Sarah Silverman criticises ‘long tradition’ of ‘Jewface’


Sarah Silverman has criticised the “long tradition” in Hollywood of Jewish characters being performed by actors who aren’t Jewish.

The actor and comic cited Kathryn Hahn’s casting because the late Joan Rivers within the forthcoming collection The Comeback Girl, and Felicity Jones’s portrayal of Ruth Bader Ginsberg in On the Basis of Sex, as two outstanding examples.

Speaking on The Sarah Silverman Podcast final week, Silverman stated: “There’s this long tradition of non-Jews playing Jews, and not just playing people who happen to be Jewish but people whose Jewishness is their whole being.

“One could argue, for instance, that a Gentile playing Joan Rivers correctly would be doing what is actually called ‘Jewface.’”

Silverman outlined the time period as being “when a non-Jew portrays a Jew with the Jewishness front and centre”, usually with the use of make-up or “changing of features”, in addition to a “New York-y or Yiddish-y” vocal inflection.

“In a time when the importance of representation is seen as so essential and so front and centre, why does ours constantly get breached even today in the thick of it?” she continued.

The Marvellous Mrs Maisel’s Rachel Brosnahan and Shiva Baby star Rachel Sennott are additionally among the many non-Jewish actors to have just lately performed Jewish roles.

In the podcast, the comic additionally talks about wider antisemitism in media, criticising how prevalent antisemitic tropes render folks “very righteously unsympathetic toward Jews”.

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