How to Be an Ally 101

By: Elicia O.

Listen. I love Hairspray as much as the next gal. In fact, the 2007 film remake may just be my all-time favorite. It has a lot going for it–namely casting Zac Efron as Link–but, above all, it preaches equality. I do not argue that this is an important message, especially in light of the recent Black Lives Matter Movement. However, I do have a bone to pick with screenwriters Thomas Meehan, Mark O’Donnell, and Leslie Dixon about how they went about conveying this message. I understand that Tracy is the main character of this musical. Although having a white lead while simultaneously making the movie about fighting for equal representation in the media just seems like a double-edged sword. Tracy is a very welcome ally to the cause, except there are quite a few ways in which Tracy acts more like a white savior than an ally. I would argue that Tracy’s white savior complex robbed the other black characters of the opportunity to fight for their own rights. I know that this is a pretty big pill to swallow when I just finished explaining how much I love the musical, but stay with me!

First off, by definition, a white savior is someone who seeks to help non-white people in a way that is both self-serving and fails to acknowledge the rich history and culture of the very people one wishes to “save.” Tracy primarily falls within this trope due to her complete and utterly embarrassing ignorance to what it means to be black. I know what you’re thinking. “Well, she is just a teenage white girl from 1960’s Baltimore, ma’am.” I know! And, do you know what that screams to me? White privilege! For instance, the very fact that Tracy is the one who proposes the march is problematic. “Motormouth” Maybelle and the rest of the cast from Corny Collin’s Negro Day were devastated about losing their monthly time slot on the show. So, Tracy tells them that they can just come dance with her and the other white dancers during their regularly scheduled time slot. Motormouth Maybelle looks confused, to say the very least, and asks Tracy if she’s been “dozing off during history,” to which she replies with “Yes, always.” If Tracy does not understand segregation on a fundamental level and the very injustices that they’re fighting against, then why is she the one to propose the march? Why is Tracy the one who is at the forefront of a movement that she knows absolutely nothing about? At least read a book or something or, you know, look out a window. I mean, it’s 1962 for Pete’s sake!

Sadly, Tracy is not entirely at fault here. The black characters actually feed her white savior complex by taking her in as one of their own. For instance, when Tracy goes to detention and starts dancing with the rest of the black students there, they give her some strange looks at first. However, upon seeing her dance, they warm up to her pretty quickly. Seaweed even calls her “one of us” and invites her to his mom’s house for dinner. I’m sorry, what? So, her dance moves and her outcast, “delinquent” are enough for them to identify with her? I mean, they quite literally invited her to the cookout just for being willing to interact with black people. For context, in black culture, to say that a white person is “invited to the cookout” is basically to reward someone for acting like an ally or simply not being racist, which are two very different things. The latter would apply to Tracy’s case. For a modern day example, many were quick to invite Adele to “the cookout” for rapping to Nicki Minaj’s song “Monster.” They also invited her after she used her speech for her Album of the Year award at the Grammy’s to confess that Beyoncé deserved the award more for her album Lemonade. However, this is problematic because it rewards people for passivity in simply not being racist and openly invites them to feel comfortable participating in our blackness. To say it plainly, Tracy is not black. To some degree, Tracy knows what it feels like to be othered based on her appearance. However, that does not qualify her to be able to identify with the black experience. Although, that is exactly what we see in this musical.

If you need more proof of this, Seaweed has to explain to Tracy why she can’t cross the line dividing the whites from the blacks when dancing on The Corny Collins Show. Then, he gives Tracy permission to use his moves at the dance, which she fails to give Seaweed credit for even after his moves help her get on the show. This is cultural appropriation at its core. Except, as the audience, we are less likely to identify it as such because the writers portray Tracy as having this shared identity with the other black students. The writers chose to make Tracy overweight because they needed something to connect her to the black characters. They needed the audience to see her as just as much of an outcast as the black students.  So, when Tracy lands a spot as a regular on the show, they see it as a victory for all of them and remain content with their measly one episode a month. These are not the actions of an ally because Tracy is too busy aligning herself with the black experience to use her privilege to help her friends. Tracy’s colorblindness has prevented her from understanding the repercussions of her actions. She doesn’t understand why it’s problematic that she is prospering from appropriating the same moves that white people think are “cool” on her but are oversexualized and deviant on a black body.

