The New Jew in Film
Exploring Jewishness and Judaism in Contemporary Cinema
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Copyright
List of illustrations
Writing this book has been a pleasure. Rarely can one say that I have work to do, and that work involves watching a film a night. My gratitude for this must go to the School of English at what was then the University of Wales, Bangor which, in 2005, took a chance and hired me as a Lecturer in Film Studies, despite having had a background primarily in American History ...
This is a book in search of Jewish stereotypes and self-images in contemporary cinema, that is mainstream fiction film since 1990. It is not about how ‘Jewish’ a film is, if such a definition is even possible. But it does engage in discussions about the nature of the Jewishness and Judaism that such stereotypes and images exhibit. In this way, it seeks to map the ...
Chapter 1. The Jew
Given that the history of Jews in cinema is almost synonymous with the representation of the Jewish man, often conflated into the overarching term ‘the Jew’, it seems redundant here to rehash fully that history which I sketched out in my introduction. However, to summarise the period before 1990, representations and stereotypes of the Jew traditionally fell into one ...
Chapter 2. The Jewess
Strangely, given the growth of women’s and gender studies, little has been written about Jewish female representation in contemporary cinema, especially when compared with television. Perhaps this is explained by the fact that the Jewess on film suffered from consistent under-representation, being relegated to a limited number of secondary roles. If this book tends ...
Chapter 3. Sex
Since Jewish sexuality overlaps with the representations outlined in the previous two chapters, it has been similarly subjected to a series of selfimages and stereotypes some of which date back to antiquity. Alongside the archetypal in-group-created variations of the Jew as the schlemiel, nebbishy, neurotic, lacking, queer, impotent and sissy (what the film Being Ron Jeremy [dir. Brian Berke, 2003] refers to as ‘skinny horny needy Jews ...
Chapter 4. Passivity
A classic Jewish adage states, ‘Who is a hero? He who conquers his desire’. Since toughness was downgraded in normative rabbinic culture, physical, martial and bodily virtues, which flowered in natural surroundings, were rejected in favour of a scholarliness that thrived indoors. Denied the right to bear arms, ride horses, duel, joust or arch competitively, diaspora Jews, in ...
Chapter 5. Agency
In response to the nationalistic antisemitism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there emerged an emphasis on Jewish ‘toughness, courage and physicality […] loyalty, self-discipline, readiness for self-sacrifice, robustness, manliness,’ that is the inversion of the weak, victimised Jew (Breines 1990: 126–27). Initially, this was encoded in the body of the ‘Muscle- Jew’. As Zionism developed, he was replaced by ‘the hardy, bronzed ...
Chapter 6. Religion
Given the volume of research dedicated to analysing the Jewish contribution to film, both in front of and behind the camera, it is surprising to note that to date not much work has been done on Judaism, overshadowed by a tendency to focus either on the image of the Jew/ess or on the Holocaust on film. As a consequence, it is possible to read entire books on these subjects with almost no references to Judaism. ...
Chapter 7. Food
There is a deliciously long list of films in which foods – marked as Jewish and kosher, Jewish but not kosher, or goyish and treyf – are not simply glimpsed as part of a film’s setting, but are also employed as important plot devices that explore cultural, ethnic and religious issues. Woody Allen, for example, makes much use of the nature and function of food and dining in ...
Chapter 8. Bathrooms
Much has been written on the cultural and semiotic connotations of the bathroom, particularly the public one. It is a place of structural oppositions: clean/dirty; public/private; hygienic/unhygienic; technical/organic. It is the boundary between the acceptable and unacceptable; a place in which submission to or defiance of authority is negotiated. The bathroom is also ...
‘There is more than one way to be Jewish,’ said Israeli novelist Sami Michael, opening a gay pride rally in Jerusalem in 2006. Contemporary cinema’s depiction of the Jew/ess since 1990 convincingly demonstrates this, as ‘Jews are comfortably “out” in a variety of senses’ (Rosenberg 1996: 44). In addition to the stereotypes and self-images of the past, we have witnessed New Jews ...
About the Author
Nathan Abrams is Senior Lecturer ...
Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 23 photographs
Publication Year: 2012
OCLC Number: 794706352
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