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HOWARD JACOBSON: Some of us look like Einstein, others like Barbie.

TJI Pick
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HOWARD JACOBSON: Some of us look like Einstein, others like Barbie.

Published: 5 September 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

To insist only a Jew should play a Jew, is to consent to a demeaning stereotype.

All right — let’s take this Goyjew, Barbenheimer hilarity to its logical conclusion. If, as many maintain, Oppenheimer should have been played by a Jew, then so should Barbie.

Shul for shul there might not be much to choose between them, but Barbie’s origins were more avowedly Jewish, or at least less awkwardly non-Jewish, than Oppenheimer’s.

Put it this way: though pre-war America forced a degree of ethnic scene-shifting on all Jews, Barbie’s progenitors would seem to have taken fewer pains to nudge her Jewishness out of sight than did the Oppenheimers, who sent their son to an Ethical Culture Society School whose motto was “Deed before Creed”. For whatever reasons, Barbie’s creator, Barbara Handler, chose not to send her bubbule there.

Should the idea that Barbie was more antecedently Jewish than Oppenheimer strike you as preposterous, that can only be because a) you’re an intellectual snob, and expect every Jew to have gone to Harvard, or b) you’re an antisemite and can’t accept that a Jewish woman might be blonde, blue-eyed, sweet-tempered, narrow-hipped and double-jointed.

If you don’t think the part was tailor-made for Miriam Margolyes, what’s your objection to Tracy-Ann Oberman or Sarah Silverman in a sheitel? And should your taste run to a more ironic and rebarbative Barbie, then Maureen Lipman would be the natural choice. I’d pay double to see that movie.

As for Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose — I don’t see the need for it myself. As long as Bradley Cooper’s circumcised, he’s Jew enough for me.
Enough with the tomfoolery.

Much as I decry the parochialism of Jewish humour — rubbing the magic lamp someone gave us for our bar mitzvah and falling about laughing when the genie turns out to be Shlomo Finkleburger from Borehamwood in a yarmulka — I am as guilty of it as anyone.

Some of us look like Einstein, others like Barbie. Go figure (Jewish Chronicle)

Makeup artist who created prosthetic nose for Bradley Cooper film apologises (Guardian)
Kazu Hiro says he was surprised by ”Jewface” criticism over actor’s portrayal of composer Leonard Bernstein in biopic Maestro.

Maestro review – Bradley Cooper’s head-flingingly heartfelt Leonard Bernstein biopic (Guardian)
Cooper’s impersonation of the great composer is eerily exact and gets to the heart of the sacrifices great artists feel they need to make.

Photo: 49 Jewish noses, an artwork by Dennis Kardon (Dennis Kardon Studio)

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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