A Mother’s Day Gift from Hollywood

By | May 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

You Jews and your f**king mothers!
– Non-Jewish woman in film “Neighbors” to her Jewish husband

On the evening of Mother’s Day, my wife and I decided that we needed a break from writing. We thought a brainless comedy like “Neighbors” would amuse us. We were half right – it was brainless, but it wasn’t amusing. Even by Hollywood’s current low standards, it was depressing.
True, the film led all others in box-office receipts in its first weekend. But this merely exemplifies the truth of H. L. Menken’s remark: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”
The film depicts the problems of a couple with a young baby when a rowdy fraternity moves into the house next door. The highlight (actually lowlight) of the “humorous” episodes is the baby girl playing in the front yard, finding an unwrapped condom, and putting it in her mouth. The frightened parents rush the child to a doctor, who announces that the baby is not at risk for AIDS or hepatitis because the condom was unused. How he knew this was not stated.
At that point, my wife looked at me and whispered, “Should we go?” But I wanted to see whether the film makers could sink lower, so we stayed. My efforts were rewarded.
Soon the character’s wife becomes angry with her husband. He offers to phone his mother for advice. The woman, who is obviously non-Jewish, says to her husband, “You Jews and your f**king mothers!” I thought I hadn’t heard correctly, but my wife (and others) heard it too.
But the film was released on Mother’s Day weekend. Is this the time to insult mothers? And just now, the world is hoping that the hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram will not be sold into slavery. Is this the time to belittle women? What were the film makers thinking? Were they thinking at all, or merely anticipating the ticket sales?
To make my point, let me ask whether the film makers would have felt equally free to have a character say to her husband, “You Italians and your f**king mothers!” or “You Blacks and your “f**king mothers!” or “You Mexicans and your f**king mothers!” or “You Muslims and your f**king mothers!”
No? You can’t imagine this? Why not? Jewish mothers are not the only mothers who have a reputation – deserved or not – of being over-controlling.  So why did the film makers feel free to insult Jewish mothers, and then have the gall to release the film on Mother’s Day weekend? And why would they not have felt so free to insult the mothers of other ethnic groups?
It does no good to point out that many Jews were involved in making “Neighbors.” In fact, the actor who plays the husband (Seth Rogan) is Jewish, and the actress who plays his wife (Rose Byrne) is not. But this makes the insult even more painful, if that is possible.
Self-hatred is one of the worst forms of hatred, because it leads to psychopathology that can cause real problems – for the person affected, and for others as well. Woody Allen’s films are famously self-deprecatory, both of himself and of Jews in general. Did this make Allen better adjusted? Would he have been a worse human being, or a better one, if he were proud of his heritage? Self-deprecation may make a successful humorist, but not necessarily a successful father or husband.
But all this does not explain why the film makers would not have felt free to insult Italian, or Black, or Mexican, or Muslim mothers – on Mother’s Day weekend, no less. I believe the explanation is much simpler: fear. The film makers knew that Jews would probably pretend that they hadn’t heard the insult and do nothing. At most, a few angry letters or e-mails would be a small price to pay for over fifty million dollars in ticket sales the first weekend.
But offend Italian, or Black, or Mexican, or Muslim mothers on Mother’s Day? No, that would cause even the greediest, most amoral Hollywood bottom-feeder to think twice. Love and respect are powerful emotions for those capable of feeling them. But for others, fear is what controls behavior. And two millennia of history, culminating in the Holocaust, have taught haters that hating Jews is likely to be free from penalties.
For 1900 years, Jews knew that to avoid pogroms, they should remain passive and not “make trouble.” Then the Nazis came, and it was no longer possible to avoid trouble. But 1900 years of lessons are hard to forget. And even now, with fanatical Iranians threatening to wipe Israel off the map while building nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them – even now, many Jews and “friends” of Jews don’t want to “make trouble.” But trouble is already here. The only choices remaining are to ignore it, or to deal with it.
Indeed, what is the real objection of the haters to Israel? The “settlements” on the West Bank? What other nation evokes boycotts and condemnation for building apartments? No, the real objection of the haters is that Jews had the gall to establish a nation in the first place. True, it is the size of El Salvador or New Jersey, but even that is too large. How dare Jews fight back? They should be “good” Jews and bear the insults and discrimination quietly. The end result of this line of thinking is that Jews should get on the boxcars without making a fuss.
Am I exaggerating? The chief rabbi of Paris warned French Jews that to avoid being beaten up or tortured to death, they should not wear skullcaps when going out in public, but instead wear headgear that did not identify them as Jews. Anti-Semitism is on the upsurge throughout Europe, sometimes clothed in the disguise of anti-Israel feelings, and sometimes blatant for all to see.
We in America have not reached that point, and I pray we never will. But the time to remove a cancer is when it is still small and has not spread to vital organs. The same is true for racial or religious hatred. Publicly insult Jewish mothers on Mother’s Day, and evoke no negative reaction? That is not a hopeful sign. Like a lump in the breast or a rising PSA, it requires prompt corrective action to avert serious trouble.
I can’t speak for European Jews, who are outnumbered and disarmed, and who live among indifferent or hostile peoples. I can’t speak for all American Jews, who are protected by the Second Amendment, as well as by righteous people like Christians United for Israel. I can speak only for this Jew, who will not patronize jerks who insult his late mother, and who is no good whatever at keeping quiet.
Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.
www.stolinsky.com

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