Jews and Hollywood

Eye on Hollywood: Reel Bad Anti-Semites

Originally posted on August 20, 2008.

In my last column, I wrote that the Hollywood depiction of the Holocaust “was the result of a complex narrative full of sudden stops, starts and dead ends.” For instance, immediately after the war, Hollywood was far more interested in something closer to home for American Jews than the Holocaust: anti-Semitism.

This was addressed forcefully in 1947, when there was obvious coordination in addressing barriers against Jews moving into the American mainstream. First, Laura Hobson, daughter of two Jewish socialist immigrants, wrote “the runaway bestseller” Gentleman’s Agreement, a novel about social anti-Semitism. Not surprisingly, the Jewish-owned New York Times featured a book review which called it “required reading for every thoughtful citizen in this perilous century.”

Within months, a polished film version starring Gregory Peck was released (this film too failed to mention the Holocaust). In addition to taking home Best Picture for that year, it also won Best Supporting Actress and Best Director, along with a slew of nominations. The same year also saw Crossfire, another film about anti-Semitism. 

For a variety of reasons, the theme of anti-Semitism largely disappeared from movie screens after this, emerging only sporadically in films of the late sixties. When it did reappear, it was as a tangential subplot, though still obvious and important. For instance, Woody Allen inserted such a scene into Annie Hall (1977), which a film critic described thus:

The difference between Annie’s background and Alvy’s upbringing is brought into sharp relief in this short but memorable scene juxtaposing a dinner with Annie’s family and a meal chez Singer. The split-screen scene illustrates the huge gulf between the two cultures, both of which are ridiculed. Allen’s comic condemnation of both exaggerated extremes pits the stifling, superficial Halls, who quietly speak about swap meets as they pick at their skimpy meal and sip cocktails, against the vulgar, emotional Singers, who gobble a vast dinner as they argue loudly. Although Alvy may be embarrassed by his uncouth family, he shows even greater disdain of the cold, repressed, bigoted Hall clan. Annie’s brother Duane, played by Christopher Walken, is actually psychotic, and a mean-faced Grammy Hall is blithely described by Annie as “a real Jew hater.”

Then in the 1982 hit Porky’s there is a subplot that has newcomer Brian Schwartz bullied and challenged to a fight by Tim, one of the Porky’s gang. Losing the fight to a Jew, Tim is berated by his father, Hollywood’s stock Southern redneck, who himself picks a fight with teenage Brian. Ashamed, Tim intervenes and beats up his own father, thereby becoming Brian’s friend. Asked to explain his physical prowess, Brian says, “When you’re Jewish, it’s either fight or take shit.” Read more

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. Read more

Anti-White themes in Hollywood movies: Jews as elite outsiders

Hatred and [the] spirit of sacrifice . . . are nourished by the image of enslaved ancestors rather than that of liberated grandchildren. (Illuminations, Walter Benjamin 1968, 262)

I recently came across a very well-done video featuring Edmund Connelly’s TOO article “Reel Bad WASPs,” part of his excellent 8-part “Eye on Hollywood” series. I don’t know who produced the video, but it’s a great example of the effectiveness of this medium for getting out our ideas, with spot-on clips from the movies, and a calm, “just the facts” voice over.

It completely belies the constant refrain of the ADL that the Jews who dominate Hollywood just happen to be Jews — that their Jewish identity is completely irrelevant to American movies.

Read more

Jews, Hollywood, and Gaza: Some Thoughts

A few days ago I noticed the appearance of a truly remarkable full-page ad in the Hollywood Reporter. The ad, which I initially saw as a piece of poorly conceived propaganda, was concocted by the Anti-Defamation League, and called upon world leaders and ‘decent people everywhere’ to make sure that ‘Hamas terrorists’ cannot be rearmed so the ‘people of Gaza and Israel can move toward a more peaceful future.’

My immediate impression was that the ad failed on two levels. The first is the quote from the truly hideous Golda Meir: “We can forgive [them] for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with [them] when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Presented in bold, the quote reeks of an ADL desperate to counter the images of slaughtered children that continue to fill our television screens. A couple of important textual and contextual changes have been made to the quote — note the substitution of “the Arabs” from the original quote with the less pejorative “them.” But even more significantly, the original quote was referring to the deaths of sons and daughters on either side — soldiers rather than infants. The ADL has simply adapted the quote contextually in order to fit the current Israeli policy of mass child murder.

Even examining it in its new context, the central message being conveyed is that Israel is being forced to kill Palestinian children, and further, that Israel is distraught at being made to do this. Such a claim is ridiculous given world has seen images of Israelis making the bombing of Gaza’s schools and hospitals into a social occasion complete with snacks, drinks and selfies. Read more

Gary Oldman Becomes a Pariah

You have to wonder what Gary Oldman was smoking during his Playboy interview — the one where he defended Mel Gibson and said that Jews “run” Hollywood.

So they persecute. Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him—and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough. He’s like an outcast, a leper, you know? But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, “That fucking kraut” or “Fuck those Germans,” whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone, that we all stand on this thing going, “Isn’t that shocking?” [smiles wryly] All right. Shall I stop talking now? What else can we discuss?

It seems like every few years a Hollywood celebrity comes out and states the obvious—Marlon Brando, William Cash, Oliver Stone, Rick Sanchez, Mel Gibson, and now Gary Oldman. The list includes not a few Jewish commentators as well, including Joel Stein in the LA Times, Manny Friedman writing  in the  Times of Israel, Ben Stein (see below) and this issue of Moment.
The LA Times, on the other  hand understands how the game is played. Every year around Oscar time they put out editorials and articles bemoaning the “overwhelmingly white male membership of the academy” and that “film, TV diversity doesn’t look like America’s.” Then the next year, they do it all over again because nothing changes.

Some bastions of “White power” are not to be seriously contested. Read more