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Posted by on Jul 31, 2010 in Arts & Entertainment, Guest Contributor, Media, Politics, Society | 0 comments

The Age of Hollywood Anti-Semitism or When Hollywood Demigods Attack!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of special Guest Voice posts by TMV readers.

The Age of Hollywood Anti-Semitism or When Hollywood Demigods Attack!

by Raymond Manley

One thing about American culture is that there are some things we know and understand but don’t really talk about. That habit has drawbacks. A primary one: a culture of conspiracy. Not conspiracy as in me and three other guys conspiring to do “blank,” but the human habit of connecting the dots. We’re good at it. It’s what nature built our brains to do, but we also have the ability to see patterns where they do not exist and assume correlation means causation. Then, if that was not enough, we were given the ability to utterly delude ourselves to the point that a full reality intervention would not change our opinions on certain matters.

In short: the human mind is “hard wired” for some rather entertaining events to take place, but not all of those are good entertainment — and the more taboo a topic is the more conspiracies it breeds and the harder the perceptions are to dislodge.

The history of the Jewish people in Europe is an epic and painful story that can not be properly put into words. I am not speaking here of the WWII era as much but the entire history. Throughout most if not all of Europe Jewish people were only allowed certain professions. I am sure I will miss many but they included entertainment, doctors, law, and merchants and the reasons were twofold. First, this allowed what many considered to be “unclean” work to be done by non-Christians and, second, and in my opinion more importantly, was that the culture had a rich history of education and literacy which made them highly useful as interpreters along with many other professional career paths. In the entertainment industry, especially before the 1900’s, it was common to be from a family of entertainers. That is where you learned the skills and the tricks.

When Jews began to migrate to America they found a nation that held bigotry more in the mind than the law books — and even the bigotry of the mind was not like in Europe. They were finally free to make a living as they pleased and support their families, which is all they had yearned for. In the end, they found something much different than they would have dreamed of when they first stepped foot off of those boats. A place that generally has looked at a Jewish person equally with a Christianity sect. To Americans this seems like no big deal: after all that is just how you treat people. The history behind what brought the Jewish population to these shores is what made me understand why they are so fully assimilated into our culture and it also made me look at them as a people, much like the Roma that were American before America ever existed. We are a nation of wandering immigrants and we want to work to make our lives better and have the freedom to do so. We are one people made equal by our vote and our ability to do as we please.

When Roma and Jewish entertainers hit our shores they went about their multi-generational trade much as they always had though they were better received here. Eventually some went to Hollywood to further their careers when the film business began to attract attention like many other hopefuls.

If you live in Hollywood for awhile you get a better feel for the film entertainment industries . The mystery of creativity is better understood when you run into the people, landscapes and oddity that imake up Los Angeles and especially Hollywood. You see how a band rents a video camera to film five friends and along a backdrop of a few people hanging out outside a bar and can make it look like a giant fan event for their latest “concert” video. Yes, it was a concert but in this inherent manipulation our minds are deceived. What you think is a few thousand people is often in the ten’s. A crowd of one hundred people outside an awards show looks like a crowd of thousands, and when you live there you also ponder how many of those people were paid and how much. Another thing it changes is your view on minority groups that you have had little contact with stereotypes are truly put to the test.

“Hollywood is run by Jews” is a common meme in the United States and has been since at least the 1950’s or so. This is why those of us in polite society choose not to discuss it. We know that yes there are a good number of Jews in Hollywood but we also know why that is and we also know the other groups that are “running Hollywood” and therefore do not wish to add fuel to someones paranoid delusional fire.

I will put this as clearly as I can, Hollywood is an incestuous business filled with more nepotism than I have seen anywhere except in politics.

If you want a clear answer as to why there are so many Jews and WASPS in Hollywood that’s the reason. Say I’m a director looking for actors: where do I see these shining faces? Most likely around my family or their friends. I can’t count how many of Francis Ford Coppola’s relatives alone are in the business but the list includes Nicholas Cage, Jason Schwartzman and of course his daughter the brilliant writer and director Sofia Coppola. I am not saying they are not talented — they are all rather brilliant. I am noting that their access to Hollywood makes them more likely to live out those pre-teen dreams of being a teenage heartthrob that the rest of us had to give up when the band fell apart. With this access they can “take over Hollywood” –except that the Coppolas’ are from Italian lineage so they hardly fit the meme.

