Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In case you couldn't tell

It seems that even with all those Jews running Hollywood, The Tribe still can't escape questionable depiction on the television.

In a promotional advertisement for the USA network, actors portraying characters from different shows look straight into the camera and say a one-sentence introduction to their roles. They say things like "I am the son of a World War II veteran" and "I am an aspiring model."

That might have been fine, until one character said, "I am a Christian," and the next said, "I'm a Jew, in case you couldn't tell."

I am not sure what was meant by that statement. How can we tell who's a Jew just by looking at him? The actor didn't have any visual markers that would have indicated a Jewish stereotype. He didn't have a particularly hooked nose, he wasn't running a loan shark operation, and it was unclear how skilled he was in athletics. He wasn't wearing a yellow star.

Maybe we don't need to wear them anymore because we're so obviously different from everyone else. One of the other actors in the commercial said, "I'm Irish, and lucky." I doubt any Irish people will take issue with that depiction, as facetious as it may have been. But the ambiguity of the Jewish stereotype is concerning.

The "in case you didn't know" condition doesn't suggest a positive or even cute aspect to the Jewish people at large. Too bad for the USA network, we're also known for our ability to laugh at ourselves.

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