Tracy does come to understand at least a fraction of her white privilege toward the end of the musical. After leaving the cookout, she even sits on her daddy’s lap and confesses that she has been living her life “in a bubble,” “thinking that fairness was just going to happen.” Furthermore, she believes that “people like [her] are going to have to get off their fathers’ laps and go out there and fight for it.” This is a good, constructive mentality to have. She’s starting to think like an ally, someone who can use her privilege to help those who don’t have the luxury of seeing the world without color because there are people who remind them of their color every single day.

However, Tracy quickly goes back to disappointing me with the abuse of her white privilege and her “main character” complex. For example, Tracy proposes the march, which is received as this truly revolutionary idea by the black characters as if Martin Luther King and countless others were not marching for civil rights in the South long before that. Anyway, when they encounter a police barricade, “Motormouth” Maybelle speaks to the authorities about the peaceful nature of their march. When the police officer dismisses her, Tracy yells, “Hey, she was talking to you!” Then, she hits the officer with her sign, despite “Motormouth” Maybelle’s warning against it. Ironically, this was immediately after “Motormouth” Maybelle sang “I Know Where I’ve Been,” which has a soul, gospel feel with a message of hope for the Civil Rights Movement. Tracy, Seaweed, and the other black characters joined in as they sang of how “the pride in [their] hearts” will “lift [them] up to tomorrow.” So, this moment is the culmination of Tracy’s ignorance, colorblindness, and the undeniable evidence of her white savior complex and privilege. The march was supposed to be a peaceful protest, but because of her white savior complex, violence and chaos ensued. She didn’t respect the wishes of the very black people she was trying to help because she didn’t understand how the deck was stacked against them. Despite the march being her idea, she didn’t understand the history of the Black struggle and the nonviolent ideologies that marches like theirs were founded upon. She didn’t understand that black people cannot raise their voices at an officer because they risk police brutality, detainment, and even death at the slightest sign of resistance. However, “Motormouth” Maybelle and the other black characters are not upset with Tracy one bit. In fact, they praise her for what she did. As such, the rest of the musical becomes about protecting Tracy, the fugitive, and her grand return to the Corny Collins stage. Although, once she gets there, she does make sure to bring her black friends onto the stage to share the moment with her and finally get their time in the spotlight. But is that really enough?

I can’t say that this musical is all bad. As I said before, despite all of its issues, I still love it. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t expect better. I wrote this essay because I wanted to stop making excuses for writers who simply “tried.” Hairspray does a really good job of encouraging efforts toward equality, especially by highlighting that a lot of us have been discriminated against, whether that be based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or body image. However, I am not in the business of comparing one’s injustices. Moreover, being an ally and fighting for equality does not require that you have a shared injustice with the oppressed. Although, it does require that you be a human being who cares about people, regardless of whether they are like you. An ally must also be willing to listen, learn, and use their privilege to help others’ voices be heard because the injustices that seem foreign to them are everyday experiences lived by others. That’s where Tracy went wrong. Just because she was the main character in her own story doesn’t mean that she had to be the main character in everyone else’s. She simply wasn’t qualified to take on the burden of such a culture-shaking movement, especially when those around her had been fighting for a whole lot longer than she had. Black people are more than just supporting roles to their white leads. We have stories of our own, and we’ve been fighting for the right to tell them for centuries. We have voices, pain, dreams, and the power to make them come true just like anybody else. I just wish that this musical would have showcased that through Black eyes, instead of through the colorblind eyes of an ignorant girl with a white savior complex.

You Can’t Sit With Us: A White Man’s Tale of Othering

By: E. Osigwe

West Side Story introduces the Jets as the top gang in town. They intimidate with just one look and strut down the streets as if they own them, but do they? It seems that the only requirement for doing so is acting the part. They have, not because anyone gave them this power but because they took it. Although, I’m not judging because this seems to have worked for the Jets so far. It has even afforded them some privilege as they speak recklessly with law enforcement and usually manage to escape any insults about their good-for-nothing immigrant parents. The Sharks, too, =have nothing but the streets and their community, having only recently relocated to America. Yet, society frequently criminalizes them for the color of their skin, which the Jets often use to craft their insults. The gang discriminates against Anybody’s as well. However, the Jets gear her insults toward her gender identity or at least their narrow-minded understanding of it.

