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1 RACE, AMERICAN JEWISH IDENTITY, AND 21 ST CENTURY U.S. FILM By DAVID REZNIK A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 David Reznik
3 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 4 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 6 Theoretical Assumptions and Conceptual Frameworks ................................ ............................. 9 Racialization and American Jewish Cinematic Stereotypes ................................ ..................... 12 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 20 Chapter Outline ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 27 2 AMERICAN JEWISH RACIAL IDENTITY POLITICS OFF AND ONSCREEN ............ 30 American Jewish Racial Identity Politics Off Screen ................................ .............................. 30 American Jewish Racial Identity Politics Onscree n ................................ ................................ 50 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ 61 4 ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 87 5 ................................ ................................ ................................ 119 6 ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 144 7 CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 174 The Dialectics of 21 st Century American Jewish Cinematic Racialization ........................... 175 21 st Century American Jewish Cinematic Stereotypes: Racialization or Not? ..................... 185 Study Limitations and Future Research Directions ................................ ................................ 194 WORKS CITED ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 197 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 206
4 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy RACE, AMERICAN JEWISH IDENTITY, AND 21 ST CENTURY U.S. FILM By David Reznik May 2010 Chair: Tamir Sorek Cochair: Hernn Vera Major: Sociology ical lens has emerged in film studies to help expand notions of difference, there are questions regarding its ability to address whether racialization persists in movies, particularly in the form of cinematic stereotypes. A poignant example of this issue is the question of American Jewish racial identity in U.S. film, as recent studies of American Jewish onscreen representations have steadily dropped explicit reference to race, opting instead to use the conceptual frameworks of culture and ethnicity in the ir analyses. In my study, the results of a qualitative content analysis of 125 American Jewish characters from more than 50 movies released in the U.S. since the year 2000 reveal that four of the most highly racialized stereotypes of American Jewish ident ity from 20 th century U.S. cinema persist in post Jewish over stereotype of American Jewish hyper appear to include a wider diversity of characters with regard to age, class, gender and sexual ity, the overall cinematic racialization of American Jewish identity embodied in these characters
5 seems to have changed relatively little in films from the new millennium. At the same time, a highly disproportionate number of the filmmakers whose work was included in my study are reveal the importance of adopting a dialec tical approach to studying race in film, recognizing the mutual reinforcement of structure and agency as well as material conditions and ideology, in producing particular onscreen forms of racialization. Future research along these lines may branch out be yond the study of stereotypes to include textual analyses of the racialization in these films, institutional ethnography of those filmmakers involved in producing these films, as well as focus group research with spectators of these films.
6 CHAPTER 1 INT RODUCTION ble to racial minorities in the U.S. This change in American conventional wisdom about race appears to parallel, temporally speaking, changes in the study of race at universities around the country. Specifically, the structurally oriented, philosophicall y materialist interrogation of race within a a new anti foundationalist generation of scholars. This theoretical debate with regard to race is highly visible in scholarship of American mass media, especially cinema. Film studies have not only been important to understanding race because of the seeming ubiquity of movies in the U.S., 1 but because of the relatively unique way Hollywood leads the American public r kheimer and Adorno) propagandizing the media consumption based society in the U.S. today as well as an ideological opiate offering an escape from reality through the supposed safety and anonymity of ture of reality identity politics since the very beginning of the movie industry in the U.S. (Parenti). Interestingly, though, the longstanding disciplinary tradition in film studies of identifying and critiquing visible representations of race onscreen, exemplified by voluminous scholarship
7 that subsumes racial i centred, poly [becomes] visually discernible [through] the production and circulation of the stereoty (Wiegman 159) in American movies are becoming less popular, replaced by more anecdotal, in to expand theoretical notions of difference, especially vis vis n arrower understandings of race addressing the question of whether racial stereotypes persist in U.S. cinema, and if so, what such ongoing imagery says about race, r ace relations, and racism in broader U.S. society. A poignant example of these developments in the study of race in film is the case of American Jewish persons. 2 Jewish persons are thought to have undergone a process of assimilation during the 20 th century of American Jewish identity declare that antisemitism, 3 as an institutionalized form of racism, has become virtually non existent in the U.S., and that, ironically, the most significant threat to American Jewish survival in this country are American Jewish person individuals themselves through their high intermarriage rates and relatively low birthrates (Dershowitz). identity parallels closely the historical changes in the research on American Jewish portrayals in U.S. film. Even though American Jewish cinematic representations have consistently been American Jewish imagery in film
8 away from the systematic study of filmic racial identity in its traditional materialist sense (Wiegman 157). Indeed, since the 1980s, research and theorizing about the onscreen displays of Ameri can Jewish persons, including even studies of American Jewish cinematic stereotypes, have steadily dropped explicit reference to American Jewish racial identity altogether, opting instead to analyze American Jewish onscreen portrayals using the conceptual frameworks of culture and ethnicity (Woodbury; Rosenberg; Samuels;Erens). It is within such a context that my study addressed the following research questions: Is American Jewish identity still racialized in 21 st century U.S. society, particularly throug h the mass media of cinema? If so, how and with what implications for the academic study of race, particularly in film studies? Specifically, which American Jewish racial cinematic stereotypes, if any, persist in 21 st century U.S. film? How do these st ereotypes differ from their 20 th century antecedents? How are the two similar? To answer these questions, a qualitative content analysis of 125 American Jewish characters from 53 U.S. movies released this decade was undertaken. Four of the most prevale nt and pronounced racialized stereotypes of American Jewish identity from 20 th century U.S. cinema were found to persist in 21 st century onscreen portrayals of American Jewish persons: the the newer versions of these stereotypes appear to include a wider diversity of characters with regard to age, class, gender and sexuality, the overall cinematic racialization of American Jewish 9) seems to have changed relatively little in the new millennium. These results indicate the utility of dialectically synthesizing the traditional materialist doctrine on race wit h the more
9 incorporating racialization as a conceptual framework for analyses of contemporary cinematic representations of racial identity. Theoretical Assumptions and Conceptual Frameworks Historically, scholarship of race has been one of the most significant areas of academic study in the sciences. However, there have been significant changes in the more recent study of race, race relations, and racism, with social and natural scientists coming to a tentative agreement that race, as traditionally understood, has little to no biological evidence, as there is often a greater degree of genetic diversity within historically constructed racial groups than between such gr oups (Fulwilley). This consensus has led to a noticeable shift from research and theorizing that views race as physical toward works that conceptualize race in increasingly metaphysical terms. In particular, the theoretical paradigm introduced by a newe r generation of scholars has raised the possibility of stripping race of its corporeality given their descriptions of race as logical end, race can be conceived as neither structural nor material, but rather simply a figment ts being a [race], it is about being thought of is sustained through symbolic regimes of language that summon its representation to life (Frankenberg), since race is then scientific basis.
10 ion for what and how they hought to have a material reality in and of themselves (Feagin, Vera, and Batur). Indeed, scholars working from this vantage point criticize that such philoso increasingly taking hold in the U.S. (Bonilla Silva). However, taken to its extreme, such an agency of the various actors and interests involved in racial identity politics. conundrum, there has been a growing predominance in social sciences literature of the concept ethnos or nation, since the 1990s (Barrett and Roediger). Thought to be a helpful alternative to racial identity since it highlights shared cultural practices as opposed to biological traits, ethnicity has become increasingly popular as a way of U.S. over the past two decades (Gibel Azoulay 90). Indeed, there is perhaps no greater testament seemingly incompatible terms that symbolizes the growing ambivalenc e about the former and increasing hope assigned to the latter.
11 It is important here to point out, however, that both idealism and materialism in their strong forms have been thoroughly critiqued as internally contradictory epistemologies (Jay). The mat erialist doctrine must always refer back to the realm of ideas, while idealism itself can only exist because of a material history which gave rise to it. Hence, taken to their extremes, the debate between the race is real and race is imaginary camps will always end up in an infinite regress logically speaking, as both perspectives fail to recognize the dialectical, lived experience of race as simultaneously material and ideological as well as structural and individual. And the conceptual frameworks of cul ture and ethnicity are also not sufficient for resolving the common represent analytically separate modes of identity that must be accounted for in their own right. Ultimately, then, it is the guiding theoretical assumption of my study that a dialectical synthesis of the competing schools of thought on race is necessary for two reasons: first, as a way of mitigating the potential of gravitating toward the theoretical extremes of materialism or idealism in their respective strong forms, and secondly, as a means of properly accounting for the both the persistence and metamo rphosis of race in the 21 st material conditions which shape collective and individual identity must be simultaneously upheld. on, peel re of
12 These guiding conceptual principles for my study emerge from the social constructionist scholarship that resists placing race within the dualist binary of physical reality or metaphysical fiction, instead conceiving of race as an embodied power relation. The theoretical focus here is constellation of mutually reinforcing social forces (including political economic structures, ideologi cal discourses, and subjective agencies) which produce particular forms of racialization. Such a dialectical understanding of race has significant consequences for identity politics, as it racist activism with out essentializing racial identity (Crewnshaw, Gotanda, Peller, and Thomas). And rather than politically neutralizing race [historical] spectrum of the human co My study thus takes as its inspiration the works of scholars as disparate as bell hooks, David McNally, material conditions and ideological superstructures, responsible for the racialization of American Jewish identity in Hollywood film. Racialization and American Jewish C inematic Stereotypes A helpful starting point for understanding how racialization operates in an increasingly white bina that
13 color terms remain vital for discussing the relations of political domination and subordination late 20 th century racialization several immigrant groups (including American Jewish persons), require a new conceptual (Mills 79). h including the American Jewish persons themselves, while emphasizing the divide and conquer racial identity politics within which those groups are structurally conditioned to participate in and structure can be particularly help ful in explaining the persistence of American Jewish cinematic stereotypes propagated by American Jewish filmmakers themselves. of the contemporary structures of rac ialization in U.S. society, it has its pitfalls. For starters, the 1987 Supreme Court ruling giving American Jewish persons the ability to file racial physiognomically distinctive sub other
14 words, despite the supposed 20 th by many contemporary scholars of American Jewish identity politics, the most significant legal institutional body in U.S. society continues to categorize American Jewish persons as a the U.S. today does not explicitly link racial identity to socio economic class, a fundamentally important element underlying new er forms of racialization in 21 st century U.S. society, especially for those groups like American Jewish persons whose identity is tied to their class based assimilation during the 20 th century. It is therefore helpful to enlist another conceptual schema for analyzing contemporary racialization in the U.S., specifically a framework introduced by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, a critical theorist of race that applies the tripartite model of racialization in South African apartheid to the predicament of Am erican Jewish identity within U.S. race relations today. To clarify, racialization without necessarily transferring the specific content of each of the three r acializing classifications in this structure; in other words, while she argues that the U.S. has a tripartite structure of racialization, Kaye/Kantrowitz does not posit that each of the three classifications is identical in content to the classifications t hat operated in apartheid South Africa. Specifically, in emergin g from the interplay of political economy, ideological discourse, and subjective agencies in contemporary U.S. society. The first two socially constructed racial categories are similar in tions, with the classification
15 particularly onerous [socio 2). The real theoretical innovation in this schema, though, is the identifi cation of a third has come to act as historical political economy of race ack economic life chance never immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, South and Eastern Asia, and the Middle East, or those parts of the world that are not typically considered to be the Global Sout h (i.e., Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, etc.); the descendents of indigenous peoples or former slaves as classification. Given the immigration history of the overwh elming majority of American Jewish persons in the U.S. (i.e. Ashkenazim from Central and Eastern Europe), their classification who are too little, while whites white men, to onto the two 3).
16 oversexed, deservedly poor, rebelliously violent, intellectually inferior, an d savagely uncivilized, wealthy, exploitatively manipulative, academically shrewd, and distastefully garish (123). It is important to point out here that both sets of stereotypes are negative when compared to the and conquer identity politics catalyz es a situation in This tripartite model of contemporary racialization in the U.S. accounts for the agency of American Jewish filmmakers (who hav e had a disproportionate influence on the movie industry and thus the representation of American Jewish onscreen racial identity), while incorporating the important structural issues of class, capital, and labor. Indeed, given its emphasis on the politica l interests undergirding each of the three categories of racialization, this conceptual framework recognizes that the formation of American Jewish racial identity onscreen is not simply the result of structural forces, but a dialectical process of racializ ing structures engaging with the differing Ultimately, it is not surprising, then, to find that the four most prevalent American Jewish cinematic stereotypes found i n previous scholarship of the subject are in almost complete
17 daughte r to marry Jewish; high maintenance daughters interested in shopping and material pleasure as opposed to pleasure in the bedroom; and men who possess a neurosis or avarice that f my study, such (both in physical stature vis vis her husband as well as through her beha vior), overprotective, loud mouthed, and pushy. Historically, such racialized imagery of child rearing, middle aged American Jewish women owes to the Jewish experience of diaspora, particularly the need for a tight knit family amidst the struggle for surv ival in often hostile environments (Antler). As one study of this stereotype explains, Jewish women were often structurally left with the sole responsibility of family management, a task that required the development of a strong personality and hyperbolic sacrifice of person well being for that of the children (Stora Sandor). And while other immigrant groups in the U.S. are also racialized through onscreen depictions of American Jewish maternal characters are portrayed as using to manipulate their family members, most notably their children (Prell 75). A perfect example of this American Jewish cinematic from the film New York Stories (Touchstone, 1989), whose overbearing nature is comically
18 literalized through her physical augmentation to the size of Manhattan, with her larger than life deal to the longst aggressiveness that threatens white womanhood juxtaposed with emasculation and symbolic castration (Wiegman 161). Howeve r, the American Jewish manifestations of this stereotype can be traced to the intersection of racial and sexual categories in European constructions of Jewish identity historically (Johnston). In particular, the traditional Yiddish theatrical character of physically undesirable, romantically ineffectual, and sexually impotent male upon whom the linking the Jewish circumc ised penis with the female clitoris (Stratton; Biale; Gilman). These characters are often racially marked by physical appearances that play to the worst antisemitic d/or as woman, 8 ). In other words, there are no after, hence the proclivity to long for a Gentile woman. Another Woody Allen film in this case Zelig (Warner Bros., 1983), exempl of his own identity and so eager to please given his pathologically low self esteem that he literally adopts, in a chameleon like manner, the identity of anyone with whom he interacts.
19 A white exotic, loose, and maternal 4 stereotype unique, though, is its connection to a constel lation of socio historical factors in the U.S. over the latter part of the 20 th century. Specifically, the defining features of this American Jewish racialized representation onscreen, namely obsessive materialism and a heightened aversion to sex, can be linked to the antisemitic assimilatory process whereby American Jewish persons entered into the Gentile dominated middle e par excellence marked by their hyper flashy physical appearances, including fashionably loud attire, hairstyles, and make up. The overindulged daughter emerging from a newly suburbanized American ny (Jeannie Berlin) in The Heartbreak Kid (20 th husband on their honeymoon for a Gentile woman. Finally, there is perhaps the oldest racialized stereotype, specifically the American Jewish projection of their own alienation and authoritari anism onto Jewish persons, the latter being the
20 subject of antisemitic myths claiming Jewish conspiratorial designs for societal domination through political deceit and commercial miserliness (Bronner 5). Dating back to the Medieval times and emerging mos t prominently in the political economic context of the shtetl pogroms and Nazi Germany, the racist caricature of an adult Jewish male as a Luftmensch es at the sight of money, has survived through the 20 th century in cinematic form (Brook 3). Specifically, male American Jewish movie characters have often been portrayed using stereotypical imagery canon of antisemit The Merchant of Venice Several characters from 1980s Hollywood blockbusters were racialized, even if subtly, as American Jewish in Wall Street (20 th Century Fox, 1987) and the title character Bugsy Siegel (Warren Beatty) in Bugsy interest and personal profit were shown as superseding all moral and ethical imperativ es, a clear tip of the hat to the Methodology Jewish representations in contemporary U.S. cinema was conducted. More than 50 feature length 21 st century movies from the U.S. were screened to identify if and how the four historically predominant racial stereotypes of American Jewish characters appeared in these films. Following the guidelines for conducting qualitative a nalysis of mass media content, all
21 Hocking 256) were established for inclusion in my study. Firstly, only films that were produced by U.S. movie production companies (including both Hollywood big budget blockbusters as well as limited release independent films) and released theatrically between 1/1/2000 and 8/31/2009 were included. At the same time, a film was included only if it featured at least one prominent character who was explicitly identified in the film as American Jewish 5 or whose otherwise amb iguous racial identity embodied pronouncedly at least one of the four cinematic stereotypes of American Jewish racial identity described above. Hence the unit of analysis for my study was American Jewish characters, particularly their physiognomic represe ntations as well as their in their respective films (Stacks and Hocking 258). To clarify, racially ambiguous characters who were not explicitly identified as American Jewish were chosen for analysis, but only if their physical appearance and/or actions matched the aforementioned historically constructed racialized stereotypes of American Jewish looks as well as behaviors. This method of operationalizing Ameri can Jewish racial identity bridges the to try and minimize the possibility of tautology in this methodology, notations were made regarding which, and how many, characters were explicitly identified as American Jewish in their films vis vis characters who were selected because they embody one of the four writing staff) were noted in order to compare the portrayals of American Jewish characters
22 produced by American Jewish filmmakers themselves versus those portrayals emerging from Gentile filmmaking endeavors. Finally, the budgets of the films were noted in order to analyze any distinctions between the racialization o f American Jewish characters in big budget movies versus independent cinema. either pre screening or background research conducted about them using online sources. 6 The films are listed here in alphabetical order (with studio and year of release in parentheses) n = 125): 25 th Hour (Touchstone, 2002) Jacob Elinsky (Philip Seymour Hoffman) The 40 Year O ld Virgin (Universal, 2005) Cal (Seth Rogen), Seth (Loren Berman), 50 First Dates (Columbia, 2004) Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) Adaptation (Columbia, 2002) Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage), Donald Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) Along C ame Polly (Universal, 2004) Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller), Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing), Stan Indursky (Alec Baldwin), Vivian Feffer (Michele Lee), Irving Feffer (Bob Dishy) American Pie 2 (Universal, 2001) Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), Noah Levenstein (E ugene Levy) American Pie 3: American Wedding (Universal, 2003) Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs), Noah Levenstein (Eugene Levy), Grandma Levenstein (Angela Paton) Anger Management (Columbia, 2003) Dave Buznik (Adam Sandler) Anything Else (DreamWorks, 2003) Jerry Falk (Jason Biggs), Amanda Chase (Christina Ricci), David Dobel (Woody Allen), Harvey Wexler (Danny DeVito), Paula Chase (Stockard Channing) Beerfest ( Warner Bros., 2006) Bride Wars (20 th Century Fox, 2009) Liv Lerner (Kate Hudson), Emma Allan (Anne Hathaway)
23 Confessions of a Shopaholic (Touchstone, 2009) Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) The Devil Wears Prada (20 th Century Fox, 2006) Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), Irv Ravitz (Tibor Feldm an) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (20 th Century Fox, 2004) White Goodman (Ben Stiller) Duplex (Miramax, 2003) Alex Rose (Ben Stiller), Kenneth (Harvey Fierstein) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Focus Features, 2004) Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) Everything is Illuminated (Warner Independent, 2005) Jonathan Safran Foer (Elijah Wood) Funny People (Universal, 2009) George Simmons (Adam Sandler), Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), Leo (Jonah Hill) Garden State (Fox Searchlight, 2004) Andrew Largeman (Zac h Braff), Gideon Largeman (Ian Holm), Sylvia Largeman (Jackie Hoffman) The Heartbreak Kid (DreamWorks, 2007) Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller), Doc Cantrow (Jerry Stiller) The Hebrew Hammer (Comedy Central, 2003) Mordechai Jefferson Carver (Adam Goldberg), E sther Bloomenbergensteinenthal (Judy Greer), Mrs. Carver (Nora Dunn) (New Line, 2009) Gigi Phillips (Ginnifer Goodwin), Anna Marks (Scarlett Johansson) I Love You, Man (DreamWorks, 2009) Barry (Jon Favreau) Inglourious Basterds (Universal, 2009) Smithson Utivich (B. J. Novak), Omar Ulmer (Omar Doom) I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (Universal, 2007) Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler) Igby Goes Down (MGM, 2002) Sookie Saperstein ( Claire Danes) Keeping the Faith (Touchstone, 2000) Rabbi Jake Schram (Ben Stiller), Ruth Schram (Anne Bancroft), Rachel Rose (Rena Sofer), Bonnie Rose (Holland Taylor), Ali Decker (Lisa Edelstein) Keeping Up with the Steins (Miramax, 2006) Benjamin Fie dler (Daryl Sabara), Adam Fiedler (Jeremy Piven), Arnie Stein (Larry Miller), Zachary Stein (Carter Jenkins), Irwin Fiedler (Garry Marshall), Rose Fiedler (Doris Roberts), Ashley Grunwald (Brittany Robertson), Casey Nudelman (Cheryl Hines)
24 Kissing Jessica Stein ( Fox Searchlight, 2001) Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) Judy Stein ( Tovah Feldshuh ) Joan (Jackie Hoffman), Josh Meyers (Scott Cohen), Esther Stein (Esther Wurmfeld) Knocked Up (Universal, 2007) Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), Jason (Jason Segel), Jo nah Lucky Number Slevin (MGM, 2006) The Man from Earth (Shoreline, 2007) Harry (John Billingsley) Meet the Fockers (Universal, 2004) Greg Focker (Ben Stiller), Bernie Focker (Dustin Hoffman), Roz Focker (Barbara Streisand) Meet the Parents (Universal, 2000) Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) (Lionsgate, 2008) Dustin (Jason Biggs) (Columbia, 2008) Norah Silverberg (Kat Dennings), Tal (Jay Baruchel) Pineapple Express (Columbia, 2008) Saul Silver (James Franco), Mrs. Mendelson (Mae LeBorde) The Producers (Universal, 2005) Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane), Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick), Mr. Marks (Jon Lovitz) Punch Drunk Love (Columbia, 2002) Barry Egan (Adam Sandler), Elizabeth Egan (Mary Lynn Rajskub) Reign Over Me (Columbia, 2007) Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) Requiem for a Dream (Artisan, 20 00) Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) Saving Silverman (Columbia, 2001) Darren Silverman (Jason Biggs) Sex and the City (New Line, 2008) Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Harry Goldenb latt (Evan Handler), Lily York Goldenblatt (Alexandra and Parker Fong) Sidewalks of New York (Paramount Classics, 2001) Benjamin Bazzler (David Krumholtz) Small Time Crooks (DreamWorks, 2000) Ray Winkler (Woody Allen), Frenchy Winkler (Tracey Ullman) Snatch (Columbia, 2000)
25 Superbad (Columbia, 2007) Seth (Jonah Hill), Fogell (Christopher Mintz Plasse), Officer Michaels (Seth Rogen) Taking Woodstock (Focus Features, 2009) Elliot Teichberg (Demetri Martin) Sonia Teichberg (Imelda Staunton), Jake Teichberg (Henry Goodman), Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy), Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff) The Thing About My Folks (Picturehouse, 2005) Ben Kleinman (Paul Reiser), Sam Kleinman (Peter Falk) Tropic Thunder (Paramount, 2 008) Les Grossman (Tom Cruise) Two Lovers (Magnolia, 2008) Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix), Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw), Reuben Kraditor (Moni Moshonov), Ruth Kraditor (Isabella Rossellini), Michael Cohen (Bob Ari) The Wackness (Sony Pictures Classics, 2008) Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck), Dr. Jeffrey Whatever Works (Sony Pictures Classics, 2009) Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) Of these 53 films, 36 (or just under 68%) featured a c haracter who was explicitly identified as characters who embodied racialized traits associated with the four traditional American Jewish cinematic stereotypes d iscussed above to a degree that overrode their otherwise ambiguous racial were the products of directors and/or writers who identify or are identified as American Je wish, cinema. Addressing the unit of analysis directly, 88 (or ju st over 70%) of the 125 characters listed above were explicitly identified as American Jewish in their respective films, meaning that less than 30% of the characters in my study were included as a result of the inferential interpretation of the researcher. 103 (or more than 82%) of this overall sample of 125 characters were in films
26 that were directed and/or written by American Jewish persons; 31 (or just under 25%) of the racters (27, or more than 87%) explicitly identified as American Jewish. Finally, there was a significant difference in the gender distribution of my study sample, with 88 (or approximately 70%) of the characters being male. As suggested by the relevant m ethodological literature, each film was screened at least twice whenever possible, 7 once without taking notes to become familiar with the narrative and plot structure of the film and at least once more, with diligent note taking on the characters to be ana lyzed for the study (Stokes). During data collection, four dimensions and layers for each character were noted (Berger 93): her/his physical characteristics (including the presence of any ced nose, dark hair with a curly texture, frail stature, etc.), social aspects (including her/his occupation, education, socioeconomic class, status, prestige, role, etc.), emotional nature (is she/he warm or cold? Powerful or weak? Anxious or calm? Stable or unstable?, etc.), and thematic concerns (her/his historical context, ideological views, political stances, value system, etc.). Upon completion of data collection, analysis and interpretation ensued whereby the constituent dimensions of these charact ers were re occur was used to a the historically constructed stereotypical physical and behavioral traits of American Jewish
27 apply, then the case was either excluded (with a description of why) or the assumed characteristics themselves were modified so that the case c ould become part of my study. In this manner, it was possible to showcase the ways in which the racialization of American Jewish persons onscreen has prevailed into the new millennium, while highlighting the distinctly 21 st century representations of Amer ican Jewish characters in U.S. film. Chapter Outline Chapter 2 provides a more detailed review of the literature on American Jewish racial identity politics, focusing on two seemingly contradictory social forces which have shaped the historical racializ ation of American Jewish identity: antisemitism and assimilation. Throughout, an attempt is made to demonstrate how the structural politics of American Jewish identity is linked to the subjective agencies of filmmakers producing onscreen racializations of American Jewish identity. This historical outline of American Jewish racial identity politics is necessary as a context for situating the cinematic stereotypes found in my study. Chapters 3 6 analysis of 125 American Jewish characters across 53 post Y2K U.S. movies. Specifically, each of these four chapters deals with one of the four historically constructed stereotypes found to persist in 3 the filmic stereotype of the overbearing American Jewish mother is discussed, along with how this racialized imagery has been extended to include non maternal characters given the shifting family contexts and issues in 21 st century America. Chapter 4 deals with the racialization of American Jewish males as ineffectual, particularly with regard to romance and sexuality, while highlighting how gender bending and sexuality blurrin g have facilitated the inclusion of American Jewish female characters in this category along with the increasingly popular homosexualization of American Jewish male
28 is addressed in Chapter 5 with special attention paid to a younger generation of emotionally self absorbed and materially spoiled brats across both genders. And in Chapter 6 the centuries old antisemitic stereotype of Jews as conniving Shylocks is upda ted with an account of relevant contemporary American Jewish characters on the big screen in the U.S., including those whose sinister schemes have little or nothing to do with financial gain per se. Finally, Chapter 7 connects the findings from Chapters 3 6 to the larger research questions my study hoped to address as well as the issues raised in Chapter 2 Specifically, the persistence and evolution of American Jewish filmic stereotypes is linked to the broader question of racialization in the United Sta tes today. Here the dialectical interplay of structure and agency in racialization is examined, with explicit discussion of the overwhelmingly disproportionate number of American Jewish filmmakers involved in the creative production of American Jewish cin ematic stereotypes. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are offered, including the link everything, including racial identity, is commoditized and sold for profit. 1 Americans spend, on average, more than one quarter of the ir waking lives consuming film, which is more than five times the amount the y spend reading (Vera and Gordon 8). 2 persuasive argumentation for the former offered in Lang. Specifically, Lang argued that unlike most, if not all, other racial/ethnic minorities in the U.S., the Jewishness of American Jewish American Jewish identity Also, rather than support a racial essentialism that defines the entire person through her/his racial identity [i.e. Jewish racial identity. 3 The was spelled in this manner given the history of the term provided in
29 Aramaic, etc.) in order to lend greater (pseudo )scientific credibility to their campaign against Jewish persons in German society. Given this problematic history and the questionable validity elf, there was no reason to capitalize it or hyphenate antisemitism. 4 Per the argument made in Biale, this acronym was used as infrequently as possible in my study given its suggestiveness of the anti Japanese racism that emerged from World War II. 5 Be cause most characters in films set in Europe during the Nazi Holocaust are not American Jewish (at least not during the setting of the film itself), hardly any films from the rich and diverse spectrum of this cinematic canon were included; only characters from these films who ( i.e. affiliated with residing permanently in America ) were used in my study. 6 Although this is not an exhaustive list of every single film that would have met my boundary co nditions, it represents a rather large sample size that achieved a clear saturation point of character portrayals All background research on these films, including inquiries into the ir budgets as well as the identity of th eir directors and writers, was c onducted using the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.com). 7 The films included in my study sample from 2009 that were limited to theatrical release (i.e. their DVD release date was after the cut off date for inclusion) w ere screened only once for financial reasons.
