Michael Rogin's Blackface, White Noise: The Jewish Jazz Singer

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Michael Rogin, the author of the book “Blackface, White Noise: The Jewish Jazz Singer Finds His Voice” was a well-known critic who wrote books about race, culture, politics. In this book he attempts to figure out the deeper meaning of American minstrel shows and to shed light on the performance of Jewish performers as blackface in what he called “the Hollywood melting pot”. Moreover, he also draws our attention to the Jewish-Black conflict. The fundamental part of his analysis was from Neil Gabler, as Gabler argues “Jewish producers wishes to assimilate into an unchanging and monolithic American culture.” Built on this argument, Rogins wishes to discover how The Jazz Singer is seen as a film depicting how Jews strive to become a part of the…show more content…
“Jack Robin plays a person of color instead of being confused for one. By painting himself black, he washes himself white.”(Rogin,315) This statement reveals the importance of blackface in the film. By dressing up in blackface not only helps the main character maintain an identity, but also “triggers the first explicit articulation of Jakie’s Jewishness to Mary, his gentile girlfriend.”(William,149) It is clear that blackface promotes interracial marriage. In the film the shiksa figure-Mary would be the one Jack ought to marry and give birth to blonde babies, eventually fulfilling Jack’s conversion in to the white society. Nevertheless, this scene doesn’t really appear in the film, meaning this might just be an imaginary scene, which the film does not provide to support the assimilation argument. Instead of focusing on interracial marriage I would also contend that the major part of the film was a representation of a generational conflict. Rogin says that Jackie “adopts a black mask and kills his father”(Rogin, 419) The statement was used to support his assimilation argument, his idea was that assimilation equals abandoning Judaism. However, it is not accurate to say that Jackie abandoned his own culture. Despite the fact that he ran away from his parents to seek fame and success, before his performance he came back to his parents sharing the…show more content…
Assimilation is the process of adapting or adjusting to the culture of a group or nation, usually the minority group gets replaced by the dominant culture. Culture and communication theorist Richard Rogers distinguishes that notion of assimilation from integration, which “involves internalization of some or all the imposed culture without displacement or erasure of native culture and identity.”(Rogers, 481) In the film Jackie was never a hundred percent converted to the American culture, he did not totally abandon Judaism. Two effective demonstrations of this notion is the first the scene where he came back to his father’s synagogue and sing in his place, something he would have done years ago. The second scene, but also the last scene where he sings “ My Mammy”on Broadway stage to his mother seated in the audience is a demonstration of the success of assimilation but also the loss of achieving his goals. Jakie sings “Mammy I’m a-comin’, Oh God I hope I’m not late! / Mammy, look at me! Don’t you know me? I’m your little baby!” this can be seen as “the wailing call” of the over-assimilated Jew, “a son who has wandered too far” from home (PR, p. 154). Through the process we can’t absolutely disagree with the assimilation argument Rogin has made, it would be better to say that, along the journey of seeking his true identity Jackie was somewhat absorbing the new American culture, but

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