Nordics versus Implicit Jews in “The Switch”

We all know that the Jewish domination of Hollywood leads to consistently positive portrayals of all things Jewish and invidious portrayals of Christianity and anything touching on White identity or interests (see here, p. 53ff). But part of the art of Hollywood is to embed Jewish attitudes and values in other characters. After all, non-Jewish audiences are not going to relate to yarmulke-wearing, overtly Jewish characters preaching to them on the superiority of supposed Jewish values. So a more subtle approach is needed.

One such approach is to present characters that are Jewish in every way except that there are no explicit assertions of Jewish identity. Seinfeld was a great example. Although Jerry’s character was overtly Jewish, the character of George Costanza was obviously Jewish but presented as not Jewish. George is presented as Italian, but he is played by a Jewish actor whose parents on the show are also played by Jewish actors exhibiting stereotypical Jewish family patterns; George’s character was based on the show’s co-creator, Larry David who is quintessentially Jewish. It always seemed to me that the same could be said of the Elaine character, but perhaps less obviously so. She is played by a Jewish actress but is often seen wearing a crucifix; her name suggests she is Czech and in one episode she explicitly states she is not Jewish. But her character, her appearance, her interests, her mannerisms, her voice, and her rapport with Jerry and George seem obviously Jewish. None of this could be said about the Kramer character played by Michael Richards. Clearly a goy.

Such characters might be called implicitly Jewish—ways of expressing a Jewish sensibility without being overtly Jewish.

The Switch (2010), written by Allan Loeb, is a great example of implicit Jewishness. Here the motive for lack of explicit Jewishness is obvious. The movie is about nothing less than the contrast between Nordic and Jewish character traits seen as genetically caused—a point that seems to have been completely lost on critics. And while the movie is quite explicit about its presentation of Nordics, it would not want to draw too much attention to the contrast with Jewish traits, especially when it’s quite clear that Jewish traits are presented as superior.

The basic plot is that Kassie Larson (played by actress Jennifer Aniston) seeks a sperm donor because that seems the only way she can be a mother. She has a longtime friendship relationship with Wally Mars, played by Jason Bateman. Bateman is not Jewish, but compared to his rival, the very Nordic-looking Patrick Wilson, he could certainly pass as Jewish. The name ‘Mars’ is completely opaque  ethnically, so it his personality and attitudes that mark him as Jewish. Perhaps the main sign that Wally is Jewish is that, while he can’t relate at all to his Nordic rival, his best friend and confidante is Leonard, played by Jeff Goldblum, a quintessentially Jewish character actor who couldn’t possibly be seen as anything other than Jewish. Leonard runs a financial company where Wally is employed, and they have  a great deal of rapport.

Jennifer Aniston  and Jason Bateman

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman

The relationship between Kassie and Wally started romantically but never quite got to the point of marriage. She briefly considers Wally as the donor but rejects the idea; Wally seems ambivalent about the choice. She chooses Roland, played by Patrick Wilson, as the sperm donor. Roland is quintessentially Nordic in appearance and is referred to as “the Viking” in the film: blond hair, blue eyes, long face. He is athletic and handsome, and loves outdoor sports; he is named after an often romanticized Frankish military hero. He is also portrayed as intelligent—an Assistant Professor of English at Columbia. He is also presumably liberal: he specializes in feminist literary something-or-other. So what’s not to like?

Patrick Wilson

Patrick Wilson

Jeff Goldblum in The Switch

Jeff Goldblum as Leonard in The Switch

At a party in honor of the soon-to-be immaculate conception, Wally gets fall-over drunk and accidentally spills Roland’s sperm. He then substitutes his own, but has only a vague recollection of the event which he more or less completely suppresses. Kassie goes back home to Minnesota for 5 years; when she comes back she resumes her friendship with Wally, but begins seeing Roland romantically—the idea being that the three of them, including what they take to be their biological child, could become a family.

The problem is that Sebastian, the child, is not at all like Roland but quite a bit like Wally (including physical resemblance), setting off a culture clash. Wally comes off as a slightly less extreme version of Jewish neurotic character traits made famous by Woody Allen. Sebastian is a chip off the old block: neurotic and precociously intelligent, speaking in long sentences that seem odd coming from someone so young. Like Wally, he is prone to hypochondria, looking up diseases that he might have on WebMD. Like Wally when he was a child, Sebastian is victimized in school by a bully with an Irish last name—a stereotype of sensitive Jewish children being bullied by vicious non-Jews.

Sebastian is very empathic. We first get a glimpse of that when he refuses to eat duck because of how ducks are treated. This sensitivity is presented as entirely his own—the result of his precocious reading and his natural empathy, not as influenced by his mother.

Sebastian is very imaginative—for example, making up stories to go with the models in photographic frames. Wally describes himself and Sebastian as introspective and notes that Roland is not at all like that; he also points out that introspection is a superior psychological style.

Wally and Sebastian even have some of the same mannerisms. When they go to the aquarium, they both put their left foot sideways on a railing in exactly the same way—a touch that recalls Tom Bouchard’s famous studies of identical twins reared apart drinking the same brand of beer and smashing the used cans in the exact same way.  Wally and Sebastian get along famously, to the point that Sebastian sees Wally as a source of comfort in times of distress. All this makes  Wally recollect that he is in fact the biological father.

