October 19, 2007

"Gone Baby Gone"

Here's an excerpt from my review of "Gone Baby Gone" in the November 5, 2007 issue of The American Conservative:

With The Sopranos wrapped up, there's a general feeling that the Italian mafia has finally been exhausted as grist for movies and TV. What Hollywood needs now is a new favorite crime-prone immigrant group, of which there is no shortage of candidates.

Here in Los Angeles, the more dismal murders -- such as one teenager shooting another over graffiti-tagging rights to an alley -- are committed mostly by the usual suspects. In contrast, the colorful capers that Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers would find cool, the seemingly brilliant schemes that somehow go awry and end in a bloodbath, are perpetrated primarily by white newcomers from either the Middle East or the ex-Soviet Union: Armenians, Israelis, Persians, and the like.

Yet, Hollywood seems instead to be falling in love with an ethnic group that has been here even longer than the Italians: the Irish. Working class white Boston, where killings, while rare, frequently remain unsolved, has been the setting for the recent Oscar-winners "The Departed" and "Mystic River."

Now, failed leading man Ben Affleck (perhaps most notorious for bombing in "Pearl Harbor"), who won a screenwriting Oscar a decade ago with his best friend Matt Damon for their movie about a Boston prole, "Good Will Hunting," has returned to his roots. He has co-adapted and directed "Gone Baby Gone," a detective thriller by Mystic River novelist Dennis Lehane set in Boston's grimy Dorchester neighborhood.

Well, Dorchester is not exactly Ben's roots. He, personally, was born in Berkeley, California and was raised in Cambridge, which is just like Dorchester, if Dorchester were home to Harvard and MIT.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

30 comments:

John said...

A lot of these Israeli, Soviet, and Persian immigrants are Jewish. So I would guess that showcasing them in a bad light would lead to charges of anti-semitism.

Mexican, Central American, SE Asian (Vietnamese/Laotian/Cambodian), and black gangsters differ from Italian and Irish gangsters in many ways.

1.) Many whites are descended from Italians or Irish. So I would think they'd tend to be more interested in the exploits of their ancestors than those of other ethnic groups.
2.) Unlike the minority ethnics, the Italian and Irish gangsters have been able to build powerful organizations that reach to the highest levels of society. Sure they they dominate the street in their own respective hoods (Irish in Boston, Italians in the whiter parts of NYC, etc.), but they also have power within the influential business and political circles. So while much smaller in size, the white ethnic mafias carry more influence in society. Just compare Bernard Kerik to Tookie Williams.
3.) There's nothing all that intriguing about some not so bright kid from the ghetto that joins a gang and shoots people. It's a common story in a lot of urban areas. The Gottis and Gambinos are a way more interesting story.

Partly Inbred Editor of "Commentary" said...

I've been wanting to check this movie out since it has Ben's brother in it, who is a much better actor (albeit much shorter than big bro). So I look forward to reading your review before I blow my money on another potential stinker.

However, whenever I go to my local over priced bookstores, I can never find a copy of TAC. It's strange because they used to carry the magazine all the time.

Hell, maybe it's so darn popular that by the time I get there the magazine is sold out. Or at least that's what I want to believe...

Steve Sailer said...

A lot of times I don't tell you my opinion of the movie in the excerpt I post on my blog. Each review is 735 words long, and if you want to read the other 70% or so, you can subscribe to The American Conservative (which you should even if you don't).

After several months, I'll post the entire review on the blog, but not until it's out of the theatres.

SFG said...

Hell, maybe it's so darn popular that by the time I get there the magazine is sold out. Or at least that's what I want to believe...
Actually, I've been in Borders and Barnes and Noble in Boston and New York, and they usually carry TAC. I think a lot of liberals read it because it's conservative but against the war, so they can flatter themselves that they're reading an alternative viewpoint.