30 CHAPTER 2 AMERICAN JEWISH RACI AL IDENTITY POLITICS OFF AND ONSCREEN Although Chapter 1 offered a brief overview of American Jewish racial identity politics, it is important here to provide a more nuanced analysis of the dynamics relating to this issue. In particular, this chapter will provide the historical trajectory of how American Jewis h identity, and its manifestation onscreen in filmic portrayals, has been shaped by the dialectics of antisemitism and assimilation in U.S. society. It is through a thorough discussion of these topics f American Jewish identity in 21 st century U.S. film can be grounded and made more meaningful. American Jewish Racial Identity Politics Off Screen The history of American Jewish racialization in the U.S., like the racial history of the Jewish diaspora wo rldwide, is tied to the dialectically intertwined social forces of antisemitism and assimilation. Therefore, it is imperative right from the outset to define these two phenomena as best as possible, a task that has been the subject of much debate itself. Using the critical theories of race perspective, antisemitism is understood as an ideological and material power as Jewish by the hegemonic majority in a giv en society. Conceptualized in this manner, it is unnecessary to distinguish between institutional/public and interpersonal/private forms of antisemitism (a distinction that appears often in contemporary literature on antisemitism and will be critiqued lat er in this section), as the universal and the particular forms of this power relation are always already present in one another. Borrowing from Bauman (103), assimilation is defined as a socio racially hegemonic majority who have the power to demand the assimilation process in the first place; with the rise of modernity, capitalism, and nationalism, the onus to assimilate, which was
31 formerly understood in biological terms as being on constructed as a politically and assimilation, l ike race, are conceptualized in my study as embodied, historical, power based, and relational in nature. Whether one subscribes to popular myth that Jewish persons fled the lands of Palestine and dispersed across the globe, or the more controversial clai m that European Jews are, in fact, converts from central Asian tribes (Piterberg), race has always played a central importance in the social construction of Jewish identity. Cultural religious differences have, for centuries, been inscribed into physical markers that delineated Jewish identity from the Gentile majority, and this racialization plagued Jewish persons in all of the societies within which they found themselves. Indeed, antisemitism became a defining feature of what became known as European so routinely murdered Christians to use their blood during religious rituals (Perry and Schweitzer). As such, assimilation became a structurally necessary path for Jewish survival in Europe, as the threat of racialized antisemitic violence was omnipresent. However, it was in Medieval Spain that the modern day racialization of Jewish identity emerged (Cohen). Up to this point, Jewish persons had been racialized primarily through their Spanish Inquisition, though, Jewish persons b egan to be understood as tainted inexorably by hyper
32 that while s uch essentialism may seem contradictory to the logic of assimilation, since Jewish persons were seen as unable to escape their timeless racial deficiency in the eyes of the Gentile hegemon, social structural pressures still bore down on Jewish persons to a ssimilate, most often through an internalization of their own antisemitic racialization. With the Enlightenment, such racialized antisemitism, and the mutually reinforcing social current of assimilation, increased its foothold on Jewish persons living in European Gentile societies. As faith in the epistemological validity of physical sciences grew among the masses in Europe, so did the belief in the biological inherence of Jewish racial inferiority as a means of ich Jewish identity began to assume (Sutcliffe; from Jewish voices and feet to the Jewish psyche (Gilman). In fact, European modernity was hallmarked by an al political economic transition from feudalism to industrial capitalism and the commensurate worldwide economic depressions of the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries), became the mass ghetto ization, expulsion, and extermination of Jewish persons, culmina ting in the Nazi holocaust and the pogroms in Tsarist Russia/the Soviet Union. While most historical accounts have emphasized the relative racial respite that American Jewish persons are thought to have experienced vis vis their European counterparts, t he history of American Jewish identity is no less marked by a racialized dialectic of antisemitism and assimilation (Sachar; Sorin; Feingold; Gerber). Indeed, from the very first Jewish immigrants to land in what would later become the United States of Am European)
33 imported, eventually distinctly American antisemitism of Gentile colonial settlers and their progeny has structurally conditioned the assimilation process and all its discontents for American Jewish persons, while as similation has in turn impacted the evolving nature of antisemitism in the U.S. The first Jewish persons who migrated to the eastern shores of North America were Sephardim from Recife, a Dutch colonial island off the coast of Brazil, who settled in the D utch colony New Amsterdam (later renamed New York) (Schappes 1 5). Despite the fact that these Jewish settlers were seeking refuge after having attempted to defend Recife from Portuguese attack, their arrival was met with antisemitic hostility by New Amst erdam governor Peter Stuyvesant, who sought to expel the former on the European Gentile inspired, racialized ciety. Ultimately succumbing to the dictates of his superiors back in the Netherlands, who argued that the Jewish refugees could be structurally assimilated into Dutch colonial life, Stuyvesant admitted them but not without first implementing regulations that would serve as the first legal forms of antisemitism in America; these first American Jewish immigrants were denied the rights of public worship, land ownership, certain forms of trade, and bearing arms. Given the political economy of colonial life i n the Americas, such restrictions were especially egregious; the entire of European colonization was the trifecta of land/resource appropriation, religious proselytism, and military display, and thus from the outset Jews were structurally and conceptually constructed as an vis their Gentile counterparts who had no such legal limitations.
34 The antisemitism facing these first American Jewish persons can be understood to have structurally conditioned the beginnings of American Jewish assimilation. The evidence of this racialized dialectic is most obvious in the relatively small size of Sephardic Jewish communities A merican history, no Jewish community ever numbered more than 300 people and a social phenomenon which has come to be known as an existential crisis for the American Jewish community ( i.e. intermarriage between Jewish and Gentile persons in the U.S. ) began almost th century following American independence from Britain, the first Jewish persons in t he U.S. had already been relegated to living as individual merchants operating outside the mainstream political economic institutions of American society (Blakeslee 21). This emphasis in nascent American society on politically neutralizing Jewish persons by having them seek to identify themselves as individuals first and Jewish community members second (if at all) would eventually have significant and long lasting im pacts on the American Jewish racial experience; needless to say, facing the structural demands of a Gentile social order in which they had little to no control, whether acialized they faced (Wertheimer 35). Following the political birth of the United States of America, hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants from central Eu rope (mainly Ashkenazim from Germany) began arriving on American shores from 1800 1860, bringing about a new dialectical synthesis of antisemitism and
35 assimilation. Once again harkening a deep rooted, Medieval based European racism, the Gentile government leadership in Maryland, for instance, openly opposed a bill that would have granted s such, nullified any potential remedy for a lack of American Jewish communal political rights (Blau and Baron 49). Politically economically speaking, the antisemitism of the time was a reflection of emerging tensions between newly arriving Gentile immigr ants from Europe and their Jewish counterparts, initiated and stoked by entrenched Gentile leadership who engaged in divide and conquer politics by racializing the Jewish element of this immigration wave as conniving peddlers and untrustworthy traitors. T he established Sephardic American Jewish persons, victimized through the racial politics of antisemitism and atomized through the aforementioned assimilatory process of individuation and community neutralization, were unable to institutionally support thei r Ashkenazi co as it had been for the original Sephardic Jewish immigrants who arrived prior to the establishment of the United States; in both cases, the hegemonic Gentile majority created a conundrum for Jewish persons, in that the latter were racialized through antis emitism and yet the socially mandated assimilation process sought to strip them of their community identity so as to politically neutralize them. by an identity pol itics of confusion and contradiction. Like the relatively small numbers of Sephardim who migrated before them, the incoming German Jewish persons (who were, for the most part, decidedly poorer than their Sephardic counterparts and thus even more fervently
36 racialized by a Gentile majority who appropriated classism in their antisemitism) were forced to try and secure economic survival as individuals in burgeoning cities in which they settled, compromising their communal political power in the American social landscape. Indeed, the Gentile controlled political economy forced most newly arrived American Jewish persons to 22). In fact, any possibility for community oriented praxis among these German American Jewish persons was undermined by a growing internalized antisemitism and assimilatory divide and conquer politics practiced by the more economically secure of the gro up who began to immigrate during the latter half of this wave; structurally encouraged to work within, rather than against, the unabashedly capitalist material conditions and ideologies of a Gentile dominated American society, petit bourgeois German Jewish immigrants allowed class privileges to supersede any sense of collective identity with their equally racialized, working class Jewish peers, as the pursuit of individual financial wealth (characterized at the time by the establishment of various familial Jewish banking dynasties) outweighed political commitments to a growing American Jewish community. Rather than appeasing the Gentile masses through achievement and financial gains, however, the 19 th century structurally determined assimilation of American Jewish persons had not only failed to mitigate antisemitism, but had in fact reinforced it, and with significant consequences as far as racial identity for both ends of the American Jewish socio economic spectrum (Jaher; Korn). Indeed, an antisemitic pop ulist resentment surfaced during the Civil War, reaching its high point in 1862 when Union General Ulysses S. Grant ordered the expulsion violated every regulatio
37 Even though this ordinance was ultimately repealed by President Abraham Lincoln, such open and highly racialized hostility toward American Jewish persons, particularly against those who w ere the most vulnerable (i.e. working class laborers living in urban squalor, traveling merchants in the Midwest disconnected from community, etc.), spurred an antisemitism that developed across large swaths of Gentile society, particularly among the disp ossessed, poor farmers of the South and Midwest who lost the most during the War. However, such reactionary scapegoating need not be understood as having been born out of the socio economic underbelly of Gentile America; indeed, it was the Gentile elite i n American society who were displaying equal amounts of antisemitic racial animosity in their own spheres of activity as well. A particularly poignant example of this racialization was the increasing quantity and prominence of exclusionary restrictions in nouveau riche Saxon Protestant enclaves of wealth and prestige; as Joseph Seligman, a wealthy Jewish businessman, found out the hard way in 1877, luxury resorts and other spaces of Gentile status across the No rtheast were routinely denying Jews onto their premises on racial grounds (Blakeslee 24). This double pronged, racialized groundswell of antisemitic hostility was dialectically synthesized with another historical period of assimilation at the dawn of the 20 th century, a time period which saw the largest influx of Jewish immigrants in American history. Between 1881 and 1914, approximately two million Jewish persons came to the U.S., more than doubling the entire American Jewish population; overwhelmingly, these immigrants were from Eastern Europe, especially Russia and Poland, and served as a source of cheap labor for the turn of the (Blakeslee 25). More than any other Jewish immigrant group before them, then, the Eastern
38 Gentile) American capital and its hegemonic racializations. Characterized most pronouncedly by their poverty, the mere presence of this Jewish immigrant proletariat toiling in large urban centers catalyzed an even greater public outpouring of antisemitism. The lynching of Leo Frank in Georgia, the emerging pseudoscience of eugenics and I.Q. testing, and the government and Jews in U.S. society. Indeed, the antisemitic quotation featured in the title of my study was taken from a Senate Judiciary Committee subco mmittee hearing in 1919 on the supposedly pernicious American Jewish presence in the Lower East Side of New York (Dubkowski 224). The political economic fallout of this era of American Jewish racialization included state sponsored immigration restrictions that severely limited the number of Eastern European Jews allowed to enter the country, selective admissions policies at institutions of higher learning to curb the number of Jewish students, industry wide lockouts of Jewish employees, and prolific anti J ewish housing discrimination (Wertheimer 47 50). During such tumultuous times, assimilation became mandatory for the overwhelming majority of American Jewish persons. And just as early 20 th century antisemitism was a historical product of the racializing American Jewish immigration in the decades and centuries before, so too the assimilatory and conquer polit ics already entrenched within the American Jewish community by a hegemonic Gentile majority. Indeed, an internalized antisemitism began to take hold among American Jewish persons, thanks in part to the Gentile reinforced distinction between supposedly German and Sephardic Jewish persons from the first two arrived Eastern European Jewish immigrants, playing off a
39 distinction that dates back to the days when German Jewish persons in Germany or ientalized the Ostjuden (Jewish persons from Eastern Europe). In the words of one scholar, the former were antisemitic division between these two groupings was often as racially significant as the one between American Jewish and Gentile identity (Blakeslee 29). While the so Saxon Protestant order (including the dissolution and fragmentation of traditional community structures, singularly focused pursuit of financial gain, etc.) by having their identity de racialized pe rsons were far more communally oriented as well as culturally and religiously traditional upon arrival to the United States; unlike their predecessors who had been structurally conditioned to disperse across the country as financiers and peddling merchants Eastern European Jewish immigrants were concentrated in ghetto like enclaves in major American cities and had to leverage communal support to help survive the harsh and brutal conditions of proletariat life, thus making them easier targets for racializa tion. These socio economic differences, themselves the result of the not so invisible hands of Gentile hegemony and antisemitism in the U.S., translated into a heavy handed paternalism by arts. Having themselves been forced through several generations of assimilation, including the internalization of the logic of American racialization, German and Sephardic Jewish persons were desperate to grants, fearing that a failure to do so would only trigger even more hostile displays of animosity against the American Jewish
40 American Jewish immigration had been structurally conditioned to endure were essentially oriented differences (including culture, physical appearance, religion, etc.) that could be racialized by the Gentile mainstream. A particularly poignant example of this was the ideological so cialization hyper materialism in American society, a logic that many of the Eastern European American Jewish persons had never known. As one religious scholar of the t necks in a torrent of present day banalities and material possessions, just like the rest of their Jewish brethren in this city and la [Gentile] American ideology of individual self circumvent class Ashkenazi Jewish identity to fit into a mold of [Gentile] white, middle her (Silverman 150). Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, public opinion polls indicated that American Jewish persons were blamed for the economic downfall and military involvement of Americans (Wertheimer 50). Indeed, rec ent historical scholarship has provocatively shown that American scientists were heavily involved in founding and engaging in the more fully fledged eugenics research of the time whose inspiration, and ultimate appropriation in the Nazi
41 holocaust, can be t requiring genocidal elimination. Such research ties were only one of several economic, intellectual, and political links between the powerful forces of antisemitism in America an d Europe at the time, including the political affinities of Nazi leaders and Henry Ford and Charles The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion an imported European antisemitic forgery outlining a Jewish worldwide conspiracy to gain global d omination and subjugate all Gentiles to slavery (Sigel). In fact, the racialization of American Jewish persons was so inextricably intertwined with the Nazi holocaust raging across Europe at the time that the U.S. State Department refused to allow entry t o Jewish refugees seeking asylum from the horrors in Europe, many of whom were documented to have later perished in concentration camps (Wyman). As could be expected given these structural conditions, an even greater resolve to try and minimize racializati on through assimilation characterized the American Jewish experience of the interwar and World War II era. In the words of one scholar, American Jewish persons, d on American Jewish daily life American Jewish persons tried to assimilate through de racialization was to accentuate a white Anglo and conquer practices of casting new Jewish immigrants, or, for that matter, any Jewish persons whose ability to assimilate was
42 social science research, often conducted by American Jewish persons themselves, racialized non assimilating American Jew ish persons with great fervor during this period (Wirth). And the domestic antisemitic racialization of the time has been linked to the relative silence on the part of nascent American Jewish political lobbying organizations with regard to the Nazi holoca ust overseas (Hertzberg 298 300). Fearing the prospects of further racial persecution, there was only so much these groups would dare do publically. The end of World War II has often been used as a historical landmark for when American Jewish persons beg an to transcend racial identification in the U.S. and became a cultural group racialization and re racialization that in fact took place for American Jewish persons (Bar On and Tessman 1). The post war era reflected the newly established dominance of U.S. national capitalism over the global political economy. Two mutually reinforcing social forces eme rging out of this historical context were an increased demand for material production and consumption as well as an ideological belief in the promises of science and technology. As such, racialization in the U.S., a process still controlled by the white A nglo inspired notions of race with the supposedly more fluid, advanced, and uniquely e state e interests with those of the state and economy, and thus their racial identity within this new framework of racialization, was still thoroughly mediat ed by materially based markers like class status and physical appearance. Nevertheless, new government and commercially sponsored
43 institutions and programs seeking to expand the exploitable labor force and stimulate consumer demand catalyzed a semantic de racialization of racial minorities into seemingly more politically neutral classifications like culture, ethnicity, and nationality. Of particular relevance to this l and federally funded home loan programs, all of which undergirded the upward educational and occupational mobility, as well as suburbanization, of American Jewish persons (Brodkin 42). By institutionally classifying American Jewish persons, particularly American Jewish males, as identity, but rather a re inscription of race with social class (Wilson). Given these social structural conditions, it is not s urprising to see the dialectical synthesis of antisemitism and assimilation that took place in post WWII America. Antisemitism became less of an ontologically sui generis from assimilation, and i nstead became embedded completely within the structurally conditioned ation, this antisemitic assimilation, or assimilatory antisemitism, depending on which of the two coterminous social forces is to be semantically highlighted, manifested both materially and ideologically. Politically economically, younger generations of A merican Jewish persons, pushed in droves to the suburbs, forced to leave behind the urban Jewish enclaves, trade occupations, and working class lifestyle that had p reviously marked American Jewish persons racially in the U.S. Two important byproducts of this suburbanization were an exponential increase in intermarriage rates between American Jewish persons and Gentiles as well as the
44 lowering of birthrates of Americ an Jewish persons (Sharot). In many ways, then, the new, seemingly benevolent forms of American Jewish racialization characterizing this time period were actually responsible, however indirectly, for the late 20 th Jewry who se profound, arguably even genocidal, effects were noted by social scientists only several decades later (Dershowitz). With these shifting material conditions came fundamental changes in conceptualizing American Jewish racial identity. As relocated Americ within the pervasive post immigrant matrix of middle class habits and values, voluntary (Weinfeld 78), American Jewish id entity underwent a major ideological transformation from Jewishness (Woocher). In this sense, the logic of white Anglo Saxon Protestant dominated late indust rial capitalism, including the dualist binary between public and private spheres of reality, took hold in the racialization of American Jewish persons, who were less and less classified as Jews [sic] qua Jews [sic], but rather as cultural, ethnic, and/or r eligious practitioners of Judaism (Glazer). Put simply, a historically developing but newly hegemonic ideology emerged which publicly racialized category tied t racializing of American Jewish identity, if for no other described the ideology of de produced and reinforced social psychological denial and ignorance on the pa rt of American
45 most evidently on display during the civil r civil rights] of anyone but Jews [sic]; they [would] join every progressive struggle and tout the importance of having prid effect of the ideological de racialization of American Jewish identity was its occlusion of t he ways that American Jewish persons were being re racialized through the fusion of antisemitism and assimilation. Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the political economy in the U.S. has been defined by the rising prominence of a global neoliberal capi talism (Robinson). These political economic shifts have manifested in a post industrial American society that materially consumes far more than it produces despite having to devote more and more of its time to wage labor (Poll). As a result, the racializ ation of American Jewish persons has undergone its own changes leading up to, and including, the first decade of the 21 st century. Specifically, the now even more inextricably intertwined processes of antisemitism and assimilation have become further embe dded into U.S. social institutions and structures, resulting in newer forms of American Jewish racialization Three examples of these contemporary dynamics of American Jewish racial identity are the divide and popularity of postmodern discourses of race with regard to American Jewish persons, and the marketing of American Jewish racial identity.
