The art of film is no stranger to controversy, especially in the digital age where social media acts as a judge and jury. With the release of the trailer for the much-anticipated Leonard Bernstein biopic, Maestro, starring Bradley Cooper, the storm has once again been stirred.
Bradley Cooper’s Prosthetic Nose Sparks Controversy in “Maestro”
The focus of the discussion is not Cooper’s portrayal as Bernstein but rather a prosthetic nose that many claim does not resonate with Bernstein’s actual physical appearance.
Non-Jewish Actor Playing a Jewish Role
The criticism does not stop at the prosthetic but dives deeper into the casting decision of a non-Jewish actor playing a Jewish role.
The Debate Ignites
It brings back the age-old debate of “Jewface” in Hollywood – the act of non-Jewish actors not only playing Jewish characters but doing so with exaggerated and often stereotypical characteristics.
Hollywood’s Ongoing Struggle With Representation
Images from the set in 2022 highlighted the significant prosthetic nose Cooper wore, triggering a debate even before the trailer was out.
Digital Backlash Grows
Now, with the preview available, the digital chorus has grown louder. “It seems completely unnecessary… the real Leonard Bernstein did not have the funny nose that Bradley Cooper is wearing in Maestro,” one user pointed out, adding fuel to the fire.
The Debate Over Casting a Jewish Actor
While the controversy centers around Cooper, it also brings to the forefront the missed opportunity to cast a Jewish actor for such a significant role.
Jake Gyllenhaal, a Jewish actor, was in contention for a separate Bernstein biopic but lost the rights race against the heavyweights backing Maestro, namely Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
Voices in the Debate
One user aptly pointed out, “I still would have preferred they at least give Jewish actors a chance to audition before automatically casting someone more famous.”
Parallel to Blackface?
Drawing parallels with another race issue, a user stated, “Bradley Cooper wearing a prosthetic nose to play Leonard Bernstein is the equivalent of Blackface.”
Previous Cases and Current Concerns
Hollywood has wrestled with the “Jewface” debate in recent years. Felicity Jones, a non-Jewish actress, faced backlash for playing the iconic Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ‘On the Basis of Sex’.
Additionally, the decision to cast Kathryn Hahn, another non-Jewish actress, as Joan Rivers stirred up debate in 2021, although the project was shelved due to licensing issues.
Sarah Silverman’s Stance on ‘Jewface’ in Cinema
One prominent voice in this debate is comedian Sarah Silverman. Interestingly, Silverman plays Shirley Bernstein in Maestro.
In her podcast in 2021, she underscored the recurring issue of non-Jews portraying classic Jewish roles, coining the term “Jewface” for it. The controversy around Bradley Cooper’s Maestro only intensifies her argument.
Silverman’s sentiments mirror that of many in the community and industry. The question she asks is, “In a time when the importance of representation is seen as so essential and so front and center, why does ours constantly get breached even today in the thick of it?”
Promise of Depth Amidst Controversy
Despite the controversy, Maestro promises an in-depth look into the life of the iconic Leonard Bernstein and his relationship with his wife, Felicia Montealegre, played by Carey Mulligan.
Carey Mulligan Shines
Mulligan, known for her commitment to roles, has already been garnering praise for her portrayal, with one user emphasizing, “Carey Mulligan on the other hand COMMITS to her period pieces. That voice. She’s so lovely.”
Cinema’s Larger Debate
As Maestro prepares for its dual release in theaters and on Netflix, this December 20, the discourse surrounding it underscores a larger debate on representation in cinema.
Will the film be proof of art exceeding cultural boundaries, or will it serve as a cautionary tale on the issues of representation in cinema?
Art vs. Cultural Boundaries
It remains to be seen if the film can rise above the controversy and strike the right chord with audiences. But one thing is clear: Hollywood’s representation debate is far from over.
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The post Bradley Cooper’s ‘Jewface’ Controversy: ‘Maestro’ Film Sparks Outrage Over Prosthetic Nose first appeared on Mama Say What?!
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Source: Daily Mail