I grew up in a small town in Northeast PA in the ‘80s. Not only were there no Jews in my town, but there weren’t all that many on the screen either. Sure, we had Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand, and Jennifer Grey. But, as a teenage girl, the only thing that really counted were cute boys, and there just weren’t a lot of Jewish ones on TV.
Well, so I thought. It wasn’t until years and a few Google searches later that I realized that Fred Savage, River Phoenix, and Corey Haim were also Jewish. But, there was no Google back then… and you didn’t need to do a search to know that Corey Feldman, with his classically Jewish last name and features, was also part of the tribe.
I remember the first time I saw his poster on the coveted back wall of my best friend’s bedroom, the spot that was typically reserved for indisputable sexpots like Slash and Kirk Cameron.
“You think HE’S cute?” I asked her in disbelief.
I’m not sure which cliché ‘80s phrase she responded with (He’s totally tubular? To the max? I’m wigging out over him?). Whatever it was, I remember being impressed.
I’m not even sure if she knew he was Jewish, but I sure did. And, she wasn’t his only admirer. His “Tiger Beat” poster graced the bedroom wall of many a middle school girl. Their admiration of him in all of his “Jewishness” made me feel a little less weird and a little more accepted.
Since then, there have been many obviously Jewish heartthrobs. Liev Schreiber, Andy Cohen, and the sizzling hot Adam Levine have all done their part to promote Jewish-boy sex appeal. But, Corey Feldman will always have a place in my heart for being my first “Jewish crush.”
I must admit that I haven’t thought a lot about him since those starry-eyed years of middle school. That is… until last week, when I fell in love with him all over again.
It wasn’t his long luxurious dark hair that made me swoon, nor his, um, “unique” performance on “The Today Show.” It was the way that he handled the cruel bullying that the internet doled out to him. Minutes after his performance, users took to social media to publicly ridicule him. They bashed everything from his appearance to his singing, using words like “creepy,” “delusional,” and “embarrassing.”
And how did he handle it? With genuine emotion and humble words. In a tearful speech on Facebook, Feldman reportedly said, “We just wanted to tell everybody that, like, it’s been really painful. We put ourselves out there and we did the best that we could. And, like, I’ve never had such mean things said about me.” He went on to add, “Public shaming should not be accepted, no matter who you are. It doesn’t matter if they’re a celebrity or not. We deserve love and we deserve, like, a normal life… It’s not OK, it’s not acceptable to call us freaks, weirdos, losers, whatever.”
Perhaps he isn’t the hottest celebrity around, or even the best musician. But, he is sincere and passionate and open with his emotions. And to me, that still makes him totally rad.