TAC also tends to be at least mildly anti-corporate, which also pleases the liberal heart, and tends to go swinging at Israel but avoid overt anti-Semitism, which is exactly the right balance to strike for American Jews a little queasy at the recent doings of the Israel lobby.

Pat Buchanan is a smart businessman, which is not considered a bad thing on the right.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: Yet, Hollywood seems instead to be falling in love with an ethnic group that has been here even longer than the Italians: the Irish.

You know, it's funny - right before I came over to iSteve and saw this blurb, I was commenting on Showtime's Brotherhood, over at Spengler's site [More Clinton illegal Chinese money problems].

Peter said...

john -

Could it be that movie people might be physically afraid of making movies that show black/Hispanic gangsters in a bad light? What's left of the Mafia is unlikely to put a "hit" out on a movie director.

Anonymous said...

SFG --

WHAT doings of the "Israeli Lobby?" Would that be Steven Spielberg or Noam Chomsky (Israel should not exist, Jews are only worthwhile as victims)?

If anything the ugliness of Pat Buchanon (modern inheritor of Father Coughlin) and the idiot Truthers/Paulnuts appeals to the Liberal mind, beset by conspiracy theories to explain reality that contradicts their beliefs. I.E. it was a Communist ideologue that killed JFK, and a bunch of Jihadis that flew planes into the WTC.

Which explains Hollywood's fascination with Irish-American gangsters. Because it allows exploration of ugly aspects of Irish-Americans (racism, drunken-ness, violence for the sake of violence) these pictures allow Hollywood's WASP Yuppies who graduated from the Ivies to feel VERY comfortable. As Sailer points out, Affleck is a WASP Yuppie himself. Upwardly mobile working-class/middle-class white guys are THE mortal threat to upper class WASPs so no wonder these types of movies get made (and guys like Charles Bronson will never be seen again).

What will be interesting is the Denzel Washington-Russell Crowe movie. Trailers appear to show Denzel as the upper-class, "smooth/powerful" guy and Crowe as the scruffy tough white guy.

THAT is shocking to me. Maybe Hollywood is terrified. They should be. There are far more working class/middle class white guys than upper class Hollywood types. Given their business model it's clear that the KINDS of movies Hollywood makes: Upper Class WASPS prove their superiority over working class white guys are financial disasters.

Please, Please writers. STRIKE.

-Evil Neocon.

Steve Sailer said...

My impression is that filmmakers have been dancing around the Tupac-Biggie rap murders for the last decade -- luridly interesting but too scary until everybody is sure the killers are behind bars.

In general, though, mobsters love mobster movies. They used to come hang out on the set of The Godfather, offering technical advice. In turn, gangsters pick up mannerisms from movie stars playing gangsters -- at least that was Raymond Chandler's opinion in the 1940s.

Bill said...

The appeal lies in the way it gives the average, cloistered, chicken-livered, upper-middle-class "progressive" a tough-guy role that they can fantasize themselves playing. I think cowboys used to fulfill that role (a lot of cowboys were Irish, actually, including a couple of my forebears in Nevada), but unfortunately they've been discredited by our president.

Irish are very "normal-looking" by white American standards, and so it's easy for most white guys, Irish or not, to relate to them.

This is the same reason, I believe, that Jews are so fond of Italian gangster shows. Many Jews and Italians are culturally and physically similar, which gives Jews who watch these shows the opportunity to imagine themselves as tough gangsters (usually far from reality).

One interesting thing, however, about Irish organized crime is how locked in to legitimate institutions it tends to be. Take Whitey Bulger for example: he had the FBI wrapped around his little finger for years. The clan-oriented patronage is there, but very much less so than with Mediterranean cultures, and it takes a back seat to institutional affiliations.

My dad did chores for Dave Beck when he was a kid, and half my family was in the Teamsters union (hardly uncommon in Seattle at the time), so I got a bit of an education concerning Irish-American organized crime. Essentially, it was about institutional abuses. Irish cops would be on the take, union bosses stole here and there, and certain businesses were given unfair advantages. The interesting thing is, though, that these guys still ran a pretty tight ship and did some arguably beneficial things. It wasn't purely predatory, and the viler activities, like pimping and heroin dealing, were shunned. I hate to say it, because I like Italians and have a couple in the family through marriage, but they handled that stuff.