Roland tries his best to be a good father figure, but he and Sebastian have no rapport. Roland picks a rock-climbing venue for Sebastian’s birthday party, whereas super-empathic Sebastian wanted to have it at a kill shelter for dogs, hoping that a party attendee would adopt a dog. Sebastian is terrified of wall climbing (i.e., overly fearful of physical danger, an aspect of his neuroticism). Roland pushes the issue, getting Sebastian to climb the wall a ways, but then Sebastian cries out in terror, demanding to get down. Fearless Roland leaps to the rescue, but when Sebastian gets down he says it’s “the worst birthday party ever,” going to Wally and his mother for consolation rather than to the insensitive Roland. While Roland attempts to push his lifestyle on his son, Wally makes no such demands and is the essence of empathic concern. Count another one for the good guys.

Unlike  Wally and Sebastian, Roland revels in physically daring, risk-taking adventures. He doubtless thinks it only natural that his son would enjoy rock climbing. The taste for such things is a strong marker of implicit Whiteness (see “Extreme sports as a context for implicit Whiteness“)—definitely not for those inclined to neuroticism (see below).  There is an awkward scene where Wally and Roland go to a bar for a little male bonding. Roland tells Wally that Sebastian has told him that he hates him (Roland)—there is clearly no rapport at all between Roland and Sebastian. Roland is concerned because Sebastian “worries a lot, he questions everything”; Wally says that Sebastian is “neurotic” and Roland agrees. Wally then says, “so what’s the problem?” Wally explains that being neurotic is just an intense form of introspection that has a lot of value for forming opinions and points of view. Roland comes off as having good intentions but insensitive nonetheless. He is unable to see the deep nuances of problems. Roland thinks he can resolve his differences with Sebastian just by working hard at it; problems are solved by attacking them head on.

Wally can’t relate to Roland at all. Finding him unbearable, he wants to leave the bar as soon as possible. But Roland thinks they are hitting it off; he can’t see that Wally has no rapport with him and is trying his best to get away from him.

So both Sebastian and Wally despise Roland. On the other hand, Wally has much more rapport with his Jewish friend Leonard, played by Jeff Goldblum. Wally easily confides in Leonard, unloads his complaints about Roland’s insufferable personality to him, and listens to Leonard’s advice. When they are together there is an easy rapport resulting from their shared (implicitly) Jewish identity.

And it’s not just that Roland and Sebastian are a bad fit. Although Kassie is portrayed as not Jewish and from Minnesota with a Scandinavian last name (Larson), it’s clear that she has much more in common with Wally than with Roland. Kassie is implicitly Jewish. Roland takes her to his family’s vacation home in Michigan, and it’s obvious that Kassie is trying to force the relationship to work. Life in Michigan centers around outdoor sports—fishing, boating, hiking and probably hunting; but Kassie has no interest in them, yearning to be back in New York where she can get good cell phone reception (there’s a  scene where she is unhappy because she is forced to  use a pay phone) and eat Chinese food. (All the restaurant scenes are at Chinese restaurants, a Jewish stereotype. Significantly, when Kassie comes back from Minnesota, she and Wally meet at a Chinese restaurant.)

When Wally finally announces  that he is the father (in the most awkward manner possible, making me wonder at the emotional sensitivity of the screenwriter), Kassie, after a bit of anger at Wally, realizes that of course she, Wally and Sebastian are a natural family. They live happily ever after. Roland is out of the picture, and the next birthday party has nothing of the emphasis on physical derring-do that the “worst birthday party ever” had.

*   *   *

It would be easy enough to end it there, but the movie does provoke some thinking on how accurate these portrayals of Nordic versus Jew are. There is a general lack of good studies comparing the two groups, but it’s worth taking a shot. The portrayal of Nordics as low on neuroticism and loving physical danger and risk taking certainly conforms to common images. As noted above, extreme sports is a context for implicit Whiteness; it’s is an area where Nordic Whites dominate—hang gliding, mountain climbing, bungee jumping, skate boarding, speed racing in vehicles of all kinds.

The movie presents neuroticism as an intense form of introspection, but I am not familiar with any data supporting that theory. It’s interesting that the program of the Frankfurt School in The Authoritarian Personality was to present the most successful and socially approved (non-Jewish) members of society as suffering from a failure to “look inside”—that is, a lack of introspection:  “Surface security and self-confidence become signs of deep insecurities and unresolved hostilities symptomatic of a fear of ‘looking inside’” (see here, p. 185). On the surface, Roland is self-assured and confident, a very upstanding member of society. But he lacks introspection; his surface traits are nothing but masks for pathology. Ain’t psychoanalysis wonderful?

