Yeah, there’s a reason for that.
It’s called: antisemitic caricature.
I don’t understand what’s Jewish about mother gothel… she has a typical Disney face doesn’t she? Is it the curly hair..? I mean her nose and everything else seem normal?
I’m sorry, I’m just trying to figure it out, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.
dark curly hair – long hooked nose – darker complexion than the blond blue eyed heroine 9and really the rest of the cast – portrayed as greedy and evil.
Lisa Edelstein is Jewish. As are Idina Menzel and Amy Winehouse, both of whom I have seen compared in looks to Gothel. Gothel’s design is a pretty clear caricature of ethnically Jewish women.
This is a pretty good contrast between Rapunzel and Gothel. Rapunzel has the “typical Disney face”:
Here’s a more close up look at her features.
The hooked nose becomes even more pronounced as she becomes “eviler.”
If you wanted to claim that there was noting out of the ordinary for Disney animation when it came to Gothel’s features, you would have to find at least one Disney princess or heroine with similar characteristics (long hooked nose and dark curly hair, etc).
But here is what we have is –
small noses that turn up at the end:
wide, flatter noses (though cheers to Disney for not putting button noses on their characters of color, although Esmerelda’s clothing design deserves another essay on Rromani stereotypes and there are some major issues with Pocahontas as well)
And then a few misc noses (again, props for Jasmine’s nose not being a button):
Apart from just the design of Gothel, there’s also the whole: “obviously ‘other’ (read Jewish) woman kidnaps the pretty blonde (read: gentile) kid to use her for ritualistic/magical purposes”
Like that right there on top of the aesthetic Jewish-coding is what pushed the antisemitic caricature over the top for me. It harkens back to antisemitic blood libel that claimed that Jews stole gentile children for all manner of nefarious reasons. Even when Gothel is in “mother” role to Rapunzel, she’s is shown as nagging and passive aggressive, both antisemitic stereotypes of Jewish women.
There is no one thing that makes her an antisemitic caricature, but the design, plus the storyline she plays out, plus her characterization cement the overall character as antisemitic.
Jew-coding a villain is not in itself always antisemitic when there are also Jewish coded heroes. Rapunzel does not have that.
Having a villain steal a baby for magical/ritualistic reasons is not always antisemitic as long as the villain is not Jew-coded. Rapunzel fails this as well.
Having a nagging and passive aggressive mother character is not antisemitic provided that she is not, again, coded as Jewish. Rapunzel fails once again.
Hope this helps.
EDIT: @ariminak pointed out that some of my wording made it sound like Gothel’s features only stereotypically caricatured Ashkenazi women when in fact that is not the case. I changed the language to remove that phrasing and make it clear that any ethnically Jewish women can be affected by this type of aesthetic trope. If you reblogged the old version, could you please delete it and reblog this one instead.
Spread this version so people recognize that this stuff harms all Jewish women.
I was seriously horrified when this was pointed out to me…