She's got that Jewess look."
— Gilda Radner
The Jewish American Princess is a pejorative Jewish American woman stereotype that is portrayed as materialistic, selfish, and from a pampered or wealthy background. The term, "Jewish American Princess" is often abbreviated to the acronym "JAP."
The Jewish American princess stereotype was a construct of and popularized by post-war Jewish male writers. Notable works that popularized this stereotype are Herman Wouk's 1955 novel, Marjorie Morningstar
and Philip Roth
's 1959 novel Goodbye, Columbus
The acronym, "JAP" and the associated stereotype gained attention in the 1970s with the publication of several non-fiction articles. Barbara Meyer's Cosmopolitan article "Sex and the Jewish Girl" and the 1971 cover article in New York Magazine by Julie Baumgold, "The Persistence of the Jewish Princess" are two such notable articles. The Jewish American Princess stereotype's rise to prominence in the 1970s resulted from pressures on the Jewish middle class to maintain a visibly affluent lifestyle as post-war affluence declined.
The stereotype is portrayed as over-indulged by her parents with attention and money. This results in the princess having both unrealistic expectations and guilt and skill in the manipulation of guilt in others, which results in a deficient love life. The stereotype is also portrayed as sexually-repressive, overly-concerned with appearance, and indifferent to sex, the latter her most notable trait.
is a Sister Trope
. Some of these girls can fall under Spoiled Brat
or Idle Rich
- "Libby in the Lost World" in Penthouse Comix was about a Jewish American princess who gets trapped in a Lost World where she becomes a parody of the Jungle Princess.
- The Mel Brooks parody Spaceballs features Daphne Zuniga as Princess Vespa, a "Druish princess", who displays the attributes of the stereotype. It's even lampshaded.
Princess Vespa: I am Princess Vespa, daughter of Roland, King of the Druids.
Barf: Funny, she doesn't look Druish.
- Minnie Driver portrays a Canadian Jewish princess in Barney's Version, a film adaptation of the novel by Mordecai Richler, and stated that she based her character on a Montreal real estate agent who was a friend of the producer and American Jewish princesses that Driver knows.
- In Ghost World, Enid and Becky's annoying, stuck-up classmates Melorra and Naomi are disparagingly referred to by Enid as "the junior JAPs of America."
- Baby, the main protagonist, in Dirty Dancing, who develops away from the negative aspects of the trope.
Live Action TV
- Susan Silverman of the Spenser series jokingly refers to herself as one of these, though she averts the more negative parts of the trope.
- In Trainspotting, Spud has a fetish for Jewish princesses, apparently acquired through listening to Frank Zappa as he mentions Moon Unit Zappa and alludes to Zappa's other songs "Catholic Girls" and "Valley Girl" in the same chapter.
- Sarah Silverman often plays one of these.
- The NBC sitcom Friends:
- Rachel Green was was originally scripted as a stereotype of a Jewish American Princess. Though never stated to be Jewish on the show, Word of God (in one "making of Friends" special) referenced this trope word for word. She was Spoiled Sweet in a lot of ways and this stereotype declined as the series progressed.
- Monica Geller was Jewish but fell way outside of this trope. She was The Unfavourite, her parents never pampered her and she had to fight for everything she got.
- Maggie Wheeler as Janice is close, though she too is not explicitly identified as Jewish.
- Gilda Radner parodied the Jewish American Princess stereotype with her recurring Saturday Night Live character, Rhonda Weiss.
- Another Radner take on the stereotype was a fake ad for "Jewess Jeans" which showed Radner and other women wearing designer jeans with light-up Stars of David and an offstage woman singing "she is an American princess!" The jingle for "Jewess Jeans" provides the page quote.
- One ITV series from Granada TV about the Jewish community in Manchester, England, was certainly packed chocca with the British equivalent of the trope... what clinches it was that the very well-educated young Rabbi, a man holding down quite a few jobs to get by, imported an American wife. Who clearly considered Britain beneath her in terms of amenities, social opportunities, shopping outlets and teethcare, as she made it gently clear a condition of marriage would be his returning to the USA with her where she could be near her family and friends, rather than the other way round.