As for the violence, even that was largely institutional. Union fights over contracts did get pretty rough at times, and the longshoremen ended up getting beat up a few times. They weren't as tough as they're made out to be, actually.

There are a lot of good movies to be made out of this material, but I'm afraid it doesn't fit into what people know as the typical gangster mold. The only Irish gangster I can think of who approaches that is Whitey Bulger, and he rose to power largely through the manipulation of the FBI to eliminate his enemies. Dave Beck, interestingly, got timid capitalists to back his vicious attacks on Harry Bridges' longshoremen by denouncing Communists.

Quite an intriguing guy, Beck was. He told my dad prison saved his life because it changed his health habits for the better. He lived to 99.

Fred said...

"So while much smaller in size, the white ethnic mafias carry more influence in society. Just compare Bernard Kerik to Tookie Williams."

Maybe not the best example. Bernie Kerik self-identifies as black.

"You know, it's funny - right before I came over to iSteve and saw this blurb, I was commenting on Showtime's Brotherhood, over at Spengler's site"

Brotherhood is a great show, but it's not just white-crime fantasy. Brotherhood also deals with corrupt local ethnic group politics (which The Sopranos dealt with only tangentially). That's where the real action is today. You can make more money in business legally (though for all intents-and-purposes corruptly) through local government connections for your business than by more cinematic stuff like trafficking in stolen goods, protection rackets, etc. In Brotherhood, they show both.

SFG said...

The appeal lies in the way it gives the average, cloistered, chicken-livered, upper-middle-class "progressive" a tough-guy role that they can fantasize themselves playing.
I'd agree with you except for the upper-middle-class progressive bit. I think men of all classes whose jobs don't involve physical labor or danger like to imagine they're tough guys. We evolved to hunt giraffes on the savanna, not push paper and tell the boss how much we like his tie.

I think cowboys used to fulfill that role (a lot of cowboys were Irish, actually, including a couple of my forebears in Nevada), but unfortunately they've been discredited by our president.
Cowboy movies were dead long before Bush. I think I read somewhere it got too expensive with the animal welfare requirements. Maybe I read it here...?

tggp said...

Hey, Lucius Vorenus, does Spengler read what you guys post there? I called Spengler on his bull here.

imperial lizard said...

Maybe not the best example. Bernie Kerik self-identifies as black.
Anyone can "self-identify" as anything. He doesn't look or sound black to me, do you have the results of a DNA test that verifies his blackness?

Fred said...

"This is the same reason, I believe, that Jews are so fond of Italian gangster shows."

Are you basing this on anything or just speculating? Do you have any evidence that Jews are more fond of Italian gangster shows than non-Jews, or that Jews prefer Italian gangster shows to non-Italian gangster shows? What constitutes your sample of gangster shows -- just The Sopranos, or are you thinking of others? The Sopranos was broadly popular because, at its best, it was arguably the best show on TV (IMO, Brotherhood is a better mob drama).

"Many Jews and Italians are culturally and physically similar, which gives Jews who watch these shows the opportunity to imagine themselves as tough gangsters (usually far from reality)."

If your Jews want to imagine themselves as tough gangsters, wouldn't it be easier to identify with real historical Jewish gangsters like Meyer Lansky or Dutch Schultz than with a fictional contemporary Italian one?

"Anyone can "self-identify" as anything. He doesn't look or sound black to me, do you have the results of a DNA test that verifies his blackness?"

That's sort of a stupid question for you to ask me, don't you think? It would be like me asking you if you have the results of a DNA test that verifies Kerik's Irishness. The man has said he's black. Given that, the one-drop rule in our society, and his ethnically ambiguous looks, who are you to say he's not?