46 from the class took place over the course of the 20 th century. The results of this historical process, in the ul economically than garding the supposed superior (Blakeslee 39). There are at least t wo reasons for trepidation regarding philosemitism: firstly, it The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and second, it promotes an identity politics of divide and conquer which alienates and estranges American Jewish persons from other racial minority groups in the U.S. (Berman). minorities, particularly Black Americans and Latina/os, hold the highest rate of explicitly anti Jewish views in U.S. society (Dinnerstein 55), a predicament that has been reformulated into the this subject, all with th e same basic underlying thesis: the greatest threat to American Jewish persons is not the antisemitic assimilation propagated by the white Anglo Saxon Protestant hegemonic majority and in which American Jewish persons are structurally conditioned to partic more explicitly, racialized and marginalized by the hegemonic majority than American Jewish
47 Islam, anti Zionist leftist political activists as well as Arab and/or Muslim Americans, and Jewish persons have been so structurally conditioned to misrecognize their own racialization in 9). Ultimately, it is precisely these divide and conquer inspired conflicts between American Jewish person par excellence in American history (i.e. Black Americans), that reinforce the philosemitic racialization of ely successful An equally important development is the growing popularity of postmodern conceptions theory has been the incr easingly accepted idea that American Jewish persons can no longer be who have been erroneously socially constructed as racial in nature (Stratton). Often citing results from recent genetic research, such accounts of American Jewish racial identity claim that it is epistemologically invalid and axiologically unwise to view American Jewish persons ng postmodern notions of hybridity content to enact their difference and to be seen as different in [a] public sphere...[characterized by] the seemingly limitless s (Shandler 352). In other words, misrecognition of the structural forces involved in racialization has led to an overly agential understanding of American Jewish identity, in which American
48 Jewish persons freely construct their Jewishness in a supposedly vacuous and open ended U.S. society. Indeed, what characterizes much of the contemporary scholarship on American Jewish n Jewish group identity is now increasingly described as emphasi itself to a racial consciousness that is thought to be untenable for American Jewish persons today (Schoenfeld). Even those works that focus explicitly on the contemporary racialization of American Jewish identity belie an acknowledgment of social structure by highlighting the racial identity in the U.S. (Tessman). Hence the subjective agency invol ved in constructing American Jewish racial identity has been taken to an extreme, with such identity now thought to be a matter purely of group choice rather than having any dialectical engagement with structural determination. This discourse ultimately r einforces the antisemitic assimilatory ideology that Perhaps the clearest connecti on between the neo liberal political economy of U.S. society and contemporary American Jewish racialization, however, has been the increasing marketing of in cluding those relating to race, are subsumed within the logic of capitalism, with its principles of commodity fetishism, unbridled competition, and the cash nexus (Hinkalemmert). Thus there are structural demands for American Jewish racial identity to be increasingly commoditized for
49 consumption by a largely Gentile audience (Halter), a social phenomenon that has had significant impacts on the racialization of American Jewish persons. As a result, American Jewish persons have begun to conceptualize their racial identity as 7). number of scholars have reframed American Jewish racializ ation as a material resource helping n between American Jewish non profit organizations engaged in political lobbying and community advocacy (Zahavy). Indeed, there segments of the American Jewish c American Jewish populace, including Holocaust remembrance and the state of Israel. Such cynical appro priations reveal the extent to which neoliberal ideology has occluded the historical dynamics of American Jewish racialization in the U.S. When seen through such a lens, ial minorities in the U.S., as opposed to thoroughly embedded within racialized power relations. In this section, the historical dynamics of American Jewish racialization have been traced from the antisemitism facing the first Sephardic Jewish migrant s to land in New Amsterdam to persons today. The three emergent social phenomena relating to contemporary American Jewish racialization the divide and conquer political hostility between American Jewish persons and
50 other racial minorities, the supposedly postmodern nature of contemporary American Jewish ization of American Jewish racial identity will prove to be important for contextualizing contemporary American Jewish cinematic representations. Therefore, it is necessary to lay out the historical racialization of American Jewish identity onscreen, with an emphasis on how these dynamics have paved the way for the persistence of American Jewish racial stereotypes in film, the subject of my study. American Jewish Racial Identity Politics Onscreen The racialization of American Jewish identity in U.S. cinema has a somewhat unique history given the disproportionate role American Jewish persons have played in both the creation and astronomical growth of the film industry in this country. Indeed, all but one of the first movie production companies were founded by American Jewish persons, particularly progeny of American Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and their offspring (Gabler). Nevertheless, while American Jewish filmmakers themselves have been responsible for much of the racialization o representations of American Jewish racial identity (Rosenberg 4). Specifically, the dial ectics of antisemitism and assimilation, detailed in the section above, have played a significant role in shaping the historical processes of racialization of American Jewish identity in U.S. movies, including the mutually reinforcing trends of portraying onscreen (Schrank). It is important to point out that the social fact of a disproportionately American Jewish presence in the beginnings of the U.S. film industry was not the result of a calculated scheme on
51 the part of American Jewish persons to control mass media production in this country. The the more prolific antisemitic conspiracy theories like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion that portray Jewish persons as plotting for global domination. Instead, th ere was a historically grounded elective affinity between American Jewish persons, particularly those engaged in a more petit bourgeois socio economic lifestyle, and the rise of the film industry (Bial; Carr). This elective affinity reflected several soci o historical factors including the fact that Jewish persons had a cultural religious predisposition toward public forms of entertainment, particularly as compared to Anglo Saxon Protestants whose Puritanical ancestors had prohibitions against public theate r; the disproportionate presence of Jewish persons in urban centers where new forms of mass media technology like the motion picture developed; and the political economy of the time, which structurally limited the labor opportunities of overtly racialized immigrant groups (including American Jewish persons as well as Irish and Italian American persons) and thus conditioned The first American Jewish studio heads, who exer content and production of their production companies, began creating and distributing films during the turn of the 20 th century, a context where American Jewish persons were racialized in highly overt antisemitic wa ys. Specifically, American Jewish racial identity in the U.S. at the speaking East European Jews [sic] living as a ghettoized minority among other immigrant minorities, in large urban areas, often in conditions of seve re poverty, pursuing small clashed considerably with the Anglo Saxon Protestant hegemonic majority, and only heightened
52 the assimilatory desires of German and Sephardic Jewish immigran ts in the U.S., including American Jewish filmmakers themselves. Therefore, it is not surprising that these filmmakers American Jewish identity was racialized in film through European imported antisemitic Jewish proliferation of antisemitic imagery of American Jewish racial identity for a mostly Gentile Saxon Protestant mainstream who began to target unsuspecting U.S. society (Brackman 2). This antisemitic political movement reached a feverish Dearborn Independent offered a series of diatribes American persons, another victim of white racism in the U.S. (Brackman 2). This socio h istorical context explains the political interests undergirding these American Jewish persons in Hollywood film alongside the overtly antisemitic American Jewish ci nematic representations they were already producing in this era of movie history (Rosenberg 13). Again, it is important to point out that such assimilatory portrayals were to be expected given the social
53 location of these filmmakers as upwardly mobile rep (Rosenberg 10 14). Hence it is not surprising at all to find their films featuring American Jewish identity (Rosenberg 13 17). The production of American Jewish onscreen representations by these filmmakers thus reflected the ambivalence and tensions that characterized the racializati on of American Jewish persons in U.S. society in the early decades of the 20 th century. A powerful and well known example of this assimilatory trend in American Jewish cinematic representations of the time was The Jazz Singer (Warner Bros., 1927), one of the first mainstream Broadway career and his tra ditional religious obligations to the American Jewish community was symptomatic of the painful divisions that the contradictory social structural forces of antisemitism and assimilation wrought upon American Jewish identity. However, arguably more reveali ng about the racial identity politics of American Jewish persons at the time ith the minorities, like American Jewish persons, who donned it (Rogin). Structural changes in the U.S. political economy beginning with the Great Depression and Wor ld War II had a massive influence on the racialization of American Jewish identity in Hollywood film, reflecting the further dialectical enmeshment of antisemitism and assimilation. irded two antisemitic
54 Production Code and HUAC, the House Committee on Un Amer ican Activities (Rosenberg 19). The Hays Office regulations censored the portrayals of racial minorities onscreen, and most American Jewish filmmakers responded by relegating the American Jewish onscreen characters t to incite the ire of these morality police (Brackman 11). At the same time, antisemitic HUAC public hearings, where American Jewish filmmakers were this co American Jewish racial identity onscreen (Rosenberg). Specifically, st arting in the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s, racially identifiable Jewish characters were essentially purged from the screen in a desperate attempt by embattled forces of Cold War antisemitism and class faced (Samuels). Indeed, American Jewish characters, most often non Jewish actresses and (20 th Century Fox, 1947), whose title symbolizes the racial identity politics for American Jewish persons at the time (Rosenberg 22). As one study of the cinematic racia lization of the American Jewish nose reveals, an epidemic of rhinoplasty among newly middle class American Jewish persons during the 1950s onscreen, a phenomenon the
55 the fusion of antisemitism and assimilation that characterized the mid 20 th century manifested in f Friedman 1). The 1960s was a watershed decade, a historic time period characterized by large scale social movements, radicalized identity politics, and relative socio economic security in the U.S., as well as the corporatization and commensurate fragmentation of control within the Hollywood establishment, including the rise of independent production companies and studios as well as the same t structural changes, coupled with the increased geopolitical significance of the state of Israel following the Six Day War (Nitzan and Bechler), encouraged filmmakers, particularly a younger American Jewish cinematic representations (Baskin characterizations appeared onscreen, most notably in a number of memorable performances by Barbara Streisand and Woody All 32). In fact, American Jewish filmic displays over the last quarter of the 20 th ide
56 American Jewish racial identity (Itzkowitz 240). American Jewish onscreen representations, and their study in academia, have mirrored the political economic and social structural dynamics relating to the racialization of American Jewish identity more generally. Specifically, the three issues discussed a t the end of last section divide and have all emerged in almost disappeared in recent research on American Jewish filmic identity, with most scholars opting instead to use the vernacular of culture and et hnicity, their work belies the specific modes of racialization that operate in American Jewish cinematic representations today. The divide and conquer racial identity politics with which American Jewish persons have increasingly had to contend in neolibe ral capitalist times have major impacted the interpretation of American Jewish representations onscreen. As one scholar puts it, the current study of American Jewish racial identity in film reflects the wider trend in film studies in which a more race ori context of fragmented racial identity politics, it is not surprising that scholars of American Jewish cinematic identity have moved away from identifying and critiquing the ways in which American Jewish identity continues to be racialized in movies today. Instead, there have been renewed efforts by scholars
57 of American Jewish cinematic identity to blame fellow victims of racialization, particularly For instance, studies that call out the antisemitic practice of Gentile government officials practice of racially targeting American Jewish filmmakers), are being overshadowed by concern can American Anti stereotypes in U.S. film appears to be loudest with regard to Black American filmmakers like Spike Lee, whose portrayal of American Jewish club owners in Blues (Universal, 1990) was American Jewish characters, is, in typical divide and conquer fashion, linked to other racial minorities rather than the subjective agencies and social structures of racialization still operating in the U.S. today. Some contemporary scholars of American Jewish representation in film have also argued ethnic America di ce and in
58 wide range of eroded and transgressed boundaries and the mix and It is in this sense that American Jewish filmic identity has increasingly been thought to postm odern project of identity Amer ican Jewish cinematic representations as well, particularly misrecognition of the power relations and social structures of racialization, with some scholars even assuming a political assimilatonist subject performatively construct s her/his own Jewish characters [have become] practically nonexistent that American Jewish persons appear less frequently than every other minority, whether nd its reflection in U.S. cinematic portrayals of American Jewish persons. Indeed, Hollywood filmmakers, operating within a political economic institution that is inextricably intertwined with the social structures in broader U.S. society, have increasing (Schrank 41). As scholars have indulgent buffet of ethno
59 historicall making (Itzkowitz 239). Indeed, the material endless product line of commoditized mass media racial representations, mut ually reinforce an cial forces that encourage the perpetuation of American Jewish cinematic stereotypes. Thus if the American Jewish of racialized American Jewish stereotyping i n U.S. film, is to be understood as global neoliberal capital ism in which filmmakers, particularly of big budget Hollywood movies, currently operate. In short, then, the historical trajectory of American Jewish racialization has paralleled the racialization of American Jewish representations in U.S. fi lm. And as one scholar points out, the (Buhle). Most notably, the sup speaking has produced a proclivity for film studies scholars to misrecognize the ways U.S. recognition e
60 more nuanced research on the intersections of gender, sexualities, and age in American Jewish filmic representations has emerged recently (Friedman; Furnish; Michel), there has be en a paucity of methodologically rigorous and systematic 21 st century scholarship on the onscreen racialization of American Jewish identity through traditional cinematic stereotypes. My study hopes to contribute to the study of American Jewish racial iden tity, as well as the scholarship of race in film more generally, by filling this gap in the academic literature.
61 CHAPTER 3 This chapter will discuss the first of four racialized typologies found through analysis and interpretation of American Jewish characters from more than 50 feature length U.S. films since mothers as loud mouthed, nitpicky, overbearing, overprotective, domineering (in both a physical and behavioral sense, especially with respect to their husbands), and pushy (particularly with regard st centu ry American Jewish characters from my study are strikingly similar in many ways to past racialized representations of American Jewish several significant ways, paralle ling recent social changes in American Jewish family life and gender roles. Specifically, the socioeconomic reality in the U.S. has been changing since the beginning of the 1960s, with a middle class living standard increasingly requiring at least two wage earners per household (Poll 30). This social fact has been mutually reinforced by the hyperbolically growing numbers of American Jewish women participating in the labor force, particularly in (Poll 30), the traditional gender norms associated with American Jewish family life have been marriage and child 219). Specific changes to American Jewish marriage and family patterns have included the delayed timing of marriages, higher rates of intermarriage with Gentile persons, growing numbers of permanent non marital partnerships and cohabitation, higher divor ce rates, lower birthrates, higher numbers of openly lesbian/gay/bisexual
62 relationships, and increasing numbers of single parent households headed mostly by women (DellaPergola 219). Amidst this marital and familial flux is the additional demographic issu e of largest American Jewish age group in many local contexts (Sheskin). These social trends appear to have translated into an expanded racialization of the American in 21 st century U.S. film, broadening the traditional cinematic stereotype to include newer characters ranging from the sons of elderly American Jewish parents to American Jewish women whose co workers are involved in lesbian r elationships. Quantitatively speaking, of the 53 films included in my study, almost half (25, or more than 47%) featured characters whose racialized traits were identifiable as those of American r 84%) having a significant American Jewish creative influence in their production (i.e., American Jewish persons as directors and/or writers). Although certainly a significant amount of films, this is a smaller number of films than at least two of the ot her American Jewish cinematic stereotypes in my study, an interesting fact especially when considering the overall aging of the American Jewish population and thus the seemingly growing importance of parental figures in the American Jewish community. Poss ible will be offered in Chapter 7 Out of these 25 relevant films, a total of 35 characters aspects of the traditional stereotype or reflected the expansion of this stereotype mentioned above. And of these 35 characters, 31 ( almost 89%) were explicitly identified in their respective
63 films as American Jewish, indicating that there was relatively little inference necessary on the more st sample that were explicitly identified in their respective films not only as American Jewish females, but mothers as well; 100% of these 15 maternal characters exhibite cinema in my study, a figure that will be discuss ed in Chapter 7 as well. Several characters in 21 st century U.S. film embodied the historically constructed (Michele Lee) in Along Came Polly (Universal, 2004), a racialized caricature of American Jewish motherhood par excellence Vivian is married to a husband, Irving, whom she physically overshadows and does not allow to speak (there are several jokes throughout the film relating to s terribly overprotective of her adult son, Reuben, who confesses p resence in the film is purely that of a domineering American Jewish mother. returns to work from a disastrous honeymoon in the Caribbean (during which his newlywed wife l eft him for a scuba instructor), he finds that Vivian has already called his boss, Stan, to inform the audience learns more about Reuben, it becomes evident tha t his pronounced neuroses are involvement in his life, including his choices of romantic
64 ends up with Lisa, the America n Jewish wife who left him in the Caribbean). And leaving little Polly (who are on their second date) join her and Irving when the four bump into each other at an Indian restaurant. The shock and discomfort Reuben and Polly must endure is only heightened n a childish, slowed down To top things off, Vivian spends the dinner providing details to the two budding romantics about island upon which she stayed to shack up with her scuba instructor. In fact, Reuben is freed from inspiring monolog ue about seizing the day and living life to its fullest. Vivian is left speechless, and Reuben runs off to find his true love Polly in a symbolic gesture of escaping the shackles of his mother. There are other American Jewish maternal characters in my st udy who exhibited highly that relate to the shifts in American Jewish marriage and family mentioned above, differences that ultimately manifested in their id instance, Mrs. Carver (Nora Dunn) in The Hebrew Hammer (Comedy Central, 2003) is another obnoxious American Jewish mother whose sole purpose in life appears to be controlling and manipulating ev eryone around her, most notably her adult son. In fact, Mrs. Carver is so
65 without finishing his food, fearing that he will be malnourished. However, Mrs. Carver d iffers from Vivian Feffer in that she seems to be a single mother, as no mention is made in The Hebrew Hammer stereotype (i.e. Mrs. Carver is so domineering that she has annihi simply a reflection of the growing rate of single parent, female headed American Jewish ways on screen. In particular, Mrs. Carver is far more sexually explicit, materialistic, and eccentric than Vivian Feffer. When Mordechai brings his love interest, Esther Bloomenbergensteinenthal (Judy Greer), home for shabbas to relax h im from his stressful work life. Mrs. Carver also chastises Mordechai throughout the dinner for his career choice (Mordechai is a private investigator), complaining vociferously that opper in this scene, the film, arranges a honeymoon in the same location where Mrs. Carver longs to retire: Boca intergenerational, an d matrilineal legacy, or burden, of American Jewish women. Keeping the Faith (Touchstone, 2000) is as much a film about American Jewish American Jewish mothers desper ately seeking to set their daughters up with him. In fact, one breaker. But the
66 (Holla to arrange for a date between Jake and Rachel. Jake himself, however, is no stranger to this sort of maternal over involvement, as his own mother Ruth (Anne Bancro new social reality facing many American Jewish women today. Ruth is a neo Bohemian divorcee who enjoys Kabala, thai bo, and gardening, and yet have a very unhealthy lack of boundaries with her adult son: she kisses him on the lips, badgers Anna Riley, asking Anna if Jake is a good kisser; this inappropriate probe is made worse by the fact that up to that point An d given rig she puts it, to obsess about Jake; even during a moment of silent meditation shared by her, Anna, Like Jake, the lead character and namesake of Kissi ng Jessica Stein (Fox Searchlight, this film, however, the maternal characters are faced with circumstances that are a testament to another shift in American gen der identity politics over the last few decades, specifically the a lesbian. The first scene in the entire film features Jessica sitting with her mother Judy ( Tovah
67 Feldshuh) and grandmother Esther (Esther Wurmfeld) in a jam packed synagogue service while American Jewish men Judy has recommended from the synagogu e, while Esther offers judgmental criticisms of these men. The scene climaxes with Jessica shouting out loud for the These maternal pressures regarding roman ce are just as overwhelming when Jessica is at work, and distracts Jessica by obnoxiously reading her personal ads. Jessica decides to discreetly answer one of the ads, which happens to be written by a woman, and finds herself head over Esther, and Joan to new heights. lies the troops at work with her suspicions so every chance she gets about the budding romance (including leaving three voice messages for Jessica in one weekend). Jud planned hotel rendezvous with her new girlfriend Helen, demanding that the latter join the Stein family for shabbas ashion, says next to nothing), Judy forces Jessica to open the meal by singing a kiddush prayer against her will, attempts awkwardly to set Jessica up with Stan (a family guest Judy has invited for has invited to court Helen), and and outs of decrees that all guests will be staying the night, setting up an anxious moment for Jessica and
68 childhood bedroom. ed to reveal the nature of her relationship with Helen. Joan, who runs into the two lovebirds shopping together at a local Manhattan grocery market, conducts a sustained interrogation until Jessica admits to her lesbianism, a declaration that prompts a sc ream attack and overly intrusive th Helen and offers her blessing (importantly, with no mention Helen and Joan bombarding Helen with another litany of questions about lesbian sexuality. After the wedding, when Jessica and Helen decide to move in together, Judy (possibly fearing a loss of control over Jessica) inserts herself even more feverishly in to the cohabitating Tragically for Jessica, Helen is not able to stomach the strain and breaks the relationship off. The racialized take home message for the audience then, is that no relationship, not even one Two immigrant mothers, the Israeli American Jewish Ruth Kraditor (Isabella Rossellini) in Two Lovers (Magnolia, 2008) and the Belarusian American Jewish SoniaTeichberg (Imelda Staunton) in Taking Woodstock (Focus Features, 2009) provide an important contrast to the American ted
69 discussed above among Jewish persons worldwide (DellaPergola). Even though the films are set decades apart ( Two Lovers is set in contemporary times, while Taking Woodstock relives the summer of 1969), both of these American Jewish maternal characters are less affluent than Vivian Feffer, Ruth Schramm, Judy Stein, and even Mrs. Carver. In fact, unlike the characters previously examined, much of these immigrant moth homemaking activities, whether unpaid in the case of Ruth (whose husband owns a neighborhood dry cleaning store in Brooklyn) or remunerated indirectly in the case of Sonia (who, along with her husband Jake, owns and oper ates a desolate bed and breakfast motel in upstate New York). These are women whose lives are far more mundane than the American restaurants, no Manhattan apartments and no extravagant weddings in synagogues. However, a closer look reveals that the lives of both mothers, like the others mentioned above, still revolve around their respective adult sons Leonard and Elliot, albeit in different ways. Ruth is a passive aggressive matriarch who rules her household with quiet efficiency, while Sonia is so loud and In Two Lovers Leonard living on his own, only to find his mother Ruth lying on the floor outside his closed bedroom door trying to eavesdrop on his activities and conversations. Similarly, when Leonard makes secret plans to fly across the country with his shiksa love interest Michelle, Ruth goes online and checks the Internet website from which Leonard purchased his plane tickets and confronts him in what he feels is a suffocating family environm ent, Ruth kisses him on the forehead and advises
70 as Leonard, fresh from being rejected by Michelle, plods back into the Kraditor apartment during The Hebrew Hammer and, of course Ruth herself. In under her control, even if indirectly (i.e., through Sandra). Sonia Teichberg does not speak, she screams. In fact, every line she utters in Taking Wood stock is an irate command or complaint. When the bank refuses her a loan, she loses control and begins shouting at the loan officer about his supposed antisemitism, and when a traveling troupe of hippie theatre performers shed all their clothes at the tow n talent show, she charges onto the stage with a broom to physically sweep them off. But most of her energy is directed at Elliot, who is trying desperately to establish himself as an independent adult while fforts. Sonia is adamant that Elliot, a talented on behalf of his unsuspecting parents, Elliot turns away a Woodstock laced brownies, Sonia chastises Elliot for bein g selfish in not attaining one for her. It is no surprise, then, that Elliot hides the fact that he is gay from his mother and runs away from the family motel at the end of the film without saying goodbye to the s discontent (he does, however, say goodbye to his father Jake).
