The story of two central characters in the birth of video games, Nolan Bushnell and Ralph Baer, smashes cultural stereotypes of Jewish people. First, an overview of the birth of the Jewish Stereotype needs to be considered.
The Jewish stereotype revolves around misconceptions of culture and literacy. The Jews promoted literacy and study of the Talmud while Medieval Europe put the interpretation of the Bible into the hands of a small cadre in the Catholic Church. Broadly, Europeans would take lands away from the Jews and force them into money lending, logistics, and the bourgeoisie life in particular. While European land holders were focused on aristocratic privilege and producing goods with peasant labor, the Jewish people were trading goods on an international scale. Plus, kings frequently borrowed money from the Jews as Catholic Law actually prohibited money lending. These dynamics were further accelerated by the colonial conquests that began with Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World.
So, what does any of this have to do with Nolan Bushnell and Ralph Baer? Again, the Jewish stereotype is of a man who is calculated, cunning, and concerned with appropriating the labor of others. Ralph Baer was an engineer who developed the very first video game console. Baer patented his console designs and eventually licensed them to Magnavox to create the Odyssey. The classic game, pong, was included with the Odyssey. Ralph Baer was a humble, working class engineer. The Odyssey was being demonstrated at a public event where Nolan Bushnell signed the guest book. Not long there after, Bushnell created the pong arcade game. In contrast to his earlier effort “Space War”, “Pong” was a smash success. Bushnell eventually settled the case with Baer for a small sum. Bushnell was a bombastic businessman who started many companies, such as Chuck E. Cheese, with varying degrees of success. In sum, Bushnell was more of a stereotypical “Jew” than Baer.
For perhaps the most funny parody of the stereotypical Jewish man, see Jeffrey Tambor’s portrayal of George Bluth Sr. in the series “Arrested Development”. If you’re already familiar with the show, Bushnell, and Baer, consider how similar Bushnell is to Bluth. Interestingly, Jon Ronson’s book, Them: Adventures with Extremists, chronicles how many extreme anti-illuminati, anti-Bilderberg Group extremists considered a “Jew” to be anyone who held money and/or power. Further, there are many ‘casual’ instances of anti-Semitism on the internet.
How does a gentile like myself get beyond anti-Semitism? The Encyclopedia Dramatica article on Jewish people actually helped. If I can deconstruct that, I can conquer any text. Western Civilization owes a great debt to the Jewish people. Jewish people have made some great contributions to the natural sciences, social sciences, and entertainment industries. Far, far more than us stupid Pollacks.
Wow, talk about obscure. Well, I guess that’s all I have to write. I didn’t put much energy into writing what’s above. I don’t even know if anyone will read it. If anything needs further elaboration, let me know. And, at this point, I really don’t care if anyone accuses me of being prejudice or whatever. I’ve bent over backwards to understand everyone from feminists, to MRAs, to racists, to trans people, to just plain old white guys like myself. I’m just surprised no has read or commented on this. I had 12,000 people read my stuff on reddit. I just like the look and feel of Medium much more. Plus, I think it’ll be more civilized.