Since When Is Fran Drescher Jewish?

Since When Is Fran Drescher Jewish?

CHIARA FRANCESCA FERRARI
FOREWORD BY JOSEPH STRAUBHAAR
Copyright Date: 2010
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/723153
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    Since When Is Fran Drescher Jewish?
    Book Description:

    "Since when is Fran Drescher Jewish?" This was Chiara Francesca Ferrari's reaction when she learned that Drescher's character on the television sitcomThe Nannywas meant to be a portrayal of a stereotypical Jewish-American princess. Ferrari had only seen the Italian version of the show, in which the protagonist was dubbed into an exotic, eccentric Italian-American nanny.Since When Is Fran Drescher Jewish?explores this "ventriloquism" as not only a textual and cultural transfer between languages but also as an industrial practice that helps the media industry foster identification among varying audiences around the globe.

    At the heart of this study is an in-depth exploration of three shows that moved from global to local, mapping stereotypes from both sides of the Atlantic in the process. Presented in Italy, for example, Groundskeeper Willie fromThe Simpsonsis no longer a belligerent, alcoholic Scotsman but instead easily becomes a primitive figure from Sardinia. Ironically,The Sopranos-a show built around Italian-Americans-was carefully re-positioned by Italian TV executives, who erased the word "mafia" and all regional references to Sicily. The result of Ferrari's three case studies is evidence that "otherness" transcends translation, as the stereotypes produced by the American entertainment industry are simply replaced by other stereotypes in foreign markets. As American television studios continue to attempt to increase earnings by licensing their shows abroad,Since When Is Fran Drescher Jewish?illuminates the significant issues of identity raised by this ever-growing marketplace, along with the intriguing messages that lie in the larger realm of audiovisual cultural exchange.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-78475-8
    Subjects: Performing Arts, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Joseph Straubhaar

    In this book, Chiara Ferrari introduces us to a critical form of cultural mediation that has largely been unnoticed in decades of debate about the flow and impact of U.S. television in the world. Originally, in the 1970s, scholars and policy makers focused on the large, unbalanced outflow of television programs from the USA to the rest of the world. Those programs were often assumed to have a substantial, direct impact, but researchers who looked at that had a hard time substantiating that assumption. Other researchers began to notice that many audiences began to prefer programming from within their own...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION. Since When Is Fran Drescher Jewish?
    (pp. 1-10)

    As an international media scholar in the United States, I can say with confidence that I was exposed to “American culture” long before actually moving to America. Clearly, and similar to many other immigrants to the United States, my perception of this country was shaped by endless American movies and television shows that were (and still are) flooding foreign media markets, including my native Italy. What I did not realize at the time was the idea that my perception was strongly influenced by the national environment—and certainly by the national media industry—where I was receiving and consuming these...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Nation in Translation: The (Im)Possibility of the Local?
    (pp. 11-25)

    The history of Italian television is one of a symbiotic relationship between the TV sector and the state or, more accurately, a relationship between media and politics.¹ Founded in 1944, the national public broadcaster, RAI, was given exclusive broadcast rights a year later, but because of the hardship of the postwar era, regular transmission did not begin until January 1954 and was limited to one channel, RAI 1.² The monopoly granted to RAI in the 1940s mirrored the same political monopolistic influence that radio experienced under the Fascist regime of the 1920s and 1930s. RAI, in fact, originated as a...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Indigenizing Texts: Television Translation as Cultural Ventriloquism
    (pp. 26-51)

    In recent years the European Parliament has repeatedly pointed out the necessity of multicultural discussions in order to balance the homogenizing impulses of globalization. Multiculturalism involves diversity on multiple levels—from language to race, from ethnicity to religion—and in Europe it refers specifically to the efforts made by the EU toward developing a “Pan-European identity” while safeguarding the cultural particularity of single-nation members. One way to ensure such diversity is through the support of national media industries that can develop local programs that express their own cultural specificity. Directives such as Television Without Frontiers promote cultural diversity supporting national...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Dubbing Yiddish, Hidden Rabbi: The Nanny in Translation
    (pp. 52-71)

    The termburinois an expression from the Roman dialect that originally referred to people moving to Rome from the rural periphery and the countryside of Lazio (a region in central Italy, whose capital is Rome), either to sell butter,burro—from which the term comes—or to look for work in the metropolis. Through time, the burino has come to symbolize people with little education, who are boorish, tacky, and speak a dialect from the countryside periphery. In relation to Fran Drescher’s exuberant portrayal of a Jewish American nanny from Queens, New York, in the 1990s hit TV show...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Dubbing The Simpsons: Or How Groundskeeper Willie Lost His Kilt in Sardinia
    (pp. 72-99)

    The above epigraph refers to the difficulties of trying to translate the childlike expressions of Homer Simpson’s neighbor Ned Flanders in dubbingThe Simpsonsfor foreign audiences. More specifically, however, the epigraph voices the reaction of a disappointed Arab fan ofThe Simpsonsafter he discovered that the cult animated series was going to be adapted and made more “appropriate” for Arab audiences.¹

    In September 2005, almost sixteen years afterThe Simpsonspremiered as a half-hour series in the United States, the Arab network MBC (based in Dubai Media City) introduced Homer & Co. to the Middle East.² Given the international...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE The Sopranos in Italy: Or “Why Should We Care? We Have the Real Mafia Here!”
    (pp. 100-126)

    In Chapter 3 I discussed how the sitcomThe Nannyhas been drastically modified and made familiar for Italian audiences by changing the protagonist’s ethnic background from Jewish (in the U.S. version) to Italian American (in the Italian version). Similarly, the dubbing ofThe Simpsons(discussed in Chapter 4) domesticates the series for Italian audiences by making references to popular (national) culture and by giving regional accents to some of the characters, thereby mapping them within precise stereotypes and geographical spaces in Italy. As shown, such a translation strategy clearly aims at domesticating texts that in their original version are...

  11. CONCLUSION. Translating Stereotypes:The Cultural Politics of Reformatting
    (pp. 127-132)

    The preceding chapters have demonstrated how television dubbing, one specific case of reformatting, allows for globally distributed programs to be indigenized for local audiences. More broadly, this book has argued against a commonly held interpretation of global media processes: that there is a direct relation between one country’s economic supremacy in media export and its corresponding cultural domination over other nations. In fact, if it is true that the United States is a leading producer and distributor of television programs worldwide, it is also true that these shows need to be adapted, translated, and remarketed for new national audiences in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 133-146)
  13. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 147-158)
  14. Index
    (pp. 159-164)