71 There are several other less central, but nevertheless important, American Jewish maternal characters who exemplify extreme meddling in the lives of their families. In Anything Else (Drea mWorks, 2003), Paula Chase (Stockard Channing) is the alcoholic mother of Amanda, the live ent, sleeping in the arrangement reaches its neurotic peak when Paula brings home a drug addict date she picked up at an AA meeting and proceeds to snort cocaine off J to join the festivities. Along these lines, grandmother Rose Fiedler (Doris Roberts) in Keeping Up With the Steins to find her own accom in without invitation on mak e pronounced sighs, dramatic gasps, and interject unwelcome questions during the negotiations with the bar mitzvah party planner. And 2009) Gigi Phillips (Ginnifer Goodwin), whose neurotic nebbishness will be detai led in Chapter 4 cannot get men to call her back after the first date, but there is one person from whom she can always expect (and does indeed receive) a phone call whether she wants it or not: her American r shown on screen, but whose overbearing Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) in Requiem for a Dream (Artisan, 2000) presents an d
72 a sampling of the kind of unhealthy codependency Sara has with her heroin addicted adult son Harry. Terrified, she hands over the key to a padlock she has pl aced on a television that Harry is will do, Sara ultimately goes to the pawn shop herself a few hours later and buys back the television set (a cycle in which she has apparently participated multiple times, according to the pawn shop owner who urges Sara to get help for Harry). Isolated in a Brooklyn retirement home residential building, Sara repeatedly begs shifty Harry to come home to keep her company following the death of her husband. The few times Harry does stop by, Sara stereotypically nags him about his job, love life, etc. and believes all his lying answers (both characters revealing deep seated neurotic defense mechanisms in these scenes). Ultimately, a psychosis begins to take Sara over and she begins to have delusions about becoming a famous television star, incessantly popping speed laced diet pills and spiraling into a schizophrenic state. It becomes apparent that without her racialized e her mind. With Meet the Fockers (Universal, 2004), the hugely successful sequel to Meet the Parents (Universal, 2000), we see another example of how the large scale shifts in 21 st century gender roles in the U.S. discussed above have affected cinematic portrayals of American Jewish families. Specifically, as women are increasingly represented in the labor force and dual income couples become the norm, social phenomena like the stay at home father or sha red household responsibilities have emerged as themes in American Jewish mass media discourses. These socio will be demonstrated by Bernie Focker in Meet the Fockers as well
73 From the moment the Byrnes parents pull up to Focker Island, Miami in their RV, with daughter Pam and groom to be Greg Focker on board, Berni e and Roz take turns embarrassing Greg (and themselves) with their loud, inappropriate, and overbearing behavior. Bernie, a Greg, kissing him spastically, and div ulging to the Byrnes (within one minute of meeting them boundary erbally explicit to all that his intent is to give her goose bumps. When Roz appears a few minutes later, having just finished teaching a sex yoga class for seniors, the duo takes turns being obnoxious and overly intrusive. Bernie proclaims to everyone p resent that he and Roz had sex earlier that after two years of being caricature of epic proportions. That evening, during a dinner of the families, Bernie details his own vasectomy and Roz bris (circumcision) while dis playing his clipped foreskin which she has kept in a scrapbook. Bernie goes on to confess to everyone at the table that Greg masturbated and then lost his virginity to the family housekeeper Isabel; he also urges a petrified Jack to discuss his own loss o f virginity. Upon the conclusion of this highly uncomfortable dinner, Bernie throws a tantrum when the Byrnes decide to sleep in their RV rather than inside
74 the Focker house, as he admits to having wanted to place chocolates on their pillows, yet another example of misdirected matriarchal over involvement. The next morning, Bernie continues to meddle with Jack, this time while the latter is showering, by barging into the bathroom and sitting a few feet away to defecate in the toilet. Roz, for her part, b arrages Greg with nosy questions, and when she finally fishes out of him that Pam is pregnant, reacts in a hyperbolically the two families later engage in a game of incestuous regnancy secret from her parents given his ridiculously loud mouth, a defining overprotective American Jewish motherliness manifests in her feeding chocolates to the Byr nes her efforts to stimulate the sexual chemistry between Jack and his wife Deena. Bernie and Roz ch symbolically testifies to the shared responsibilities of wage earning and household maintenance in 21 st century American Jewish family life. Perhaps an even more stunning paternal embodiment of stereotypical American Jewish protagonist Jim in the two post 2000 editions of the wildly popular American Pie series, American Pie 2 (Universal, 2001) and American Pie 3: American Wedding (Universal, 2003). The beginning of American Pie 2 typifies the inappropriate over involvement Noah consistently his wife [who, interestingly, is never
75 referred to in this or any other American Pie film as American Jewish and lacks the stereotypical racial characteristics of American Jewish characters; in fact, she is the one who bakes the infamous apple pie from the original American Pie (Universal, 1999), possibly symbolizing her the last day of his first year of college, Noah gushes with excitement over the opportunit y to consistently infantilizes Jim throughout this and the other American Pie films). Noah even surprise Jim, and ends up barging in on Jim having sex with a coed, a shock that causes Noah to drop (and break) the beer ivacy, as he sits down next to them on the bed and begins between him an be expected, a humiliated Jim ultimately yells at Noah to leave. throughout the film. Before Jim embarks on a summer getaway to a local lake with his high school buddies, he receives a phone call from Nadia, an Eastern European exchange student and s on the involvement were not enough, Noah refuses to pass the phone
76 to Jim, instead instructing Nadia that she must see The Lion King on Broadway and not ride the New York subway after midnight. Jim is eventually able to rip the phone away from Noah, but Levenstein house to pick him up for the lake trip, Noah further embarrasses Jim by demanding an intimate hug in front of everyone a awkward and inappropriate attempt to be part of the gang. American Pie 2 occur when Jim is rushed from the lake house to the hospital eme rgency room. In a botched attempt to masturbate to pornographic videotapes using what he thought was lotion, Jim super glued his stereotype). Noah arrive s to the ER waiting room to console Jim, promising in a potentially elderly chastising her supposed intolerance and announcing to the entire waiting room that Jim has glued his hand to his penis. Noah finishes off his embarrassing outburst by insinua ting that the old intentions to be sexual with Nadia at the lake of summer party and interrogating the released from the ER, Jim is dropped at the lake house by Noah, but not without the latter embarrassing Jim on
77 epresents a And American Pie 3: American Wedding intrusiveness, Noah rushes to an up scale restaurant to deliver the engagement ring that Jim will use to propose to his Gentile girlfriend Michelle. Upon arriving at the restaurant, Noah panics that Jim looks unwell, as he does not see that Michelle is under the dinner table performing fellatio on Jim. He goes on to drag Jim away from the table, revealing that the latter has his pants at his ankles and shocking the well to do patrons of the bustling eatery. Rather than allowing Jim to rectify the situation himself, Noah once again inserts himself where he is not acerbating the embarrassment. Later in the film, Noah has a one on one discussion with Jim wherein the former shares more confesses to his father that he wants to shave his pubic hair cannot control his loud mouth) later to divulge this information to Michelle during a private conve rsation that includes Noah offering Michelle unsolicited advice on menstrual cycles. during the lead Paton) almost and Michelle ultimately asks Noah to help her wri te her wedding vows to Jim, a symbolic
78 marriage as well. Doc Cantrow (Jerry Stiller) in The Heartbreak Kid (DreamWorks, 2007) is very similar to Noah Leven stein, although Doc is an American Jewish widower and even more inappropriate loudmouthed and pushy Doc spends much of the film trying to ascertain who Eddie is inordinate pressure on his son to have sexual intercourse as much as pos sible. In fact, Doc highly inappropriate breach of parent child boundaries. When, outside a Laundromat, Eddie serendipitously meets a young woman named Lila who accidentally leaves him with her panties, at the sporting goods s tore he owns, Doc (who is also visiting in what appears to be a routine Eddie, Lila sed in Chapter 4 sexual appetite, he calls his father for advice and Hence, like Jim in the American Pie
79 The only thing saving Ben Fiedler in Keeping Up with the Steins from the psychosexual abuse Jim Levenstein and Eddie Cantrow must endure from t is not explicitly identified as American Jewish, and when Adam plays a videotape of his own bar mitzvah, there is no reference to her bat mitzvah. In short, then, it appears that Adam, lik e Noah, were described above) given that he is the only parent who is explicitly American Jewish. Adam of age, Adam monopolizes all decisi ons about the bar mitzvah while manipulating Ben with statements every move and announces that the video will be shown on the Jumbotron at Dodger Stadium, where the bar mitzvah is scheduled to take place. The irritated Ben offers up whatever resistance he can to this ridiculous invasion of his privacy orchestrated by his fat her, slamming the door shut on the camera crew when they attempt to follow him into his own bathroom. Ultimately, it issue that will be discussed later with regard
80 already taken its toll on the entire family while reinforcing an American Jewish stereotype for sample of films. In The Wackness C hapter 4 ), also appears to be married to a woman who is not characteristically American Jewish and hence not a racially Jewish father who interrupts the late barging in to ask for help with a crossword puzzle, another example (albeit indirect and intrudes and establishes control in the life of his child. Ben Stone in Knocked Up (Universal, 2007) turns to his American Jewish father (Harold Ramis) to get advice and wisdom after Ben has impregnated a Gentile woman with whom he had a one night stand. In contrast to the col d and pragmatic W.A.S.P. mother of the pregnant manipulative tactics ( embarrassing confessions (he admits to smoking marijuana constantly) to shelter Ben from the truth, in this case the severity of parental responsibility. It is only later in the film, w hen Ben Sadly, though, the effects of paternal
81 Garden State (Fox Searchlight, 2004) utiliz es of all. A psychiatrist, Gideon makes a teenage Andrew his patient following a tragic accident in cal of the disastrous consequences of this unhealthy physician patien t/parent child dynamic, as an adult Andrew opens his medicine cabinet, revealing dozens of psychotropic medications numbness that he has felt all this time due mos shrink. alongside contemporary changes in U.S. family and gender dynamics is the adult child caretaker of elderly parents. In a sor t of role reversal, the American Jewish daughter or son who was once the object of overbearing and unhealthy parenting becomes the agent of this sort of meddling, ic The Thing About My Folks (Picturehouse, 2005), the adult son of Sam Kleinman (Peter Falk) whose wife Muriel ngly happy marriage break the news that Muriel has left him, ruins
82 with his arm around Ben when the two camp outside one night), it is Ben himself who engages in the most striki issues relating to his parents, Ben explodes into a verbal tirade wherein he accuses Sam of for tat disruption of child Later, however, Ben ratchets up his inappropriateness by begging Sam to describe his first date with Muriel, including all the sordid details of the first time they had sex. The Gentile women they have met on a road trip. The women ultimately have to leave the table because Ben and Sam are completely engrossed in their mutual over involvement. While pushy Sam force relationship that he tries to stoke up conflict between the two, overly aggressively urging a bed out an unsent, dozens years old letter from Muriel to Sam that he found (and s aved) as supposed Keeping with the Steins features Adam Fiedler freaking out when his mother Rose and her runaway husband (his absentee father chugs wine obsessively and
83 ilures and disappearance from the family when Adam was as Sam and Muriel Kleinman (like Irwin and Rose Fiedler) make up and enjoy a second honeymoon before peacef ully dying, one right after the other, at the conclusion of the film. Finally, there are a few American Jewish characters who, like Joan from Kissing Jessica Stein of of particular familial dynamics. In these cases, given the apparent l ack of a biological parent or child with whom they can become overly involved, American Jewish characters act out their r Elizabeth (Mary Lynn Rajskub) in Punch Drunk Love (Columbia, 2002), who, in the absence of the parents of the eight Egan siblings, badgers her brother incessantly about everything (she calls him several times at his workplace to confirm that he will be a ttending a party thrown by one of the sisters), particularly his romantic life. She even who has expressed interest in meeting him. Elizabeth, like any posses eventually becomes jealous of this friend once the latter becomes romantically involved with one who knows Barry well enough to m ake that sort of character assessment. In Garden State actress Jackie Hoffman, who plays Joan in Kissing Jessica Stein ) makes quite an overbearing
84 presence, crooning a loud and obnoxiou aggressive and manipulative ploy to produce guilt in A ndrew (as men tioned in Chapter 1 Igby Goes Down (MGM, 2002), a character who will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 4 does her best to play the East Side W.A.S.P. brothers, having considers to be their respective crises. S he is particularly overly involved with the younger of up an appointment for Igby to take the GED high school equivalency exam, unbeknownst to him, and accompanying him on his trip to take the t est, all after continuously nagging him about the direction his life is going. in relationships that extend beyond the parent child bond. Adaptation (Columbia, 2002) ego twin brother Donald (both characters are played by hed musings and updates
85 mother is given credence in the climatic ending of the film, as Charlie, who survives a car accident that has kille d Donald, sobbingly calls his mother before the credits begin to roll. The aging Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) in Whatever Works (Sony Pictures Classics, vis his romantic love interest, a Lolita esque teenage runaway and former beauty pageant winner from nihilistic/paternalistic lectures about the ills of society and the meaningles classical music LPs on his record player. Superbad Officer Michaels (Seth Rogen), a relatively rare American Jewish police character, becomes overly involved in the life of high school student Fogell, risking his job to chauffeur Fogell all across town in search of a house party and ultimately barging in on Fogell when Fogell is having sex with a female student at the party. Michaels responds to the sexual incident in a stereotypically overprotective and overly intrusive fashion, the genitals of women in the future, another e misogyny described above with regard to Doc Cantrow and Noah Levenstein. And finally, Harry Goldenblatt (Evan Handler) from Sex and the City (New Line, 2008), who will be chronicled in Chapter 4 meddles irritatingly in the lives of his wife Charlotte and her close friend Carrie. When Charlotte stops jogging upon learning she is pregnant (a seemingly rational decision), Harry inexplicably calls Carrie to worri edly inquire about possible reasons for this lifestyle change, and
86 she forgive her ex fianc (a man who stood her up at the altar earlier in the film). To summarize, then, 21 st century U.S. film features a significant number of American her tradi tional racialized form (i.e., a mother who is overbearing of her nuclear family), this stereotypical cinematic representation also appears to have been expanded to include a wider variety of male and female characters, a phenomenon undoubtedly connected to several larger scale shifts in American Jewish family life. Whether the end result of this broadening is a larger screen, or a subversion of the opic that will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 7 Also, Chapter 7 will address the startlingly disproportionate rate of American Jewish larger polit ical economic interests. Chapter 4 however, will focus on another racialized American Jewish character stereotype that has not only survived into the 21 st century, but
8 7 CHAPTER 4 By far the most prevalent and pronounced American Jewish stereotype found in my study of 21 st racialized image of the American Jewish male as effeminate, emasculated, insecure, passive, ineffectuality, particularly with regard to intimacy, love, romance, and sex, creates a highly racialized portrait of pathological American Jewish masculinity, relational capacity, and self the portra social changes in gender and sexuality norms, manifesting in a wider diversity of American st century. The late 20 th centu ry class based assimilation of American Jewish persons in U.S. society detailed in Chapter 2 (Burstein) appears to have its cinematic equivalent in the quantity and the serve as a reminder of the comfort, safety, and normalcy American Jewish persons, including middle class, 5). At the same time, the shifts taking place with regard to American Jewish gender identity politics seem to resonate with the stereotype to be discussed in Chapter 5 (Johnston). In other words, with increased prominence in professional careers and the labor
88 force, American Jewish women can b e expected to have an increased presence in their cinematic representations; however, in this case, they seem to be subsumed within an expanded, onscreen identity a ll their own. And the disproportionate leadership roles of American Jewish men within sexuality based political movements since the 1960s as well as the increasingly along with the issues these phenomena have raised about American Jewish masculinity stereotype to include a significant number of gay and/or homosexualized A merican Jewish characters discussed in this chapter. films, with 47 of 53 movies (almost 89%) featuring an American Jewish character who displayed some form of the traits mentioned above; 37 of these films (almost 79%) are the creative products, at least in part, of American Jewish persons (a strikingly high percentage whic h will be addressed in Chapter 7 ). In fact, more than half (70, or 56%) of the entire sample o f 125 with 69% (48) of such characters explicitly identified as American Jewish in their respective films (constituting nearly 55% of the 88 explicitly identifie d American Jewish characters in my identified as American Jewish in their respective films can be viewed either negatively, as a potential infusion of researcher bi as, or simply as a testament to the overwhelmingly obvious racialization of such characters as American Jewish even without being explicitly identified as
89 fi Arguably more so than any of the other three American Jewish cinema tic stereotypes, the highly pronounced, relatively undesirable p hysical features that have been historically linked to American Jewish racial identity (imports from European antisemitism), including frailty, small women (who share these unflattering physical attributes except for the non applicability of penis length) have additional means by which they are made to appear unattractive, whether by having a body type which is portrayed as heavier set than their Gentile cou nterparts onscreen or by donning attire that is considered grossly unfashionable. Regardless of the specific combination of these physical racialized characteristics embodied in any one specific American Jewish s the same: these characters are aesthetically unpleasant, which seems to contribute heavily to their ineffectuality and lack of success in most, if not all, of their endeavors (particularly intimacy, love, romance, and sex). Given such a disproportionate emphasis on racialization through visual appearance, it is no surprise that certain highly recognizable studio actors and actresses who embody these Y2K Hollywood f ilm, including Woody Allen [David Dobel in Anything Else (DreamWorks, 2003) and Ray Winkler in Small Time Crooks (DreamWorks, 2000)], Jason Biggs [Jim Levenstein in American Pie 2 (Universal, 2001) and American Pie 3: American Wedding (Universal, 2003) as well as Jerry Falk in Anything Else Dustin in (Lionsgate, 2008), and
90 Darren Silverman in Saving Silverman (Columbia, 2001)], Anne Hathaway [Emma Allan in Bride Wars (20 th Century Fox, 2009) and Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada (20 th Century Fox, 2006)], Adam Sandler [Henry Roth in 50 First Dates (Columbia, 2004), Dave Buznik in Anger Management (Columbia, 2003), George Simmons in Funny People (Universal, 2009), Chuck Levine in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (Universal, 2007), Barry Egan in Punch Drunk Love (Columbia, 2002) and Charlie Fineman in Reign Over Me (Columbia, 2007)], and Ben Stiller [Reuben Feffer in Along Came Polly (Universal, 2004), White Goodman in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (20 th Centur y Fox, 2004), Alex Rose in Duplex (Miramax, 2003), Eddie Cantrow in The Heartbreak Kid (DreamWorks, 2007), Rabbi Jake Schram in Keeping the Faith (Touchstone, 2000), and Greg Focker in Meet the Fockers (Universal, 2004) as well as Meet the Parents (Univers al, 2000)]. All of the characters played by these actors and actresses have a racialized spotlight shined upon their supposedly deficient and unattractive American Jewish physical traits, whether those traits relate to stereotypically masculine issues of height and strength (along with hyperbolically large noses and curly hair, all of the characters listed above that are played by Woody Allen, Jason Biggs, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller are shorter and physically weaker than most, if not all, of the other c haracters in their respective films), or equally stereotypical feminine questions of fashion sense (as is the case in the two characters played by large nosed and dark haired Anne Hathaway, both of whom are portrayed as having a natural inclination toward wearing unappealing clothing). In this sense, the passivity behaviors on screen and the objectification of these characters by the audience, who is working with the racialized visual imagery of these characters and historically constructed stereotypes about such racialized imagery.
91 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Focus F eatures, 2004), who, for all intents and purposes, embodies otherwise desirable Gentile physical features, including being tall, dressing in trendy the film i s his demonstrative slouch, a quite unmanly hunch backing posture that testifies to his many emotional and psycho sexual insecurities discussed later in the chapter. Similarly striking l qualities of Everything is Illuminated Jonathan Safran Foer (played by the very short Elijah Wood) who is portrayed with ber a penguin like suit and tie throughout his l ife, as both a child (in flashback scenes) and adult. And, finally, there is title character Norah Silverberg (Kat Dennings) from Infinite Playlist (Columbia, 2008), whose otherwise normal body is discursively constructed throughout the f ilm as problematic for being overly worst, especially relative to her overly thin and unhealthy looking Gentile adversary Tris. are defined by actions and behaviors that reinforce the notion that they are vulnerable and weak. A specific or more attractive Gentile characters, but als o in some cases by characters that would appear not (James Franco), the American Jewish, drug dealing co protagonist of Pineapple Express
92 (Columbia, 2008), wh o is beaten characters in the film, including a female police officer about half his size. Barry Egan in Punch Drunk Love is not only physically assaulted by a gang of Aryan looking goons, but leads the audience to believe that this may not be the first time Barry has been the victim of such physical bullying. 25 th Hour linsky (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and pacifism, only to be yelled a Accountant Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) in The Producers (Universal, 2005) receives similar, albeit seemingly more playful, treatment by his song and dance mates in several musical numbers being elbowed in the stomach by co conspirator Max Bialystock (more on Max as a 5 ) as well as pushed around by neo Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind. Taking Woodstock not only beaten up, even while armed with a baseball bat, by a pair of extortionist mobsters who traditional patriarchal expectations about the masculine responsibility of physically protecting come to the rescue and fight off the mobsters on his behalf. A nother Adam Sandler character, Henry Roth in 50 First Dates is physi cally overwhelmed by his amnesiac Gentile love interest Lucy, a petite woman who soundly beats Henry up when she is unable to remember who he is. Beerfest Warner Bros. 2006) Charl ie Finkelstein (Steve Lemme) being duct taped onto playground monkey bars
93 by macho fraternity brothers after Charlie is unable to withstand high levels of alcohol and The Wackn ess (Sony Pictures Classics, 2008) revealing cut and scratch marks across his face from the physical abuse he has incurred from his wife; and a third Adam Sandler character, George Simmons in Funny People getting pummeled mercilessly by Clark, the current girlfriend, while offering little resistance to the onslaught. In all of these cases, the racialized Jewish characters demonstrating a pitiful lack of ability and willingness to defend himself. takes place in a wide variety of metaphysical ways as well. One common bullying tactic in my of films was verbal belittlement, particularly effective given that most of the bullying. A common and highly racialized type of verbal bullying found among t hese films was In The Wackness for instance, protagonist Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) is repeatedly called ty by Justin, a wealthy Asian American peer who is overtly disrespectful toward Luke on several occasions. Luke is also film who appears to have a penchant for such racialized name calling. Indeed, throughout the the a ll too obvious serial butt of jokes in Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers Not only does
94 (including future in laws) to join in a rousing chorus of laughs at the expense of a dejected and retreating Greg when the latter has his birth name of Gaylord revealed by an airline luggage mid his laughter). Indeed, Meet the Fockers begins with Greg helping to deliver a baby for an immigrant couple who vow to name their child after Greg, only to swallow Another Ben Stiller character, Reuben Feffer in Along Came Polly also allows his name to used in a bullying manner, with his hyper masculine Australian business executive client constantly calling out fenseless, dejected, and disillusioned Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) in Garden State (Fox Searchlight, 2004), an actor struggling to make it in Los Angeles, travels back to his hometown in New Jersey to attend his ced to endure and relive all of his friends from through the use of his ow n surname is Charlie Finkelstein in Beerfest who willingly allows his Interestingly, this name bullying is not perpetrated exclusively by Gentile characters Anything Else Jerry Falk and his mentor David Dobel refer to one another by their last names, possibly an internalization of the name calling they have received by Gentile outsiders throughout their lives.