Bill said...

Are you basing this on anything or just speculating? Do you have any evidence that Jews are more fond of Italian gangster shows than non-Jews, or that Jews prefer Italian gangster shows to non-Italian gangster shows? What constitutes your sample of gangster shows -- just The Sopranos, or are you thinking of others?

-fred


Maybe it's different back east, but gangster shows don't have such broad appeal over here -- except among Jews and Italians, and there really aren't that many of them here. Of course, I'm also speaking about my demographic. I don't know a single northern European white guy my age who regularly watched the Sopranos.

Also, every time I look at the credits of an Italian gangster movie or TV show (I often look at the credits), the producer is Jewish, which at first kind of surprised me, because I expected to see Italians. This is what gave me this idea. That and hearing Jewish TV personalities make frequent references to Italian mobster movies and shows.

But maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps Norwegian Americans identify more with Tony Soprano than Jews do and I just haven't noticed it.

Maybe I'm wrong about other assumptions as well. Perhaps Jews liked Lawrence Welk just as much as my Norwegian grandma and my wife's German oma, while here old prejudiced me thought Scandinavian and German ladies liked polka more than other people.

If your Jews want to imagine themselves as tough gangsters, wouldn't it be easier to identify with real historical Jewish gangsters like Meyer Lansky or Dutch Schultz than with a fictional contemporary Italian one?

Sure it would. However, for some reason Jewish producers seem to prefer airing shows about Italian mobsters. I wish someone would explain that one to me.

James Kabala said...

I never heard before that Bernie Kerik was part black. Is that true?

"Evil neocon": I don't know if the WASP/Catholic distinction really has much resonance in American society anymore. In particular, the automatic identification of "Catholic" with "working class" is rather passe. I don't know what Ben Affleck's own ethnic or religious background is; his surname does sound English, but the mere fact that he grew up well-off in Cambridge is certainly not proof that he is not an Irish Catholic. (And he does have a brother named Casey.)

Brotherhood is actually a good example of the new fascination with the Irish. In real-life Providence the mob was always Italian and in fact Providence, not Boston, was regarded as the headquarters of the Italian mob for all of New England, since Boston was the headquarters of the Irish mob. (I have yet to see The Departed but understand that it portrays this relationship rather accurately.) Brotherhood, which was supposedly inspired in part by the Bulger brothers of Boston, is really a Boston story transplanted to Providence. It even has a fictional Irish neighborhood called "The Hill" in place of the real Italian neighborhood Federal Hill.

James Kabala said...

Bill: Although I have known Jews (and more often WASPs) named Chase, David Chase of Sopranos fame is actually an Italian-American born David DeCesare. I don't know enough about the rest of the creative team behind The Sopranos or the creators of other mob shows to know if they are commonly Jewish. I don't have any dog in this fight, but even if such people are disproportionately Jewish, that's probably true of Hollywood figures behind all types of shows.

Bill said...

I don't know if the WASP/Catholic distinction really has much resonance in American society anymore.

-James Kabala


I don't think it does. Not over here anyway.

As far as I can tell, WASPs are on the brink of extinction. My family was Catholic on one side, Episcopalian on the other, and now I think only one family member still attends the Episcopalian church, which has apparently become a militant homosexual sect.

Every time I hear someone appealing to Catholics on the basis of "discrimination" I wonder what world they're living in. Almost none of these people doing so are Catholic, and it's actually kind of offensive to Catholics to have some of these types speak for us.

WASPs are a bogeyman kind of like Nazis; they're history, and don't have any power to speak of anymore. Many Americans had some in the family, but if you dig deep enough you'll find that the ancestors didn't generally come to America playing polo and attending services in an immaculate Anglican church. Rather, they started out as poor farmers, smiths, miners or what have you and when one made some money they joined "establishment" institutions that we see as "WASP".

If you want to take the acronym literally, I suspect you'd have to look around old family farms in backwoods New England to find people who are relatively pure White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. And I kind of doubt you'd find those folks on the polo grounds.