As a personality psychologist, all the data point to neuroticism being an indication of high emotionality. Emotions are the engines of behavior—energizing all of the personality systems, including positive emotions related to reward seeking. High emotionality can be very adaptive; highly emotional people react very strongly to their environments; they have strong motivational systems, including strong attraction to rewards such as financial gain and competitive intensity. (From my summary of Jewish personality, from Ch. 7 of A People That Shall Dwell Alone, p. 212: “The suggestion is that via processes of cultural and natural selection Jews have developed an extremely powerful set of psychological systems that are intensely reactive to environmental contingencies.”) But the downside is proneness to intense negative emotions such as Sebastian’s fear during wall climbing. Neurotic people show strong negative emotions in physically dangerous situations.

As to neuroticism resulting in better thought out opinions and points of view, I can see no evidence for that or any theoretical reason to think so. And given that I am typically not enamored by the opinions and points of view that are entirely mainstream in the Jewish community—particularly hostility toward the people and culture of the West, I am not at all inclined to think that Jewish psychology somehow results in enlightened opinions.

The stereotype of Jews as neurotic goes back to the nineteenth century (see, e.g., this article from the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906) and remains as perhaps the central stereotype of American Jews (e.g., here). It’s interesting that when Sebastian diagnoses himself, he comes up with cyclothymia, a mood disorder related to mood swings and emotional intensity—a mild version of manic depression. There is indeed evidence that Jews are more likely to be diagnosed with cyclothymia (see summary in Ch. 7 of A PeopleThat Shall Dwell Alone, p. 211ff).

As to Jews being more empathic, that would seem to be entirely in the mind of the screenwriter. I am aware of no scientific research supporting it, and it is certainly not at all part of the stereotype of Jews, except as it relates to empathy and rapport for other Jews.   Indeed, there is evidence that empathy by itself does not motivate altruistic behavior if the prospective recipient of the altruism is seen as a member of an outgroup. There is substantial research linking empathy to levels of oxytocin. However, oxytocin operates to make people more altruistic and defensive toward their ingroup— what Karsten K. W. DeDreu et al. label “parochial altruism.”

This rapport and empathy with the ingroup are compatible with a very long history in which Jews are seen as hostile and exploitative toward surrounding peoples—a prominent theme of historical anti-Jewish attitudes (see Chapter 2 of Separation and Its Discontents, p. 46ff). No serious scholar argues that Jewish support for the left (with its ideology of supporting social justice, the oppressed and downtrodden) is motivated by altruistic or humane motives (see summary here, p. 79ff); far more likely are motives of hatred toward the traditional culture of the West seen as anti-Jewish and thus warranting displacement. Indeed, Jewish involvement in the left has been drenched in the blood of the native peoples that have come under the power of Jewish hostile elites in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. Ask the Palestinians about Jewish empathy.

Here’s a recent example of Jewish parochial empathy from an article on the Hasidim in New York by Gavin McInnes in Takimag:

I was talking to an EMT [Emergency Medical Technician] on a shoot recently and he told me about a car accident where a guy from Africa was mangled beyond belief and the Hasidic Jew in the next car may have possibly hurt his neck. … So when my EMT pal shows up, he realized he was going to need help getting the black guy out of the car. He asks the Hatzalah [i.e., Hasidic “EMT guys who wear yarmulkes and have vests with Hebrew letters on them”] to assist, but they refuse and focus all their attention on their comrade. When the cops show up, a rookie demands they help and after getting refused, he vows to make them pay. It’s illegal for a civilian to refuse to help a cop. These guys were registered emergency responders. According to the EMT I spoke to, the cop wouldn’t let it go and kept demanding these volunteers be punished for breaking the law. The cop was eventually rewarded with a brutal night shift in the middle of nowhere.

Empathy is the emotion that energizes love, prototypically emotions within the nuclear family. As noted by John Murray Cuddihy in his classic The Ordeal of Civility, love as the basis of marriage was entirely foreign to the Jewish community:

In his insightful ruminations on Freud, Cuddihy (1974, 71) traces Freud’s views in this matter to the fact that for Jews, marriage was completely utilitarian. …  A disciple of Freud, Theodore Reik stated that the older generation of Jews held the conviction that “love is to be found only in novels and plays.” “Love or romance had no place in the Judengasse [Jewish quarter].” Love was therefore viewed by Freud as an invention of the alien gentile culture and thus morally suspect. Its true hypocritical nature as a veneer for and really only a sublimation of the sexual instinct would be unmasked by psychoanalysis. … It was a devastating analysis—an analysis with important consequences for the social fabric of Western societies in the late twentieth century. (Chapter 4 of The Culture of Critique, p. 125)

As a Nordic, Roland is thus much more likely to be motivated by empathy and affection for people unlike himself—a fundamental feature of Western individualist culture, where marriage is exogamous and based on love and affection, and where ingroups are morally defined rather than defined on the basis of kinship as is the case with Judaism (see “Moral Capital and White Interests“).

But that’s the power that comes from running Hollywood. Producers and screenwriters can make up any psychology they want. (A theme of The Culture of Critique is that it’s the same with theories of anti-Semitism inspired by psychoanalysis, most notably the theories of the Frankfurt School.) And it’s no surprise that the results reflect very well on Jews but result in invidious portrayals of non-Jews (as documented repeatedly by Edmund Connelly, here and here), and particularly of Nordics as the main group that Jews have been competing with since they arrived in large numbers over a century ago.

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