95 Also, Superbad Seth (Jonah Hi Mintz Plasse) name in a derogatory fashion despite both characters clearly sharing traits of homophobic taunt. Also onscreen or referenced to in the narrative. For example, Benjamin Bazzler (David Krumholt z) in Sidewalks of New York (Paramount Classics, 2001) admits in a faux on camera interview that he verbal cue of embarrassment and shame. Similarly, aspiring stand up comic Ira Wright (Set h Rogen) in Funny People confesses to his ailing boss George Simmons in a candid bedside conversation that Ira had to change his surname of Weiner because of the severe taunting he received throughout his formative years. Anger Management opens with a fla Dave Buznik as a skinny child on roller skates having his pants pulled down by a much larger boy in front of his entire New York neighborhood block while trying to kiss a girl for the first time. Another opening sc The Hebrew Hammer (Comedy Central, 2003), which features a childhood flashback of Mordechai Jefferson Carver (Adam Goldberg) being victimized with antisemitic name calling and slurs by a Gentile teacher at school and by his Gentile classmates after school. In all these scenes, American these characters to become almost accepting of such bullying for the rest of their lives. into the traditional forms of victimization. The characters played by Anne Hathaway (schoolteacher Emma Allan in Bride Wars and executive assistant Andy Sachs in The Devil
96 Wears Prada) for example, offer weakness is highlighted by her inability to withstand the relentless abuse she receives from a colleague who sadist ically delegates professional and extracurricular responsibilities, including classes, pep squad, after school detention, etc. onto American Idol judge Paula Abdul, wh o is thought to be overly kind, deferential, and accepting of bullying). Andy is also flagrantly mistreated by her overly demanding and under appreciative ftening Miranda, even as she is attacked and insulted by jealous coworkers w Duplex nebbish ying is none other than his geriatric Irish American personal assistant/errand boy. An author with a pressing deadline on his next novel, Alex allows Mrs. Connolly to s weet talk him into an endless series of chores on her behalf, including moving furniture, taking out the trash, and shopping for groceries. The lesson here is that American ly) that they can even be bullied by a solitary, frail, elderly woman. Moving away from the subject of bullying, it is important here to discuss the various neuroses that afflict 21 st psy chological dysfunctions are most dangerously pronounced. Boris Yellnikoff (Larry David) in
97 Whatever Works (i.e. speaking directly into exist), recounting his persistent bouts with nihilistic depression, overriding anxiety, and emotional instability, all of which cul minate in incapacitating panic attacks and two failed himself are ineffectual. Two Lovers attempts s uicide at the beginning of the film, jumping into a river only to be rescued by several bystanders. Indeed, it is later revealed that Leonard is taking large doses of psychotropic medication to alleviate his bipolar condition which has literally scarred h im (he has scar tissue on the inside of his wrists, evidence of past attempted suicides). Dr. Jeffrey Squires in The Wackness aged guy reliving his high school years because he fucked them u Garden State the same name (Andre given the dozens of anti depressants and other prescription drugs he ingests. In fact, Andrew feels comfortable only when in the waiting room of a psychiatric hospital, where he is to be seen suffers. And all three of the American Jewish protagonists in Requiem for a Dream ( Artisan, 2 000) [Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), and Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly)] display a harrowing lack of ability to control their use of narcotics, especially when compared to Tyrone, a Gentile character who is portrayed as far less obsessive with his drug use.
98 having to have his infected arm amputated as a result of injection drug use, Sara undergoing electroshock therapy due to the psych osis she suffers after becoming hooked on speed laced diet pills, and Marion participating in sickening sex orgies to earn money to feed her addictions. Charlie Fineman in Reign Over Me is unable to handle having lost his wife and children in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and engages in an entire spectrum of psychologically unstable behaviors, including total detachment from society and intimacy (he has quit his job as a dentis t and become a reclusive hermit), obsessive compulsive attachment to remodeling his apartment kitchen and purchasing music LPs (of which he has amassed over 5,000), and regression into a childlike stage of playing video games all day long. His mental stat e is so far gone that the latter half of the film involves legal battles over his custody after he is jailed and hospitalized for grabbing a Anything Else Dav id Dobel, an ex psych ward patient, suffers from such acute paranoia that he goes on shopping sprees for armaments for what he imagines to be a second coming of the Third and insists that Jerry arm himself against 98 American Jews. Ultimately, David confesses to Jerry that he is fleeing town, given that he has shot a state trooper who he believed was making antisemitic remarks after pulling him over. And Barry Egan in Punch Drunk Love has frightening fits of rage, shattering the glass patio door after admitting to his brot her in law, a dentist, that he has uncontrollable weeping episodes and begging the latter to help him find a therapist), and later, on his first date with a Gentile woman,
99 smashing up the restaurant bathroom after their conversation veers in a direction he finds others, thus requiring institutional intervention or medical attention (and possibly legitimizing the bullying of these, and other, American Jewish characters into submission). who still display idiosyncratic neuroses. Leo Bloom from The Producers has an exaggerated form of Oedipal separation anxiety, as he whips out a small blue blanket from his childhood and One such infantile panic attack in th e film features Leo recoiling into the corner of the room in hysterics, saved only by co Everything is Illuminated nickna compulsive collecting of material objects relating to his family heritage, everything from postcards and pictures to used condoms, underwear, and dentures. Jonathan carefully places each object into a clear plastic zi p lock bag and hangs all the items on the wall of his room, which doubles as a meticulously organized family tree (this his existential purpose). And a pa ir of Ben Stiller characters, White Goodman in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Reuben Feffer in Along Came Polly offer two more clear examples of issues. W hile Globo Fitness owner, operator, and founder White prides himself on having sculpted his muscular physique out of a formerly 600 lb. body, this physical transformation has come with a heavy psychological price, as White has become totally obsessed with maintaining
100 his new body, whether that means masochistic workout regimens in which he screams that he is induced electroshock conditioning in which his nipples are singed whenever he attempts to eat a donut. The culmination of this food neurosis is a scene where White masturbates with a pizza slice. Reuben, on the other hand, is a risk assessment expert whose self anger at all times that he refuses to eat mixed nuts at bars due to their perceived germ content and runs an actuarial software program to determine which of the neuroses worth noting include Mordechai Jefferson Carver in The Hebrew Hammer who goes on several schvitzing (verbalized anxiety attack) tirades given what he feels are the overbearing responsibilities he faces in saving Chanukah, and Jessica Stein (Jennif er Westfeldt) in Kissing Jessica Stein neurotic quirks are too many to recount, but they include hypercompetitive jogging through Central Park, a refusal to use email, and a fixation on goals and work related success. The more nuanced neuroses of these American Jewish characters described above, although not necessarily lethal in nature, are still indicative of the stereotypically flawed p ineffectuality of American Jewish characters in love, romance, and sexuality. The plethora of characters showcasing these issues ca
101 woefully codependent due in part to their frighteningly low self esteem regarding intimacy and love. A tr io of Jason Biggs characters represent exemplary case studies of this facet of the Girl is portrayed as completely smitten by every single woman who offers to date hi m. While waxing ill go to any lengths imaginable: he brings coffee to her apartment at 5:15a.m., trains with her to run a marathon, eats with her at a steakhouse despite being vegan himself, arranges donuts in a smile formation for her at work, and announces after five we eks of dating (and before the two have had sexual relations) that he wants to move in with her. So codependent is Dustin that he proclaims openly and proudly that he cares more about Alexis than about himself. During the steakhouse dinner, Dustin announc es to Alexis that he not only loves her, but the way she eats, the fact that she eats, and watching her eat. All this unsurprisingly dumped, leading to him to tak e a sabbatical from work and ultimately accept a Saving Silverman Darren Silverman, who does Darren begin to dress in the super preppy clothing that Judith has mandated for him to wear, but he allows her to manipulate him into having a gluteus implant surgical procedure, numerous failed attempts to have his affection reciprocat ed by frigid Judith (in one scene, he
102 buys her jewelry for their six week anniversary, only to have her disregard the gift by slamming the jewelry box shut), Darren sinks further and further into a master slave dialectic, with Judith ng relationship with his former high school crush Sandy, with whom Darren commits to marriage and family after just one reunion lunch. And Jerry Falk in Anything Else a self live in girlfriend Amanda to try an d win over her otherwise empty heart (she has already left him once before and the result was his fantasizing about death in his dreams), and staying with an aggressive clue that he needs space, a codependent groveling that males, including several aforementioned characters. Reuben Feffer in Along Came Polly who, after being abandoned by his wife on their honeymoon, becomes immediately infatuated with another woman (the title character Polly) for whom he is willing to eat spicy ethnic food despite a hyperactive case of irritable bowel syndrome (Reu ben admits to having vomited 19 times in 48 days eating out with Polly). Reuben explains his self punishing behavior by exclaiming that he
103 Barish in Eternal Sunsh ine of the Spotless Mind admits in his self loathing voiceovers to being on beck and call for, Clementine, an overly impulsive young woman who verbally taunts him her memory of their relationship erased from her mind through a science fictional medical procedure. The bullied Benjamin Bazzler in Sidewalks of New York who is consistently rebuffed by his ex wife (the only woman with whom he has ever been romantically involved) despite waiting for hours outside her apartment to beg her to take him back and explaining that separation a year earlier, eventually becomes obsessed with a coffee shop waitress whom he says he will marry even though th ey have never dated. And Luke Shapiro from The Wackness despite all of his otherwise aloof and macho posturing as a drug dealer, reveals an American first kiss an reinforce, then, in incapable of setting healthy boundaries with regard to love and romance, opting instead for either total over absorption or the reverse, s elf detachment, when involved in an intimate relationship. males; there are several American Jewish female characters who display unhealthy codependent
104 habits as well. Keeping Up with the Steins par excellence when it comes to love and romance, still calling Irwin, the man who abandoned When Irwin and Rose have a heart to on a disproportionate amount of the burden for their failed relationship (a point that is not lost on Irwin, who jokes that Rose would be kicked off any trial jury she participated in since she would i nsist that she was the one who is guilty of the crime). Gigi Phillips (Ginnifer Goodwin) in (New Line, 2009) is an even more audience of how to scare men away via desperation. In fact, although Gigi is never identified as American Jewish in the film, her pursuit for love in all the wrong places, along with her physical appearance (dark hair and unfashionable attire), are so stereotypic overly clingy, needy, and smothering manner is portrayed in caricature like hyperbole, as she becomes instantly obsessed with Connor after the two go on a blind date, checking her voicemail compulsively to see if he has called her and stalking him by going to a bar he frequents to possibly run into him. In a futile attempt to calm her anxiety, Gigi ends up calling Connor, leaving him a ridiculously awkward message only to later find herself, leg twitching, next to her phone again waiting breathlessly for a return call. The rest of the film is a broken record of such ile the two are kissing, that
105 (unbeknownst to him) when she is invited to his apartment party, cleaning all of the trash, cooking for the guests, and getting jealous of any women with whom the host talks, only to find grow out Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw) in Two Lovers who tries to guilt protagonist Leonard Kraditor finds herself consistently rejected by Leonard throughout the film despite her tireless efforts at playing a surrogate mother role for Leonard. And Emma Allan in Bride Wars who constantly denies her own desires and wishes in order to please her fiance Fletcher, excitedly offers to leave a wedding party with him to watch his favorite shows on Tivo and accepts his overly harsh and abusive criticisms of her (after comparing her to American Idol manipulatively declare that he wa An overwhelming number of characters display another stereotypical feature of the relationship with a Gentile. In fact, almost without exception, every American Jewish spouse. For example, in Sex and the City (New Line, 2008), Harry Goldenblatt (Evan Handler) has a Gentile wife Charlotte. And Boris Yellnikoff in Wh atever Works and Leo Bloom in The Producers teenage runaway beauty queen from Mississippi in the case of Boris and a Swedish model
106 Henry Roth in 50 First Dates is not only smitten by a Gentile amnesiac named Lucy, but all of American Jewish. What is striking beyond the sheer quantity of American Jewish characters who display a openly shunning American Jewish romantic alternatives, in many cases because the latter are portrayed as less desirable, given that they embody, often hyperbolically, traits from at least one of the four racialized American Jewish cinematic stereotypes. In fact, the contrast between the Gentile and American Jewish love interest is s it is sometimes the central narrative conflict. One such example is the aptly titled Two Lovers Le already damaged self esteem to entice him to pursue his Gentile g ddess Michelle even more aggressively. Leonard even purchases an engagement ring for Michelle, as the two have made whimsical plans to run away across the country together, only to have Michelle ultimately decide that she wants to stay in Brooklyn and continue in her role as the mistress of a wealthy lawyer. The dejection with which Leonard returns back second fiddle, is so palpable that the audience can only assume that an existential dream for Leonard (i.e. marriage to a shiksa ) has been crushed. Similarly, Keeping the Faith
107 Schram spend s much of the film deciding between the American Jewish women from his congregation who seem drawn to him like moths to a flame and Anna Riley, his Gentile dream grows wh en upwardly mobile single professional Anna returns to New York. Jake employs an entire gamut of strategies in an attempt to win Anna over, and in the end (like his brother, who has married a Gentile), Jake risks his entire professional career to be with Anna. And in the case Playlist and Reuben Feffer in Along Came Polly their American Jewish romantic alternatives are portrayed in such a negative way that the audie nce cannot help but root for the two to end up again/off again American Jewish boyfriend Tal is no match for her obsession with the Gentile title character Nick, with whom she falls in love by picking through the trash at school and finding the mixed ile he is on stage Manhattan) so she can achieve her first ever orgasm through the touch of his seemingly magical Gentile hands. Along these lines, Reuben is c heated on by his American Jewish wife Lisa classmate from middle school, for whom he is willing to do anything, including challenging his most deeply ingrained fears of danger and risk. The f ilm ends with Reuben symbolically breaking free from the supposed American Jewish entrapment that Lisa represents and running through the streets of Manhattan
108 interest in fellow American Jewish characters. go to amazing lengths of self deprecation to try and win over their beloved Gentile. Garden State ng to denigrate the American Jewish also his professional life, leaving behind his acting career in Los Angeles to stay in New Jersey sacrificial is the American Knocked Up (Universal, 2007), whose undying a ffection for Allison Scott, a Gentile woman he impregnates during a one night stand, knows no bounds. Despite living his entire adult life in a house with other slacker stoners and being rejected by Allison for this lifestyle, Ben puts all his energies in to assimilating to the W.A.S.P. upper middle class persona that Allison demands of him, moving into his own apartment, getting a 9 to 5 job, reading parenting books, purchasing baby items, lying to his former friends, and waiting on Allison hand and foot w hen she goes into labor. Finally, Ben The Heartbreak Kid and Greg Focker in Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers of a Gentile. Eddie not on ly willingly attends his Gentile ex
109 repeatedly teased by a pair of barely pubescent boys, but later in the film he risks his life s everal times trying to cross the U.S. Mexico border in pursuit of another Gentile woman with whom he becomes smitten while on a honeymoon with his wife, a third Gentile woman (the film concludes with Eddie having a fourth Gentile love interest, a local Mex ican woman, as his second wife). The border own set of antics across two films to gain the approval not only of his Gentile fiance Pam Byrnes, but also of her entire family. Greg buys gifts for them and constantly tries to accommodate their desires, willing to compromise all his morals and values in the process. In the first film, Greg agrees to say a Christian grace prayer before dinner at the Byrnes house despite being Jewish. Later, he becomes ultra competitive in a Byrnes family game of pool volleyball even though he was raised to shy away fr om such a win at all costs mentality (the Gaylord Wall of Fame, which is displayed in Meet the Fockers features ribbons and trophies for 10 th place finishes). And in the second film, there is reference to Greg going duck hunting with Byrnes patriarch Jac k despite the fact that the Fockers are staunchly quite clear in the film). Ultimately, then, the message these characters deliver to the audience is that Genti codependent and romantically servile, especially in relation to Gentiles, but also repeatedly portrayed as sexually dysfunctional, impotent, and perverted as well. Two adult characters in
110 Elinsky in 25 th Hour and Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) in Adaptation (Columbia, 2002). Jacob, a totally uncharismatic and uninspiring English teacher at a Catholic high school in New York (his students continually ask to go to the bathroom during class and race out of the room when the bell signaling the end of the class period rings), becomes totally engrossed with one of his female students who happens to take a liking to the literature the class is reading. When the student approaches Jacob in the te que stions and ultimately refusing to change her grade. Later in the film, Jacob confesses to his when Jacob is confronted with a fantasy like situation: the studen t, who bumps into Jacob and his friends out on the town, goes into a nightclub with the group and ends up flirting with him. bathroom stall and tries to kiss t he student, only to have her pull away uninterested and leave him consumed with fear about losing his job. Charlie is hopelessly insecure around women, unable to reach ove r and kiss a British woman who makes obvious her desire to do so several times on dates with Charlie. A voice over are the self various fantasies about women he meets, including a waitress at a local coffee shop who while
111 on duty casu ally chatted with him about orchids (the subject of his next screenplay). When Charlie actually asks the waitress out to an orchid show he will be attending, she is disgusted and tells her coworkers that he is creeping her out. Charlie does indeed attend the orchid show, alone, and ends up sexually fantasizing about various female attendees. or immaturity, expressed to various degrees by several characters. For in stance, Barry Egan in Punch Drunk Love calls a phone sex line only to engage the woman on the other end as though after having his first kiss with Gentile love and greets her for their romantic rendezvous in Hawaii with a handshake while cowering in fear. becomes evident after Barry and Lena have sex, as he lays his head on her shoulder like a child would with a mother. Jessica in Kissing Jessica Stein also exhibits a profound fear of sexuality in her lesbian relationship with Gentile Helen, an outrageous example being w hen Jessica brings strip reel of aggressor Helen trying to break down the sexual resi The Heartbreak Kid also in the bedroom, particularly on his honeymoon, where he is shown to be woefully inadequate in meeting the sexual needs of Lila, his insatiable wife. Not only is Eddie uncomfortable with the dirty talk Lila wants, but her assortment of sexual positions give him c ramps. A thoroughly distraught Eddie is ultimately displayed to be curled up in a fetal position,
112 Adolescent and young adult American Jewish characters thought to be in their physical prime also reveal paralyzing neuroses with regard to sexuality. Jim Levenstein (who ages from first year college student in American Pie 2 all the way to 20 something groom in American Pie 3: American Wed ding ) can be summed up in the words of his high school buddy Steve Stiffler, sexual follies are the narrative heart and soul of the film series, as he even labels hi include a blabbering anxiety attack when preparing to engage in sexual relations with a college co Michelle to practice foreplay (his neuroses lead him to ask her if the direction of motion matters when groping breasts), masturbating to pornography with super glue (his hands eventually become affixed to both his penis and the pornographic videotape), and dry pie). All of these escapades ttle The recent high school graduate Luke Shapiro in The Wackness ineffectuality, albeit in a less slapstick fashion. While Luke shares t he hopeless desires of many sequence on a subway where he envisions himself dirty dancing and sexually engaging a female passenger), in actuality he is a virgin wh o suffers from erectile dysfunction when his love interest Stephanie and he try having sex, only to ejaculate prematurely (upon first vaginal penetration, in
113 fact) and, in turn, begin crying out of embarrassment and shame. Finally, youth is not unkind onl Infinite Playlist suffers from her own well publicized sexual misfortunes, as adversary Tris Of all the rampant sexual neuroses found in my study of American Jewish characters, however, none is perhaps more striking than the issues male penis, particularly the size (or lack thereof) of their own. Andrew Largeman in Garden State teasing comments his bullying friend s have written on him with a marker, the most poignant pointing at his penile region; the sum total of these genitalia related markings is the symbolic castration of Andrew. Similarly, when American Jewish adolescent Seth (Loren Berman) in The 40 Yeard Old Virgin (Universal, 2005) attends a parent child workshop on sex education at a local health clinic and asks for extra large condoms, his father (Jeff Kahn) blurts o ut in front of According to his wife, I Love You, Man Barry (Jon Favreau) lacks the penile size to be a threat for committing adultery, as she describes him to all her girlfriends as Anger Management and Reuben Feffer in Along Came Polly have the relative smallness o penises made quite clear to them by others. Dave, who agonizes over a bullying episode from his youth, hear an old woman who apparently saw the incident exclaim that she can still remember how small Dav
114 overwhelming penis size of Claude, a scuba instructor who, in the nude, approaches the newlyweds while the latter are sunbathing on the beach. In explaining her decision to sleep, and one. Even when A penis sizes, they still appear to have internalized a sense of phallic anxiety. Funny People George Simmons, for instance, badgers Ira Wright, his personal assistant, throughout th e film to show him his penis, and saturates his entire stand up comedy routines with phallic humor. A possible reason why George has this seemingly inexplicable fetish is revealed when he remarks to his ex clearly emerging out of phallic insecurity. White Goodman in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story takes penile preoccupation to another level, using an air pump to create the appearance of a gigantic bulge in his pants. And Jim Levenstein from the two American Pie films demonstrates American Pie 2 and shaving his pubic hair (inc luding those covering his scrotum) just before his nuptials in American Pie 3: American Wedding to make his penis appear bigger for the honeymoon. But perhaps the most intriguing Super bad : Officer
115 psychotherapy because of a comments at the beginning of the film about being uninterested in pornography that does not penis (whether its size or psychoanalytical function) plays a central role in their racialized A possibly related theme found in my study was the homosexualization of American referred to using homophobic s lurs and/or other verbal cues connecting them to homosexuality, often by those closest to them (whether family or romantic interest/partner). Examples include 25 th Hour student at a hip nightclub in Manhattan, a not so masculinity into question). Then there is Dr. Jeffrey Squires in The Wackne ss whose Barish in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is called a Clementine, a slur she screams out in the middle of the street while Joel attempts to chase her down after an argument. Knocked Up er in law. The sisters of Barry Egan in Punch Drunk Love
116 youth. The Heartbreak Kid boys f apparently fails). homosexualization occurs indirectly. For instance, Dave Buznik in Anger Management is forced, by court order, to undergo an intensive anger management therapy program with a sleep in the nude with him In fact, Dave wakes feminine position. Buddy later solicits a cross dressing male sex worker for Dave, assuming that Dave would be interested. Despite being spurned romantically by Alexis in Girl Dustin still agrees Sex and the City Harry Goldenblatt is one of three men in stereotypically effeminate wedding planner). homosexualization by others; what is particular ly interesting about these characters is their seemingly default positioning, both physically/sexually and identity wise, as effeminate or anally receptive. Beerfest made clear in t gonads, offers money to a male sex worker after being pinched in the rear end, indicating the possibility that he was aroused by this act of homosexual aggression, and exclaims la ter to his The Producers is also
117 hit on repeatedly by gay men at the home of Broadway director Roger Debris. Leo eventually begins to partake in the festivities, rubbing his glut eus against those of the other gay men in the dance routine and donning a crown and fedora when returning home from the Debris residence. And Pineapple Express features a recurring latent homoeroticism between Saul Silver and his Gentile buddy Dale, with Saul initiating all such activity, from statements about giving Dale a d to body positioning). There are also infamous homoerotic scenes in American Pie 2 kisses buddy Steve that he reaches his hand up to play anal receptivity that he does not resist (in fact, he appears to enjoy it). Even the supposedly ber macho Chuck Levine in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is consistently labeled, both worker and platonic buddy Larry, a legal union meant to help Larry be eligible to pass on his health benefits to his c hildren. edition calendar features shots of Chuck being held by Larry. Finally, two self designer Elliot Teichberg (Demetri Martin) in Taking Woodstock and mob boss heir Yitzchok (Michael Rubenfeld) in Lucky Number Slevin (MGM, 2006), also take on stereotypically feminine sexual roles, with Elliot courting a hyper masculine electrician who is working on the Woodstock concert stage and Yitzchok being nickn attire as well as his submissive demeanor.
118 The sample of films in my study offer bountiful examples of the stereotypical American c stereotype has remained the same as its presence within the canon of 20 th century U.S. film (i.e. physical appearance, emasculation, ineffectuality, and obsession with Gentile women), there are subtle differences which reflect the shifting family, gender, and sexuality identity politics of American society in the 21 st century. Amon g these changes is the increasing presence of female both of which can be traced to the growing socioeconomic and political prominence of women and gay men in U.S. society and the American Jewish community. Chapter 7 will address possible reasons for the persistence of this stereotype as well as its highly disproportionate production by directors and/or writers who are American Jewish. Also, Chapter 7 will attempt to in their respective films. Chapter 5 Jewish cinematic stereotype that has been historically gendered and yet seems to have expanded in post Y2K U.S. cinema.
