Hollywood has been accused of portraying Christianity with a jaundiced eye while sugarcoating Jews and Judaism.
However, “A Serious Man,” by Oscar winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen, satirizes many Jewish stereotypes and suggests Judaism is a fraud.
If this begins a trend toward honest self-examination, there is hope yet for the chosen people.
Set in Minneapolis in 1967, “A Serious Man” is an homage to the Coen’s Jewish upbringing. The protagonist is physics teacher Larry Gopnik, played by stage actor Michael Stuhlbarg who, like the Biblical Job, is beset by a multitude of difficulties.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he protests when Judith, his pouting wife, announces she is leaving him for Sy Ableman, Larry is a “serious man” – hard working, ethical and responsible. Why is God testing him?
Larry turns to a friend, Mimi for sympathy. “It’s not always easy, deciphering what God is trying to tell you,” she says. “We’re Jews, we have that well of tradition to draw on, to help understand. When we’re puzzled, we have all the stories that have been handed down from people to people.”
In fact, that well is dry. Gopnik visits rabbis who tells stories unrelated to his dilemma. One tells him to find “Ha Shem” (God, the “name”) everywhere, even in the parking lot. Another relates a story about a dentist who found Hebrew letters on a Gentile’s teeth. “What does this story mean?” Gopnik says. “I don’t know,” the rabbi replies.
Finally, Gopnik pleads for an audience with the revered Senior Rabbi Marshak. “He’s busy,” his battleship of a secretary tells Larry. “He doesn’t look busy,” says Larry.
“He’s thinking,” the secretary assures him.
After his Bar Mitzvah, Gopnik’s son Danny does get an audience with the fabled Marshak. Danny waits in eager anticipation for the wisdom that marks his induction into the Jewish fraternity.
Finally, the great rabbi opens his mouth and quotes The Jefferson Airplane’s song “Somebody to Love.” (1967)
When the truth is found to be lies
and all the joys within you dies
don’t you want somebody to love
don’t you need somebody to love
wouldn’t you love somebody to love
you better find somebody to love
Funny? Yes, but also true. This became the credo of our time. Jews were at the forefront of substituting romance and sex for religion. Perhaps it was born out of alienation from their own “religion.”
Joseph Sobran said that working for the National Review for 21 years was like listening in on a conversation between Jews. This observation doesn’t only apply to political discourse. Jews, often Illuminati Jews, oversee cultural discourse in general. They arrange the spectacles astride our noses and decide who will govern.
In “A Serious Man” we are privy to a conversation Jews are having about themselves. Finally, we are witnessing some honest self-criticism. As Village Voice critic, Ella Taylor wrote, “A Serious Man is crowded with fat Jews, aggressive Jews, passive-aggressive Jews, traitor Jews, loser Jews, shyster-Jews, emo-Jews, Jews who slurp their chicken soup, and–passing as sages–a clutch of yellow-teethed, know-nothing rabbis.”
Indeed, the Coen Brothers have done for Jews what Fellini did for Italians. I don’t think there is malice intended but rather a recognition of Jewish limitations in style, culture and religion, i.e. the stultifying parochialism, conformity, status seeking and meaningless observance.
The film also exposes the seeming contempt Jews have for non-Jews, the “goy.” Gutnik’s gentile American neighbors are hunters who come home with a bloody deer carcass strapped to the roof. There is a revealing scene where Gutnik is confronted at home by the father of a South Korean student he failed. The gentile neighbor comes to Gutnik’s defense. But Gutnik dismisses him preferring to dicker with the new immigrant.
Is this movie Jewish self-hate? I don’t think so. Jews recognize honest satire and find it refreshing. I sat beside a middle aged Jewish couple who roared with laughter. Ultimately Jews are the first victims of their own culture. Because of anti-Semitism, they have been deprived of the many benefits of genuine self-criticism.
“A Serious Man” is a major improvement from the Coen’s last two movies. “No Country for Old Men” and “Burn After Reading” were bleak, violent and nihilistic. It’s great to see these talented filmmakers examine a recognizable reality.
I don’t know why people have so much trouble with the concept of “God.” He is synonymous with our spiritual ideals: absolute truth, goodness, justice, peace, beauty and love. We have no choice but to believe and act in His name. Yes, bad things happen to good people like Larry Gutnick. But that’s not God’s fault. Usually, it’s our fault, other Godless people or an accident of nature. In fairness, more bad things happen to bad people.
The general defamation of God and religion has more to do with the Illuminati conspiracy than anything else.
The movie begins with a ten-minute fable in Yiddish (with English subtitles) set in a Jewish shtetl (village) in Russia. This fable alone is worth the price of admission. I don’t want to give the story away but it is about how evil creeps into the home, and how one must be clear minded and determined to ward it off.
Evil has crept into Judaism and the Jewish community, and via Freemasonry, the whole world.
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