Eye on Hollywood: Reel Bad WASPs

Originally posted on August 7, 2008

Today the leisure suit of the mid-to-late 1970s is rightly ridiculed. Many things were askew in those years of economic “malaise” and high interest rates. Most importantly for whites, the 1960s cultural revolution had settled into a prolonged assault on the cultural image of whites.

Needless to say, Hollywood was an enthusiastic participant in this assault. An interesting example is the movie Caddyshack, starring Chevy Chase. Caddyshack is doubtless a trivial movie, but it has been heralded as one of the funniest movies of all time, and it continues to be shown endlessly in TV reruns.

Although the point is presumably lost on the vast majority of its audience, the real narrative of the movie is the Jew-as-outsider “comically” assaulting the WASP-as-insider. The setting of Caddyshack is apt, for the private country club represented one of the last bastions of WASP privilege.

Jewish resentment over WASP snobbery toward upwardly mobile Jews continues to rankle among Jews. For example, Jacob Heilbrunn emphasizes this resentment as a key motivator for the neocons who have been so influential in the current Bush administration. The early neocons attempted “to overturn the old order in America …. There were the fancy clubs, the legal and financial firms that saw Jews as interlopers who would soil their proud escutcheons and were to be kept at bay. Smarting with unsurpassed social resentment, the young Jews viewed themselves as liberators, proclaiming a new faith” (p. 28). The same could be said of Jews in Hollywood, doubtless including Harold Ramis, the director and a co-screenwriter of Caddyshack.

The tension in Caddyshack revolved around the way the uncouth Jew played by Rodney Dangerfield upset the elite country club’s leader, played by Ted Knight, creator of the Ted Baxter buffoon from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In Caddyshack, he reprised the role of a “vain, pompous, dim-witted” WASP. As Judge Smails, Knight was always an easy target.

Accompanying Judge Smails are other representatives of the WASP elite: Episcopal Bishop Pickering and a medical doctor known as “Dr. Beeper.” In addition to humiliating Judge Smails on the links, Dangerfield’s character continued to do so in the dining hall of Bushwood Country Club, loudly passing gas and vulgarly insulting the judge’s wife.

When the film moves to a sailing competition, the ethnic warfare becomes explicit. Dangerfield commands a massive cruiser that outclasses and destroys the judge’s more modest craft, tellingly christened “The Flying WASP.” The boat is destroyed when Dangerfield drops his anchor through its deck. “Hey, you scratched my anchor,” is his cry.

The film ends by making the statement that the gentile characters represented by the judge, bishop, and doctor are both bumblers and hypocrites, thus undeserving of their status. The judge, for instance, cheats in the final golf match and also bribes his caddie to remain silent.

When the sequel Caddyshack II appeared 1988, acerbic comedian Jackie Mason took Dangerfield’s role (Mason, like his father and three brothers, is an ordained rabbi and sounds like a Yiddish speaking refugee from an Eastern European shtetl). From the beginning, a clear binary is established: good Jews/bad WASPs. This begins when Mason’s daughter is mocked by the outrageously WASPy coed “Miffy” with whom she is playing golf.

When Mason first appears, he is the wealthy boss of a multicultural crew of laborers—mostly Mexicans and blacks. Showing sympathy for the plight of his Mexican workers, he deliberately loses at a game of cards. In contrast, when he meets a white male iron worker high up in the girders of his new building, he tells him “Take chances, I’m insured.”

When Mason comes down from the building we see the animosity directed at majority American culture. Two local WASP activists wish to preserve a decrepit shack they call The Armstrong Estate, an important part of their history. Mason, on the other hand, indicates that their worthless era has passed, and commands one of his workers to level the shack with a bulldozer. The symbolism is clear: WASPs are being dispossessed by a multicultural crew led by a Jew.

The action in the club house is similar, with the diminutive Mason warily confronting standard issue WASPs. Displaying the common Jewish trait that all gentiles are pretty much the same, Mason takes in a roomful of dozing WASPs and utters “Take a look at this place. This is what the world would have looked like if the Germans had won.”

As in the original Caddyshack, a gentile setting is defiled by Jewish flatulence. This time it occurs during the refined sport of horseback riding. When his flawed WASP opponent (played by Robert Stack as Chandler Young) observes that “Your horse has quite a gas problem,” Mason replies, “It’s not the horse.”