- British TV has upped the ante on this. Channel Four is running a reality show/contest called The Jewish Mother of the Year. Some of the eight contestants are young and attitudinal enough to be thought of as Jewish American Princesses. and in Episode two, where they have to act as matchmakers to unhitched Jewish girls... oi vey and gevalt, my life already. More JAP's than the Burma Railway.
- Played with in a seasonal storyline on Soap that merged the stereotype with the Mafia Princess type by having Danny forced into a relationship, and then a marriage, by Elaine, the daughter of a Jewish mobster he had once worked for. Eventually, she becomes much nicer and is naturally killed off in classic soap opera style. Somewhat at odds with the usual stereotype, though, Elaine is less frigid than she is terrifyingly overeager where sex is concerned.
- On Seinfeld, Jerry's girlfriend Rachel Goldstein, who appeared in three episodes, had elements of this character type.
- Fran Drescher's character in the TV series Princesses was a literal example (the show was about three roommates - an actual princess, a Jewish American Princess, and a "Daddy's Little Princess")
- Leah in A Stranger Among Us is a subversion. She is a Rebbe's daughter who is very much a Proper Lady.
- Rachel Katz from Mad Men is an aversion of this trope. Despite being a wealthy, successful Jewish woman, she is neither selfish nor materialistic, and she earned her wealth independently.
- Frank Zappa's song "Jewish Princess" from the album Sheik Yerbouti, which led to accusations of anti-Semitism by the Anti-Defamation League. Zappa refused to apologize for the song, stating in his autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book that unlike the unicorn, Jewish Princesses actually exist. However, he did release the song "Catholic Girls" on his follow-up album, Joe's Garage, in order to be an equal opportunity offender regarding young women's religions.note
- 2 Live Jews' song "J.A.P. Rap" is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Jewish American Princesses feature in several of Allan Sherman's parody songs including "Sarah Jackman" and "You're a Nudnik, Sondra Goldfein."
- Inverted by Roger Shimomura's painting called KIKE, titled after a traditional slur against Jewish people. In the early 1990s, Shimomura had a fresh encounter with the old slur. A woman asked him if he knew what a "JAP" was. As he stared at her, she told him it was a Jewish American Princess. A couple of weeks later, he said, he happened to catch an Oprah show on the theme of "JAPS" or Jewish American Princesses, with no reference to its original meaning. Shortly thereafter, a Jewish woman conducted a seminar at the University of Kansas, where he teaches, about the word "JAP" and how hurtful it is to Jewish women. His response was not timid or the least bit politically correct: A solo performance piece titled "KIKE," which he said stood for kinky, immature, kimono empress. Sick of the old slur "jap" getting new life as Jewish American princess, Shimomura responded with "KIKE" or kinky, immature, kimono empress. In the painting accompanying this story, a lovely young Jewish woman gazes in the mirror, a crown on her head. Only the first letter of the banner across her chest is visible, and it's a "K."
- Wyatt Cenac (of The Daily Show fame), in his stand-up routine, discusses this in a story about a high-maintenance, Jewish girlfriend he once had. When he eventually asks her why she's so high-maintenance, the exchange is as follows:
Cenac: ...Why are you so high-maintenance?
Girlfriend: (sing-song) I'm a JAP~
Cenac: You're a racist! What do Japanese people have to do with you taking three-and-a-half hours to get ready for something?
Girlfriend: No, stupid, JAP. Jewish American Princess!
Cenac: Oh, my bad. And apparently the bad of any Japanese person who's ever been offended.
- Portia Gibbons from The Mighty B! is this. Her cousin, Chelsea is even worse.
- On South Park, Kyle's mother is usually portrayed as a Jewish Mother, but she occasionally behaves more like a Princess stereotype where her husband and marriage are concerned.
- Mipsy from As Told by Ginger.
- Lois Griffin from Family Guy, who is half-Jewish, used to be this when she was younger.
- In American Dad!, Sharri Rothberg is this. She's portrayed as so insufferable and demanding, Roger quickly regrets asking her to marry him so he could scam wedding presents, eventually managing to fob her off to the equally desperate Mountain Man, Buckle.
- Winston Schwartz from Fritz the Cat was intended to be this by Ralph Bakshi.