When Does Stereotyping Become Offensive?
I normally wouldn’t care about things so trivial, but the upcoming Leonard Bernstein film bio titled, Maestro does raise some troubling concerns.
For those unfamiliar with the controversy, actor Bradley Cooper is portraying the late American composer-conductor. Inexplicably, Cooper was made up with a prosthetic nose (see photo). This would be perfectly acceptable *IF* Bernstein looked anything like the caricature shown in the photos. However, it’s easy to see Bernstein doesn’t resemble this image AT ALL. By the way, Cooper looks to be a good choice to play Bernstein, otherwise.
So, what’s the purpose of the big nose? What message is enhanced, other than perpetuating an old stereotype about an ethnic group? Sure, the stereotype fits (stereotypes are usually based on some truth). However, giving Bernstein a big nose is unnecessary and inaccurate. What’s the intent, other than to accentuate the imagery to non-Jews that Bernstein was Jewish?
As I said, this isn’t the biggest issue of the day. But anti-Semitism has been a scourge for centuries. It’s hard to imagine any modern Hollywood treatment of any subject that’s anti-Semitic (An Education, the 2009 film came close). What is accomplished here by making Cooper look like this? Yeah, it’s an uncomfortable topic, but I like discussing uncomfortable topics.
I have many Jewish friends. I’ll be curious to read their interpretation of this, and give me “an education.”
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