Paradoxically, the Jets’ tendency to other outsiders acts to reinforce bonds within the group. However, it also reinforces the labels from their parents, community, and law enforcement who consistently criminalize them. Nevertheless, they project much of the same stereotypical, degrading language that they’ve received onto Anybody’s and the Sharks. In doing so, they perpetuate the very villainization that they despise when aimed at them.  These observations reveal a certain level of privilege and hypocrisy in what it means to be a Jet. Despite both gangs’ vilification by the local law enforcement, the Jets and the Sharks are continuously at odds with one another. Despite Anybody’s desire to join the gang and help them defeat the Sharks, the consistently reject her. Thus, the Jets develop a sense of belonging through the othering of those outside of their pack.

The primary unifying factor of the Jets is the way in which the world perceives them. Throughout the musical, the Jets reference their junkie mothers and their alcoholic fathers who beat them. Their sob stories paint them as helpless, basically predestined basket cases in the eyes of the rest of their community. In “Officer Krupke,” the Jets make light of society’s futile efforts to understand them by diagnosing them with “a social disease” or declaring them “psychologically sick” or just downright “no good.” They understand that society’s desire to “fix” them stems from a need to label them and put them in an easily definable category. After all, it’s almost impossible to control something that you don’t understand. Despite their decision to stay out of trouble by “giving the people something to believe in,” the Jets ultimately convey their objection to these labels by yelling “Officer Krupke, krup you!” So, in order to get by, the Jets play into their labels by milking their sob stories. As they each take part in mimicking those who seek to villainize them, the Jets reveal a shared identity of being neglected. They are also frequently misunderstood by a world that seeks to conform them to a more socially acceptable manner of conducting themselves.

Anybody’s shares a similar outcast status with the Jets. Although no one explicitly discusses her sexuality in the film, Anybody’s exudes the traditional “tomboy” trope. She is extremely ahead of her time as she rocks a pixie cut, an old tank top, jeans, and some beat-up sneakers in 1950s Manhattan. Apparently, this is enough for grounds to ridicule her as the Jets consistently deny her requests to join the gang. Their insults are usually targeted toward her femininity, or seemingly lack thereof, and are always sexist. When preparing to make another request to join the gang, Anybody’s reminds them that she just helped them fight off the Sharks, even after the cops showed up. They take turns laughing at her, telling her to go put on a skirt, and “get lost.” They even claim that she only participated in the brawl as some desperate attempt “to get a guy to touch her.” She constantly tries to prove herself and is literally willing to fight anyone to do so, especially the Sharks. So, shouldn’t that be all that matters? Sadly, the Jets can’t seem to see past her female status. She is a misfit just like the rest of the Jets as her rejection of traditional gender norms has caused society to ostracize her. Even her name reveals her deeply rooted desire to be anybody’s, to belong with the Jets. Notably, their decision to reject and other her based on her sex also reveals their hypocrisy. Despite knowing what it feels like for someone to brand them with labels that don’t match their identities, they choose to ignore their similarities with Anybody’s. They choose to ignore her possession of the very ideals that unify them as a group, such as a willingness to fight, their disapproval of outsiders like the Sharks, and resentment toward law enforcement. Thus, their mistreatment of Anybody’s highlights their misguided attempt to preserve their unity by becoming like the very people they despise. They other those who deviate even a little from their preconceived notions about how a Jet should look. This decision, though discriminatory and toxic in every way, ultimately serves to strengthen their ties to one another as they join in on the ridicule and keep outsiders at a distance.

It’s understandable why the Jets hold their gang identity so close. They don’t know where they would be without it. They have had nothing for so long that they are willing to fight to maintain their community and ensure that nothing ever changes. A prime example of this would be the Jets’ relationship with the Sharks. Despite their shared delinquent status, the Jets are quick to subscribe to stereotypes about Puerto Ricans because their primary concern is keeping their power. Notably unprovoked, the Jets jump Bernardo on his first day in America because they have convinced themselves that Puerto Ricans pose a threat to their rule over the neighborhood. As if that wasn’t enough, when they form the Sharks to protect themselves from the Jets, the Jets set out to start a rumble with them. The Jets note that other gangs have tried to challenge them in the past, but they insist that “these Puerto Ricans are different.” As such, their language toward the Sharks is overtly racist. They claim to be “drowning in tamale” as the Sharks “multiply like cockroaches,” taking over their turf, eating all their food, and breathing all their air. They even start to make a game of it as they each take turns coming up with more racist insults. So, the Jets automatically assume that the Sharks are a threat because of their nationality. It’s easy for the Jets to differentiate themselves from the Sharks based on race because it is so heavily ingrained in their society to do so. Back then, law enforcement officers like crooked Lieutenany Schrank and, honestly, the average American citizen frequently profiled Puerto Ricans. I mean, it was the 1950s. Once again, the Jets other themselves from outsiders to preserve their tight-knit community. They turn the villainization of those who are different into a group activity, allowing this discrimination to strengthen their bonds.