The denouement to Caddyshack II is very much the same as its predecessor. Conflicts are to be settled by a “gentlemanly” round of golf, where once again the WASP cheats. Well, he does not exactly cheat; he hires an assassin to kill his rival Mason. Naturally, his plan backfires, and Mason wins. In addition, his daughter Kate rejects the opportunity to assimilate into WASP society by refusing to change her name from Hartounian to Hart. She embraces not only her father, but her father’s heritage as well.

Eight years later we saw a sequel to Caddyshack II in the form of the Adam Sandler vehicle Happy Gilmore. Here Sandler (performer of the Chanukah Song, which relates how excluded Jewish children feel around Christmas) plays the crude outsider, the “Jew” wearing the mask of a hockey player in a country club setting. The movie establishes the pathology of gentile society by introducing a thoroughly corrupt defending WASP golf champion. In contrast, Sandler plays the unschooled neophyte who can, nonetheless, drive the ball amazing distances.

As the film unfolds, a goyishe champion is yet again shown to be an unprincipled cheat. He stumbles and is exposed, while Sandler perseveres and wins.

In his Culture of Critique (2002), Kevin MacDonald emphasized Jewish hostility toward gentiles, where “Western civilization is portrayed as a failing, dying culture, but at worst it is presented as sick and evil compared to other cultures.” MacDonald caught this filmic version of hostility perfectly in a footnote to the original Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements.

There MacDonald argued that Jews had been “at the forefront of the adversarial culture in the United States, England, and France since the mid-1960s, especially as defenders of the adversary culture in the media and the academic world. The text of Culture of Critique, however, only skirted over Jewish efforts in the media to unravel the culture of their hosts. His note, which also describes the three country club comedies above, gave the promise of what could be found in a more thorough attempt:

A recent, perhaps trivial, example of this type of intellectual ethnic warfare is the popular movie Addams Family Values (released in November 1993), produced by Scott Rudin, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and written by Paul Rudnick. The bad guys in the movie are virtually anyone with blond hair (the exception being an overweight child), and the good guys include two Jewish children wearing yarmulkes. (Indeed, having blond hair is viewed as a pathology, so that when the dark-haired Addams baby temporarily becomes blond, there is a family crisis.) The featured Jewish child has dark hair, wears glasses, and is physically frail and nonathletic. He often makes precociously intelligent comments, and he is severely punished by the blond-haired counselors for reading a highly intellectual book. The evil gentile children are the opposite: blond, athletic, and unintellectual. Together with other assorted dark-haired children from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and white gentile children rejected by their peers (for being overweight, etc.), the Jewish boy and the Addams family children lead a very violent movement that succeeds in destroying the blond enemy. The movie is a parable illustrating the general thrust of Jewish intellectual and political activity relating to immigration and multi-culturalism in Western societies. It is also consistent with the general thrust of Hollywood movies.

Trivial it is not, for MacDonald’s insights provide the framework for examining modern Hollywood fare more generally, with results consistent with the above.

Of course, this scripted message about the low standing of majority culture is not restricted to what Hollywood crafts for the big screen. A similarly consistent message can be found in Hollywood’s television fare as well, as I argued in my essay The Jews of Prime Time.

Whether big screen or small screen, the message has been the same, as Hollywood insider Ben Stein noted. Writing in 1976 (and updated in book form in 1979), Stein explained how the preponderance of Jewish writers—men who assumed mainstream America hated them, so the writers loathed them in return—meant that a false image of majority Americans was being created:

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.

It really amazes me that American WASPs mounted absolutely no response to their scripted demonization, all in preparation for America changing from a Majority-ruled nation to one ruled by neocons and a nebulous global elite. This has amounted to an abdication with stunning consequences for those millions of Majority Americans who used to live under a regime that more or less liked them.

David Gelernter pointed out in a wonderful essay that “the old elite used to get on fairly well with the country it was set over. Members of the old social upper-crust elite were richer and better educated than the public at large, but approached life on basically the same terms.” The new, heavily Jewish elite is not only different from the non-Jewish masses, in Gelernter words, “it loathes the nation it rules.”

And that explains why Caddyshack, Caddyshack II, and Happy Gilmore excoriate the WASP characters in country club comedies.

Edmund Connelly is a freelance writer, academic, and expert on the cinema arts. He has previously written for The Occidental Quarterly.

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