's thesis, David Wyman's Abandonment of the Jews, criticism of the Pope, etc. Spielberg uses the common war movie device of "multi-ethnic platoons" to construct his band of central characters. Tom Hanks's character, Capt. John Miller, is Mr. Everyman, a school teacher from Pennsylvania. There is a smart-mouth Brooklyn guy, a Jewish soldier, and a scripture-quoting sharpshooter, among others, all joined together in search of an Irish Catholic boy from Iowa. While many other modern Hollywood portrayals of the American soldier and of Christians have been negative, Spielberg is consistently respectful of each ethnic character he creates. For example, the Christian sharpshooter is portrayed positively, and there is no hint of irony when his deeply-held Christian belief is juxtaposed with his uncanny ability to kill; he is doing God's righteous work.

In fact, Spielberg is reluctant to show the Germans as monsters. When Carpazo, one of the American foot soldiers, is hit by a German sharpshooter while trying to save a young French girl (these American troops are not the rapists of young girls that appear earlier in, for example, Oliver Stone's Platoon), he is left dying in a mixture of rain and his own blood. Surveying this scene through his rifle scope, the very young German soldier does not smirk or smack his lips when he sees that his prey is helpless; instead, a look almost of pity comes across his face as he presses his eye back to the eyepiece, ready to resume the grim duties of war.

Later, when the Jewish soldier is killed ("The harshest killing by far befalls Private Mellish, a tough Jewish soldier who is knifed through the heart, slowly, by a German soldier who shushes Mellish like a baby as he leans on the blade" ), the German is not shown as particularly blood thirsty. His actions, as are the actions of most of the Germans in the film, fall within the realm of what the average viewer might feel is part of the hell of war. But why did Spielberg reserve the most personal killing for the only Jewish grunt in the platoon? I believe it may be seen as a metaphor for what the German people did to the Jews or, more generally, a symbol that the Jew is the eternal victim. Still, in Schindler's List, most of the Schindlerjuden survived; why did Spielberg kill off Private Mellish?

An interesting aspect of this film and Spielberg's own Jewish identity has to do with the opening and closing scenes of the movie, both of which show the now-aged Ryan on a pilgrimage to the Normandy grave of Capt. Miller. Walking across the lush, manicured lawn, Spielberg the director pans to a stark white cross. Immediately following this, however, is a grave marked by a white Star of David. By the camera's own admission, though, the thousands (and tens of thousands) who gave their lives at Normandy were overwhelmingly Christian; what does Spielberg mean to say by his one-two exposition of Gentile and Jewish grave markers? In the movie's closing, this sequence is not only repeated, it is lengthened and more drawn out. Surely Spielberg is not suggesting that it was somehow a fifty-fifty effort between Jews and Gentiles to take Normandy from the Germans? Was Spielberg using the Star of David for the millions of Jewish souls lost in the concentration camps? There is no way of knowing from seeing only the film itself.

Finally comes Spielberg's latest movie, the high-tech A.I. (2001). Quite clearly this film is a paean to the virtues of motherhood, or, more surprisingly, Gentile motherhood. This movie is consumed with adoration of "Aryan" figure such as the mother with the shiksaesque nose, but particularly with the robot boy with thin blond hair ("white," they call it in the movie) and piercing yet sensitive blue eyes. True to form, Henry, the father figure makes a cursory appearance, then vanishes. In fact, though he is married to Monica, the mother-figure in the movie, he does not adopt the robot boy, David, while Monica does. Thereafter, David competes for his "mother's" love, both with Henry and with the newly recovered Martin, the real son of Monica and Henry. Finally, when David succeeds in returning home, Henry is entirely absent, and David literally shares the bed with Monica. No reference whatsoever has been made to Henry since David left home.

The circumstances surrounding David's banishment involve a series of misunderstandings where David is blamed for trying to hurt both Monica and Martin, setting up Oedipal struggles with Henry. Eventually, Henry wins out and David is forced to leave home. Reluctantly, mother Monica abandons him and robot Teddy (Bear) in the dark forest. The quest to regain his mother's love by becoming a "real boy" drives the rest of the movie.

Interesting, Spielberg explicitly employs Christian imagery to narrate David's journey toward humanity and a reunion with his mother. Though Christ is absent from this imagery, "Mother Mary" is clearly the model for David's link to home. After "Dr. Know" tells him that the "Blue Fairy" will lead him home, David ventures to find her. In this deliberate parallel to the wooden-doll Pinocchio saga, the Blue Fairy is an accurate copy of Mother Mary. In fact, in a scene where aliens descend below the sea to find David fixed in awe of Mary/the Blue Fairy, the underwater buildings of New York City resemble a Gothic cathederal and Christian music fills the air. Significantly, perhaps, these aliens have arrived two thousand years after David first went in search of the Blue Fairy. Why two thousand years?

The Blue Fairy eventually leads David home (through the intervention of the aliens) and David is reunited with his mother (Mary?) one last time. Playing the savant child to the bewildered yet holy mother, David realizes his dream of becoming a real boy and gaining his mother's uninterrupted and unconditional love. With a remarkably weak storyline throughout, I can only suppose that this longing for a mother's love is a biographical rendering of Spielberg's own inner longings. And given the fact that Spielberg's current marriage (his second) is to Gentile convert to Judaism Kate Capshaw, I might also suppose the final scene of reunification with a beautiful young Gentile woman might also represent a romantic image in addition to the filial one. In any case, the images of the main characters involved are starkly Gentile, and the adulation over the Mary/Gentile female figure is the core of the movie. Possibly this represents the shiksa motif in its most innocent form.

Overall, just as in A.I, Spielberg's world has been an upbeat one, and he has tended to confirm that America has been good for Jews and for others. While this may be true of most of Spielberg's movies, however, it does not hold true for others who examine the relationships of American Jews and Gentiles.