Dumbest. Controversy. Ever.

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Is a non-Jew playing a Jewish man antisemitic?

Worse, is an actor changing his appearance to look more like the character he is playing somehow mocking him?

Yes, in this bizarro world where up is down, left is right, and actors pretending to be somebody else is verboten.


I should say that I am no acolyte of Leonard Bernstein, and have never quite gotten the mystique. On the other hand, his appeal was more to the generation prior to mine, and my impressions of him were more formed by Tom Wolfe’s mockery than his musical prowess. Wolfe mocked Bernstein mercilessly for his virtue signaling, highlighting the cocktail party/fundraiser he held for the Black Panthers.

Netflix and Bradley Cooper are being hounded by a new generation of virtue signalers trying to prove their liberal bona fides by decrying Cooper’s use of a prosthetic nose while playing Bernstein. The use of the nose is, we are told, an antisemitic dog whistle.

I have to admit that while my high-frequency hearing is quite good for my age–my wife says I have “dog ears”–even I am incapable of detecting the dog whistle being blown here. In fact, Bradley Cooper is playing the role of Leonard Bernstein because he wrote the movie and is displaying his own love for Bernstein by telling Bernstein’s love story with his wife Felicia.


I am no judge of the Jewish schnoz, although I am of Jewish descent (1/4 Ashkenazi Jew) and indeed knew a lot of New York Jews growing up. But it is indeed a common trope that there is a “Jewish nose,” and I am afraid that there is some truth to that. It has something to do with genetics, I believe. It turns out that Judaism is a religion, but Jews are among other things a lineage. Which is why, when I got my 23andMe results they referred to my Jewish heritage in a way that no other religion was mentioned, because religion and genetics are rarely linked.

Perhaps that is why Bernstein had a rather prominent nose–not quite a Roman nose, another genetic trait we all recognize without disdaining–and why Cooper looks more like Bernstein with that prosthetic. His religion and his genetics are actually related, and no amount of love or hate or indifference to his semetic roots can change that.

Just a guess.

Bernstein’s family–worked with Cooper to ensure his portrayal was accurate and sympathetic–wonders what all the fuss is about:

Several social media users said the film was a clear case of “Jewface,” a term used to characterize stereotypical or inauthentic portrayals of Jewish people, with some also questioning why Cooper, who is not publicly known to be Jewish, was playing a famous Jewish person in the first place.

“There was no need for Bradley Cooper to add an odd prosthetic nose on top of this to play Leonard Bernstein,” one social media user wrote. “His own nose is longer! And I still would have preferred they at least give Jewish actors a chance to audition before automatically casting someone more famous,” they said, adding the hashtag “#JewFace.”

The children of Bernstein issued a statement in defense of Cooper, saying that the actor included them in his “journey” to play Bernstein and the misunderstanding breaks their hearts.

“It’s true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose,” the statement said. “Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that. We’re also certain that our dad would have been fine with it as well.”


Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jewish (I had no idea!) background was utterly irrelevant to the casting because, well, Cooper wrote the role for himself and the family liked what he was doing. Not to mention casting Gyllenhaal as Leonard Bernstein would have been hilarious, given the utter lack of resemblance and Gyllenhaal’s complete lack of emotional affect as an actor. His emotional range goes from mild interest to blank stare, while Bernstein was practically histrionic.

The controversy, in other words, is completely stupid. Billy Crystal has done more antisemitic portrayals than Bradley Cooper has here. Any Jewish comic has. In order to be antisemitic, something must be at least remotely hostile to Jews, and Cooper’s portrayal is the opposite.

Personally, I would prefer to watch a takedown of Bernstein’s and others’ virtue signaling in the 60s and 70s–a musical take on “Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” would be hilarious to watch. They did a movie version of Bonfire of the Vanities, after all, so why not do that?

It would make a great farce.

Still, I will likely watch Maestro on Netflix, since Cooper is a good actor and the story might be good. I will keep an eye out to see what other noses look like in the movie just to be on the lookout for other things to be outraged about.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos