Best Of The Web
“I don’t think we need only Jewish actors playing Jewish roles.
This is not in any way a statement against diversity in screen representation. Quite the opposite: I absolutely think we need disabled actors playing disabled characters. We definitely ought to see trans actors in trans roles. There is no doubt that Asian actors should be the ones in Asian roles, and black people should be representing black characters.
The difference is about what purpose the representation serves.
If we don’t prioritize trans actors, for example, to play trans characters, we simply won’t see many (if any) trans actors on screen. It is rare—almost nonexistent—for a trans actor to be given a role that is not specifically designated to be trans. It just doesn’t happen. So too with a lot of other minorities. If we want to see diversity on screen at all, it requires reserving minority roles for minority actors.
Jews just don’t have the same trouble getting cast. I won’t list all the prominent Jewish actors who have successful careers playing a wide variety of roles, very few of which are specifically Jewish, but offhand: Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Seth Rogen, Rachel Weisz, and Jonah Hill are doing just fine. Scarlett Johansson is a veritable chameleon; not only is she not limited to Jewish roles, she isn’t even limited to white roles (unfortunately). Any challenges Zendaya or Maya Rudolph might have getting cast likely has more to do with skin color than religion. There are of course a lot more successful Jewish actors. A lot more. And they are doing just fine. Some of them play Jews sometimes. Not that often. We may need more Jewish characters represented. We absolutely need those Jewish characters to be represented accurately in terms of what Jews actually do and how they actually are. (Mrs. Maisel, I’m looking at you.) We just don’t need that to be done by Jewish actors.
This is a very different argument than claiming that certain roles can only be played effectively by certain actors because of their identity and life experience. Some people say that. I don’t.
I would never claim that there is a single unitary black experience, for example, that all black actors can access when they play black characters. I would never claim that the actor’s craft is always limited by the actor’s experience. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. That doesn’t mean that actors shouldn’t prepare carefully for their roles, and understand how, say, someone walking with crutches would move given her particular disability and accommodations (Dr. Kerry Weaver, I’m looking at you.) They absolutely should. That’s part of the job.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."
"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."
"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."
""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""
"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."
"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."
"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."
"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."
"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."
"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."
"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."
"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."