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Jun 16th 2017 at 10:34:31 PM •••

  • Played for Laughs in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody when London reveals she celebrates Hanukkah, despite not being ethnically Jewish. She also occasionally throws Yiddish slang terms out there.
    London: Miss out on eight days of presents? Not this Shiska.

I don't know this series — does London actually mispronounce the word "shiksa," or is this a typo that should be corrected?

Dec 29th 2016 at 4:52:20 AM •••

I have a question: Unless I misread the trope description, this trope is about statistically improbable representation of Jewish characters in media. If that's the case, why does it have a Real Life section? It strikes me as contradictory to what the trope is about. Also, I'm a bit concerned that having a Real Life section for this trope might have the Unfortunate Implications of calling Jews "overrepresented" in reality (especially after seeing this Tumblr post, which accuses the trope of precisely that). Is this a reasonable concern or am I just being hypersensitive?

May 14th 2013 at 3:36:06 PM •••

This is directed to Nukestein and others who keep adding the bit about anti-Jewish ethnic slurs never appearing in media. I asked during the edit for any examples of any ethnic slurs appearing in recent media that were non-ironic or not using some manner of theatrical detachment. Nukestein gave me the following examples: " Lincoln and Django Unchained" - which are definitely using layers of detachment and irony. I doubt that Spielberg and Tarantino support the systemic degradation of African Americans, in the same manor that they both had characters and institutions using antisemitic language and imagery in their films about the Holocaust. Depiction in fiction is not, in and of itself, endorsement. So that point still stands. The only counterexample I can think of is the use of the phrase 'gypsy,' though even the idea that that word is a slur is in and of itself controversial.

Furthermore, adding to a second point raised by Nukestein, the idea that Jews had a disproportionate hand in the slave trade is an old canard, particularly revitalized by the Nation of Islam: Jews were less likely, in fact, to possess slaves than gentiles in the British cultural sphere, and had little role in financing or transportation during the Transatlantic slave trade. There were Jewish slave traders, particularly in the Portuguese Empire (Seymour Drescher, 'The Role of Jews in the Transatlantic Slave Trade,' Immigrants and Minorities 12 [1993]), and, in the American South, accounted for roughly 1% of all slave owners (and only 4 Jews owned more than 50 slaves in the entirety of America circa 1830 - Brackman, Harold, Lefkowitz, Mary R. "Historical Facts vs. Antisemitic Fictions: The Truth About Jews, Blacks, Slavery, Racism and Civil Rights [1993]), so featuring them prominently in these films would have actually been an example of this trope.


  • Gates Jr, Henry Louis. "Black Demagogues and Pseudo-Scholars". New York Times.
  • Rodriguez, Junius P. "The Historical encyclopaedia of world slavery." Vol. 1. p. 385, 622.
There are also a bunch of other texts on the issue, but most of them are written by Jews, so you know...

Edited by Hide/Show Replies
May 14th 2013 at 3:42:02 PM •••

... dude, why bother responding to the troll?

May 14th 2013 at 4:07:51 PM •••

Good faith. Anyone who disagrees with me on the internet is not necessarily a troll, and several editors have restored those statements, so I wished to provide evidence to end the controversy once and for all. Many editors - including one on the bottom of the page - see this page as one speaking truth to power, so it's worth nipping any open antisemitism in the bud before it infects the page, and doing so in an even-handed and non-dismissive manner.

May 14th 2013 at 7:15:10 PM •••

^^ Thanks for the info. They sound like very interesting reads and hope I can access some of them.

Edited by
Nov 16th 2011 at 3:43:34 PM •••

I deleted the Weeds example. Honestly, California is stereotypically associated with having a large Jewish population. The point about expecting a large Hispanic cast would make sense if the series was supposed to be showing a representative sample of people in California, but it's not- it's set in Stepford Suburbia. I'm not sure of the exact demographics, but this is probably a setting (at least in California) where it would be odd not to have Jewish characters.

I admit to only having seen the first season, but aren't the Jewish characters just the protagonist's inlaws on her husband's side of the family? That doesn't seem like an overwhelmingly large number of Jews to me, unless having any Jewish characters counts as too many.

Edit- here's the text of the example:

  • Weeds counts more Jewish protagonists in the main cast than any other currently running series. It can be due to the fact that director Jenji Kohan is Israeli but, other than that, the setting (Southern California) would have you rather expect that the main cast would be at least 50% of Mexican origin. Instead, Mexicans mostly show up as secondary or background characters.

