Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Nathan Abrams, "My Religion is American": A Midrash on Judaism in American Films 1990 to the Present & Samantha Baskind, "The Fockerized Jew"

In Nathan Abrams' "My Religion is American": A Midrash on Judaism in American Films 1990 to the present, Judaism in American film history is closely examined. The way Jews have been portrayed throughout film and behind the camera has been steadily evolving with time. The article explains that before 1990, when Jews were starting to appear in movies, that their Jewish practices or beliefs were never the main storyline. Writers usually just stuck to small details of the faith here and there. As time passed and the somewhat close-minded population of America became more comfortable with the idea of Judaism, the more it was represented on the big screen. Flash forward to the year 1990. Abram argues that "the sitcom Seinfeld (NBC, 1990-1998) marked a shift in American visual culture in many ways." He goes on to explain the the show described Judaism not only in an ethnic way, but a religious way as well, with examples of conversion and bar mitsvahs. Abrams also mentions the movie "Meet the Fockers" which leads in to the next article, "The Fockerized Jew", by Samantha Baskind. In this article, Baskind focuses on the more humorous side of Judasim and expresses how the movie "Meet the Fockers" brings a new light to Jewish people that many may never have thought existed. In the movie, the not-so-typical Focker family, are certainly not what people would envision as "normal" Jews. Roz, the mother of Greg aka Ben Stiller, played by Barbra Streisand is a sex therapist for the elderly (very uncommon for a Jewish woman), and the father, Bernie, played by Dustin Hoffman is basically a hippy. Though unconventional they still seem to exude certain Jewish qualities such as the Yiddish slang used by Roz and Bernie's habit of keeping and showing off all of Greg's old tenth place ribbons from grade school. As a whole, this article basically explains the now "coolness" of Jews, and how filmmakers are becoming more open and honest with all aspects of Jewish heritage.

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