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New York’s jazz clubs improvise to the strains of Omicron | Culture

The walls of the Village Vanguard, surely the most famous jazz club in the world, have heard many things in their 87 years (the club’s birthday was last Tuesday). But until now, they probably hadn’t heard a star pianist making reference to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Sunday after a snowstorm, Vijay Iyer, the head of his jazz trio, told the audience: “My sister works for the CDC. That’s why I’m suggesting you don’t take off your mask during the concert. We will play masked. Let’s all take care of each other.” Iyer and the double bass player Linda May Han Oh were double masked. Percussionist Tyshawn Sorey’s mask broke in the middle of one of his volcanic solos. During the intermission, Iyer crossed the room looking for Sorey, who was seated at the back, to hand him a replacement.

The door of the Village Vanguard club at the start of the snowstorm that hit New York on January 28.
The door of the Village Vanguard club at the start of the snowstorm that hit New York on January 28.Alexi Rosenfeld (Getty Images)

This is the everyday life of the world’s jazz capital in the time of Omicron, which has once again set back the return of New York’s experimental musical scene. Before the pandemic, it would have been difficult to get tickets for a band of this caliber at the Village Vanguard, which seats only 120 people. One of the waiters explained that the return had been difficult, “more than anything due to the lack of foreign tourists.” Seated at a table, Tom and Bert, two local fans in their sixties, said that it was their first time back at the mythic location “since this nightmare began.”

At another table, the pianist Marta Sánchez, of Madrid, who has lived in New York for more than a decade, seemed more optimistic. She kept going during lockdown thanks to the classes she gave on Zoom as a professor in a Brooklyn conservatory, and to “help from music associations.” She is now being signed up to perform again, and weekly concerts are becoming the norm. She has two on her books, at the Barbès and at the Bayeux, both on the other side of the river.

“The pandemic has demonstrated the enormous resilience of the players and of the clubs,” Nate Chinen, the author of Playing Changes (Alpha Decay), a book about jazz in the 21st century, said in a phone conversation from Philadelphia. Chinen, who was a critic for The New York Times and now works for the specialized radio station WBGO, believes that the pandemic has been “a productive time for musicians,” during which they have at least had time to work on new material, which will now see the light of day. He gave the example of Immanuel Wilkins, the promising young saxophonist. At 24, he’s already released two albums with the influential label Blue Note, but “he still hasn’t done his own tour,” a project he’s embarking on now.

That Sunday in New York, Sorey, one of the most interesting contemporary composers, confirmed Chinen’s suspicions, and explained that he had taken advantage of the downtime “to compose more than ever.” This week, the fruit of that concentration debuted in Houston with a piece which, inspired by Morton Feldman, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of Mark Rothko’s chapel.

A few blocks from the Village Vanguard is the Smalls, which is run by pianist Spike Wilner, who’s also the manager of the Mezzrow. These two clubs are as exciting as they are intimate. Before sitting down to his instrument to offer a recital of standards arranged for a trio, Wilner recalled that in November, around Thanksgiving, business was once more at its peak. “People were relaxed,” he said. “We made money just as in other times. We thought that at last we were being compensated for having been able to withstand such a difficult time, the biggest threat we’ve lived through until now. Omicron arrived and people who were already vaccinated, and even those with a booster shot, began to get sick. We all got it. Omicron stopped us once again, and anxiety returned to the streets.” It also carried away the Christmas season. “Those are crucial weeks,” according to Wilner. “It’s when you harvest what you’ve sowed during the rest of the year. The concerts fill up, the streets are full of tourists, the whole world drinks without stopping…”

The empty stage at the Smalls club in New York.
The empty stage at the Smalls club in New York.

The odyssey of his clubs exemplifies what the scene has suffered already these past two years. They closed a few days before lockdown. And they were wrong when they thought the wait wouldn’t be too long. Programs restarted last April, with a third of audience capacity. In September, they could host at half capacity. Finally, permission arrived for full occupancy, which they haven’t taken advantage of yet: a maximum of 56 people fit in the Smalls and 40 in the Mezzrow (before, they fit 70 and 65, respectively) and one can only buy tickets on the internet, which has “taken away a certain excitement from the thing.” Both used to be the kind of tumultuous joints where one entered just by walking through the door. During the pandemic they survived by programming a daily livestreamed concert as a way to “spur donations, which arrived from all around the world.”