Bill said...

I don't have any dog in this fight, but even if such people are disproportionately Jewish, that's probably true of Hollywood figures behind all types of shows.

-James Kabala


I don't really have a dog in the fight either, but it just seemed obvious to me that Jews liked Italian mob flicks.

Really, maybe I'm wrong, but I assumed they identified with the characters. Seems the idea is offensive to some people, however.

I also see cultural (although not so much physical) similarities between southern Chinese and Italians and Jews. The clan orientation, mercantile tendency, etc. Southern Chinese adore gangster movies. Go figure.

So what is a particularly northern European genre? Fantasy movies, I'd say. Elves, fairies, dragons, knights and princesses and all that. The love for this kind of stuff seems almost instinctive for many northerners. Interestingly, the Japanese are hooked on it, too. I'll bet a lot of Mediterranean people think that's a bunch of silliness and a waste of time.

Fred said...

"Maybe it's different back east, but gangster shows don't have such broad appeal over here."

The Sopranos often had record viewers nationally for a premium cable show. Hard to believe that was all the work of Jews.

"Also, every time I look at the credits of an Italian gangster movie or TV show (I often look at the credits), the producer is Jewish, which at first kind of surprised me, because I expected to see Italians."

You still haven't said which Italian gangster shows/movies you are referring to. You may have noticed that Jews are fairly prominent in film and TV, so it's likely you'll see Jews as producers in lots of shows and movies. Are you suggesting that Jews are more heavily represented as producers of Italian gangster dramas than other shows? If so, based on what? The creator and lead executive producer of The Sopranos was an Italian, David Chase. Were you assuming he was Jewish? I'm drawing a blank on the names of other Italian gangster TV shows, but perhaps you can help me out and we can see if your theory holds up.

"Maybe I'm wrong about other assumptions as well."

Whether you are or not has no relevance to your assumption about Jews and Italian gangster dramas.

"However, for some reason Jewish producers seem to prefer airing shows about Italian mobsters. I wish someone would explain that one to me."

I'd imagine Jewish producers, like other producers, prefer airing shows they think people will watch. Producing shows that people will watch is how you succeed in TV.

I still can't think of the names of any other non-Sopranos Italian gangster TV shows (I vaguely remember a short-lived one, but not its name). I can't think of any TV series about Jewish gangsters but I can think of two movies about them, Billy Bathgate (about Dutch Schultz) and Bugsy (about Bugsy Seigel). From a quick check of IMDB, neither of the two producers listed on Billy Bathgate appears to be Jewish and two of the four listed on Bugsy are Jewish. Jewish actors played the head gangsters in each movie (Dustin Hoffman as Dutch Schultz and Warren Beatty as Bugsy Siegel).

David said...

Oh, c'mon. Jews - and quite a few Gentiles - LOVE gangster movies, mob shows, contract killing plots, Vegas casino atmospherics, that whole thing. The "mob genre" has as much Jewish blood in its veins as the American comic book does, i.e., a lot.

Nothing makes Terry Gross more perky than interviewing someone who was above on the line on "The Sopranos," "Goodfellas," "The Godfather," et al.

From Edward G. Robinson to Al Pacino and more, which major mob roles (fictional) have NOT been filled by Jews? Brando played the Godfather. But not many of these actors were Gentiles.

Puzo was a Jew. In real life, Italians at first hated "The Godfather." Remember that Italian-American anti-defamation group (no joke, it was a real group)? Back in the swingin' 70s, this group registered complaints against the depiction of fellow IAs as gangsters.

Later, many Italians came around (reluctantly) to mob fiction. Jews were there all the time.

