Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A little more on the Jewish American Princess

I was really intrigued by the presentation on Monday about modern Jewish stereotypes, particularly those of the Jewish American Princess in light of my pretty strong reaction against Crea.  I wanted to find out more, and did some searches in Google and on YouTube.  What I found was a consistently humorous portrayal of the JAP, one that mocked her and lampooned her stereotypical love of fancy bags, dislike for work or labor, and lack of enthusiasm for bedroom activities.  We saw the University of Michigan "Pursuit of Jappiness" rap in their presentation, but "JAP" related videos and jokes and humor articles are just about everywhere.  Very rarely did I see anyone be called out on these stereotypes-- in fact, maybe only once or twice.

What I found to be particularly disturbing about all these different videos on Youtube was that they were largely produced by younger kids.  Many JAP videos were made by college kids looking to get a laugh, groups of friends filming fake documentaries on JAPs, young comedians poking fun at JAP culture.  What distresses me about this is that the whole idea of the Jewish American Princess is focused around negative Jewish stereotypes-- that Jews are money-focused, materialistic, passionless, selfish.  The JAP stereotype that is serving now as a comedic gesture is perpetuating these stereotypes in a way that is appealing and enjoyable to the younger generations.  It's a spoiled rich girl-- what's not to mock?  The JAP is surprisingly easy comedic material, and shows in a variety of comedic forms.

The fact that the JAP is so prevalent in modern youth comedy presents a disturbing issue regarding covert racism and the perpetuation of racial stereotypes across generations.  I feel like this is the way people continue to have these sort of racial stereotypes-- they receive racial biasing information in a context in which it seems "okay" to make fun of these stereotypes, okay to laugh at them and mimic them themselves.  It was distressing to see how easily youth culture runs with an idea they think is good for a laugh, and how easily humor can mask underlying racism.

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