Home Play by Mail Sarah Silverman criticizes Hollywood for ‘Jewface’ cast after Kathryn Hahn was cast as Joan Rivers

Sarah Silverman criticizes Hollywood for ‘Jewface’ cast after Kathryn Hahn was cast as Joan Rivers

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Actress and comedian Sarah Silverman slams Hollywood for the cast of “Jewface” after Catholic Kathryn Hahn was cast to play the late Joan Rivers in a biography on the proud Jewish actress and stand up.

Silverman, 50, says there is a long practice of non-Jewish actors and actresses who are chosen to portray Jewish characters in movies and TV shows.

“There is this long tradition of non-Jews playing Jews, and not just people who happen to be Jewish, but people whose Jewishness is their whole being,” she said during the episode of Thursday from The Sarah Silverman Podcast.

‘One could argue, for example, that a Gentile [a non-Jew] playing Joan Rivers properly would be like doing what is actually called “Jewface”.

She went on to say that Hahn, 48, portraying Rivers in the Showtime limited series The Comeback Girl, is just the most recent example of a long list of “Jewface” – a reference to the racist practice of blackface – casting decisions.

Actress and comedian Sarah Silverman criticizes Hollywood for a practice she calls ‘Jewface’ which she says is “defined as when a non-Jew portrays a Jew with Jewishness in the foreground, often with makeup or changes of features, a big false nose, all the New York or Yiddish-y inflection ‘

Silverman's comments come in response to Kathryn Hahn (pictured) chosen to play the late Joan Rivers in Showtime's limited series The Comeback Girl.

Hahn grew up a Catholic while Rivers (pictured) was Jewish

Silverman’s comments come in response to Kathryn Hahn (left) being cast as the late Joan Rivers (right) in Showtime’s limited series The Comeback Girl. Hahn grew up a Catholic while Rivers was a Jew

Silverman argued that “Jewface” is “defined as when a non-Jew portrays a Jew with Jewishness in the foreground, often with makeup or changes of features, a big fake nose, all the New York inflection. or Yiddish-y “.

She says the practice is “f **** d up”, especially in a climate where identity politics and “f ***** g representation matter”.

“In a time when the importance of representation is seen as so essential and central, why is ours constantly being violated, even today, in the thick of it? She asked herself.

She also argued that whenever a movie or TV plot calls out a Jewish female character who is “brave or deserves love, she is never played by a Jew.”

Silverman then cited additional examples, including: Felicity Jones portraying Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the 2018 film Based on Gender, Hulu playing Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug and Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan as Mrs. America, and Rachael Brosnahan as fictional actress Miriam Maisel in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

The actress noted that while she doesn’t think these actresses are “doing anything wrong,” she wants them to understand that this practice is not acceptable.

“I wish they realized it’s by design,” Silverman said.

She added that the Jewish people must also advocate for representation in the entertainment industry.

“It must also finally matter to the Jews,” she added. “Especially Jewish women.

Silverman claims that whenever a movie or TV plot calls out a Jewish female character who is

Silverman claims that whenever a movie or TV plot calls out a Jewish female character who is “brave or deserves love, she is never played by a Jew.”

It is not uncommon for a person of another race or ethnicity to be chosen for a role.

For example, Jew James Caan portrayed Italian-American Sonny Corleone in The Godfather. Cher, an Armenian-Cherokee, portrayed Loretta Castorini in Moononstruck.

Natalie Portman, a Jewish woman born in Israel, played Jacqueline Kennedy in the 2016 biopic drama Jackie.

However, Silverman’s comments are not the first example of an artist challenging the ‘Jewface’ casting trend.

In 2018, when controversy erupted over Jones portraying Ginsburg, Based on Sex writer Daniel Stiepleman told Forward that the production team had given some thought to the decision.

“The question isn’t: can Felicity Jones play a Jew, the question is can she play that Jew?” Said Stiepleman, who is also Ginsburg’s nephew.

“And as someone who has known Ruth Bader Ginsburg my whole life, her interpretation is weird… I’m going to tell you exactly what Ruth said when she watched the movie:” I’m so glad it’s Felicity, nobody other could not do it. “‘

Likewise, award-winning casting director Jen Rudin has championed casting decisions, arguing that the people in her role are expected to find the best talent for the role, not the type of cast.

“Acting is a profession and our goal and our job as casting directors is to hire the most qualified actor for the role,” she said.

‘Kathryn Hahn is wonderful as Rabbi Raquel in Amazon’s “Transparent” and my close friend Grant Shaud is hilarious as Miles Silverberg in “Murphy Brown”. Neither are Jews, but both gave fantastic depictions of Jewish figures. ‘

Rudin continued, “At the end of her career, Ingrid Bergman played Golda Meir and was amazing! She got the part because she was a great actress. If we only recruit Jewish actors for Jewish roles, that fuels a racist or religious stereotype that Jews all look a certain appearance and we are therefore not open-minded in our casting searches. ‘

This is not the first time that members of the industry have questioned the “Jewface” casting trend.  In 2018, when non-Jewish Felicity Jones portrayed Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex, the film's writer defended the casting decision, saying:

This is not the first time that members of the industry have questioned the “Jewface” casting trend. In 2018, when non-Jewish Felicity Jones portrayed Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex, the film’s writer defended the casting decision, saying: “[Jones’] the representation is strange ‘

Dan Friedman, editor-in-chief of Forward, echoed Stiepleman and Rudin’s assertions, saying, “Non-Jews should play Jews. Black must play white. Muslims should play Anglicans. Women should play men. The young should play the old. The essence of theater and fiction is to portray the false, to put yourself in the shoes of others.

“There is a practical, not a philosophical, problem with casting, in that external structures skew casting along lines of broader social inequalities. There are fewer shares for women and other less powerful communities. So we need to fix it, but not by settling into an essentialist theater where only 55-year-old straight Jewish men can play the roles of 55-year-old straight Jewish men.

However, writer Shira Feder argued otherwise, telling Forward that the cast of “Jewface” takes away Jewish culture.

“This means that as a culture we want our Jewishness to be filtered out by someone who is not Jewish. This Jewishness is more publicly acceptable when done by someone who is not Jewish, ”said Feder.

“So should non-Jews play Jews?” Well, should white people play black characters? Should Asians play Latinx characters? Is being Jewish a race, ethnicity, or ethno-religion, whatever it is?

She continued, “In true Jewish form, I answer one question with another question, because I don’t have the answers and no one has them. But my gut tells me no, and when I’m smart I have it. ‘listen.