The Smoke, in northern Manhattan, reopened before Wilner’s clubs because they had an idea: they mounted what Paul Stache, the owner, calls “mini greenhouses.” Bands would play inside the club with all the doors and windows open. “It wasn’t the ideal musical format or sound, but people wanted it so much that it didn’t matter. So much so that sometimes it created a traffic jam in the street.” The experience that they acquired during the pandemic, when they began livstreaming on the internet, is helping to keep the flame alive now that the club is closed for renovations; they have taken the adjoining space, because “even if the virus ends,” Stache doesn’t think that “people will want to pile into a tiny joint like before.”

He’s also taken advantage of this time to record “more than ever” for his label, Smoke Sessions Records.

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin performs as part of Maria Schneider's orchestra at the Jazz Standard in New York in 2013
Saxophonist Donny McCaslin performs as part of Maria Schneider’s orchestra at the Jazz Standard in New York in 2013Jack Vartoogian (Getty Images)

There were other clubs that didn’t have as much luck, and simply didn’t survive lockdown. The most tender loss has been, without a doubt, that of the Jazz Standard. It closed in December of 2020 due to “the pandemic and to so many months without income, as well as a long negotiation about rent which has stalled,” it was said at the time. In New York there are some 80 stages where one can listen to live music, according to the list that the newspaper The New York City Jazz Record prints on its last page every month. Here there are basement joints, clubs with varied programs and not just jazz, others which are the reincarnation of legendary places (Minton’s, Birdland), hotels and restaurants with music, experimental refuges in progressive universities (The Stone) and institutional spaces, like Dizzy’s, in the Lincoln Center complex. But the Standard had something special. Maybe it was the music, or the fact that you could see well from any table, or “the sensational food,” an advantage highlighted by Fred Cohen, the owner of the Jazz Record Center, the only shop dedicated exclusively to the genre in the city.

“The news of that closure was terrible,” Cohen says from behind the counter of his establishment, on the eighth floor of an anodyne office building in Chelsea. Wilner is harsher on the competition: “The owners [of the Jazz Standard] are dedicated to the barbeque business [the club was in the basement of a restaurant of the famous businessmen Danny Meyer]. The programming, which was done by a man named Seth Abramson [who didn’t respond to this newspaper’s interview request], was stupendous, but when the hospitality business failed, the music ended.” Chinen advises that there are plans to reopen soon. If that were to happen, the Standard would return to a completely different scene than that which provoked its closure. Some 77% of New Yorkers are completely vaccinated. Leaving the worst of Omicron behind, coronavirus cases have fallen 62% in the last two weeks, and hospital admissions have been reduced by half. Now the use of masks isn’t obligatory in the clubs, although it is up to the discretion of owners to demand it. Still, to get inside the majority of these places, they ask you to show a completed vaccination card (and there are even clubs that ask for proof you have received the booster).

“What we need,” thinks Wilner, “is for people to relax, to return to New York and to enjoy what we still have, even though it’s not much after two years. It’s still possible to get our lives back. It worries me that this won’t happen, because I’ve realized that I don’t love this city where I was born the way I used to love it,” he concludes. These wishes could take a while to come true. For many New Yorkers, what good news there has been still isn’t sufficient to prompt an adventure inside a club, as seen in the tables that the restaurants have scattered across the city’s sidewalks. They look full in the second winter of the pandemic, including when the temperatures drop to various degrees below freezing.

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The Oxford Quartet – women who brought philosophy back to life | Culture

The mere mention of the University of Oxford evokes a sense of reverence, almost a mystical aura. It is an oasis of tranquility that has witnessed fervent philosophical debates. It’s a place that, in the mid-20th century, served as a haven for a group of dissenting intellectuals striving to rescue philosophy from the confines of orthodox analysis and anchor it firmly in reality.

The so-called Oxford Quartet — Elizabeth Anscombe, Mary Midgley, Iris Murdoch and Philippa Foot — are the subjects of several recent books. We have A Terribly Serious Adventure by Nikhil Krishnan (2023); The Women Are Up to Something (2023) by Benjamin J. B. Lipscomb; and Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life (2022) by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman.