119 CHAPTER 5 A third American Jewish character stereotype that emerged from analysis of more than 50 post Y2K movies in the U.S. is a relatively predictable one given the popularity of this antisemitic caricature in late 20 th century conventional wisdom and popular parlance: the maternal American Jewish female who is racialized as whin ing, materialistic, small minded, averse to sex, and obsessed with shopping. Despite the cant number of American Jewish characters racialized in this manner. At the same time, given the increasing diversity of gender filmic representations in the 21 st nebbi apters 3 and 4 bachelors. As discussed in Chapter 1 these racialized depictions of American Jewish femininity owe a grea t deal to the massive consumerism that has characterized the U.S. political economy relatively recent Hollywood tradition of portraying younger, non maternal Ameri can Jewish women in an unflattering fashion can thus be linked to the class based assimilation which American Jewish persons have undergone underwent over the past several decades. Indeed, the s is direct testimony to the larger scale changes taking place in U.S. middle class family dynamics, including American Jewish families, where an increased emphasis by parents on materialism has begun to supersede more traditional forms of intimacy (Poll). In other words, as American Jewish parents, like those of
120 all middle class families in the U.S., devote a greater part of their waking lives to professional careers in order to maintain their standards of living, more and more of their means of demonstr ating love for their children will be through material spoiling. At the same time, however, the financial independence that an increasing number of American Jewish women are enjoying as a result of growing participation and influence in the labor force ( ho the blurring of gender roles related to middle class consumerism, including the increasing prominence in the 21 st mbody traditionally feminine forms of materialism (Tuncay and Otnes), seems to manifest in the expansion of the racialized Quantitatively speaking, American Jewish charac ters who displayed at least some degree teams that included American Jewish persons. Hence like the other traditionally feminine hi were explicitly identified in their respective films as American Jew ish. Thus over 1/3 of the
121 traits despite having an otherwise ambiguous racial identity, a relatively large percentage of non explicitly identified American Jewi sh characters which will also be addressed in Chapter 7 Like younger, explicit ly identified American Jewish female characters who are also explicitly and/or implicitly identified as non maternal), the numbers are striking; roughly 86% (18 out of 21) of these m. Interestingly, films set in New York City, reinforcing the racialized notion that the Big Apple is the established Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) in Sex and the City (New Line, 2008), an iconic character in American popular culture ( Sex and the City was also an award winning hit television series) screen; is she American Jewish or not? This fundamental question has wrangled many a mass media analyst, but my study will follow the lead of a Boston Globe piece which stated quite simply: arrie Bradshaw is JAP the embodiment of
122 traits. The film begins with a Carrie voice over ex identity: hyper materialism, particularly with regard to objects of self adornment (like clothing), as well as a deep rooted dependency on male breadwinners, whether fathers or potential husbands, who are the assumed providers of these material objects (Prell 98). Indee d, as the film a decidedly older, father proxy boyfriend known simp opening voice although certainly open to phallic interpretation, becomes increasingly obvious as a financial statement as the film unfolds). In terestingly, while Carrie is a successful professional (i.e., a romance columnist for Vogue magazine ), she is rarely, if ever, shown working. Hence despite much hoopla about the supposed independence she displays as a career woman with seemingly unlimited three mutually Big, fixation with material possessions, and self obsession. one, with Big serving as a surrogate father figure who must shower her with attention and, more importantly, expensive gifts. This is a particularly poignant issue if one facto rs in that Carrie is never shown to have her own father, or family of
123 is portrayed at several points in tim e acting desperately and obnoxiously in an effort to ensure that her quasi daughterly needs are met by Mr. Big: she whiningly commands him to tell her that c hildishly interrupts his bedtime reading by stealing his glasses and demanding that he read her library book (a collection of love letters written by famous figures in Western history), and selfishly disrupts his work by insisting that he write his nuptial vows. When Mr. Big pays to wardrobe, the ultimately symbol of her hyper materialism, her response is to exclaim that he has just for paternal emphasis. And like a spoiled child, Carrie taunts her friends regarding her engagement to Mr. Big, only to later throw a very public tantrum when he is a no development has ram ifications later in the film when Carrie blames her friend Miranda for sc reams at Miranda while the two are at dinner, eventually storming out of the restaurant, but emails, etc.) of reconciliation. Ultimately, however, all is car toon like bliss once again when Mr. Big and Carrie reunite in the closing scenes of the film, underscoring how dependent Carrie as a material possessions, particularly those that symbolize opulence and wealth. Beyond her remark at the beginning of the film, Carrie shows an object attachment that borders on romantic obsession several times in the film;
124 rfect apartment in New York City is like finding the perfect unveiled. And just like a spoiled youngster showing off her toys, Carrie explicitly states that she only models for her friends in an extended scene, but which req uires thirty boxes to move from one apartment to another (this even after she discards a large number of her clothes were apparently too unfashionable to keep). Virtually every scene where Carrie is in public, she is wearing outrageously flashy clothing a long with equally gaudy accessories, not to mention carrying an assortment of boutique shopping bags, giving the appearance that she has spent all day consuming rather than producing. In fact, when it is actually time for Carrie to sit down and write some stores some in her oven, a stunning statement about her culinary inabil trait she shares with Roz Focker (Barbra Streisand) in Meet the Fockers (Universal, 2004), who comes when designer Vivianne Westwood sends Carrie a custom wedding dress to wear for her upcoming nuptials with Mr. Big, as Carrie appears to be fighting tears during this moment of hyper materialist sentimentalism. arguably most profoundly characterized by self obsession. First, Carrie is so self consumed as to be constantly complaining about the smallest minutiae in her life; even relative to her friends, who all appear to be discontented, neurotic, and self cente red in their own ways, Carrie is framed in the
125 centeredness also manifests in her pered redirects all conversation back to her own supposed p roblems, and is sarcastic and snide with her this circle of friends on the nature of her sex ity to Carrie seems to be utterly helpless, appearing almost infantile in her self insufficiency. When it is time for her to move apartments, she recruits al l her friends to do the actual packing, and as mentioned, Carrie selfishly opts to model clothing for her friends while they labor on her behalf for three days. And when the wedding with Mr. Big falls through, Carrie requires round the clock supervision f rom her friends, whom she takes with her on the Mexico honeymoon that never was, needing to be literally spoon fed breakfast in bed by Samantha. In fact, while on the trip, Carrie awakes one morning to find that Miranda and Samantha have taken care of an entire laundry list of responsibilities for Carrie, including buying back her apartment and moving her stuff back. Finally, upon returning from Mexico, Carrie fulfills the dream of all self obsessed
126 personal assistant named Louise who does everything for Carrie, from writing emails on her behalf to unpacking the 30 boxes worth of wardrobe that her friends had assembled. So uneven is the distribution of labor between Carrie and Louise that Carrie won ders aloud, more literally than symbolically, what she will do without Louise when Louise decides to head back to St. Louis (possibly, in part, because of the exploitative nature of her working relationship with Carrie). In Bride Wars th Century Fox, 2 009) Liv Lerner (Kate Hudson), one sees a replica in par excellence Carrie Bradshaw, particularly with regard to hyper materialism, romantic immaturity, and selfishness, character traits that racialize narrative Like the Sex and the City is that both of her parents Sex and the City is left totally unexplained. Liv too is a successful, ber fashionably attired young professional woman living in Manhattan, her purely self interested orientation to the world at large). Like Carrie, however, work is not ing around her personal assistant (a male version of Louise) to the absurd extent that the latter walks alongside Liv and lint brushes her clothes while she storms about the office. Ultimately, though, such details are simply background fodder for the fil Liv and best friend Emma Allan over who gets to have their upcoming wedding at the most
127 character traits in all their g lory, It is important to note here the juxtaposition made throughout the film between Liv and vis her overly two playing a game of dress ways as well. Finding a ring testament to her sense of entitlement and self righteousness), Liv immediately assumes that it is for her to receive in an upcoming marriage proposal, and given her hyper spoiled and impat ient the rush appears to be, at least in part, motivated by jealousy of Emma, whose boyfriend has popped the question in the interim. E vidence of this jealousy is quite visibly on display during a luncheon the duo have with their friends in which Liv screams out that she is engaged, entire resta urant. As the calamitous capers between Liv and Emma escalate in this pre nuptial deadlock,
128 She is vain, particularly with regard to money and her hair: there are several references to Liv coloring appointment, sneaking blue dye into the coloring mix, Liv seems to undergo an emotional crisis of existential proportions. Liv also appears to be lazy and needy vis vis Emma, as Liv walks for exercise rather than keeping up with the marathon esque jogging regimen of Emma. Alongside this relative lethargy, whiny Liv complains that she needs an iPod to keep her entertained while working out. This fetishistic attachment to consumer goods, which materialism in Sex and the City eating issues; throughout the film, much attention is paid to the fact that Liv is unable to control tooth to her competitive advantage by sending Liv a wide array of dessert pastries as a ploy to plump the latter up before the wedding da te. Even her boyfriend Daniel is shown her insatiable appetite for over indulging herself with stereotypical gratification, whether designer clothes or comfort foods. who are Lerner. One such movie is Requiem for a Dream (Artisan, 2000) in which drug addicted Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) is portrayed as the spoiled daughter of a garment industry magnate (her father is never shown, but his wealth and social standing are referenced repeatedly). She rarely, if ever, smiles, and when sh e does, her eyes belie a smile that is distant at best and
129 also pe expenses paid Manhattan loft and misappropriating (for drugs) the funds he gives her to see a psychiatrist, all the while dreaming whimsically of becoming a fashion d esigner (once again, the as self adornment is introduced here). Marion is also emotionally volatile and impetuous, particularly toward Harry, when withdrawing from her (all too frequent) d rug highs. Not only does Marion at one point to relieve her self at Marion appears to want her life to be magically taken care of for her by a surrogate paternal figure (in this case, Harry). Ultimately, Marion devolves into sex work to score drugs, a lifestyle shift that nods, somewhat paradoxically, to a strong avers ion to sex: she performs sex acts in a totally detached, utilitarian manner that suggests she is unable or unwilling to view sex as enjoyable. like Marion Silver, h er father is never actually shown in the film) is Norah Silverberg (Kat Dennings) in (Columbia, 2008), a character referenced frequently in Chapter 4 s n Manhattan. Indeed, Nora
130 underage Norah is even shown admitted into trendy nightclubs without having to wait in line. Despite her roma Yugo, and later actually crashes the car after driving it haphazardly (possibly revealing a lack of concern for his personal property, given how materially spoiled she herself is). N orah also complains incessantly, becoming extremely pouty and overly sensitive when playfully teased by disproportionate fashion, at the culprits, calling them a suggested throughout the film that Norah is the only character who has yet to experience an orgasm, a testimony to her possible sexual frigidity. All in all, then, despite her best effort to appear humble, inc The Devil Wears Prada th Century Fox, 2006) Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), so has a father who spoils her. Her (apparently financially well off) dad flies to New York from Ohio to pay her rent, take her to the Broadway after fashion magazine personal assistant job since h (Northwestern), she appears to be unable or unwilling to take notes for her boss and whines vociferously to several characters about the unfairness of her life, only to be called out by co
131 as she throws dish breaking temper tantrums in their apartment, completely misses his birthday party, breaks up with him on a selfish whim, and agrees to reconcile with him for laughably childish and petty reasons (i.e. his p roclivity to cook grilled cheese sandwiches for her). And, of indulgent amidst all of the chic designer clothing with which she is occupationally surrounded. In fact, des job, Andy eventually becomes an all too lusting after Chanel boots and bragging about having slimmed her body down to a size 4. Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw) in Two Lovers (Magnolia, 2008), who has convinced her father, a highly successful dry cleaning franchiser, to orchestrate a c orporate takeover of a family store and The Hebrew Hammer Greer), whose helplessness leads to her o wn kidnapping and the need for her dad, the chairman an adult their nave ideologies of love and happiness with respect to their partners. Sandra dreams about watching The Sound of Music with Leonard in a middle class nuclear f amily fantasy world of traditional values and sociological ignorance. Similarly, Esther is aroused not by sexual activity
132 se curity and worldly comfort are thus shown to preoccupy the hearts and minds of American spoiling father figures. Other American Jewish female characters a most starkly in their romantic endeavors. In Keeping the Faith (Touchstone, 2000), Rabbi Jake aughters onto him. Two relevant case studies of the folly that ensues wn respective ways. Ali, who is cartoonish in her obnoxiousness, stupidity, and vanity, invites Jake into the posh apartment she admits is subsidized by her father (yet another example of paternal spoiling), only to shrilly announce in a ridiculously nasa absorption has no bounds for Ali, as she commands Jake to punch her abdominal muscles (in an effort to prove how strong they are), even yelling at him to do so w hen he refuses. Their dinner date, not surprisingly, is disastrous, as Ali hits a homeless beggar with her designer purse, adding insult to injury by shouting that any economic inequ ality pompous persona. Her overwhelming self importance is on di splay during a dinner double date
133 she must fly to Baghdad to cover a sex. Jux tapose such iciness with Ali, who displays a sexual over eagerness at the end of her date with Jake that indicates desperation and romantic inexperience. Taken together, then, these two totally engrossed with her body, the other totally absorbed inside her own mind. Combining traits from both Ali Decker and Rachel Rose, Sookie Saperstein (Claire Danes) in Igby Goes Down (MGM, 2002) displays a narcissism that is both physical and metaph appearance in the film. Working as a caterer for a socialite event in the Hamptons, she rudely instead waxes whiningly York and decide to smoke marijuana toget major sugar junkie like Liv Lerner), Sookie presumptively and self righteously declares that he to fulfill her psycho sexual needs for control (one example being her demand that Igby stop breathing while the two sample of films, Igby chides Sookie for being hippy
134 not a J.A.P. educated American Jewish female character who appears to have the ability to engage in critical self Anything Else Amanda Chase (Christina Ricci) resembles an exaggerated alter ther than recurring motif), demanding that he pay her cab, having eaten already without him (in fact, she complains to a starved Jerry that she over ate), and neglecting to bring him a present (she claims are delivered as complaints in a histrionic manner, gesticulating and whining as though the world were about to end. Longing childishly to be an actress or a singer, Amanda (who has no job) the couple. In fact, Amanda is shown (in a flashback) breaking up with Jerr y and moving out of his apartment, only to return within a couple of weeks with her bags and announce self ways are highlighted in the games she plays with sexuali ty: she refuses to have sex with Jerry (at one point, he explains that it has been six months since they last engaged in sexual relations) and when the two get a hotel room in an attempt to have sex, Amanda has a panic attack (including tears, hyperventila tion, etc.) as soon as Jerry begins to touch her (the entire scene being a hyperbolic example of her stereotypical aversion to sex). Interestingly, despite all of the anxiety
135 about her enough to obnoxiously demand that Jerry order caviar and tip the bellman as well as too rapid shift from checking in to checking out. After this farcical episode, Amanda tries to explain her frigidity by explicitly linking Jerry to her own with her libido. This self psychoanalysis can be taken with a grain of salt, however, since Amanda is later caught ch eating on Jerry with her father like acting teacher, an act of infidelity has no scruples about acting exclusively for her own selfish gain, even sexually. Like all thoughts and feelings of others. repugnant and self centered tendencies: Lisa Kramer (Debra Messing) in Along Came Polly (Universal, 2004) and Anna Marks (Scarlett Johansson) in (New Line, 200 9). Both of these characters play to the worst possible racialized stereotypes that audiences have about young American Jewish females with regard to romance, particularly the notion that such women are cold, materialistic, fickle, and spoiled. Lisa Kram er, described by Along Came Polly more selfish and heartless acts imaginable by cheating on her newlywed husband Reuben during matters worse, Lisa is unable to provide any adequate explanation for her behavior to Reuben when he walks in on her having
136 consumed Lisa is. immediately seeks out Reuben and pushes obnoxiously for reconciliation, once again revealing her delusional sen that Reuben had purchased for the couple pre s Reuben Equally, if not more, problematic is Anna Marks, who plays the role of ultimate home wrecker in Another aspiring musician (it seems that the financial e sort of celebrity fantasies), Anna meets a married man, Ben, in the check out aisle of a market and immediately sets her sights on romance with him. Not surprisingly, Anna monopolizes this first conversation with all sorts of details about herself (incl uding her fears that she will end up like the presence of the Asian American woman toiling on her toes, Anna blabs nonstop with a friend about her designs to pursu e Ben (using language and an orientation that harkens to the fetishistic absorption is repeated later when Anna and this same friend are shopping at a CVS drugstore as message that if the discussion topic is not about Anna, then it does not concern Anna. As if her consistently shameless seduction of Ben is not bad enough, An
137 about having an affair by exploiting Connor, a third party who is clearly smitten by this demands that he rub her feet, insists tha is, and manipulates him into washing her hair. Ultimately, as can be expected when dealing with fe beyond that of a doormat, as Anna screens his phone calls, bails on him several times for the two to move in together. In short, then, hyper people like the pedicurist, her friend, and Connor for ego massages, particularly when her ego is bruised by not getting exactly what she wa nts (i.e., Ben) when she wants it. Even American Jewish female characters from relatively modest backgrounds are Confessions of a Shopaholic (Touchstone, 2009) Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), who is shown in the voice over describes a family financial situation that precluded such purchases. In fact, e later in the film, are humble in their appearance, dressed in rather pedestrian clothing and speak in a working class vernacular. If anything, materialism (noted in the Fiddler on the Roof ) as h er cell phone ringtone, Carrie Bradshaw wannabe Rebecca spends every day shopping at
138 department stores and boutiques, constantly rationalizing her compulsive need to purchase objects of self voice the line between her relations with humans and ob incomparable. Obviou sly, commodity fetishism like this has serious consequences for a has amassed credit card debt to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars (ironically, in the fl ashback opening scene of the film, Rebecca describes the awe she felt as a young girl seeing rrative focuses on nature of her shopaholism. In several scenes, she shirks personal and occupational responsibilities (a running joke throughout the film is that Rebecca works as a writer for antics to hide from her cr editors, including using her friends and lying to her boss/love interest, Rebecca is, in stereotypical fashion, saved from having to pay too dearly for her mistakes by her coddling parents, who pay off her debt by selling the RV in which they have invested their life
139 Rebecca always require (and most often receive) rescue from their own immaturity and small mindedness. Like Rebecca Bloomwood, Frenchy Winkler (Tra cey Ullman) in Small Time Crooks (DreamWorks, 2000) does not come from a well off family. In fact, she met her husband Ray when she was an exotic dancer nick classic throw th century film, with garish attire, badly permed and grotesquely dyed hair, an exaggeratedly large and crooked nose, and off putting blue immersin g herself in tabloid journalism about the lifestyles of the rich and famous (in this case, she idolizes real life Princess Diana because the Princess has more than 200 pairs of shoes). business scheme turns out to be a w ild, albeit ironic, materialism is revealed in her claim that ther business office and home with absurdly gaudy leopard print fabrics, antiques, statuettes, and gold leaf wallpa accountants she had entrusted to (paternally) care for her. In the end, however, there is no rescue for this ters either. Beyond several childhood flashback scenes, wherein the family contexts for, or nascent stages
140 Jewish children who are portrayed in this light a s well, including Sex and the City Lily York Goldenblatt (Alexandra and Parker Fong) and Ashley Grunwald (Brittany Robertson) in Keeping with the Steins (Miramax, 2006). Lily, the adopted daughter of highly successful American Jewish banker Harry Goldenblatt and his Gentile wife Charlotte, is shown throughout the film as training even at her tender young age (she appears to be 5 or 6 years old), materially spoiled beyond belief by her parents and socialized heavily by Carrie Bradshaw the story of Cinderella aloud, Lily ending. These sorts of aspirations and fantasies are not surprising when the audience sees Harry explaining to Lily, a flower prince it were her toy and hangs up on Mr. Big when he calls to discuss his pre marital cold feet with show on the wedding day). And, although playing a relatively minor role within the narrative of Keeping Up with the Steins Ashley Grunwald still manages to leave quite an impressi on in the film with her 13 o
141 having a flashy characters are still young girls. traits. Given the gen most, if not all, of these male characters were also discussed as examples of the emasculation, e female spoiling by their wealthy parents (particularly fathers). One such example is Jonathan Safran Foer (Elijah Wood) in Everything is Illuminated (Warner Indepe ndent, 2005), who appears to be so financially taken care of that he does not work, instead traveling all over the world collecting family artifacts to feed his genealogical fetish, a pastime that is not far from the hyper shown pouting and whining, albeit indirectly through facial expressions and a soft voice, there Lucky Number Slevin materially spoiled by his mob boss father Shlomo to such an extent that Yitzchok is not employed, opting instead to spend his days dressing in outrageously gaudy designer clothing (a feminization, it is perhaps not a stretch to consider Yitzcho considering the fact that his father has hired Israeli ex
142 use to alert his bodyguards an ytime he is in any sort of trouble). (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in 25 th Hour (Touchstone, 2002), whose propensity for complaining is described by another character as the res Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (20 th Century Fox, 2004), whose boundl ess vanity and absolute selfishness are easily attributable to a multi million dollar inheritance he received from his father; Funny People Leo (Jonah Hill), whose parental subsidies (including rent payment) enable a completely whimsica l and self interested lifestyle that includes going to parties, making YouTube videos for fun, and performing mediocre stand up comedy routines; and Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) in Garden State (Fox Searchlight, 2004), whose family riches are juxtaposed wi th the working class backgrounds of his old high school friends in New Jersey throughout the film and whose constant struggles with depression can be explained, in part, by self absorption and material spoiling. Finally, the two bar mitzvah boys in Keepin g Up with the Steins Ben Fiedler (Daryl Ben expresses unhappiness throughout the film despite living in opulence (including having parents with the means and ove rprotective desire to get him anything he wants), while the louder toward others (particularly women, who he routinely sexually harasses), totally carefree attitude
143 Thus, it is important to note here not simply the fact that all of t hese American Jewish male speaking, in few er characters and films than any of the other stereotypes found in my study, such numerical scarcity has very little, if any, bearing on its qualitative importance. In fact, the w deeply ingrained this racialized onscreen stereotype is among filmmakers even today. And while post Y2K film in the U.S. does reveal some additions, revisions and variations to the historically constructed cinematic trope, including characters who are f inancially independent professional women and selfishness, materialism small mindedness, and aversion to sex indicates that there is still a strong tendency t o racialize American Jewish characters (most notably, young non maternal wome n) in this manner. In Chapter 7 vis vis other American Jewish cinematic stereotypes, the disproportionate proclivity f or American Jewish filmmakers to be involved in the racialized construction of such characters, and explicitly identified as American Jewish will be discussed in more de tail. In Chapter 6 however, one more racialized American Jewish character stereotype in U.S. film of this decade will be
144 CHAPTER 6 The last of the four American Jewish character stereotypes found in my study is second males as conniving, excessively stubborn, cheating, w in at all costs competitive, overly hard bargain driving, garish, and unmannerly. With the relative economic success and upward class mobility of American Jewish persons vis vis other racial minorities (Burstein), it is not surprising to see that the ra cialized cinematic stereotype of American Jewish financial obsession continues to persist, with dozens of such portrayals emerging in my study of 21 st century U.S. movies. However, it is also important to note that, like the other American Jewish cinemati c stereotypes discussed in Chapters 3 5 racialization has expanded as well. For example, given the large scale changes in American Jewish gender roles, particularly the hyperbolically growing number of American Jewish women in professional careers l American Jewish female characters discussed in this chapter is to be expected. But it is another profound social change, namely the rise of neoliberalism and its penetration of everyday life with the logic of capitalism and profit, that appears to be li nked with a particularly intriguing have been traditionally portrayed in U.S. cinema as predominantly, if not exclusively, deceitful with regard to financial matters, A merican Jewish characters (both men and women) were mongering, and untrustworthy with regard to their relationships, love and romance, and sexuality. This may be a result of what a
145 recent study call have increasingly become the site of objectification and consumption (Constable). And finally, the increasingly prominent divide and conquer racial identity politics described in Chapter 2 specifically the structurally conditioned conflicts between American Jewish persons and other racial minorities, may explain the presence of a large number of American Jewish male ensitive attitudes and behaviors with regard to questions o f race, gender, and sexuality; in other words, the divide and conquer ideology relating to identity politics in which American Jewish persons are increasingly being socialized appears to parallel t he outlook of many American Jewish characters regardless of the particular intersection of identity difference with which they are dealing in the narratives of their respective films. Commensurate with all of these broader social trends, American Jewish p profiteering nature emerged regardless of context, cutting across all other identity differences, including age, class, gender, and sexuality. Of the 53 films in my were produced by creative teams with directors and/or writers who were American Jewish. This relat production of such films, will be interrogated more closely in Chapter 7 le of 125 characters in almost 48% of the 88 total male character s in my study sample who were explicitly identified as
146 a significant number of otherwise racially ambiguous characters included as racialized 4 it is not surprising to find a great deal of overlap in the characters exhibiting traits of both the former and latter. Indeed, the cussed in this chapter were Arguably the most obvious and widely recognized racialization of American Jewish persons is the stereotype that they have a cutthroat attitude and relentlessness with regard to mon into 21 st century U.S. film, taking particularly explicit (indeed, farcically over the top) form in three characters included in my study: White Goodman (Ben Stiller ) in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (20 th Century Fox, 2004), Snatch (Dennis Farina), and Tropic Thunder Goodman is not only the archetypal villain, but a hyp erbolic embodiment of the American fitness industry that is consistent ly framed as evil incarnate throughout the film, White is the proverbial ugly face of capitalism personified. A sinister business executive lacking any moral corpor ate mantra for Globo Gym and profits shamelessly from on site cosmetic surgery staff he
147 transnational commercial ambitions, as he gleefully announces the financially sa livating share expansion are shattered by Gentile supposedly insatiable greed with the happy go a conflict that eventually manifests stereotypical fashion, White is consistently shown going to any and all lengths to gain the upper hand on Association president, and ultimately tries to bribe Peter on the eve of the final match between r to step away and not participate). It ture prevents him from orienting to the world in any other way but a zero sum fashion, particularly when money is on the line. Snatch revolves around the avarice of the diamond p ar excellence
148 and anything in order to get his hands on the ultimate prize, an 86 karat stone that was stolen from orthodox Jews (who have long been racially stereotyped as involved with diamonds) in the Netherlands and smuggled into London. It is important to note tha t while nearly all of the other characters in the film are also chasing after this rock, they are all shown to have extrinsic motivations for involving themselves in the caper, whether basic survival given the promise of getting killed by mobsters if they end up empty handed or simply the financial need to pay off debts. Avi, on the other hand, is very rich and thus his covetousness of the diamond appears to reflect the deep fl audience that he is willing to sacrifice anything for his one and only passion, the pursuit of material wealth (in this particular case, a gem). Upon arriving in London, Avi immediately hires henchmen to carry out his no holds barred bidding, including numerous scenes of, in his own hich he oversees during his all encompassing quest. Avi even requests that a dog be killed and gutted to find the stone, which they believe the dog swallowed. In the process, Avi inadvertently shoots one of his mercenaries in a scene that exemplifies the r in the film through human life. Not surprisingly, Avi ends up with the gem at the end of the film, a final touch that ultimately makes the entire narrative ap pear to be an elaborate (and disgustingly bloody) scheme that he has executed to perfection. One other concluding observation about Avi that is relevant
149 to note here is that his Jewish identity is itself a question that is raised early in the film when a voice While such an accusation, if true, may appear superficially to negate the American Jewish a scheme all unto itself quite remarkably. In Tropic Thunder an over the top satire with an ensemble of stereotyped characters, Les Grossman is a hideously cari and c utthroat attitude that is unmatched by any other character in my study. While most of the scenes featuring Les in the film involve overt displays of his misogyny and tyranny (two other s chapter), his actions reveal an underlying take no busily calculates every possible asset and liability related to his movie projects; they hum around him like worker bees, providing hi hostage nity for financial gain using public relations savvy and corporate loophole strategies by unabashedly remarking that,
150 notion of buying out Flaming Dragon, the guerillas who double as a heroin smuggling cartel, given his one track mind which sees the group as Pacific po wer proclaimed monopoly indulgence. In an infamous scene involving a hip Les allowed Tug to die at the hands of the Flaming Dragon. In fact, when Rick appears to express consternation over such obvious minutes and see where tha friendship underscores his philosophy of financial gain. There are several other American Jewi racialized penchant for ruthless business dealings. One of two mafiosos in Lucky Number Slevin (MGM, 2006), Shlomo words of his counterpar American crime syndicate. Shlomo sinks lower in moral depravity with every decision he makes in the film vis vis the Boss, henchmen and a competitive leg up in his quest for monopoly control of the New York streets. a price when he offers to pay the latter any amount of money in exchange for freedom.