Incidentally, doesn't Nancy end up having a lot of connections in Mexico and close to the Mexican border? (Again, first season viewer writing)

Edited by Jordan Hide/Show Replies
Dec 11th 2011 at 4:14:18 PM •••

Then watch the other seasons and see why I said this. The show is about how a na´ve White woman tries to get around by delving into illegality ie selling drugs. Stepford Suburbia might indeed have a large Jewish population but they indeed form more than half the cast in a series where you would expect to see Nancy dealing more with Mexicans, Blacks and bikers. Mind you, she does. But it's brief in each occurrence. Armenians are also briefly seen and Black gangs are not even talked about, aside from a token Black family.

So yes it's a valid case. It's not the fact that there are so many Jewish characters, it's just, as the plot darkens later in the series, there are still constant references made to Jewish traditions, Zionism and Judaism in general when said references clearly aren't moving the plot forward. And that isn't mentioning that the Only Sane Woman which is also the most sensible and intelligent and perhaps only respectable one in a cast full of otherwise Goyim women... is a Jewish girl.

Dec 11th 2011 at 4:20:37 PM •••

The idea of the references "not moving the plot forward" doesn't really have anything to do with the trope (which I admit I largely just consider anti-Semitic). The show has (rightly or wrongly) a white suburban protagonist who happens to be Jewish. To the extent it focuses on her family life, it's not too surprising that there would be some references to Judaism.

Could you give an example of references you found "egregious"?

Jan 16th 2012 at 7:22:21 AM •••

As the originator of this trope I'd have to say I agree that, going purely on the descriptions provided (never seen it) Weeds doesn't seem to fit at all. It's a show with a Jewish protagonist, set in a state with the over a million Jews in it. It's a good example of the kind of example that *doesn't* fit this trope. If it was made in California but set in, say, South Dakota - Jewish population less than 400 - then it might fit.

As for "anti-Semitic", do you dispute the facts? Or do feel that the facts ought not to be mentioned?

Jan 16th 2012 at 9:28:36 AM •••

The trope has always sounded to me like "there's only a Jewish character here because the producers, director, etc." are Jews- it smacks of the whole "Jews control the media" idea.

Also, it's not like Jewish characters are "out of place" in any work not set in New York, California, or Israel. I'm sure that there are Jewish populations in every state in the United States, and I know that England has a Jewish population as well, and my contention is that in the far majority of works, there's nothing odd about having a Jewish character, because Jews are often middle class and educated, as are lots of characters in tv and movies.

Regarding the South Dakota example,that reminded me that I just added an example of this trope to Parks And Recreation, where it's noted that a minor character changed their name to a Jewish one, as Jews are exotic in the small town Iowa setting. I was thinking though whether the trope would also say that it's "wrong" that a character mentions learning a Yiddish word from "David Meyers, the Jewish guy who works at City Hall". I think that the trope would, and I disagree.

Yes, it's possible that this line got there because the cast and creators were Jews/knew Jews, but I don't see what's so unbelievable about the idea that the town has at least one Jewish resident- because there are Jews living in Iowa.

Edited by Jordan
Jan 16th 2012 at 11:31:29 PM •••

Hmm. It's not clear from your four paragraph answer whether you dispute the facts, or whether you object to the trope mentioning them.

Also, it is precisely that Jewish characters are out of place, inasmuch as their representation outweighs their demographic presence. I'm equally sure that there are native American populations in every state in the union (maybe not Hawaii, but you know what I mean), but I can count the number of native American characters I've seen in sitcoms, dramas and quiz shows on the fingers of one hand. Yes - there is a Jewish population in the UK. As the trope points out for comedy effect (but accurately), according to the 2001 census it's outnumbered three to two by Jedi. Translation: it's *tiny*, and it is furthermore highly concentrated in a few areas of a very few cities, obviously including the capital. And yet I could probably off the top of my head name fifty high profile Jewish actors, writers or politicians, all drawn from this tiny, tiny, population which for most residents of the UK (i.e. those outside London and literally one or two other big cities) is entirely invisible.

As for "middle class and educated", who's stereotyping now? (And by that I mean stereotyping TV and film characters as much as I mean Jews). And again from the UK perspective, I'm middle class and educated - I'm a chartered chemical engineer. I don't know anyone of Jewish extraction. I've not been avoiding them - I've never to my knowledge met one, not at any school I've attended, not at either of the universities I attended to study science and engineering, and never once in a twenty year career in industry in the UK. I have had professional dealings with a Jewish person precisely once in my life, when I engaged a gentleman to tune my girlfriend's piano. Whatever you choose to believe, the usual experience of a person living outside the media-bubble in the US and outside the capital in the UK is that Jews are a minority so small you hardly ever meet one.

I don't know how much more explicit the trope description can be when it says that examples should ONLY be inversions, aversions or particularly egregious examples (e.g. the one from Ireland in the Roddy Doyle book). You seem to be saying that you've thought of an example that you think that I think would be suitable, and you don't think is suitable. Well, newsflash, again, I agree with you, that one doesn't work.

"The trope has always sounded to me like "there's only a Jewish character here because..."