Anscombe, Midgley, Murdoch, and Foot hailed from diverse backgrounds, yet they shared remarkable commonalities. Born between 1919 and 1920, these four women were educated at Oxford during the tumultuous World War II period. In their own distinctive ways, they forged an alliance, united by their rebellion against the limitations of analytical thinking in comprehending the complexities of the world. The prevailing Oxford school of analytical philosophy propagated the notion that moral truths were non-existent and that science held all the answers. However, these trailblazers refused to conform to Oxford’s academic orthodoxy. It was no small feat to challenge the Oxonian positivist philosophy that erroneously conflated theory and analytical tools with the realities of an existence plagued by the grim specters of war, the atomic bomb, and the Holocaust.

The rediscovery of empathy

Inspired by influential educators like Eduard Fraenkel and Donald MacKinnon, the four friends immersed themselves in literature, reveling in clandestine parties fueled by cigarettes, whiskey, tea and biscuits. Amid spirited debates on ethics, evil and love, they were confronted with the haunting images of Nazi death camps. This profound encounter forever altered their philosophical outlook. Confronted by an unequivocal, radical cruelty, they sought to salvage the essence of a shared moral code, rediscovering the values of empathy, generosity, trust, cooperation and creativity in human endeavors. This transformative journey is eloquently captured in an exchange of letters between Wiseman and Mac Cumhaill.

In the realm of analytical systems, moral affirmations were regarded not as true or false, but rather as subjective expressions of the individuals who voiced them. However, these four philosophers saw certain actions as transcending mere opinion. “If morality was not objective,” said Lipscomb, the author of The Women Are Up to Something, “how could we adequately address the atrocities of the Holocaust?” Lipscomb believes that the Oxford Quartet’s most significant contribution lay in revitalizing moral philosophy as a field of study.

Somerville Quartet. Mary Midgley, Iris Murdoch
Mary Midgley (seated, second from left) and Iris Murdoch (second row, second from right) at Somerville College, Oxford.The Principal and Fellows of Somerville College’

Iris Murdoch, an Oxford professor and avid reader of Plato, Sartre and Simone Weil, cautioned that the ongoing discourse surrounding the essence of goodness and human reality would persist, irrespective of whether they fell under the realm of philosophy. Murdoch, who passed away in in Oxfordshire in 1999, wrote about the vulnerability of “doing good,” which she regarded as a skill acquired through moral deliberation and willpower.

In the aftermath of the war, she participated in United Nations programs to aid displaced people in Austria and Belgium. Witnessing shattered lives devoid of hope, she recognized the pressing need for an impactful philosophy. Her conviction: equipping individuals grappling with distinct social and emotional challenges, people who “went to the movies, made love and fought with or against Hitler.”

In essays and novels like The Sea, The Sea, Murdoch passionately championed the pursuit of knowledge through life experience. Her works portrayed lives enriched with inquiries, reflections, and imaginative tales. Recognizing the emergence of a new society driven by science and technology, she understood the imperative for a metaphysical and moral compass. Fascinated by the concept of attachment, she contended that love embodies the essence of art and morality — a profound gesture of embracing individuals as they are, unencumbered by illusions. An intellectual with an insatiable curiosity, her writings provoke contemplation on the ethical choices we encounter in our everyday lives.

The decisions we make, or choose not to make

Murdoch and Philippa Foot were not only close friends but also flatmates, even sharing a boyfriend. Unfortunately, Foot’s passion for philosophy was never well-received by her affluent family, who seemed to console themselves by underestimating her intelligence. However, she remained resolute in her choices. After working as the vice dean at Oxford, she went on to teach at various prestigious universities in the United States until her death in 2010. Among her notable works, Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy stands out, in which she contemplated the distinction between actively “doing” something and merely “allowing it to happen.”

One of her most famous ethical dilemmas involved a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different track. However, you notice that there is one person on the other track. You have two (and only two) options: do nothing, in which case the trolley will kill the five people on the main track. Or pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the more ethical option? Or, more simply: What is the right thing to do? Foot was an early proponent of moral realism, asserting that true moral propositions exist and values cannot be wholly divorced from facts.

Occasionally, Foot would rendezvous with her friend Elizabeth Anscombe at Oxford’s Socratic Club, a charming, wallpapered Victorian space for genteel debate. But the two friends had no interest in engaging in laborious dialectical competitions or seeking a philosophical system that claimed to provide a comprehensive explanation for everything. “Anscombe viewed such charlatanism as the ultimate intellectual vice and recognized that acknowledging the complexity of a problem was a remarkable virtue,” said Lipscomb.

