The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #140865   Message #3242851
Posted By: Kent Davis
22-Oct-11 - 12:08 AM
Thread Name: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?
Subject: RE: BS: Racial stereotypes in retellings?

You began this discussion by asking "Does anyone here believe that a character created as a racial, ethnic, or religious stereotype can be depicted in a reworking of a story, emphasising religious or racial aspects, without reinforcing a stereotype? "

I first became acquainted with the character Fagin through the 1968 movie "Oliver!" That was 43 years ago, so perhaps my memory is foggy, but I don't recall that it depicted Fagin as a stereotypical Jew. About a year ago, I saw a live version of the musical (very, very far off Broadway). That version did not suggest that Fagin was a Jew, let alone a stereotypical Jew.

I have not read the book. It never crossed my mind that the character Fagin had any Jewish characteristics, either real or stereotypical. So, to answer half of your question: Yes, an originally stereotypical character can be depicted in a re-working of a story without reinforcing the stereotype.

I am puzzled as to how the rest of your question relates to Fagin. You asked if such a character could be depicted without reinforcing stereotypes, while also emphasing religious or racial aspects. Fagin may be Jewish but, if he is, he is only so by ethnicity. Since he is a thief, he couldn't possibly be religiously a Jew.

I am taking your word for it that the Dickens character was originally stereotypical. As a criminal from the slums, Fagin certainly does not match any stereotype of Jews that I have ever encountered.