And yet the trope description says that that is not what it's about. In fact it is quite careful to explicitly state it, with shouty capitals on the word NOT. In the face of such determination to take offence in the teeth of the evidence that none has been given, it's hard to know what to suggest. Perhaps, just don't read it again if you don't like what it says, or, if you can, dispute the facts and examples presented.

Edited by SonofRojBlake
Jan 17th 2012 at 7:01:56 AM •••

Looking at the trope at present, I'm not really sure what kind of examples it's looking for, or I guess, since you created the trope, in part what you see a good example of it as being.

I mean I can see that the Doyle example is being offered as an "egregious" one, and I can see which ones are lampshade hangings (cases of characters who pretend to be Jewish for some perceived benefit would count for this, right?). I don't know how it's possible to have an aversion of this- wouldn't that just be a work with no Jewish characters- that sounds like a case of People Sit On Chairs.

What I object to, is that as you say, the trope is citing Jews as being "out of place", which does sound like a value judgment. Do you believe a Jewish character can ever be not out of place unless a work is set in California, New York, or Israel? Speaking as an American (as I've admitted, a Jewish one), I can't really think of any work, in which based upon its setting, it would be "out of place" to have a Jewish character.

I'm not sure if your experience is representative of everyone in England's, but assuming that it is, then for instance, it would be pretty normal for there to be a Jewish character in a British Conspiracy Thriller *


Edited by Jordan
Jan 17th 2012 at 8:53:57 AM •••

"I'm not really sure what kind of examples it's looking for"

Well, if the substantial list of examples that are there aren't enough of a clue, I'm not sure what I can say that would help. Suffice to say plenty of other people seem perfectly able to work out what's being said here, and that the problem appears to be one of comprehension on your part rather than lack of clarity on the part of the now several people who have written the body text.

"I don't know how it's possible to have an aversion of this- wouldn't that just be a work with no Jewish characters"

Not really. An aversion would have to be a work with no Jewish characters, but where Jewish characters would be expected. I invite you to imagine a TV sitcom produced and set in New York City, about the zany goings-on among the young, attractive employees at a city law firm, with not a single Jewish character or actor in it. If you can picture that, you have a better imagination than I.

"What I object to, is that as you say, the trope is citing Jews as being "out of place", "

Oh, well, I'm very happy that that's what you object to, because we can clear that up very, very easily.

The trope doesn't say that.

The trope has never said that. I have never said that. The ONLY person to use the phrase "out of place" was YOU. So, if you object to people citing Jews as being out of place - stop doing it.

Also, you say it "does sound like a value judgment". What does??? The trope EXPLICITLY USES THE PHRASE "in no way value judgemental". But wait, you're not criticising the trope or anything I wrote here, you're criticising something YOU said. Moving on...

"Do you believe a Jewish character can ever be not out of place unless a work is set in California, New York, or Israel?"

No, I don't believe that. Strange question. I am now satisfied that you really don't understand the point of this at all. No INDIVIDUAL character or actor is or could be indicative of this trope, any more than an individual molecule of water could be described as "wet".

"I can't really think of any work, in which based upon its setting, it would be "out of place" to have a Jewish character"

Remind me of the name of the Jewish member of Robin Hood's merry men? The name of the Jewish Argonaut? The Jewish Samurai? The Jewish Shaolin Monk? Come to that, given the page quote, which of the Knights of the Round Table was Jewish?

If you honestly can't even think of any story in which the presence of a Jewish person might seem incongruous, then it's possible that you're coming to the question too prejudiced to have a meaningful or worthwhile opinion.

"it would be pretty normal for there to be a Jewish character in a British Conspiracy Thriller "

Absolutely. This country elected a Prime Minister of Jewish origin in 1868, and if our election in 2005 had gone the other way both the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been Jews. Our current leader of the opposition (for whom I voted) is of Polish Jewish background, so our next Prime Minister could be Jewish (his brother's an MP too). The current Minister for Housing and Development is Jewish. And these are just the ones I can name off the top of my head.

But you seem to be making my point for me. All these famous Jewish politicians, drawn from such a tiny, statistically insignificant minority community.

You chose a genre - conspiracy thriller - which presupposes involvement in corridors of power of some kind, and professions stereotypically associated with Jewish people. I'm sure you could, if you chose to, somehow justify the presence of a Jewish character in a kitchen sink drama set among coal miners in the Rhondda valley, of course, although why you'd want to is questionable. But then, your problem with this trope is, to me, questionable. You seem determined to interpret it as something it is not, to the point of simply making up phrases yourself and then criticising the trope for using them, when it doesn't.