Similar to Murdoch and Foot, Anscombe also delved into the realm of intention and action, reigniting the ethical discourse surrounding warfare. Given the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Yemen, and Israel and Palestine, this esteemed British philosopher would likely insist on challenging the devastating toll of war on civilian populations. Neta C. Crawford, an Oxford professor and conflict expert, recently noted that the number of civilian casualties in Gaza were unprecedented in a century already marred by wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Harry Truman was a “murderer”

Elizabeth Anscombe, a student and interpreter of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, embarked on a journey to unravel the mysteries of language acquisition while working as a schoolteacher in Austria. She astutely observed that analytical philosophy emerged from a conformist milieu, yet she herself defied such conventions. In 1956, she made a public stand against Oxford’s decision to confer an honorary degree upon former U.S. President Harry Truman.

According to the author of Ethics, Religion and Politics, Truman was a “murderer” because the civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not engaged in combat against the Allies. Anscombe saw the decision to drop the atomic bombs as a calculated move to secure unconditional surrender. She argued that deliberately taking the life of an innocent person to achieve a goal is always tantamount to murder. In Anscombe’s view, conferring an honorary degree on a person who committed such an act was indicative of a profound philosophical decay. Fixating on the notions of ‘Just’ and ‘Good’ disregarded the essence of true justice and goodness.

Anscombe was a rigorous and indefatigable thinker. One of her students remembers how after one session, “my brain was so exhausted that… I went to sleep for a couple of hours.” Despite being a mother of seven, Anscombe never conformed to societal expectations. At Oxford, where female teachers were required to wear skirts, she boldly chose to don pants instead. To adhere to the dress code, she would simply slip on a skirt over her trousers right before stepping into the classroom to commence her lesson.

Mary Midgley, in her own unique way, grew disillusioned with Oxford due to its narrow-mindedness. Her interests spanned across various fields, and her approach was truly integrative. She delved into the realms of philosophy, biology, psychology, ethics, and politics, and penned insightful works on a diverse range of subjects including people, chickens, octopuses and mollusks. Ultimately, she made the decision to leave Oxford for Newcastle University, a smaller and more modest institution that provided a better environment to collaborate and develop new ideas.

High Street
View of High Street and the tower of Oxford’s Magdalen College in the early 1950s.Harold Lloyd ( GETTY IMAGES )

Mary Midgley was a profound thinker captivated by the complexity of the human condition. Rather than inventing values, she dedicated herself to revealing them. For Midgley, this distinction lay in the difference between abstraction and comprehension. The longest-lived member of the Oxford Quartet (she died in 2018), Midgley didn’t publish her first book until she was 60. Titled Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature, it expanded philosophical boundaries by delving into our primal instincts. “Her book explores the concept that rationality, language and culture are not at odds with our emotional makeup; rather, they complement it,” said Helen de Cruz, a philosophy professor at Saint Louis University in Missouri.

Midgley regarded philosophy as a daily pursuit that we should all embrace, and not an elite academic pursuit. “She said philosophy was like plumbing — we only think about it when something goes wrong,” said De Cruz. Midgley viewed her task as a philosopher as “trying to understand what was going on in the minds of people around us.” Midgley, who The Guardian called “the scourge of scientific pretentiousness,” had warned for years about the climate crisis in a world blinded by the pursuit of endless progress, but was roundly ignored. “Not so much anymore,” said Helen de Cruz.

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Bronze Age Pervert: The United States’ ultra-right has a new hero | Culture

The new hero of the ultra-conservative blogosphere is Bronze Age Pervert, a masked crusader who operates with absolute impunity on social media networks like X. From these platforms, he proclaims that Donald Trump is not only the legitimate president of the United States, but the entire “civilized universe of Greco-Latin heritage,” and praises tennis player Novak Djokovic as the last stronghold of uncontaminated masculinity and messenger of the “supremacy of the Slavic man.”

Publications like Bloomberg, National Review and Politico have echoed the most recent provocations of this metallic deviant, and raised alarm over the shocking success of his only book to date, the self-published Bronze Age Mindset, a “manual of resistance against political correctness” that, apparently, has become bedtime reading for the leading ideologues of the United States’ radical right.

Rosie Gray, a Politico writer who has been on the trail of Bronze Age Pervert since he first hit the internet five years ago, posits that the man behind the digital mask is none other than Costin Alamariu, an obscure Romanian-born philosophy graduate who just turned 43. Alamariu was building something of a reputation as an intellectual supporter of the authoritarian right, from Viktor Orbán to Narendra Modi to Jair Bolsonaro, when he disappeared from the map in October 2018. Since then, there’s been no sign of Alamariu, who might have opted, according to Rose, to “renounce his civilian identity and bet on his successful avatar,” a kind of bethroned bodybuilder who abhors feminism, detests democracy and has a curious obsession with naked male torsos.