Another truth about Hollywood is that you keep everyone happy. Peeing on a movie studio exec’s lawn will also make your movie studio exec freak out on you because again Hollywood is incestuous. Getting in can be hard but once established any group can create a dynasty as many have and all hold their individual claims and all tend to treat one another rather respectfully.

That is why I think Oliver Stone’s career is officially dead.

Many would argue that it died long ago when he made the comedy that was W but in my view he could have made a come back after that. Now, however, I believe he has gone to the Mel Gibson asylum for the once gifted and now ignored demigods — where he visits with Michael Richards and tries to discern where it all went awry. I say this as someone that largely agrees with his larger point that, yes. a gigantic number of Russians died in WWII but one phrase he uses is where he lost it was “The Jewish domination of the media.”

First off. it’s just not true or at least not in the way he is stating it.

Secondly, what he said crossed a line that colors how I view him as an audience member, a view that up to until now was rather tolerant.

I really don’t care what your views are or who you associate with: that is your freedom as an American. But we are responsible for our words and that phrase that has fallen from so many venomous lips should not fall from the lips of someone who wants to continue having an audience.

The reason is that where as American Jews have been assimilated with such success in the US the fringe movements held many of the same views they had brought over from Europe though unlike in Europe they were not the focus of the hatred.

Many fringe movements in the US hold Anti-Semitic views that are akin to those in Europe due to high immigration numbers from Europe. The main difference in the US is that African Americans tend to be the focus of the hatred and Jews on the periphery. In Europe Jews were the focus of the hatred. Other r groups, like Jamaicans or Indians, were more on the periphery of the hate. In Europe discussing how “the Jews run ____” is seen for what it is, a hoped for incitement of xenophobia. In the US since we tend to not discuss why many Jewish people work in Hollywood it allows fringe groups to make up reasons of their own and usually along the lines of the messages brought over from Europe in the guise of “the Jews run ___” but is almost always Hollywood. The best way to fight this fringe is by informing people of the “why” to neuter the conspiratorial story line.

Polite society has decided to not comment on the topic, to avoid inciting these fringe movements but that does a disservice to our “common man,” as if we do not think them capable of change via information. That is why he should have explained, like I have attempted to do here, and not use that phrase. Instead, hate groups all over the world have a brand new clip to use in their latest hate video.

We are responsible for what we say and a rhetorical bomb like that though likely not intended as an incitement still likely will be one. Don’t get me wrong: I understand why stars go crazy. You are speaking of people that have generally been demigods for longer than they were normal people. People agree and chuckle along until one day they go too far or in the wrong place and they’re are stuck because there is no way to put the words back in your mouth.

This is a syndrome we see often in politics and is one of the primary dangers of the echo chamber and as you can clearly see it exists in Hollywood as well.

I do not think Stone is crazy. I think he said just the wrong phrase but that does not make the words go back in his mouth. This is the problem with changing your words — but not your opinion or ignorance. Sometime, someplace they will slip out and you will be shown for what you are.

With Gibson due to the many incidents I think he really believes this but I can understand why he may have gone mad with that much power and fame. Richards, well to be honest it’s near impossible to hear that tape and not hear the venom and hatred in his voice.

As for Stone?

He may make a few more movies but I think its the beginning of the end for his career and his clout in Hollywood: he just took a wizz on a bunch of studio execs lawn and did so on web-cam to offend the rest.

Maybe I would forgive him if he made a really good Holocaust film though as a sign that he understood what kind if fears that can provoke.

Ramond Manley is TMV reader who often participates in discussions on District TMV on posts written on this site. He resides in Portland, OR his own little city on the hill where he longs to work at Powell’s and soaks up the liquid sunshine like a native.