Jan 17th 2012 at 9:13:09 AM •••

When I said "Speaking as an American (as I've admitted, a Jewish one), I can't really think of any work, in which based upon its setting, it would be "out of place" to have a Jewish character", I meant that in a work set in America, at present, it's hard for me to think of a work set there where it would be really out of place to have a Jewish character. I did not mean to give the impression that I meant I couldn't think of any setting in all of history (although I do have an opinion on why Black Vikings isn't the worst thing, but that's the topic of another discussion).

I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to use the British Conspiracy Thriller as an example. I was more wondering whether you'd consider it odd that any given British tv show set in London to have Jewish characters.. When I spoke of middle class characters, I was more thinking of your typical sitcom or workcom/work drama, whether British or American.

Incidentally, what would be an aversion of this trope?

Edited by Jordan
Jan 17th 2012 at 1:01:13 PM •••

<tap> <tap> Is this thing on?

To repeat myself, since you apparently didn't read my last post (or possibly I've simply misunderstood what "aversion" means in this context):

An aversion would have to be a work with no Jewish characters, but where Jewish characters would be expected. I invite you to imagine a TV sitcom produced and set in New York City, about the zany goings-on among the young, attractive employees at a city law firm, with not a single Jewish character or actor in it.

How would such a series sit with you, I wonder?

"in a work set in America, at present,"

<sigh> Well, yeah. Did you actually read the trope as far as the second sentence? Y'know, the bit where it says "much of the most popular media are created in the USA, and specifically in the two parts of the USA with the highest per capita Jewish populations, Los Angeles and New York City, making this trope, in part, Big Applesauce."

So it's your opinion that that observation applies to the entire USA, not just NY and CA. I don't agree (there are more people on my Facebook friends list than there are Jews in South Dakota), but let's not argue about provable facts like population statistics. Let's pretend, for just a moment that you're right - it changes *nothing*.

Newsflash - the rest of the world is not like the USA (not even the reality, let alone your fantasy Jew-on-every-corner-in-every-state version). One of the ways it is different is that the USA really does have the world's highest per capita population of Jews, outside of Israel, and the rest of the world... doesn't.

Does it occur to you even dimly that your persistence in arguing the perfect normality of a Jewish character in every show is itself a demonstration of the trope?

Jan 17th 2012 at 2:11:21 PM •••

Jeez, I was trying to be more conciliatory. I was kind of set off criticizing this trope again because of Alrune's posting, and I do understand now that your perspective on it isn't the same as hers.

A series set in a New York City law firm that didn't have a Jewish character in it would just be that. It's not an aversion You might have gotten the impression that I object to any work that doesn't have a Jewish character, but that's not my perspective. Generally (see, not an absolute statement), I don't think the presence or absence of a Jewish character in an American tv show is noteworthy either way. "So it's your opinion that that observation applies to the entire USA, not just CA." Well, not the entire USA (i.e. every area of every state), but at the very least, it's not unusual in more states than those too.

To avoid being accused of making an absolute statement, I'll say that I haven't seen every American tv show. If there are American tv shows you consider notable examples or aversions, I'd be interested in hearing them. And it would probably help too to know of British examples where you feel this is striking.

Edit- edited to sound less hostile

Edited by Jordan
Jan 17th 2012 at 3:41:38 PM •••

Thanks for sounding less hostile. If I knew of any aversions, I'd have already added them to the page.

You don't think that a show with an NYC law firm that had no Jewish actors and no Jewish characters would be... odd? Really? Something like one in eight NYC residents are Jewish. I'd bet folding money that the proportion of NYC residents who are lawyers that are Jewish is a good deal higher. But whatever, there's no such show, and I don't really wonder why.

And I'm not going to provide examples from Britain, because, well, two things: first, it's nowhere near as noticeable in the UK or media from here, and second no individual examples demonstrate the trope.

I'm not just being difficult. This is emphatically not "hey, dere's Jooz EVER Ywhere, look!" This is a sober and factual observation of a perfectly valid and explicable historical fact. No single show or film demonstrates it, no single film or show could demonstrate it, even in principle. What you're asking is for me to extract a single molecule of water from a glass and show you its wetness. It doesn't work like that - wetness is an emergent property; no one molecule is wet. You can only point to wetness when you've a whole bunch of them together.

Jan 17th 2012 at 3:53:31 PM •••

Thanks for the response. Oops, realize that I meant inversions but think that still made sense (inversions meaning where expected, but not present).

With that New York example, I could see the absence being notable if the show overall didn't seem to know the setting well. Which reminds me, the unexpected presence or absence of a group (any group) is an issue- For instance, Seinfeld and Friends have Jewish characters, and are set in NYC, but were criticized for Monochrome Casting.

Edited by Jordan
May 15th 2011 at 5:43:56 PM •••

... I must thank the writers of this article for answering that goddamned question that's been nagging people for so long but they were afraid to ask for fear of appearing insensitive. Now it makes sense...

Edited by Ardiente
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