Graeme Wood, a collaborator at The Atlantic, has delved a bit deeper into Alamariu’s peculiar personality. According to Wood, at the age of 17, the young Romanian, who was then based in Boston, took part in a comical act of boycotting an exhibition of Chinese ceremonial art that was being held in one of the city’s museums. Alamariu and two classmates, future The Office actors John Krasinski and B.J. Novak, managed to replace the exhibit’s audio guide with a homemade tape on which they made comments like, “I wish we had a hammer to smash this abhorrent work to smithereens.” Novak confessed to the scandal years later and added that he remembered Alamariu as a strange guy with very original ideas, although he “was not quite in his right mind.”

By all indications, the man retains the qualities he possessed at 17 and, moreover, has preserved in his vocation as a multiformat cultural agitator. Gray reconstructs in broad strokes the personal history of this strange individual: he came to the United States with his family when he was 10 years old, he was a brilliant student at prestigious universities like Columbia and Yale, began to frequently attend extreme right gatherings and discussion groups and always had a distinct interest in the philosophy of Nietzsche, Ancient Greece, the “values of Western civilization,” eugenics and antisemitism. A former classmate at Yale claims that even in his youth, Alamariu aspired to “become a kind of right-wing Slavoj Źiźek.” That is to say, a respected and influential intellectual, but with a popular, rock star side. For the time being, his plan for world domination has led him to go underground online and create a somewhat extreme and cartoonish character, one that is ideal for this era of sectarian and frankly unhinged politicization.

Trump follows him online. And some of his advisors have found in Alamariu the perfect acrobat to keep the circus going.

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The War In Gaza Opens Cracks In Hollywood: Cancellations, Layoffs & Accusations Of Antisemitism

Kanye West debuted a new song this week in a surprise appearance at a Dubai nightclub. The popular rapper, who was accused of antisemitism back home, traveled halfway across the world to release the song, titled Vultures, in another sign of his fall from grace at the epicenter of the entertainment industry. The hip hop star praised Hitler exactly one year ago in an interview with Alex Jones, a hero of the alt-right. The new song shows that he has not turned the page: “How am I antisemitic? I just fucked a Jewish bitch,” he raps.

The war in Gaza has also impacted the entertainment world, especially Hollywood. Accusations of antisemitism have been exchanged in the American entertainment capital since October 7 and some celebrities are already affected. Susan Sarandon, a left-wing actress who has never bitten her tongue when it comes to voicing her political opinions, was dropped by her talent agency, which had represented her since 2014, on the basis that she allegedly made anti-Jewish comments at a rally in New York to demand a ceasefire.

The co-star of Thelma & Louise who most recently featured in Blue Beetle stated at that rally that many Jews were afraid of living these times in the United States. “There are a lot of people afraid of being Jewish at this time, and are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country, so often subjected to violence,” said the actress. Many considered that Sarandon was justifying acts of antisemitism that have been experienced in recent weeks. This Saturday, the actress attributed her phrase to a “terrible mistake.

This phrasing was a terrible mistake, as it implies that until recently Jews have been strangers to persecution, when the opposite is true,” she wrote in a statement shared on Instagram.

The historian Steven Carr is watching the situation with concern, although he admits that the current tense moments are still far from the darkest days of the Hollywood witch hunt. “The House Un-American Activities Committee of the 1940s and 1950s dragged numerous writers, directors, and stars — many of them Jewish — before Congress to testify against their will and report on friends and colleagues. Those investigations led to an entire system that destroyed careers, forced some to leave the country and even caused some suicides. Turning Hollywood into a target over artists’ personal beliefs is a characteristic of a persecuting political apparatus,” says the Indiana University professor.

Actress and activist Susan Sarandon was arrested for civil disobedience in 1982 for trying to stop the demolition of the Moorish theater on Broadway. In 1999 she was also arrested for demonstrating in a case of police violence.
Actress and activist Susan Sarandon was arrested for civil disobedience in 1982 for trying to stop the demolition of the Moorish theater on Broadway. In 1999 she was also arrested for demonstrating in a case of police violence. GETTY

Carr, author of Hollywood and Anti-Semitism: A Cultural History Up to World War II, believes that recent episodes have revived accusations and suspicion against the Jewish community. “Claiming that Jews are in control of Hollywood has always been an old pretext to target them simply for being who they are. These types of accusations were the cornerstone of Nazism that led to the stripping of all their rights until it led to mass extermination,” the historian points out by email.

