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With the re-release of the movie "Finding Nemo" (2003), which made prominent use of Jewish actors, and the recent announcement of its sequel, "Finding Dory" (2015), it is perhaps timely to consider how animated films feature Jews and Jewishness. Little to nothing has been written about the representation of Jews in animated films. Yet these films, which generally feature anthropomorphic animals, very often make use of Jewish actors. The result, consciously or otherwise, is that they also often make use of Jewish stereotypes. This is particularly interesting given what film scholars call the "metamorphic condition": the fact that in animation literally anything can happen. The laws of physics – gravity, for example – can be flouted at any time, as can filmic conventions. Doors can bend, people can fly, liquids can turn into solids, solids back into liquids – all in the blink of an eye. Yet despite this "anything-is-possible" rule of animation, which allows for endless feats of creativity, the genre still sticks to age-old stereotypes of Jews. There are numerous examples of this, from the "An American Tail" films (1986-1999) to "Antz" (1998). But perhaps the best example is Dreamworks' "Madagascar" (2005), in which four zoo animals – Alex, a lion; Marty, a zebra; Melman Mankiewicz III, a giraffe; and Gloria, a hippopotamus – escape from Central Park Zoo, where they lead pampered lives, to see the world beyond the zoo. Continue reading.
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