It was supposed to be an easy profile. A marginal character on "The Simpsons", it was revealed that the news anchor Kent Brockman changed his name from "Kenny Brockelstein." An obvious step for a Jew in show business, much like Woody Allen, Kirk Douglas, Larry King, and a multitude of others. So we were just going to compare Brockman to those name-altering Jews, pick some ratings and a verdict, write something vaguely pithy and move on.
But then, we asked ourselves: is Brockman still Jewish? After all, Allen, Crystal and King still consider themselves Jews (be it religiously or culturally), name changes notwithstanding. But Brockman? (And if you're disappointed in us for putting so much thought into whether a fictional character considers themselves Jewish, you haven't been spending enough time at this website).
And since Brockman is such a marginal character, how could we ever know for sure? Fortunately, there was an easy solution: had Brockman ever been shown in church? For example, Simpsons animators never put Krusty the Clown, a Jew, in church scenes. Did they treat Brockman with the same Kosher gloves?
It took hundreds of hours of dedicated research, e-mails and two dead interns, but we have our answer. In at least one episode Brockman is seen in church. And, in this case, once is more than enough for us. He might have been born a Jew, he might even wear a Chai necklace now and then, but would a real Jew attend Sunday service? We don't think so.
And we thought this we going to be easy.
Verdict: Barely a Jew.
January 30, 2008