Although, it’s worth mentioning that the Jets also share a history of discrimination at the hands of law enforcement. For example, Lieutenant Schrank offers to help them fight off the Sharks in the rumble. Not only that, but he hopes to pin the entire thing on the Sharks so that he can have a reason to deport them. He sees it as the perfect opportunity to clean up his streets after the Puerto Ricans have turned the town into a “pigsty.”  The Jets don’t even hesitate to remain silent, divulging absolutely no information about the whereabouts of the rumble. Why wouldn’t the Jets jump at the chance to reclaim their turf from the Sharks once and for all? It’s because their conflict with the Sharks has very little to do with race and a whole lot more to do with ownership. It’s about maintaining a sense of control over their circumstances when so much else in their lives is out of their hands. At the first sign of resistance, Lieutenant Schrank resorts to showing his true colors by threatening to throw the Jets and “the immigrant scum they came from” in jail if they don’t comply. This is the first and only time that anyone insults the Jets based on their ethnicities instead of their delinquent status. Predictably, they do not take it very well. Their white privilege has usually allowed for the erasure of their parents’ immigrant statuses. My guess is Lieutenant Schrank never got the memo. So, as much as they despise the Sharks, they also recognize Lieutenant Schrank as the enemy. He is the physical manifestation of the same corrupt, hypocritical criminal justice system that profiles and villainizes them and the Sharks alike. The only difference now is he bases this mistreatment on yet another circumstance that they cannot control: their ethnicities.

So, albeit for different reasons, Anybody’s, the Jets, and the Sharks share a social-reject status that has manifested into delinquency in response to their unjust profiling and mistreatment. Even so, the Jets strive to hold on to the little power they have as a group. They don’t respond well to outsiders of any kind threatening their group dynamic. Their goal is to maintain as much control over their surroundings as possible. It looks like subscribing to widely accepted stereotypes about “no-good Puerto Ricans” and useless females is a means of doing so. The discrimination of others afforded to them by their white, male privilege is the only power they have. So, they choose to exercise it as they see fit. Naturally, the Jets find it easier to recognize and vilify one’s differences rather than highlight one’s similarities.

This type of perspective is not unique to the Jets. In this country, we have developed a tendency to distance ourselves from those who suffer discrimination by focusing on what makes us different from them. We may even join in on the abuse. We choose to feed hypocrisy as people who look and act like the Jets are simply “misguided” and “unruly,” while those who look like the Sharks are inherently “threatening” and “uncivilized.” Othering is an active, conscious effort to villainize those who are different. It’s what has perpetuated such toxic ideologies as misogyny, homophobia, and racism. Studying the Jets’ language and behavior towards Anybody’s and the Sharks reveals why people commonly find othering to be so attractive. Simply put, it’s the power and the incentivizing sense of belonging that othering offers the majority group.

Toxic Masculinity in A Tux

By: Elicia O

Funny Girl portrays Nick Arnstein as an irresistibly charming yet domineering young man who reeks of self-entitlement——characteristics that distract others from his Jewish ethnicity and hypnotize them into affirming his carefully crafted façade of untainted whiteness. However, Fanny’s contrasting feminine Jewish status often threatens to expose Nick’s fragile ego. As a lower-class woman from Henry Street, Fanny doesn’t have many avenues through which she can abandon her Jewish identity. So, she opts to trade it in for fame and love. While Nick’s assumption of toxic masculinity and sexuality have afforded him the erasure of his Jewish identity, they also aid in destroying everything his façade has built by triggering the subsequent demise of Fanny, his marriage, and ultimately himself.

