I just got back from seeing “Baaadasss,” Mario Van Peeble’s film about his father Melvin’s struggle to make the breakthrough indie flick “Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song.” It’s a good movie, and a lot of time is spent telling us that Melvin’s movie was a reaction to the terrible, stereotypical roles for blacks in Hollywood… roles that didn’t reflect the black race, the black culture, or the way blacks were being treated in mainstream society.
No argument there. But apparently, as long as you’re breaking down one stereotype, it’ s okay to perpetuate another. The portrayal of the Jewish characters was about as one-dimensional, unflattering, and stereotypical as you can get: hawk-nosed, crass, money-grubbing… well, you get the picture. The depiction of Jews was about as dated, and racist, as the shuck-and-jive Negro.
I admire both Mario and Melvin, and I enjoyed the movie… but I don’t understand how people so sensitive to stereotyping could be so blind when it applies to others.