An interesting theme in mob fiction is the duality of "the boss" and "the underling." The underling is a thug and none too bright. ("Duh...okay, boss.") He is usually the most Italian-like. The boss, by contrast, is a diminutive fellow with a big brain or big plan. He's more Jewish. In real life, the organizers and "bosses" of many mobs were Jews (Meyer Lansky being the epitome); it was the so-called "dumb Italians" whose balls were battered by Bobby Kennedy, who routinely took the heat and the bad press, and who were otherwise along for the ride for better or worse. Gotti didn't go to Israel.

Fred said...

"From Edward G. Robinson to Al Pacino and more, which major mob roles (fictional) have NOT been filled by Jews? Brando played the Godfather. But not many of these actors were Gentiles."

Al Pacino is a Jew?

"Puzo was a Jew."

Mario Puzo too?

Bill said...

You still haven't said which Italian gangster shows/movies you are referring to. You may have noticed that Jews are fairly prominent in film and TV, so it's likely you'll see Jews as producers in lots of shows and movies. Are you suggesting that Jews are more heavily represented as producers of Italian gangster dramas than other shows? If so, based on what?

-fred


Yes, I think they are more prominent in Italian gangster shows.

Based on this:

When there is a show about a specific ethnic group, such as, say, Vietnamese, the proportion of Jews to Vietnamese involved in the production is always lower than the proportion of Jews to Italians in an Italian gangster show.

You want an example?

Last mob movie I saw was "Goodfellas", produced by Irwin Winkler. David already mentioned some others, and he (and probably almost everyone else here) seems to know more about movies than I do. Admittedly, I never watched many movies as a kid. I just read old books and fooled around with computers in my spare time.

But it seems that there is a sort of symbiotic relationship between Italians and Jews in this gangster genre, which is why it kind of confuses me that you appear to be taking offense to this notion. Perhaps it was because I said that the tough guy image is far from the reality of the typical Jewish guy? Well didn't I say the same about other Americans who want to identify with Irish gangsters? In fact, it makes a lot of sense that people would find shows that allow them to imagine themselves in the physical character of a powerful, potent subject enjoyable.

Steve Sailer said...

Jews are also heavily involved in making Christmas movies like "Elf."

That said, the replacement of cowboy movies by urban crime movies in recent decades as the default genre does have an ethnic angle, although the heavily Italian generation that emerged in the movie business around 1970 was the main creative force. For example, the Great White Whale of Martin Scorsese's otherwise highly productive career was his "Gangs of New York," which obsessed him for years with unfortunate effects. I would guess that he was trying to push his East Coast city gangster genre as far back into the past as possible to provide some credence to his feeling that "America Was Born in the Streets," as the advertising slogan for "Gangs" read. Most 20th Century Americans had assumed "America Was Born on the Frontier," which had helped give cowboy movies their particular resonance.

green mamba said...

A few notes in the interest of accuracy:

1) Neither Al Pacino nor Mario Puzo are Jews.

2) Warren Beatty is not Jewish (!).

3) "Goodfellas", while produced by Irwin Winkler, was written by Nicholas Pileggi (based on his book) and directed by Martin Scorcese, both Italian-Americans.

A similar constellation was present for "The Godfather". The producer, Robert Evans, was Jewish, but the artistic forces behind it - Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo - were not. They were Italian-Americans.

As has already been noted, Jewish producers are extremely common for movies of all types.

Otherwise, I don't really object to Bill's contention that Jews tend to identify with Italian gangster characters, and I think Northern Europeans being attracted to the Fantasy genre is an interesting complementary example.

James Kabala said...

I'm pretty sure Al Pacino is not Jewish. I never heard that Mario Puzo was either, although he did graduate from CCNY, which was overwhelmingly Jewish at the time (but not entirely - Daniel Patrick Moynihan went there). If they are Jewish, they must have been Italian Jews, a group that I didn't think had much representation in the U.S. James Caan is Jewish, however. Marlon Brando is neither Italian nor Jewish, but French (original surname Brandeau).

On a somewhat related note, we still have no citation for the claim that Bernard Kerik is part black.

Fred said...

