I was reminded of this column by the recent Rick Sanchez fiasco, and mainly by comments in the couple of related threads here on the SDMB that categorically stated that saying that Jews control the media is anti-semitic.
And yet, here is Joel Stein:
Is he wrong?
Is he correct, but it’s only OK to say it in public if you are Jewish?
Are the facts correct, but do not translate to “Jews control Hollywood/the media”?
Are the facts correct, and translate to “Jews control Hollywood/the media”, but it’s not good to say so in public because that would provide fodder for anti-semites and crazy bigots of various kinds?
Mr. Stein caught himself in a semantic, Semitic trap. “The Jews” refers to Jews collectively. And when you assign the accomplishments of a few individuals to the group as a whole, well you’re just being an idiot. Why should some schmoe in Hoboken get any credit for what a handful of Jewish Media Moguls did?
Because 99.9% of “the Jewish people” had bubkes to do with Hollywood.
Well, there’s two ways to read “The Jews control Hollywood”. One is simply that a lot of higher up execs in Hollywood are Jewish, which seems pretty undeniably true.
The other is that there’s some sort of organized group called “the Jews” whose members are at least somewhat formally organized to control Hollywood and protect each others interests. Sanchez’s comments seemed to at least suggest this latter case, which most poeple find offensive due to the association with “Elders of Zion” type conspiracy theories.
In reality, I think a mixture of nepotism, “good old boy” networks and shared social connections tend to make a lot of industries dominated by one immigrant or social group. Jews in Hollywood tends to get more notice then, say, Greeks in shipping or Vietnamese in nail salons as Hollywood is a lot more prominant.
There’s a good book, Neil Gabler’s “An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood”, which looks at the early Hollywood studio moguls, who were almost entirely Jewish, and how their background as first and second generation Jewish immigrants led to the shaping of Hollywood.
Up until very recently, did white people control Washington? As opposed to women, did men control, um, everything? If it’s not wrong to make those observations, why is it wrong to make a similar observation regarding Jews and Hollywood?
Even in the absence of a cabal or formally organized group to control Hollywood, does the fact that most if not all studios are run by a certain ethnic minority have an impact on the types of movies made?
As an extreme example, are there any movies by the big studios that portray Jewish people in a negative light and the Palestinians in a positive light? (I’m not saying that there should be such movies, just that there have to be some people who believe the Palestinians are in the right and would like to make a movie about it, but face getting their project greenlighted by a major studio)
Besides the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, are there any aspects of Jewish identity & culture that come through in the types of movies that are made and the types of movies that are not made? For example, if Jews, statistically are more secular and more liberal than the population at large, does that translate into what gets put into film form?
To summarize, even in the absence of a cabal, or concerted effort to “run things”, the fact that most studios are headed by people from a single ethnic minority could have an impact that would be similar to the case when there was a concerted effort to run things.
In my experience, Hollywood tends to stay away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict like the plague. I can think of maybe four mainstream movies dealing with the subject since 1960 (for the record: Exodus, The Little Drummer Girl, Munich and Don’t Mess with the Zohan, none of which portrayed a black and white conflict).
There’s probably some of this, though I’m sure Jewish studio execs are aware that they’re selling to a gentile audience who would find more then the occasional movies about Jewish themes boring.
I’d actually say the most obvious example of the similar backgrounds of studio execs isn’t particularly the prominence of a Jewish perspective as the prominence of a New York perspective. Almost all of the studio execs aren’t just Jewish, they’re Jews of European ancestry from particular parts of New York City, which is part of the reason New York City is the only city in the world in many US movies.
That never struck me before, but you’re right. And it’s really astonishing, given the field Israel-Palestine offers for dramatic stories. Curious omission. Could be because the Jewish movie moguls are walking on tiptoe. Could be that the whole thing is too divisive in America to dwell on (making movies about Apartheid South Africa was all right, everybody this side of the pond agreed who the bad guys were). Could be both.
Would it be acceptable to assert that even if Jews as a group do not plot to (say) project a certain worldview in the media, some of these projections are made nonetheless, simply by the fact that Jews are in the key spots in the industry?