Posted by Danielle Berrin
I like Joel Stein. He makes me laugh. But I seriously question the motive for his recent column “How Jewish is Hollywood?” in which he facetiously declares that Jews unequivocally and absolutely control the media. And that, well, “as a proud Jew,” he’d like to keep it that way.
Joel Stein, a proud Jew? Here’s an example of his utter identification:
JJ: What’s Jewish about you?
JS: My name, my face….
JJ: Do you ever go to temple?
JS: No, I never go to temple. My life is short. I don’t want to spend it being bored so I can feel like a better person for something I don’t believe in. I’m a strong atheist. I don’t go to temple ‘cause they talk about the Bible, and I just don’t get anything out of that.
JJ: So you’re not a fan of the Bible?
JS: I just think it’s really kind of violent and mean and selfish and tribal.
JJ: Maybe you’re not reading it with the right lenses.
JS: Dude, I could read ‘Mein Kampf’ with the right lenses on and find something nice about it. You shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to find something nice about a text. I understand the context: You turn around and pity a people being killed, and, like, you turn to salt; God kills your first-born baby; God asks you to kill your child? I know you could come up with counter examples, but there’s enough slavery and murder in that thing ... I’d rather read ‘Finnegan’s Wake.’
While I appreciate—and quite agree—with Stein’s stipulation that a disproportionate number of Jews sit on the highest thrones in the entertainment and media industries (as opposed to Abe Foxman’s rhetorical dodge that people who control Hollywood “happen to be Jewish”), I’m trying to figure out what Stein’s definition of “Jew” actually is. To be fair, Stein’s Judaism is probably much like the Judaism of the people who purportedly run Hollywood. Yet, as a modern, practicing Jewess, I have to wonder how someone who degrades Judaism’s most sacred value (the Torah) could be so unabashedly happy that the title conferred on its followers means there’s any calculated Jewish substance in Hollywood.
Sadly, this reminds me of those wannabe literati who discuss classic literature because they know the titles, but have never read the books. And since I KNOW Joel Stein has read “Finnegan’s Wake” (a work I might add, that is arguably more opaque than Torah) I know he’s capable of plumbing the depths, complexity and humanity implicit in its text. And after all that, he really would be proud that instead of enduring “David and Goliath” re-runs, he now gets to watch “Mad Men.”
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January 5, 2009 | 1:44 pm
Posted by Danielle Berrin
As last Friday’s LA Times pointed out, even Hollywood – the emblem of glamour and excess – cannot avoid the economic slump. It is expected that more layoffs will follow recent job cutbacks across all media, from networks to studios to smaller independent outfits. Not to mention, fewer and fewer films are being made. That, coupled with ongoing speculation that “new media” will triumphantly overtake traditional modes means one of America’s (and the world’s) best-loved and influential industries is headed for fundamental change.
Jeff Silver, producer of “300” and the forthcoming (hopefully final) “Terminator” starring Christian Bale, suggested that less filmmaking might put more of a premium on creativity. As he put it, “Right now, there’s a lack of ideas in Hollywood. People are recycling ideas not reinventing them.”
Does that mean the pending industry reformation might return film to the 30s and 40s classicism known as the Golden Age of Hollywood? Then, the financial success of The Jazz Singer enabled Warner Bros. to buy up movie theaters. Or, will audiences get to once again enjoy the irreverent non-conformism of the New Hollywood movie brats like Scorsese, Spielberg, Coppola and Lucas who elevated commercialism to auteurism?
Dreamy as it sounds for us cinephiles, the reality is harsher. The once plush Wall Street well that pumped hundreds of millions from hedge funds into creative independent filmmaking has run dry. And a looming actor’s strike, which “House M.D.” writer/producer Eli Attie said is “stupid” to implement during a recession, may prove even more disastrous to an industry still desperately recovering losses from last year’s writer’s strike. All things considered, studio execs and movie stars, though aggravated by the drama, will still be sitting pretty when it’s mostly unemployed or under-working actors calling out for help.
January 5, 2009 | 2:51 am
Posted by Tom Tugend
Israel’s “Waltz with Bashir” received another major boost when the cream of American movie critics picked the path-breaking animated film for top honors.
The National Society of Film Critics named “Waltz” as the best picture of 2008 at its annual meeting on Saturday (1/3) in New York.
In its review of the film last October, The Journal reported that the film “combines state-of-the-art animation, an anti-war documentary theme, and a psychoanalytical approach to recover the memory of a traumatized Israeli soldier.
“The mixture may sound odd, but it all comes together as an integrated and haunting biographical movie. Director Ari Folman is also its central character as a 20-year old infantryman, whose unit spearheaded the Israeli advance into Lebanon in June 1982, with the announced goal of stopping incursions and rocket attacks on northern Galilee towns by the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
Israel’s current incursion into the Gaza Strip to eliminate Hamas rocket attacks gives “Waltz” an added relevance.
The top pick by the national critics, although rarely emulated by the Academy’s Oscar voters, does add further laurels to “Waltz,” earned at international film festivals, by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., and the Golden Globes nominating committee.
As The Journal predicted three months ago, the picture may well become the very first Israeli film to waltz off with an Oscar.
January 2, 2009 | 6:19 pm
Posted by The Web Guy
We already knew she wasn’t funny after we walked out on her disgusting routine about her vagina which marred an otherwise excellent benefit show organized by Sarah Silverman for Israel’s Arava Institute, but we didn’t realize how ignorant she was until now.
From Roseanne’s blog:
December 30, 2008
i told my friend don’t go!
I said Israel will attack any boat carrying doctors and medical supplies—they have turned away the red cross already and all medical and food assistance. Israel is a NAZI state. The Jewish Soul is being tortured in Israel. The destruction of the jews in Israel has been assured with this inhuman attack on civilians in gaza. Hamas is the street gangs—-this is equivilent to los angeles attacking and launching war on the people of watts to attempt to kill the bloods and the crips.
Posted at 3:35 AM
Say goodnight, Gracie.