The L.A. Times: ‘Jewish Guys Heart Shiksas’

By Nathan Burstein

Published October 28, 2009, issue of November 06, 2009.
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Who’s to blame for keeping Jewish women off the big screen? The answer: Jewish men, at least according to commenters on a Los Angeles Times blog.

Power Player: Woody Allen and other Hollywood heavy- weights are hiring non-Jewish women for lead roles.
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Power Player: Woody Allen and other Hollywood heavy- weights are hiring non-Jewish women for lead roles.

Inspired by an October 20 article in the Jewish online journal Tablet, the L.A.Times blog “The Big Picture” riffed on the argument of the earlier piece, which suggests that male Jews in Hollywood kept their female counterparts out of the entertainment industry from the earliest days of film. Titled “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” the Tablet piece by Liel Leibovitz contends that Jewish men consistently chose “a parade of sexy, sultry shiksas” over Jewish actresses, partly to sublimate their own perceived foreignness and partly because “Jewish women… were simply too pure to lust after.”

Booby-trapped with minor provocations about Jews, gender politics and conceptions of “all-American” beauty, the accusation contains all the necessary components of an online controversy, which is exactly what it generated after getting picked up October 21 by the L.A. Times.

Judged both “fascinating” and “pretty persuasive” by L.A. Times reporter Patrick Goldstein, the argument generated dozens of comments during its first days online, with responses ranging from agreement to a lengthy list of well-known exceptions.

Goldstein suggested that Leibovitz widen his analysis to include black actresses in particular.

Perhaps the discussion shows how concerns about a lack of diversity among the female leads remains widespread.

Having lit a fuse with his blog, Goldstein couldn’t resist lightening the conversation with a comic tinge, and posted a clip of one of Hollywood’s most beloved shiksas — Diane Keaton — getting neurotic over a spider as the title character in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall.”


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