Nick consistently wears a suit throughout the musical as a constant sign of his white class status, as if we needed a reminder. Notably, when Nick first meets Fanny, he swaggers into her dressing room wearing a carefully pressed tux and white ruffled shirt, accented with a creased, white pocket-handkerchief. However, Fanny is still in her costume from the night’s performance. Nick’s costume provides him with an air of distinction and superiority over those around him, especially Fanny. As if the tux and pocket hanky weren’t enough to assert his self-importance, he chimes in on Fanny’s conversation with her boss without hesitation. In taking over her business deal unsolicited, he is enacting the misogynistic role of the male savior and provider for a woman whom he barely knows. He sees a poor, helpless woman in need of a man’s touch to “take care of business” and get her what she wants. The only advice Fanny offers in return is a laundry tip on how to keep his shirt from going limp. This comment reinforces Nick’s perpetuation of antiquated gender roles, amplifying his superior masculine status. Thus, Fanny’s role in the relationship is to aid Nick and cater to his needs while Nick acts as “the breadwinner.” How domestic.

The gender roles that Nick establishes in his first encounter with Fanny permeate every subsequent interaction and give her a subconscious sense of reliance on Nick as she equates him with the reason for her success. When Fanny sees Nick again after landing a job with Mr. Zigfield, she automatically assumes that Nick must have been the reason she got the job. Predictably, Nick does very little to convince her otherwise. Under Nick’s influence, Fanny has fallen prey to the idea that she needs a man to be successful in her career.

Nick doesn’t seem to be very knowledgeable about his Jewish roots, but he is very well-versed in gold digger. When unfamiliar with a Yiddish word that she uses, Fanny questions whether Nick is sure he’s Jewish. Naturally, he shrugs it off and changes the subject to talk about Fanny’s fame and, more specifically, how to use it to advance his preferred white male agenda. Fanny rejects Nick’s invitation to go out for the night and asks him instead if he would like to come to her party back home on Henry Street. Nick is quick to say yes. Now, why in the world would a “Dapper Dan” like Nick Arnstein want to slum it on Henry Street when he could have a night out on the town?

“I Wanna Be Seen With You Tonight” unveils Nick’s not-so-hidden motives for his initial pursuit of Fanny.  Nick proceeds to sing of how he just wants to be seen with Fanny. He even confesses that he wishes to “wear [her] like a charm, [her] glitter decorating [his arm].” Nick clearly views Fanny and her accompanying fame as an accessory, a pretty, shiny thing to make him look better by accentuating his pretentious masculine qualities. Nick laces his misogynistic idiocies with flattery, which not only entrances Fanny but also promotes his vision of her as an understated accent piece whose sole purpose is to inflate his white, male ego.

Nick’s behavior at Fanny’s party on Henry Street also conveys his lack of interest in Jewish affairs. Nick immediately leaves Fanny’s side upon entering and saunters over to the corner for a smoke, while Fanny dances with her Jewish family and friends. He only regains interest in the festivities when someone suggests a game of poker. Nick adopts a consistently “too cool for school” attitude toward Jewish culture. He not only exhibits an utter disregard for his Jewish heritage, but actively sets out to avoid it. Meanwhile, Fanny delights in spending time with her Jewish family and has developed an appreciation for the Yiddish language. She doesn’t shy away from her culture because she has no reason for hiding it. In fact, she often incorporates it into her musical numbers to get an extra laugh, like in her performance of the overtly sexual and patriotic Private Schwartz. She uses her Jewish identity to promote her fame and wears it on her sleeve as Nick wears his toxically masculine, white class status on his. More specifically, in Nick’s case, he has severed any ties to his Jewish roots in favor of the advancement of his current persona, which embodies white, toxic masculinity.

Nick’s assumption of his white male status naturally comes with an air of entitlement as he finds justification in his motives and dismisses any opposing perspectives. After kissing Fanny at her party, Nick disappears on a business trip for ten months. Naturally, he assumes that an expensive restaurant with French foods that Fanny could only dream of pronouncing should excuse his lack of consideration. So, when Fanny shows up to the date visibly upset, he is quick to call her “bad-tempered” and “childish.” As usual, the man is “cool and rational” while the woman is “overly emotional and dramatic.” In the words of pop-culture icon Taylor Swift, “a man is allowed to react. A woman can only overreact.”