151 Similarly, publishing mogul Irv Ravitz (Tibor Feldman) in The Devil Wears Prada (20 th Century Fox, 2006) is wholly obsessed with maintaining financial dominance in his industry, always strategizing on how to maximize profits, even a t the expense of his employees. A executes a Machiavellian plot by cutting a deal with the editor in chief of his most prized magazine while ensuring that an assumes the responsibilities that had been promised a third, long time laborer in the organization. mindedness cannot account for the loya lty his workers show to the company, since the only logic with which he operates, in his own Two Lovers (Magnolia, 2008), Michael Cohen (Bob Ari), a dry cleaning magnate in Brooklyn who owns six stores, is totally engross ed in his business, so much so that he has thoroughly fused his familial responsibilities with his financial endeavors. Michael proverbially gets two for the price of one by orchestrating the buy out of a small neighborhood dry cleaning store owned and op erated by the Kraditor family as a gift to his every scene in which Michael appears throughout the film, he only speaks of monetary matters, visiting the Kraditor ho usehold to talk of the need to purchase new Italian dry cleaning machines which are supposedly more efficient (and therefore cost effective) and inviting Leonard for an portraying Michael as a one And Taking Woodstock (Focus Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff) and Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy). Michael, a con cert promoter
152 local farm owner, for the use of his land, only to find that Max is playing hardball by demanding ssively hard bargain driven by Max ultimately wins out, Michael rides away (literally, on a horse) having profiteered hundreds of thousands of dollars off of the Woodstock festival. In both characters, then, the audience finds embodiments : the relentless search for monetary riches. th roughout U.S. and European history. Not only were 21 st century American Jewish film characters shown to be overly attached to, and concerned about, their finances, but they were consistently displayed as seeking any and all ways to cut costs and save mone y wherever as wealthy as the cutthroat barons. Nevertheless, what defines the characters described below is their propensity to squeeze every last bit of financial value from whatever assets they have as well as their tendency to create devious plans for accomplishing their relatively petty monetary others, including their romantic partners, while in other cases, stinginess appears as a sort of neurosis that is deeply ingrained in, or inextricable from, the core of the and clear: American Jewish characters are profoundly tightfisted. Two characters played by Seth Rogen [Officer Michaels in Superbad (Columbia, 2007) and Ben Stone in Knocked Up (Universal, 2007)] offer clear cut examples of the miserly obsessed police officer who displays the exact opposite of professional law enforcement ethics, while Ben
153 is a slacker stoner whose dreams of developing a semi pornographic website are das hed when he learns he has impregnated a woman named Allison with whom he had a one night stand. In either case, the characters take seemingly endless pride in (often intricate) ploys they have created to conserve money to the greatest extent possible. Of ficer Michaels, a relatively marginal character in the film without many speaking lines, continuously references fringe blishments that seek his assistance. In fact, these seemingly insignificant perks are all that Officer Michaels cites when asked about the positives of his job. In a nearly identical fashion, Ben proclaims proudly (to his girlfriend Allison, no less) tha t he has been living for years off of a $14K legal settlement for an automobile accident in which he was injured. Not only does Ben gleefully explain that he has minimized his expenditures by not owning a cell phone or paying taxes in the United States (h e is an illegal characters seeming to derive great contentment from the measly financial savings they are able to secure. rom Chapter 4 Superbad Seth (Jonah Hill), who, in high school, has his own car and seems middle class socioeconomically, demands that his best friend Evan pay for Red Bull drinks Seth buys before the two go to class in the morning. He also fantasizes about stealing alcohol from a liquor store despite having $100 that he was given by a female classmate to buy booze, money to which Seth stereotypically gives primacy over the safety and wellbeing
154 of his friend Fogell after the latter appears to have been busted by police officers for attempting to purchase alcohol while underage. Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) in The Heartbreak Kid (DreamWorks, 2007), who owns his own sporting goods store and has the financial resources to drive a new car and pay for a lavis h wedding, reveals his stingy side to Lila, his bride, early on in sunbur aggressive attempts at conflict avoidance when her whimsical behaviors were visibly bothering him) occurs after she reveals that she has incurred major debt prior to their marriage and that she works as a volunteer for an environmentalist non profit group (at which Eddie expresses dismay, ual cutting and financial security. Punch Drunk Love plunger busi ness, becomes obsessive compulsive about finding and saving frequent flyer miles coupons from Healthy Choice food products, calling the company several times to inquire about the promotion and spending hours at the supermarket procuring hundreds of these p roducts since he has found a loophole that will guarantee him the purchasing power equivalent of unlimited air travel. In one poignant scene, Barry systematically analyzes which Healthy Choice products will give him the largest return on his investment, a nd then sends his Latino employee to fill several calculations. Similarly, Sonia Teichberg (Imelda Staunton) in Taking Woodstock ghout the film as a grotesquely cheap motel owner, attempting to
155 squeeze customers for even the most meager profits by charging extra for pillows and soap, living spa ces within one motel room (using sheets to separate bed spaces). Near the end of the film it is revealed that Sonia has been hiding a stash of money for 20 years. When her husband considers to be her most prized possession in life (more important than her own family). After this tirade, Sonia is shown giddily sleeping in the closet with the cash all around her, a symbolic fistedness. And, last but not least, I Love You, Man (DreamWorks, 2009) Barry (Jon Favreau) is so preoccupied with winning small scale poker of skill. In is to have her or his financial grip compromised in any way. sh petty hustlers who engage in calculated mischief to secure financial gain for themselves. Indeed, the protagonist of Small Time Crooks (DreamWorks, 2000), Ray Winkler (Woody Allen) is con who has a long history of fraud, racketeering, and associated hustles. At the outset of the film, Ray dreams up a plot to rob a bank by drilling a tunnel underneath it using the store next door as a front for this digging and up
156 money for his scheme, tries to con the old woman who owns the next door store that he covets, and ultimately settles on an alternative storefront that the Winklers operate as a cookie store. he couple are profiled in a demand for these baked goods and d ecides to raise the prices. Yet the most glaring moment of separated) decides to try his luck at stealing an extraordinarily rare necklace from the closet safe o f a New York socialite who has invited Ray to her party. Complete with a stethoscope (to break the safe code), an imposter necklace (which he plans to switch for the original) and a look out anxious and ineffectual attempts to abandon the bustling soiree and get his hands on this treasure. In the end, Ray does indeed finagle a necklace, but unfortunately for him it is the imposter one. The point through all of this process, however, is that despite having wealth and security through his cookie business, the prestige and status for just one more heist. Similar in many ways to Ray Winkler is Max Bialystock (Na than Lane) in The Producers has been Broadway producer whose sh ows regularly receive horrific reviews, managing to stay afloat financially only by seducing wealthy widows to bank roll his productions. Max plays
157 exchange for sexual role isions with his accountant Leo Bloom. A devious Max convinces hesitant Leo to join him in producing Springtime for Hitler the start up funds using a tax loophole that Leo has found. Screaming, in stereotypical possible to see his plot through, using a lousy script written by a neo Nazi, hiring a crossdressing director, casting a Swedish beauty que en who barely speaks English, and even pretending to be dreams of escaping to Rio de Janeiro and spending his days in Turkish baths are foiled as he is left to ha tch new schemes while a prisoner at a state penitentiary. Like Ray Winkler, then, Max racialization as a money grubber. Anything Else ith creative production teams. In fact, Harvey goes into monologues dehumanizing, hyper weasel like ev year contract extension that Jerry decides
158 to cut ties with Harvey, Harvey has an overly dramatized mock cardiac arrest in the middle of a restaurant, trying to guilt Jerry into signing the contract; the incident is a hyperbolic example of Kleinman (Peter Falk) in The Thing About My Folks (Picturehouse, 2005), the elderly father of whether someone i hustle several hundred dollars worth of billiards winnings from a Gentile patron at a bar only to a trio of drug Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) in Requiem for a Dream (Artisan, 2000), Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) in The Wackness (Sony Pictures Classics, 2008), and Saul Silver (James Franco) in Pineapple Express (Columbia, 2008) exemplify the small time crook mentality. Harry is constantly trying to concoct the perfect plan to sell a large amount of cocaine and heroin in the New York City area, with the profits meant to feed his own addictions as well as those of his girlfriend Marion. He is even willing to pimp Marion to various men in order to secure the seed money for his high quantity purchases of drugs for sale. Luke not only sells marijuana to his psychiatrist in exchange for therapy sessions, but tries to convince his shrink to prescribe him psychotropic medications that Luke can in turn sell on the track hustling mind can be summarized in an exchange he has with love for the summer with an to pay for his bubby gressive salesmanship (like Harvey Wexler in Anything Else
159 even the most petty of pro fits, with most compromising the morality and ethics of the society around them in the process. While the American Jewish characters described above could easily have been featured in 20 th plifies the 21 st century expanded racialization of this cinematic stereotype: characters that conceive and hatch underhanded plots to secure objects of desire that are not necessarily directly related to money or finances. And while these characters plan and undertake schemes whose aims range from social prestige to sexual intercourse, a constant is the stubbornness and single mindedness with which Stiller) in Duple x (Miramax, 2003), the new owner of an apartment building in Manhattan who wants to evict his elderly widowed upstairs neighbor Mrs. Connolly due to the inconveniences she poses him and his wife Nancy. Beginning in a relatively innocuous fashion with ster apartment (Mrs. Connolly leaves her television set on all night at a v ery high volume), tries to subway passengers, carves a massive hole in her apartment through which he hopes she will fall trap door style, and ultimately purcha ses a gun and hires a hit man to kill her. While the film is a tongue in cheek dark comedy, the audience is left with the clear message that an American despicable ends.
160 protagonists in Bride Wars (20 th Century Fox, 2009), Emma Allan (Anne Hathaway) and Liv Lerner (Kate Hudson). Despite being the best of friends since early childhood, both are willing to eng age in cunning and deceitful trickery against one another in a seeming death match over whose wedding at the Plaza Hotel in New York will emerge as the nuptials of the century. Interestingly, though, each character starts out with a relatively clear objec tive of spotlighting her own respective matrimonial ceremony, it appears that at some point in the film, the two become locked into a upsmanship that has a life and logic all its own. In the process, Em transforms into a vindictive and malicious combatant, sending Liv desserts to fatten her, unfla ttering high tations mailing with her mutual circle of friends that Emma is pregnant (imply Duplex characters are entertaining if only in their willingness to eschew all decency in plotting against others. Tal (Jay Baruchel) in (Columbia, 2008), Harry (John
161 Billi ngsley) in The Man From Earth (Shoreline, 2007), and Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) in Funny People (Universal, 2009) use others in their selfish ambitions to advance their careers, a goal again off again romantic interest, who is portrayed throughout the film in a negative fashion vis vis the Gentile hero Nick, ultimately reveals a conniving ulterior motive for wooing Norah. In a patriarchal and aggressive manner, Tal demands that Norah give her father, the famed recording studio exec Ira Silverberg, a demo CD that Tal has put together with his anarcho Zionist hip hop ensemble. As though the cunning of this moment were not damning enough, Tal sinks even lower when Norah, sensing she is but a than himself. Like Tal, Harry is tactless: when John, the protagonist of The Man From Earth reveals in an intimate gathering of colleagues and friends that he is in fact thousands of years old, on John. This careerist reaction is particularly disturbing when juxtaposed with the other critical or existential self reflection. And finally, fledgling stand up comedian Ira is so desperate to break thro material right before the latter is to go on stage to perform that material at a major event. At the eorge that Leo is those who are closest to him for the pettiest of amb itions. Like Tal and Harry, then, Ira
162 situations. Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) from Meet the Parents (Universal, 2000) and Ben Fiedler in Keeping Up with the S teins regard to a benign issue like family unity, and though these characters may appear superficially to be well intentioned, they ultimately reinforce the racialization of American Jewish charact ers ups, as he fabricates his family history, claiming to have grown up on a farm to try and appease what he assumes are the comes up with a laughably unrealistic ch ildhood tale of milking a runt kitten who could not reach conversations, amo ng other covert operations) and attempts to use his observations as ammunition against the latter in front of the entire Byrnes family, only to end up unwittingly to him from the embarrassing backfires of his previous plots, which include having lost the Byrnes family cat Jinx and then bought an imposter replacement cat whi ch he painted to appear like Jinx, as well as flushing a toilet that ended up flooding the Byrnes backyard in sewage (Greg credits that it was in fact Greg who committed the crime). Ben Fiedler, the bar mitzvah boy in
163 Keeping the Steins mailing a doctored invitation to his grandfather Irwin so the latter will arrive two weeks early and po thus reflect the fact that even the most well intentioned American Jewish characters are still they want. For instance, several American Jewish male characters in the study hatched cunning plots to hide their own infidelity and other romantic indiscretions. Aforementioned cheapskate Eddie Cantro w in The Heartbreak Kid especially after he falls in love with a Gentile woman named Miranda during his honeymoon in Mexico with newlywed Gentile bride Lila. Eddie concocts a convoluted yarn to explain to L ila his absence for entire days at a tale involving make believe business dealings, boat expeditions, etc. And would leave Miranda alone when in fact he attempts to sneak into the home in order to pledge his love for her. The film ends with a final n ups, as Eddie lies about his encounter with Miranda, but this time he deceives a local woman he has apparently married since his divor ce with Lila. Similarly, Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoneix) in Two Lovers uses sins of omission and other forms of dishonesty to cover up his two timing ways; in particular, he Cohen, that he is in fact infatuated, having sexual relations, and hoping to run away with his
164 Gentile neighbor Michelle. And finally, Keeping the Faith Rabbi Jake Schram (Ben Stiller) selfishly disregards the feelings of h is mother, best friend (Catholic priest Brian Finn), and rabbinical superiors in trying to conceal his romantic affair with Anna Riley, a deceit, the one who is arguably most visibly affected is Anna herself, who is ultimately rejected by Jake upon revealing that she is in love with him and wants to make their relationship publicly e romantic feelings of others, leading double lives to avoid dealing with the trust that must accompany real human intimacy. Taking such dishonesty to an even higher level of flagrancy are a series of American that design and implement dastardly plots to win over Gentile female romantic interests, often sinking so low as to finagle sexual intercourse. Arguably the most pronounced example of this type of character is 50 First Dates 2004) Henry Roth (Adam Sandler), a marine veterinarian in Hawaii who uses an assortment of exploits include him appropriating false personas, ordering virgin (i.e. non alcoholic) drinks to tile love interest Lucy, an amnesiac who wakes up each nature. Henry devises countless schemes to flirt and have breakfast with Lucy, enlisting the help of fake tears
165 is questionable at best and suspicious at worst given the fact that Lucy must an effort to gain the affection of their Gentile female objects of affectio n. Another Adam Sandler character, womanizing fireman Chuck Levine in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (Universal, 2007), pretends to be gay so he can more easily become friends with, and thus gain more intimate access to, a Gentile woman lawyer named Dr. Jeffrey Squires (Be n Kingsley) in The Wackness uses an alias and hides his wedding ring when seeking to have sex with a random young woman he encounters at a bar. Dustin (Jason Biggs) in (Lionsgate, 2008) hires his roommate and best friend Tank to cond be obnoxious in courting Alexis so that Alexis will realize that she misses Dustin. The dramatic plan backfires, with Tank and both Tank and Alexis are present), divulging to all the scheme he and Tank have concocted and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story pretends to read a dictionary to impress his Gentile cr ush, Globo Gym accountant Catherine. Making matters even worse, pretense that such action would free her up for dating him. A third Adam Sandler character,
166 Ge orge Simmons in Funny People ex husband Clark is away on business, George withholds the fact that he has recovered from cancer to manipulate a guilty Laura into having sexual relations with him and does everything in his power to cover up the tryst when Clark arrives home early to the surprise of all. Finally, Kissing Jessica Stein 01) Josh Meyers (Scott Cohen) uses every trick he can to get back together with the title character (who is his ex girlfriend and employee), snooping through d inner. Josh ultimately resorts to even more passive aggressive schemes, like making crude jokes about Jessica and her Gentile lesbian lover Helen potentially having to raise their kids front of her. Paradoxically, then, these stereotypical American Jewish male characters engage in meant to revolve around honesty. scheming, they demonstrated qualities that can only be described as scumbag in nature. For instance, a series of male bosses were portrayed as slave driving or grossly mis treating their (Jon Lovitz) in The Producers manipulatively screaming that worker self scare the highly anxious staff as he
167 when the workers shudder in fright. Indeed, when Leo appears for work six minutes late Along Came Polly and portrayed as a more eccentric, albeit equally repulsive, power mongering boss. Telling dirty ge, Stan stereotypically company restroom. This cartoonish scene also features Stan urinating wildly all over the place while disrespectfully filling the air with his excessively loud flatulence. Arguably most of factness when reporting to Reuben that Reuben must take over all of the office responsibilities while Stan flies to Barbados with his mistress for the weekend. It is this sort of sleaziness, while morally problematic to most, that is made to appear when dealing with thei r subordinates. Michael Cohen in Two Lovers calls Leonard Kraditor into his office for a lunch appointment, only to end up badgering Leonard with an in your face 50 First Dates nry Roth abuses his assistant, an androgynous character whose lack of sexual attractiveness for Henry becomes the butt of his inappropriate and rude jokes. Not only does Henry physically slap his assistant with a fish at one point, but he also commands a walrus to vomit on the
168 George Simmons in Funny People yells at and punches his assistant Ira, even joking about wanting to kill Ira. He also refuses to help woman Ira was courting since, according to the power in compariso n with those of Tropic Thunder Les Grossman, whose verbal tirades are ce, Jewish totalitarian supervisors described above, Les is incapable of dealing with his workers i n a being singularly oppressive. was the insensitivity these characters show regar ding questions of culture, ethnicity, and race. Far from displaying a sense of humility given the American Jewish historical experience with antisemitism and racialization in the U.S., these characters instead engage in commentary and actions directed tow ard other minority groups that highlight ignorance of such matters. A pair of aforementioned Adam Sandler characters provide useful illustrations of this insensitivity. In a
169 scene from Funny People George Simmons launches into a set of tasteless jokes r ailing against the accent and mannerisms of a European physician whose actual nationality is left ambiguous. In fact, despite the fact that the doctor is trying to help cure George, George rudely and ungratefully lambasts Germans and Swedes alike (ignoran tly conflating these two very different cultures in the process) right in front of the doctor. And Barry Egan is shown throughout Punch Drunk Love bossing around his Latino assistant, forcing the assistant to go around and physically grab hundreds of Heal thy Choice pudding snacks off of supermarket shelves and place them into dozens of shopping carts (a duty that falls well outside the job responsibilities of selling novelty plungers). And when Barry whimsically leaves for Hawaii to rendezvous with his ne w love of responsibility that appears to be, at least partly, racial in nature). Along these lines, Knocked Up merican Jewish friends who are equally disrespectful of cultural, ethnic, and racial difference. In a nightclub scene, they engage in a barrage of Islamophobic jokes directed at their Gentile friend who is growing a beard as part of a dare the group of fr iends have issued him, and later in the film Ben gives a racist description of The Thing About My Folks also cannot help but partake in bigotry, albeit in a more subtle f ashion. When attending a local minor league baseball game in upstate New York, the two mockingly chant the Latino name of player Ramon Asconcela after Ramon is announced over the PA system as the next batter. And Avi Denowitz in Snatch offers his own lit any of insensitive The Heartbreak Kid
170 when lying to his wife, covering up his Mexican h oneymoon fling with another woman by racial insensitivity, however, occurs within the context of the contro versial film Inglourious Basterds (Universal, 2009), a tale of an American Jewish guerilla unit exacting vigilante revenge Donnie Donowitz (Eli Roth), who smiles every time Gentile commanding officer Aldo Raine Inglourious Basterd Omar Ulmer (Omar Doom) fire hundreds of rounds of live ammunition indiscriminately at a crowd of Nazi Party officials who are racing for the exits of a burning cinema theater, both eventually finding the dead bodies of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels and shooting a ridiculously large number of rounds into these corpses. At the same time, a third Inglourious Basterd, Smithson Utivich (B. J. Novak), is shown gidd ily scalping the head of a German officer. Despite the moral relativism that can be used to justify these actions, such highlighting of American Jewish thuggish violence against Nazis, when combined with a glaring absence of the opposite kind of violence stereotype by racializing American Jews as vindictive in their targeting of a particular group for punishment and violence. is Cal (Seth Rogen) in The 40 Year Old Virgin (Universal, 2005), an entertainment store laborer
171 whose sleazy lines in the film are exclusively heterosexist in natu re. Whether recounting stories being gay because the latter has chosen to be celibate, Cal is obsessed with talking about gender and sexuality in as crass a abusive Cal hires an attractive young woman to work alongside him in the stockroom (pres umably for the prospects of sexually harassing her) and compares sexual exploits to growing marijuana, explaining to Andy that the more seeds he planted, the more pot he could a woman] to I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Charlie Fineman in Reign Over Me (Columbia, 2007) follow throughout their respective films and heterosexualizing every scene in which they are involved, is mean spirited in his homophobic attacks on title character The Wackness ate of his in middle school after she had drank a 24 oz. bottle of malt liquor, while Dr. Squires describes his experiences coaxing bordering on sexual violence. I Love You, Man
172 heterosexist, bargaining sexual relations with his Gentile wife in the crudest manner possible on multip iend) Zoe needs to stay at the misogyny and patriarchal power plays are also prevalent in Superbad only goes to painstaking detail in desc tastic American Jew in Tropic Thunder Goodman in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story insists to his corporate lawyer Catherine that the The Producers ters display a callous disregard in relation to issues of gender and sexuality, thus reinforcing the racialization of In this chapter, the key themes and fundamental features of t cinematic stereotype were outlined. While this racialized representation of American Jewish characters onscreen, with roots in 20 th century film as well as centuries of European antisemitic mythology about the pernicious Jewish threa t of Gentile domination), has clearly survived in 21 st century 21 st century U.S. cinema, it has also expanded to reflect the recent shifts in broader U.S.
