John Nathan

Here we go again…

Yes another Jewish power player in Hollywood has been accused of being a bully. But,says John Nathan, the likes of Scott Rudin are not alone


BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 22: Producer Scott Rudin accepts the 2011 David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures onstage during the 22nd Annual Producers Guild Awards at The Beverly Hilton hotel on January 22, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Producers Guild)

April 22, 2021 11:31

When film and theatre producer Scott Rudin, 62 was outed this week for bad behaviour, it was quickly noted that his alleged transgressions were at least not sexual like those committed by Harvey Weinstein who is in jail for his. The accounts of Rudin’s serial outbursts which were revealed in the Hollywood Reporter this week at first make almost entertaining reading, if you are not one of the alleged victims.

People who worked for the producer, who has won 17 Tony awards for his stage shows and 151 Oscar nominations for his movies, among them No Country for Old Men and The Social Network, allege they were terrorised daily.

It is said Rudin’s spittle would land on the face of those he humiliated in front of colleagues and that an employee’s hand needed emergency treatment when Rudin slammed a computer monitor onto it for failing to reserve a seat on a fully booked flight. The litany includes allegations of threats and thrown objects but more considered abuses too such as the spiteful erasing of credits on imdb, the film website, in order to damage the careers of those who incurred Rudin’s displeasure.

Similar behaviour was identified by the playwright, screen writer and film director, David Mamet in his book Bambi vs Godzilla. In his essay Jews In Show Business, Mamet memorably muses on the bad behaviour of producers. At least much more memorably than he did in his play Bitter Wheat, the London world premiere of which starred John Malkovich in a fat suit as a Harvey Weinstein-like sexual predator.

But in the essay the Mamet riffs on his theory about Jews in movies by offering a provocative contention based on “Asperger’s syndrome”, a term which since the dramatist’s essay was published in 2007 has been replaced by the term High Functioning Autism. Mamet’s thesis is that the condition “has its highest prevalence among Ashkenazi Jews and their descendants” and the symptoms of the phenomenon are also qualities associated with great movie makers such as an “early precocity, a great ability to maintain masses of information, a lack of ability to mix with groups in age-appropriate ways” and “an ignorance of or indifference to social norms…it is not impossible that Asperger’s helped make the movies.”

Of course, autistic people are more likely to be victims of bullying than be bullies themselves. And, Mamet allows, you don’t have to be Ashkenazi to succeed in the movies. And nor, we can add, do you need to be Ashkenazi to be a bully. After all ,some of the claims of harassment and intimidation directed at New York governor Andrew Cuomo are similar to some of those in the Weinstein and Rudin catalogue, and Cuomo is from Italian stock. And of course, our own body politic is strewn with accusations of bullying, most recently directed at Priti Patel.

All of which amounts to the bleedin’ obvious truth that you not only don’t have to be Ashkenazi to be an abusive megalomaniac, you don’t have to be Jewish either.

It is a point perhaps worth making before anyone notices Weinstein and Rudin’s common heritage and concludes as Louis Farrakhan did that it is “false Jews [who] promote the filth of Hollywood”.

April 22, 2021 11:31

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