A lot of this goes back to the origin of Hollywood. The industry was created by a generation of Jews who arrived from Europe. German-born Carl Laemmle founded Universal Pictures. Hungarian-born Adolph Zukor built what became Paramount. Another son of immigrants from Hungary, William Fox, started the Fox Film Corporation. The Warner Brothers studio was started by the sons of Benjamin Warner, a Polish emigrant who had been, among other jobs, a shoemaker in Baltimore. The most famous movie mogul of that generation was Louis B. Mayer, the great boss of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was born in Russia and adopted the 4th of July, the day that celebrates the independence of the United States, to celebrate his American rebirth.

What is strikingly similar between these Hollywood Jews is not their common origin in Eastern Europe. What united them was a pronounced and absolute rejection of their past and, equally, an absolute devotion to their new country,” writes Neal Gabler in An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, a story of how these men built the foundations of the industry. The author emphasizes that the common denominator of the mentioned characters was their “patrimony of failure.” They had nothing. Their dominance became a target of wave after wave of vicious anti-Semites, from fire-and-brimstone evangelicals in the teens and early 1920s who demanded the movies’ liberation from the ‘hands of the Devil and 500 un-Christian Jews.’”

Allison Josephs, a communicator who fights to change stereotypes about Jews in the United States, believes that the Jewish community must follow the teachings of African-American activism to dismantle unconscious biases. “We need to educate the world about the ideas that are projected onto us. Jews, regardless of their faith or the level of their religious beliefs, love life, peace and seek justice,” says Josephs. One of her projects, the Hollywood Bureau, has been highlighted by publications such as Variety for its battle to overthrow prejudice.

Josephs, who is also behind the blog Jew in the City, highlights how antisemitism has surfaced on social networks. “When people with as many followers as Hollywood celebrities make accusations that Jews are bloodthirsty child killers, it puts them in danger because their enemies believe they deserve it,” he says.

The communicator believes that Hollywood has made it clear that there are already lines that cannot be crossed when it comes to minorities or groups. “When this happens, there are consequences. The pain of Jews matters as much as anyone else’s. Celebrities can say whatever they want except incite violence, but there should be consequences if they say something sexist, racist, homophobic or antisemitic,” she adds.

Melissa Barrera, a 33-year-old Mexican actress, recently learned about these consequences. The artist has been fired from the seventh installment of the Scream franchise after a series of posts on Instagram, where 1.5 million people follow her. Barrera called Israel’s campaign in Gaza genocide and ethnic cleansing. Spyglass, the producer of the horror films, announced the termination, arguing its zero tolerance for antisemitism or inciting hatred in any form.

The actress, who debuted in Hollywood with the series Vida, responded to her dismissal by condemning all types of expressions of hate. “Everyone in the world, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation or socioeconomic level, deserves human rights, dignity and freedom,” he said in a statement. “Silence is not an option for me.”

Melissa Barrera
Melissa Barrera (left) and Jenna Ortega (right), in a scene from ‘Scream 6’.nPhilippe Bossé (AP)

Jonathan Greenblat, one of the leaders of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, openly criticized the Hollywood Writers Guild, the organization that led the recent high-profile screenwriters’ strike, for not condemning Hamas after the attack. “Hollywood quickly supported Black Lives Matter, as it should, the Time’s Up movement and many other causes. There is no excuse for them not to condemn Hamas and demand the release of the hostages,” Greenblat told Variety a few days ago. Meredith Stiehm, one of the leaders of the writers’ union, confessed at the end of October to a group of screenwriters that there was no public position because there was no consensus within the organization.

Sarandon and Barrera are the most visible faces of what is feared to be a new chapter of cancel culture in the United States. The authors Saira Rao and Regina Jackson, activists against racism who charged against Zionism on social media, have also lost their representation. Maha Dakhil, Tom Cruise’s powerful agent, had to leave Creative Artists Agency because of her political views and claims that genocide was being committed in Gaza. Not even the Mission: Impossible star, one of the most influential men in the industry, was able to save his representative in these turbulent times in Hollywood.

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