173 of more than 50 post Y2K movies in the U.S. to be obsessed, miserly, devious, plotting, and insensitive to others, whether these characters were male or female, or whether their particular object of attachment was financial or romance related. Such chara cterizations are but one of four American Jewish stereotypes in 21 st century U.S. film tha t have been discussed in Chapters 3 6 In Chapter 7 these findings will be situated within the broader sociological context of American Jewish identity today, parti cularly the question of American Jewish cinematic stereotypes as well as any variance in the quantity and representation across these various stereotypes. In short, the n, Chapter 7 will serve as an attempt to answer directly my
174 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSIONS In this chapter, the study findings that were presented in Chapters 3 6 will be examined vis 1 Specifically, this chapter will provide a more nuanced discussion of the persistence of cinematic stereotypes of American Jewish identity in 21 st century U.S. movies, as well as dis cuss the implications of such findings for the academic study of race and film. Particular attention will be paid to the dialectical interplay between structure and agency in the racialization of American Jewish identity onscreen, including such issues as these racialized portrayals, the numerical dominance and varying explicitness of certain stereotypes vis vis others, and the hegemonic discourses of racialization emerg ing from a changing and crisis ridden global political economy. Also, the findings of my study will be compared and contrasted with several other works on 21 st century American Jewish cinematic representations, including characters from my study. Finally outlined, and suggestions for future research that addresses the question of racialization in film, whether in relation to American Jewish identity or that of other racial minorities, will be offered. 159), the results of my study indicate that 21 st century American Jewish identity, at least as it is represented in U.S. film, appears to persist in being racialized by U.S. filmmakers, eve n if an especially large percentage of these directors and/or writers are American Jewish themselves. In American Jewish filmic characters from a sample of U.S movies from this decade continue to embody highly racialized traits associated with the four most prominent historical cinematic stereotypes of American Jewish identity. In fact, the specific onscreen representations of
175 American Jewish persons today are in many ways no different than those that have racialized st century U .S. cinema, and although each of these four American Jewish stereotypes appears to have been expanded to include a more diverse range of characters with regard to age, class, gender, and sexualities, the overall racialization of American Jewish identity pe rsists within the 125 characters analyzed in my study. The Dialectics of 21 st Century American Jewish Cinematic Racialization To properly engage the dialectical process of racialization, however, it is important to address the socio political interests a nd subjective agency of the creative forces involved in the production of these cinematic representations of American Jewish racial identity. Indeed, the fact that almost three fourths of the directors and/or writers of the films included in my study iden tify as American Jewish is a phenomenon that simply cannot be ignored. There are several possible explanations for this unevenness in the identity of the producers of these racialized cinematic portrayals of American Jewish persons, with many of these pot ential motives specific to each of the four cinematic stereotypes addressed in my study. Although much of what can be inquiry lest my study posit the unt enable proposition of racialization without racializers. One overarching rationale that is important to consider for the filmmakers whose work appeared in my study, especially those involved in the production of big movies, is the financ ial incentive to engage in the increasingly profitable endeavor of marketing ecause the
176 edia form of alienating capitalist deep that locks cultural producers into a self perpetuating cycle in which they participate in the fetish ism of their own racial identity. It is important to note, however, that a major part of marketing race involves depriving so the results of my study given the significantly larger number of explicitly identified American stereotypes of American Jewish racial identity without necessarily identifying such characters e open to featuring American Jewish t here is that those films that are targeting larger pools of consumers, specifically the big budget blockbu sters, appear to be less apt to have their characters explicitly identified as American Jewish (i.e., a racialized Other), even if the portrayals of such characters are highly
177 exemplary of historical American Jewish cinematic stereotypes, since such explic it identification could potentially undermine the profit ability of commoditized given tries to provide commoditized identities without e ngaging in identification and identity politics, while i whose link to the cash nexus is far more tenuous, characters were far more likely to be explicitly identified as American Jewish, with many openly embracing their racial identity Nevertheless, these more abstract structural concerns may not resonate with the everyday lived experiences of American Jewish filmmakers, for whom the economic interests of proliferating cinematic stereotypes of American Jewish perso ns could outweigh the more indirect costs of any reinforced racialization of their own identity. In increasingly tenuous economic times, particularly for the movie industry, the guarantee of box office success, even if it requires the racialization of Ame rican Jewish identity, can be too good to pass up for these directors and/or writers. It is also important to situate the creative tendencies of American Jewish filmmakers within the larger historical context of Jewish entertainment, most notably the appr opriation of self deprecating stereotypes as a longstanding practice by Jewish humorists (as observed by such renowned Jewish thinkers as Sigmund Freud and Albert Memmi). It is within such a historical context that contemporary American Jewish self raciali zation in popular culture, blurred line between internalized antisemitism and self conscious satire (Dorinson). In short, then, there are several potential soc iological factors that can be linked to the propensity for American Jewish directors and/or writers to create and distribute the types of stereotypical portrayals of American Jewish racial identity found in my study.
178 In other words one must ac count for the possible subjective interests involved in the uneven production of certain American Jewish cinematic stereotypes over others, the question of why certain racialized characters were explicitly identified as American Jewish more so than others, or parental figures of any kind for that matter, in my study sample vis vis other racialized American Jewish character stereotypes, U.S. filmmakers, especially American Jewish ones, may be engaging in a type of social psychological repression and denial regarding the fact that the American Jewish community is aging. In othe r words, by showcasing a highly disproportionate from the growing realit y that the elderly are quickly becoming the largest population of young adults reigned supreme within the American Jewish community has been discussed in the literatu re on contemporary American Jewish representations in film (Furnish). At the same time, there is a more general profit driven proclivity in U.S. mass media entertainment, particularly the Hollywood film industry, to produce visual imagery of glamorous yo ung persons, a trend that is reinforced by a celebrity fetishism characteristic of Western post industrial capitalist societies (Barbas). This social fact would help explain why such a relatively sult of a different, albeit related, psychological
179 defense mechanism. In this case, the projection of racial insecurity onto cinematic stereotypes of the older maternal American Jewish women makes sense (Antler), since that demographic group is highly unr epresentative of the actual identities of Hollywood film directors and/or writers themselves. In other words, if there was a particular character stereotype that young male American Jewish filmmakers would feel safest in racializing more overtly, it would be creative production process itself. st century U.S. film, as well as can also be linked to the actual subjectivities of the (disproportionately American Jewish male) ind ividual and collective self free U.S. society (Itzkowitz 235). Hence by proliferating stereotypical imagery of ineffectual American Jewish the solidity of the American middle they now increasingly seek affiliation (Itzkowit z 245). Such assimilatory logic would also ince these American Jewish filmmakers would want to produce representations of servility without necessarily calling too much attention to their racial identity ng
180 and/or writer, since it offers him the opportunity to exorcise his assimilatory anxieties without appearing to be involved in racialization (Itzkowitz 243). factors relating to the disproportionately American Jewish racial identity of f ilmmakers in my study. First, with so many American Jewish women today occupying a more substantial role in professions (DellaPergola), there is less relevancy for racializing them as materially spoiled seem to be increasingly portraying young, non closer proximity between m en and women in the labor force. At the same time, the growing rates of intermarriage among American Jewish persons (specifically men, in the case of U.S. matern effectively rendered invisible by the presence of Gentile women (a tip of the hat to the shiksas ). And the relatively that often the stars of these films, are not critique the commod ity fetishism of contemporary city life (i.e., New York being the setting for
181 understate the racial identities of all characters, including American Jewish persons since took on such materialism as their main subject matter, whethe st century U.S. film are in many ways closely related to those governing the traditionally gendered character stereotype indicates the degree to which the filmmakers in my study, especially those invol seeking to reproduce images of themselves (at least with regard to gender) onscreen, since these filmmakers are predominantly American Jewish men. At the same time, the creation of financial or otherwise) can be thought of as a psychological reaction formation to the same ineffectuality that prompts these American Jewish directors and/or writers to create masculine traits of ruthlessness, competitiveness, renewed sense of virility with regard to American Jewis h masculinity, given the racialized emasculation of American Jewish identity historically (Boyarin). The callous romantic relations as a reaction to the ascendancy of women in the political economy over the past few decades; American Jewish filmmakers may be doing their part in the gender politics of backlash that has
182 And the relative tendency for these (mostly American Jewish) directors and/or writers to leave makes sense as a learned strategy for averting antisemitism, since one would have to think that the genocidal consequences of the centuries old mythology of Jewish conspiratorial designs in popular culture is well known among American Jewish filmmakers. All of these social factors would help explain why there is such an ext onscreen representations of class, gender, and race (Biskind). Addressing the more structural aspects of the dia lectical process of 21 st century American Jewish cinematic racialization, there are hegemonic discourses and political economic conditions structure of U.S. racializ ation discussed in Chapter 1 ; American Jewish filmmakers might perceive the reproduction of stereotypical American Jewish characters as a means by which to film makers may be discursively conditioned to consistently portray American Jewish racial they, as American Jewish persons themselves, will not have to face th e socioeconomic and can be particularly strong given the contempo rary context of divide and conquer racial identity politics between American Jewish pers ons and other racial minorities Moving even more into abstraction, there are other structural issues pertaining to the current socio historical conjuncture, specific ally profound political economic shifts in the base of
183 global society. These shifts include: (1) the development of transnational capital that integrates nation based capital into a global production and financial system, (2) the rise of a transnational c apitalist class deriving profit from global markets and circuits of accumulation, (3) the emergence of transnational state apparatuses, and (4) the commensurate appearance of new power relations and structural inequality in societies worldwide (Robinson 7 8). Far from establishing itself and functioning smoothly, however, this nascent global capitalist system is of the global polity, structural crises of overa ccumulation and surplus absorption, and counter hegemonic challenges to its legitimacy and authority (Robinson 20). It is within such a fractured and fragmented political economic context that the power of the emergent ruling class is most tenuous and, c ommensurately, racialization becomes most reactionary. A particularly relevant example of this was the early 20 th century, another historical epoch marked by global crises associated with massive shifts in the political economic base of human society. Wi th the emergence of industrial capitalism across the Western world during the latter half of the 19 th industrial combines that struggle[d] to divide and redivide [sic] the world amongst themselves through their respective natio n (Robinson 7). Within such political economic flux, it is not surprising to see that Jewish identity was racialized most explicitly in those countri es which had lost the greatest amount of power during such a transition, including the still feudal empires of Russia and Prussia/Germany. Indeed, it was Tsarist Russia where The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion were forged, printed, and widely dis tributed, propagating antisemitic notions that Jewish persons were
184 (Bronner 13 ). This myth of a transnational network of Jewish money racialized hysteria about Jewish identity that ultimately led to gulags and the N azi holocaust, all of which indirectly helped the emergence and hegemony of nation state capitalism throughout the 20 th century. The point here is not that genocidal forms of antisemitism are necessarily on the horizon, but that taking historical materiali st century political economy, and the hegemonic discourses about racial identity emerging from these changes, can be helpful for understanding the patterns of racialization in contemporary U.S. film. For example, the (pred ominantly American Jewish) directors and/or writers whose work is featured in my study may be structurally conditioned to produce representations of American Jewish racial identity embody 245) through a perpetuation of stereotypes that have been cosmetically altered (i.e., through increased diversity in age, gender, sexualities, etc.) in a way that leaves the underlying power relations of racialization intact. In other words, the agential concerns and subjective interests of the various filmmakers whose works are analyzed in my study are mutually reinforcing of universal issues which manifest, often indirectly, unwittingly, and subconsciously, in the particular forms of American Jewish repr esentation discussed in my study For example, the portrayal of American divide and s and ideological imperative transnational capitalists must pursue in order to gain hegemony for the
185 emergent system which seek to put in place. Ultimately, the n, American Jewish representations in U.S. film today can be understood as both similar and different to their 20 th century precursors, with the four traditional cinematic stereotypes of American Jewish racial identity serving new agential interests and id eological purposes within a profoundly shifting political economic context. 21 st Century American Jewish Cinematic Stereotypes : Racialization or Not? Given the discussion of the 21 st century cinematic racialization of American Jewish identity in the last section, it appears that the nuanced conclusions of my study could only be possible by using a dialectical conceptual framework that accounts for structure and agency as well as material conditions and the realm of ideas. One way to assess the utility an d validity of this framework is by considering the differences that emerged between the analysis and interpretation of the four American Jewish cinematic stereotypes in my study versus other recent studies of contemporary American Jewish onscreen represent ations, including many of the latest research on American Jewish cinematic representations, all of which operated from the conceptual frameworks of culture and ethnicity, are compared and contrasted with the findings of my study, in which racialization was the theoretical focus. 3 A recent article analyzing Meet the Fockers (Un iversal, 2004) claims that the Focker parents, gender roles the
186 coole first U.S. society today allows American Jewish fact, all of the humo r in Meet the Fockers revolves around juxtaposing these two mutually Saxon Protestant (W.A.S.P.) Byrnes (Baskind 17). Inde ed, the film goes to cartoonish lengths to convey the message that the b off on Jack and Deena, who begin to loosen up and open themselves to the possibilities of a less rigid relationship between one another (including sexually) and greater emotional intimacy with recognize that the Fockers remain staidly dysfunctional vis vis the Byrnes, who are portrayed as willing to improve their family dynamics. In other words, while the American Jewish parental
187 characters appear self is reflexive, dynamic, and evolutionary in becoming more balanced and well adjusted marital partners and parents. Hence while Bernie and Roz may appear on the surface to be progressive in their sexual politics and gender roles, they are nothing more than a duet of the American ization as parents who are too Jewish Along these same lines, another recent work posits that Judy Stein ( Tovah Feldshuh ) in Kissing Jessica Stein ary (Johnston 226). Such analysis also seems to presume that American Jewish identity is indeed s love life can also be in fact an affirmation of her racialization as a stereotypical American Jewish mother. vis the establishment of healthy boundaries between the couple and Judy. There seem to be similar disconnects between the findings of my study and published 4 For instance, one scholar Along Came Polly Reuben
188 Feffer (Ben Stiller), Punch Drunk Love Adam Sandler), and American Pie 2 (Universal, 2001) and American Wedding Jim Levenstein (J confident racial history, including the virtual disappearance of antisemitism (Itzk owitz 232). This author views the supposedly universal acceptance by U.S. movie an Jews [sic] are becoming mainstream, times (Itzkowitz 240). Going even a s tep further, another article interprets Keeping the Faith (Edward Norton, 2000) Rabbi Jake Schram (Ben Stiller) as a symbol of the fact that the girl a Gentile for what he lacks e Jake as leaves racial identity unstable and elusive. Far from deconstructing the question of identity, however, the cinematic stereotype of American Jewish identity continues to be in the 21 st characters played by Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Jason Biggs discussed in Chapter 4 ar e textbook embodiments of the centuries old schlemiel
189 new, postmodern Jewish identity, these characters reveal the pers the 20 th historical processes of American Jewish racialization in the U.S. Along these lines, then, Rabbi Jake ife can be reinterpreted not as emblematic of a 21 st century American Jewish characters in U.S. film to escape the historically constructed stereotype of lusting after Gentiles, with all of the political implications inherent in this racialization of their identity. Other film studies scholars have identifi ed two developments with regard to the st century U.S. cinema, both of which are challenged by the results of my study. First, while my study indicates that characters like Carrie Bradshaw (S arah Jessica Parker) in Sex and the City (New Line, 2008) can be seemingly ambiguous racial identity, there are those who argue that this makes their racialization mor st
190 merican Jewish female characters are these lines, scholars have also argued that 21 st century American Jewish female characters like Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) in Kissing Jessica Stein [of ra stereotype is thought to have been transcended by newer representations onscreen that center the fluidity of American Jewish female sexuality, and in doing so, highlight the indeterminacy of to race. st century American Jewish characters, the identity is not explicitly iden 21). Recognizing the dialectical interplay between race as
191 nose job or no nose job wish class, reinforced by her spoiled, materialistic, and childish beha 5 that do not transgress this racialized cinematic issue of sexual orient betw Bradshaw and Jessica Stein serve not as refutations of the logic of race, but rather as new, be racialized in 21 st century U.S. film. Finally, there are film analyses which tend to downplay or ignore the highly racialized st century American Jewish characters discussed in Chapter 6 racially insensitive actions as emblematic of the self conscious irony and conflation of identity thought to be inherent in the postmodern condition. For example, one study argues th The Hebrew Hammer
192 Central, 2003) protagonist Mordechai Jefferson Carver (Adam Goldberg) is not a racialized portrayal of American Jewish identity, but rather an example of the way this particular film through flippant use of the raci 21 st in to The Jazz Singer (Warner Bros., 1927). Instead, it is simply testimony to a multicultural listen to hip hop and rap music, and co racia Meet the Parents 50 First Dates Jewish]
193 not change the fact that his stereotypical onscreen portrayal a theoretical assumptions of racialization w ould also challenge the proposition that American relations that have created, and continue to reinforce, divide and conquer identity political conflicts between co laws, he is equally, if not more, 242) comes at the expense of his love interests in 50 First Dates all of whom become victims of (Baskind 12), and despite the fact that such representations are the products of American Jewish filmmakers, there is no escaping the fact that these 21 st century American Jewish movie Jewish identity. Ultimately, then, despite the apparent attempts by contemporary scholars of A merican
194 empirically, at least with regard to the American Jew st century U.S. film. Rather than hastily dismissing the issue of cinematic stereotypes, my study addressed the question of racialized onscreen representations directly and found that filmic portrayals of American Jewish persons continue to fall within the same four historically popularized categories of character phenotype and persona. However, while my study appears to have validated the importance of a racialization conceptual framework for the post Y2K study of American Jewish identity onscreen, there are several important issues that remain unresolved given the limited scope of my study. In the section that follows, these limitations are addressed with an eye toward filling in the gaps in the literature left b y my study. Study Limitations and Future Research Directions Although my study has contributed to the literature on American Jewish racial identity in 21 st century U.S. film through its methodological rigor and theoretical scope, it certainly has its sh are of conceptual and operational limitations. In particular, film studies of the racialized characterization, thereby obscuring other features of a text or ignoring altogether the textual that both precedes and measure It is indeed true that by conducting a qualitative content analysis of American Jewish characters, my study may have missed out on a wealth of important data that would have emerged by taking a more nuanced app roach toward each of the 53 films included in the study sample. 21 st century U.S. movies are not a monolithic category, and there is as much diversity among different U.S. filmmakers and their works as there are between the different national
195 cinemas arou nd the world. Therefore, an important initiative for future research would be to further examine the racialization of American Jewish identity through a textual analysis of 21 st Relating to the second criticism, my study pointed out stereotypical c haracterizations of American Jewish persons onscreen without actually investigating the practices underlying the production of these images. For example, there was very little methodological accounting of the that it would be important to note exactly what the motives and interests were of American Jewish production teams, and how the subjective agency of these teams differed from predominantly Gentile production teams. Indeed, the question of racialization b ecomes difficult, if not impossible, to answer completely unless the research involves a more comprehensive connection between the texts and authors. A possible future ilmmakers whose work appeared more frequently in my study than others, including Woody Allen, Judd Apatow, John Hamburg, Charlie Kaufman, and Peter Segal (all of whom identify as American Jewish). By closely examining the politics and production practices of these creative forces in 21 st century U.S. cinema, a more comprehensive and poignant interpretation could be undertaken of the racialization of American Jewish identity in their films. And finally, the crucial issue of spectatorship was ign ored in my study. By failing to of audiences who actually watch the films in my study, it is impossible to fully understand the political impact of the onscreen racialization of American Jewish characters. As one scholar
196 notes, spectator interpretation of racialized representations, including filmic stereotypes, is complex, contradictory, disparate and often ambivalent (Bhabha). Hence an immediate augmentation of my study would be to conduct in depth interviews and focus group discussions with audiences who have screened the movies included in my study. In this manner, my interpretations, with all their analytical biases and sensitivities, can be challenged, su bstantiated, or perhaps a bit of both.
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206 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH David Reznik was born in Detroit, MI to Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union. After a number of moves across the United States, his family settled in Newport Beach, CA, where David was raised. Upon graduating from Corona del Mar High School in 1995, David attended UCLA and earned his B achelor of Arts in M ass C ommunications in 1998. He then spent several years working as a public relations professiona l for various Internet companies across Silicon Valley in Northern California before becoming a special education teacher at Borel Middle School (San Mateo, CA) in 2001. In 2003, David enrolled in the University of s ociology, earning his M.A. in 2005. In the fall of 2005 he joined the Ph.D. program in s ociol ogy at the University of Florida, and received his Ph.D. in the spring of 2010. lm studies, and the intersectional identity politics of class, gender, nation, race, and sexuality. He has published and presented on a wide range of topics, including education, globalization, medicine, and rel igion. David has also taught a variety of u ndergraduate courses, including an upper division seminar (SYG 4200: Sociology of Religion) at the University of Florida which served as the foundation for the Gator Homeless Coalition, an organization which sought the creation of a student run homeless sh elter in Gainesville, FL. Since January 2009, he has been an adjunct instructor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Santa Fe College.