Sadly,Nick’s invalidation of Fanny’s feelings only plummets her further into the delusion of his misogynistic, white grandeur.He continues to use his cavalier, unbothered attitude to persuade Fanny to not only to succumb to his will but to adopt it as her own. So, when Fanny finally decides to stay, he positively reinforces this decision by calling it a “very sensible” idea. Thus, Nick is conditioning Fanny to abandon her desires for his. Nick also uses this tactic in the bedroom, or in his case, a fancy French restaurant with a couch.

It’s very clear that Nick plans to make advances at Fanny on the date as he’s strategically placed a couch near their dinner table. Thus, Nick is unashamed of his sexuality and purposefully flaunts it in front of Fanny on their date. In contrast, Fanny worries that she won’teven know when Nick is making a move on her. Nick confidently assures her that she will as he is always “very direct” with what he wants. He then perches on the couch and admits that he believes you can have anything if you only insist on it. Thus, Nick adopts yet another classic trope of toxic masculinity as he draws strength and confidence from his sexuality, whereas women like Fanny are groomed to be sheepish and timid. Fanny tries to fight her sexual desires while ruminating over the standards her idol Sadie and her Jewish mother had set for her. Thus, Fanny’s instinct is to allow her Jewish ties to influence her decisions, while Nick is driven by his sense of male entitlement to getting what he desires.

 Despite Nick’s very forward approach to seduction, he carefully maintains his chivalrous exterior as he frequently compliments Fanny, pulls out her chair, and orders for her. However, growing eager, he then proceeds to sing “You Are Woman, I Am Man” to coax her into sleeping with him on the couch that he has so graciously provided. He also sings that “[she] is smaller, so [he] can be taller than.” Thus, Nick simultaneously flaunts his sexuality and asserts his male dominance by encouraging Fanny to give in to their primal nature. Conveniently, this is the same primal nature that demeans women and subjugates them to the same will that drives the male gaze.

For the second half of the musical, it seems that Nick has got Fanny right where he wants her. Fanny’s priorities shift as she has alienated herself from her Jewish family and friends so that she can fully invest in her relationship with Nick. She’s grown to develop both an emotional and–albeit very short-lived–financial dependence on him, but the tables quickly turn. Fanny offers to fund Nick’s casino business herself, so Nick can stay home with her and make her opening nights instead of going on business trips looking for investors. Given Nick’s track record for his perpetuation of more traditional gender norms, it’s no surprise that he hesitates. Fanny views herself as an equal in their relationship, adopting an attitude of “what’s mine is ours.” However, Nick is still stuck in his tendency to allow his sexist ideals of male dominance to fuel his decisions. Ultimately, he opts to compromise his dominant white male status and accepts Fanny’s money. He admits that he feels smothered by Fanny in her attempts to hold him so close, but it’s too late. His conditioning of Fanny to equate him with the ultimate source of her success and happiness has finally come back to haunt him. However, Nick simply chooses to stroke his fragile ego by remembering that because he’s assumed this white class male status, he knows that “fortune’s a fickle dame” and “lady luck changes affection.” Nick possesses this air of invincibility as he compares his current misfortune to just another woman for him to take advantage of and bend to his will. So, who runs the world? Well, according to Nick Arnstein, the answer is always rich, white males. However, we soon come to find that there may have been more truth in the original Queen B’s lyrics, at least in Nick’s case.

When Nick’s casino business inevitably fails, Fanny uses her connections to try once again to bail him out, but this time without his knowledge. Nick is furious when he finds out that Fanny was puppeteering his most recent and only business deal. Nick’s outburst reveals a break in his usual trend of being perfectly content with using Fanny for her fame. Now, he sees Fanny’s fame as a threat to his assumed control over setting the parameters for their relationship and blames her for it. This scene exposes his insecurities as he wrestles with his need to feel like a man, which stems from his ability to provide and be in control of their relationship. His reality of being financially dependent on his wife falls short of his warped standards of toxic masculinity and his original plans for conditioning Fanny to rely on him for her needs.

Ultimately, Nick crumbles under the pressure to maintain his façade of toxic masculinity and winds up in jail after becoming so desperate to feel in control again. Fanny blames herself for Nick’s break, his conditioning of her finally manifesting in a blind, unconditional love for him, despite his negligence with her emotions. Thus, Nick abandoned his Jewish identity in favor of the amplification of his white male identity, but it restricted him to a standard at which he was incapable of consistently performing. Nick and Fanny’s resulting demise act as a practical example of how traditional tropes of toxic masculinity both harm women as well as the men who subscribe to them.