Here’s why we need to cancel Dirty Dancing
It’s an anti-semitic film about how a girl needs to be liberated from the shackles of middle-class Judaism by a sexually skillful salsa-dancing sheygetz.
The other night I decided to stream Dirty Dancing. Not that Havana Nights sequel nonsense. (And don’t even get me started on the Footloose reboot.) No, I went back in time to 1987’s version of 1963 to watch Frances “Baby” Houseman gyrate with Pachanga-loathing bad boy Johnny Castle. And whoa, I was shocked by what I found there. No, I’m not talking about the inappropriate age difference between the leads or that Baby’s mom, played by Kelly Bishop, was also the mom on Gilmore Girls.
What truly shocked me rewatching the film decades later: Dirty Dancing is anti-semitic. Like Riefenstahl-esque! Sure, the film appears to be a feelgood musical filled with sexy dance numbers, but dig beneath the surface and you’ll see the truth: It’s about how a Jewish girl at a Catskills resort needs to be liberated from the shackles of middle-class Judaism by a sexually skillful salsa-dancing sheygetz. Scandalous!
The film’s biggest villain is named Robbie Gould and he’s a classic archetype: a Jew about to become a doctor (played by actor Max Cantor). He cheats on Baby’s sister, knocks up Penny, and is so cheap he won’t even pay for the abortion, explaining, “I didn’t blow a summer hauling toasted bagels just to bail out some little chick who probably balled every guy in the place.” Yes, he really says hauling toasted bagels. Oy. Guess we’re lucky there isn’t a scene where he’s slurping matzah ball soup while complaining about the humidity and building a space laser.
Baby recoils at Robbie’s schtick, breaks from her tribe, and winds up hanging with the goy dance crew and banging Johnny Castle. (A man with the same initials as Jesus Christ. #foreshadowing) Baby’s father — also a Jewish doctor — tries to stop her from hanging out with “those people,” but by then Johnny is already on his way to converting Baby.
Johnny makes it clear his house of worship is different than hers: “Look, spaghetti arms. This is my dance space. This is your dance space. I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine.” But she’s already ensnared and says, “I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.” So Johnny brings Baby to the lake to baptizer her/“practice the lift.”
The whole film is basically Johnny telling her, “Accept me as your savior, go the Christian way.” Meanwhile, Baby’s father, Dr. Jake Houseman, keeps telling her not to do it and to stay with her tribe. That’s the struggle throughout the movie.
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Then, Johnny (just like another JC) is falsely accused of a crime, crucified for it, and left for dead (ok, exiled). But just when we think he’s gone for good, Johnny somehow COMES BACK FROM THE DEAD and declares, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” He’s on a CRUSADE. She must be converted. And that’s when he calls her Frances for the first time, a sign she’s being born again. She abandons her family and decides to put her faith in Jesu– Johnny and, in the big finale, they do THE LIFT which is her taking the shape of the cross and CONVERTING to Christianity.
Outrageous! I hereby decree we must cancel Dirty Dancing. Nobody puts the Jews in the corner! (Well, except a few Pharaohs, Hitler, and, actually, a lot of people have put us in a corner — but we’ve persevered and that’s what matters.) I’m calling the ADL and encouraging them to call out this film as hateful and offensive propaganda. My people have suffered enough. As Jews, we ALL carried a watermelon!