Bill,

I'm not offended, but when someone makes blanket statements, as you did, I'm often curious about what evidence these statements are based on. In your case, it appears that you've based your theory about a special Jewish affinity for Italian mob dramas on Irwin Winkler being the producer of the last mob movie you saw, 17 years ago. As additional support for your claim, you offer the comments by David, who thinks Mario Puzo and Al Pacino are Jewish. Forgive me if I remain unconvinced.

"An interesting theme in mob fiction is the duality of "the boss" and "the underling." The underling is a thug and none too bright. ("Duh...okay, boss.") He is usually the most Italian-like. The boss, by contrast, is a diminutive fellow with a big brain or big plan. He's more Jewish."

I don't claim to be an expert in mob fiction, but from what I have seen, this doesn't sound right. Take The Godfather, for example. Michael, played by Al Pacino, is arguably the most "Italian-like" among the sons and also the smartest. Sonny, played by a Jewish actor, James Caan, is the impulsive hothead.

Or take the Sopranos, where the head of the family, Tony Soprano, doesn't fit your description, and neither do most of his underlings. The two cases that come to mind where Italian mobsters are portrayed as less-than-bright are in The Departed (the thugs Leonardo DiCaprio beats up) and, to a lesser extent, Brotherhood, although the head Italian mobster in that show appears to be at least as smart and competent as the head Irish mobster, though both have stupid underlings -- Moe on the Irish side and Baby Frankie on the Italian side.

James Kabala,

I watched Bernard Kerik talk about being black (among other things) in a TV interview when he was promoting his autobiography after 9/11. After a quick search of Google video, I wasn't able to find a video of that interview, which was broadcast on Fox News, if memory serves.

Bill said...

Bill,

I'm not offended, but when someone makes blanket statements, as you did, I'm often curious about what evidence these statements are based on. In your case, it appears that you've based your theory about a special Jewish affinity for Italian mob dramas on Irwin Winkler being the producer of the last mob movie you saw, 17 years ago.

-Fred


Actually, I saw Goodfellas on cable just a week or so ago. That's why I brought it up.

Anyway, I'm glad to know that you aren't offended, and to be honest with you this is just one of those stereotypes that formed in my head from impressions garnered from Jews I've known personally and seen on TV.

Also, I can't help but conflate Jews and Italians to an extent, because a lot of them do look similar to me, and when I meet a Mediterranean-looking person from the East Coast with a Jersey accent I often can't tell which one of the two ethnic groups they might be until I hear their surname.

Here's a funny Jewish blog post about an Italian guy who said he was Jewish to get a job at a Jewish magazine, and evidently pulled it off (he calls himself "Not Chosen, Just Posin'):

Jews Love: Italians?

I'm sure southerners think we northerners are all pretty similar -- I've been assumed to be German by plenty of Jews, but I don't have a drop of continental blood in me as far as I know.

Fred said...

"Also, I can't help but conflate Jews and Italians to an extent, because a lot of them do look similar to me, and when I meet a Mediterranean-looking person from the East Coast with a Jersey accent I often can't tell which one of the two ethnic groups they might be until I hear their surname."

Mediterranean-looking Jews and Italians often do look alike -- in a previous job, I called on a client in my hometown for a couple of years and always assumed he was Italian (he had a last name that didn't give a clue either way). I was completely surprised when he told me he was a Jew. But a lot of us Jews around here aren't Mediterranean-looking -- a lot of us, particularly those of us with Polish ancestry -- have fairer complexions. A lot of Northern Italians aren't Mediterranean-looking either, but our local Italians are nearly all of Southern ancestry.

Interesting blog post, which gives me an idea of where you were coming from. Bear in mind though, that in an area with lots of Jews, like this one, not every Jew is a white collar professional. So a Jewish woman looking for a "stronger personality" than your typical Jewish accountant's can date a Jewish cop or firefighter if she wants.

Ellie said...

Is Hollywood falling in love with the Boston Irish or good stories? Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone were great books.