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Friday, June 15, 2007

Entertainment Industry Controlled by Who? by Nadene Goldfoot

There remains the unmitigated belief that Jews control the entertainment industry in the United States. Considering that the Jewish population is only 1/4 of 1% of the world's population, you must wonder how such a small group could gain control of such a large industry. For such a grand feat, Jews should be awarded a grand prize.

There are, in fact, many Jews in the entertainment industry. It has been an area that they have found success. It was Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer (MGM) that produced the first full-length sound picture, "The Jazz Singer." Mayer of MGM even created the idea for the Oscar. Many are the founding fathers of other Hollywood studios. Adolph Zukor built the first theater used just to show motion pictures. George and Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin were famous composers. Harry Houdini Weiss was a superb magician and stage performer. Flo Zigfield of Zigfield Follies was the creator of American burlesque. Steven Spielberg is a most successful filmmaker. They were there at the inception of the industry and helped to create it. Does anyone wonder why other Jews have tried to follow in their footsteps?

There just happens to be a lot of talent in the Jewish community that lends itself to this industry. It didn't come to the people overnight. Jews have done their fair share of suffering and found that making jokes about it lessened the burdens. Thus comics and jokes were created long ago, before Hollywood. The arts has been held in high esteem in the Jewish culture. Children were expected to take up some form of musical instrument. In every synagogue was a Cantor who sang the prayers. The ability to sing was cultivated. Yiddish Theater has been a cultural experience dating back into time. All this background fomented and was able to be used in the emerging United States. It simply has been a transfer of what one did in the old country to New York or Hollywood.

There is nothing sinister in finding many Jewish people in the entertainment fields. They are there as individual citizens and not as a group bent on a diabolical plot of taking over an industry. People tend to try to be successful in areas they feel competent in, and this is one of them.

Jews tended to congregate in cities in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Connecticut as well as Hollywood. Here were the very centers for the entertainment industry. Many new entertainers had their starts in the Catskills and then branched out to other places. They were in the right places at the right times.

Several years ago in Portland, Oregon, a school board member was quoted as saying that "he sees Jews running everything. Today they run the country." Some even thought that Jews constituted at least 3% of the city, though in reality they make up only less than 1%, because Portland is not a big center for Jews, even on the West Coast. Yet Jews have managed to make their mark here.

The reason for that is their culture. Education is regarded as the most important asset that a person can have. After years of being expelled out of seemingly safe havens and finding the opposite, Jews have had to run for their lives. The easiest thing to take with you is your head and what's in it so that you can use what you know to relocate and help your family. Education is part of our religion. One learns to read and write Hebrew at an early age and to discuss what was read. Spouses are chosen for their intelligence and not their brawn, though it's nice if the male has both. Alcoholism was not a part of the culture. Wives were treated as princesses. This created a nice environment for learning.

The Jewish mother has had a lot to do with the success of the children. She is a drive that causes excellence in her children leading them to become doctors and lawyers. She has caused so much Jewish guilt, that a child dare not bring home anything but A's in school. My father told me to be the best in whatever I wanted to be." I became a teacher, but was chided and a disappointment because I didn't go for a higher degree. This is the typical Jewish household.

Jews have lived through the quota system of only allowing a certain percent of their group into colleges and universities. Many who were capable of becoming doctors were not allowed in because the quota was filled. The entertainment industry has been one field that they have been able to enter as individuals pursuing the American dream. All they needed was chutzpa and talent.



I began searching for this topic because I was remembering a documentary I had watched on PBS in the early 80's regarding Jews in the entertainment industry. The view that Jews somehow control the entertainment industry may be due to the cohesiveness that results in one being favored over the other because of one being Jewish, when both are otherwise qualified for selection, promotion, etc.

I am not aware of any hard evidence of this practice, but I have witnessed this in other groups such as the Mormon culture where members are encouraged to select a fellow Mormon over an equal or more qualified non Mormon.

Irish policemen and firefighters aside, what your thoughts on this?

Thank you,

Patrick N. Harris

Nadene Goldfoot said...

I suppose that could happen, and yet the producers, etc might react knowing of what people would say and go the other way, too, not employing someone because they were Jewish. Hopefully they employed people by hiring the best qualified person as they should do.

Landry said...

This topic has fascinated and haunted me for a long time now. I used to be jealous of Jews & their culture, not simply because of the seemingly high success rate of Jewish professionals, but also because of what I always suspected was a household steeped in pushing for excellence.

As someone who cannot find work in the film industry, that jealous attitude started to turn sour and even a bit resentful. In fact, it started to turn ugly. I'm embarrassed about that, but denial isn't helpful either. In short, my vision became blurry.

Thank you for this very heartfelt and insightful piece, Nadene. It does my heart good to read it.