David Baddiel says Jewish parts aren't cast 'authentically' when compared to other minorities
By SEAMLESS DAILY
12 January 2022
David Baddiel has said that Jewish roles should be cast 'authentically,' following backlash around Helen Mirren being cast as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
in a piece for the guardian, the comedian, who himself faced backlash for using blackface in a sketch, explained that despite calls for minority actors to be prioritised for relevant roles, there's little reaction when jewish stars are overlooked.
He then criticised Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman for having a Jewish character voiced by a non-Jewish actors.
David noted that while the show's creator profusely apologised, the fact that the Jewish character Lenny Turteltaub is voiced by JK Simmons has been largely overlooked.
many instinctively see jewishness as a religion, rather than an ethnicity, and therefore antisemitism as religious intolerance rather than racism, despite, as i 've pointed out many times, my great-uncle being an atheist not getting him any free passes out of the warsaw ghetto.
But primarily, it ’ s about Jews being assumed, antisemitically, to be successful and privileged and powerful, and therefore not in need of the protections that identity politics affords other minorities.
I believe two things at once – that in an ideal world, non-Jews should be allowed to play Jews, but the fact this allowance already exists, and has up to this point received very little pushback is, in the modern casting context, a discrepancy, and one that needs to be deconstructed, because it says a lot about how people see Jews.
' I was going out with a dangerous man at the time and she said "Ooh I would like to go out with a dangerous man", and that was the conversation. '
in an interview with good morning britain, she said she believed dame helen mirren is a fine actress, and will be brilliant in the role as ms meir, believe it or not, was very sexy.
'It's a complicated argument, and I will end up contradicting myself, but say for example that, you wanted to cast a film about Ghandi, would it be alright, would there be a fuss, if you cast Salma Hayek say, a Mexican, probably Catholic?
'Now you might say "why not ?". '
'But you 've had a lot of things lately, like Javier Bardem has been criticised because he's Spanish, not Cuban, in Being the Ricardos- that's nuts.
"if the religion fires the character, then i honestly think you should look at that group that gender, if the character is gay, i think you should see the gay actors first.
'The logic of her position is that the only character any actor can play is themselves. '
However journalist Nicole Lambert, responded to say the position is 'more nuanced '.
dame maureen spoke to the jewish chronicle and gave her view on the casting.
During her time as premier she faced dealing with the fourth Israel-Arab conflict- which came to be known as the Yom Kippur War.
Tamsin Greig said recently that she "probably shouldn't" have played a Jewish mother in Friday Night Dinner.
I don ’ t need or want Greig to apologise ( she ’ s a unique case anyway, being a practising Christian with some Jewish ancestry ).
While promoting her film The Debt, in which she played a retired Mossad agent, she was asked by The New York Times whether she might be' a secret Jew '.
Following the backlash for her handling of the war, Meir announced her resignation in 1974.
Davies was not, thankfully, mightily abused on social media for saying it – which is what happened last week to Maureen Lipman, after she suggested, on being asked about the casting of Helen Mirren in a biopic of Israel's former prime minister Golda Meir, that Jewish parts should perhaps be played by Jewish actors.
I'm going to claim some credit – or, for those ( and it seems there are many ) who hate this suggestion, responsibility – for this, because I ’ m aware that Lipman ( like Sarah Silverman, who said something very similar as regards the castings of Kathryn Hahn as Joan Rivers and Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsburg ) has read my book Jews Don ’ t Count.
Baddiel wrote : "Casting a non-minority actor to mimic that identity feels, to the progressive eye, like impersonation, and impersonation may carry with it an element of mockery."
You may not agree with this – you may be one of those people who say actors should be allowed to act – but in the offices of casting directors, the progressive argument has been won.
In Bojack Horseman, there is another character called Lenny Turteltaub.
"It's odd, then, that so many Jewish parts are not cast with Jewish actors, even when the characters and storylines are very Jewish indeed," he queried.
There has been no outcry about that, and [ Bojack creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg ] has seen no need to get anguished about it. ” Baddiel, who has himself been accused of racism for his portrayal of footballer Jason Lee while in Blackface, went on to question why more Jewish roles weren't played by Jewish actors.
What you can hear, still, if you do raise the issue, is an extremely vehement reaction.
Why, if there are so many Jews in showbiz, is Gary Oldman cast as Herman Mankiewicz, or Rachel Brosnahan as Mrs Maisel?
Why did the makers of recent BBC drama Ridley Road, about antisemitism in London after the war, have to scrabble around, after I pointed out the lack of Jews in the cast, saying that the female actor playing the main character had just discovered that she had one Jewish grandfather?
It's about the idea that minority experience should be expressed by those who truly know it, rather than caricatured by those who don ’ t.
It would be an interesting conclusion, given 2,000 years of persecution, that the representation of Jewish identity doesn ’ t deserve this complexity.
Despite the use in this argument of the term Jewface, when I watch non-Jews play Jews, it isn't just about the face.
In all the aggressive tweeting about Lipman, I saw many photos posted triumphantly of when she once played a vicar in a TV show.
Social media loves of course an Aha!
Which means Lipman can say this about Meir and Mirren – and play all the vicars and priests she wants.
The dial is shifting a little.
At the end of the day, I don't know the answer.
"Actors should be allowed to act," said Baddiel, “ But if there is now outrage about casting against type, then why is there no outrage when it comes to Jews ? ” The writer and comedian went on to point out a string of recent examples of casting non-Jewish actors in substantial Jewish roles, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Joan Rivers.
Clarifying her original comments last week, Lipman said that while she had "nothing against" Mirren playing the role of Meir, she felt that casting directors should “ look first ” to actors whose identities intersect with their characters '.
See the Jewish actors first and if it doesn't work out, fire ahead, go ahead. ” Baddiel has previously issued several apologies over his use of Blackface on the Fantasy Football League show, which he hosted with Frank Skinner in the 1990s.
and actors that's the job.
Now she takes on Golda Meir, the late prime minister of Israel, in a new biopic, and the casting has caused controversy.
But the list of things that Mirren 'is not' is long, and it does not necessarily start with ‘ not Jewish ’.
She was born Illiana Lydia Petrovna Mironova into emigre Russian aristocracy in 1945 in Chiswick.
"When I started acting I felt like I didn't fit in to the Zeitgeist, if that ’ s the right word, of British theatrical culture," she has said.
Praising Mirren and predicting a "fine" performance as Meir, Lipman added that she also is opposed to the kind of “ narrow casting ” that would see parts matched up closely to an actor's background and so prevent Benedict Cumberbatch playing a cowboy.
It will not be the first leading Jewish role Mirren has played.
The actor does not like to repeat herself and has recounted a violent initial reaction to screenwriter Peter Morgan's invitation to return to the part of Elizabeth on stage in his play The Audience.
she recalled thinking, claiming Morgan had calculated she would not be able to resist.
Before Mirren met her husband, director Taylor Hackford, 35 years ago on the set of his 1985 film White Nights, her boyfriends were suitably glamorous.
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