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May 18, 1990 - Image 32

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-05-18

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Woody Allen: A "self-mocking, self-degrading Jew?"

At ‘Tikkun,' It's Open
Season On Woody Allen


Special to The Jewish News


nhaefarnat ion League
of Errui Frrith

Please join us for the final
lecture in the conference on


From Knowledge to Action

How to Impact the U.S. Political Process

Jess Hordes

Director, Anti-Defamation League, Washington, D.C., Office
Tuesday, May 22, 7:00 p.m.

Presented by: Michigan Regional Board
of the Anti-Defamation League

Supported by: The Jewish Community Council

All lectures held at United Hebrew Schools, 21550 W. 12 Mile Road

Lecture $3.00


FRIDAY, MAY 18, 1990

hat is this with
Tikkun, the bi-
monthly that prides
itself on slaying neo-
conservatives and reviving
Jews' liberalism? Two issues
in a row with page upon
page devoted to Woody
Allen? Yup, the guy's good
(and, Mia Farrow, the
mother of Woody's only
child, is dazzling), but how
about some attention to
other Jewish direc-
up comedians / clarinet
players who play at
Michael's Pub in New York
on Monday nights?
First came an article by
the Woodman himself
("Random Reflections of a
Second-Rate Mind,''
January-February issue).
Now, in the May-June issue,
come four columns of letters
knocking Woody, the man
and his films. And a five-
and-a-half page quasi-
scholarly treatise, "Notes
Toward the Depreciation of
Woody Allen," by Jonathan
Rosenbaum, film critic for
the Chicago Reader.
Among the unanimously
distraught comments from
• "The only thing defensi-
ble about Woody Allen's ar-
ticle . . . is the title."
• "[Woody] tells us that be-
ing Jewish has nothing to do
with why you don't like
yourself very much. Fine.

But, why, in every single
movie you've produced, in
which you appear, do
you portray yourself as a
self-mocking, self-degrading
Jew? You're lying to either
yourself or your audience to
say that your 'persuasion'
has nothing to do with it."
• "Woody Allen is
mystified as to why Tikkun,
a magazine devoted to Jew-
ish perspectives, should ex-
ist. For many of us, Judaism
and the Jewish community
are sources of inspiration
and wisdom that enrich our
And Rosenbaum says that
Woody's filmscripts, which
U.S. intellectuals often con-
sider "homages" to such fig-
ures as director Ingmar
Bergman, "reveal the sort of
aesthetic immaturity that a
beginning writer shows by
imitating, say, Hemingway
or Faulkner . . . Beyond a
certain point, there's a ques-
tion of whether this kind of
emulation is being used as a
toll for fresh discoveries or
as an expedient substitute
for such discoveries . . . "

"What we find in Allen's
movies, apart from a lively
stream of patter," concludes
critic Rosenbaum, "is
flattery to our egos as right-
thinking individuals and a
kind of soul-searching that
excludes any possibility of
social change — a provincial
narcissism that corresponds
precisely to our present
situation to the rest of the

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