It is the 2020s. Somebody, somewhere is offended by absolutely everything. Our mere existence, as Outposters, and having somewhere to come together and argue about movies like Last Movie Outpost, genuinely drives some people crazy. You should read some of the feedback we get from the more “fragile” members of society. Luckily for us, you can’t cancel that which really does not give a shit! Now it is the turn of Netflix to feel the wrath of the censorious, because of Maestro.
Yesterday, we shared the trailer for the new Netflix biopic. Maestro is both directed by and stars Bradley Cooper, with the actor playing the role of legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein.
Bernstein, the son of Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants to the US, wrote the music for West Side Story, composed three symphonies, and would become director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. All of these great story opportunities have been overshadowed, in the eyes of the criticals, by a rather large nose.
In the trailer, non-Jewish actor Cooper wears a prosthetic nose to play the role of Bernstein. So, of course, he has been accused of wearing “Jew-face” and racial stereotyping. The internet has done its thing, offence archaeologists have started excavating, and the usual crowd is whipping themselves and each other up into hysterics. Author Ben M Freeman wrote:
“Bradley Cooper should not be playing Leonard Bernstein. He should not be wearing a prosthetic nose.”
Joel Swanson went on a tirade via X – formerly known as Twitter – and said:
“This isn’t about making a non-Jewish actor look more like Leonard Bernstein; it’s about making a non-Jewish actor look more like a Jewish stereotype.”
Writing for The Independent, never a bastion of common sense at the best of times, Noah Berlatsky criticized Cooper’s decision and said that using prosthetics:
“…effectively turns Jewish people into their physical characteristics. It makes us caricatures. A biopic of a celebrated, talented Jewish artist shouldn’t encourage these kinds of antisemitic stereotypes,” he said. “But Cooper appears, unfortunately, to have gotten stuck on those stereotypes himself. Asked to portray a complicated musician, composer and human being, Cooper couldn’t see past Bernstein’s nose. That doesn’t bode well for the quality of the biopic. And it’s not great for Jewish people either.”
The criticism has reached such a level that Bernstein’s own children have stepped in to defend Cooper: They have issued a lengthy statement on social media, praising Cooper and how he included them in the process. Jamie, Alexander, and Nina Bernstein said in their statement:
“It breaks our hearts, to see any misrepresentations or misunderstandings of his efforts. It happens to be true that Leonard Bernstein had a nice, big nose. Bradley chose to use makeup to amplify his resemblance, and we’re perfectly fine with that.”
The Bernsteins claim their father would have had no issue with the prosthetics, and refer to the complaints as:
“disingenuous attempts to bring a successful person down a notch – a practice we observed all too often perpetrated on our own father.”
Has this becalmed the usual idiots? Of course not. But if we genuinely cared what they thought, instead of pointing and laughing at them, we would hang out at The Mary Sue. Maestro is will premiere at the Venice Film Festival and then hit select theaters on November 22nd before arriving on Netflix on December 20th.
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