Books, Books, L.A. Local, News
Mar 7, 2024

‘Stranger Things’ Actor Brett Gelman’s Signing Canceled At Book Soup Over Safety Concerns

In a dangerous turning of the tide, having the wrong public opinion won’t just get you cancelled nowadays it’ll get you open and bold death threats. Brett Gelman of Stranger Things fame just had his book signing cancelled due to an escalation of death threats should he attempt a signing at Hollywood’s iconic Book Soup.

Image: David-Simon Dayan

The store claimed that escalating threats “became a safety risk we were not willing to take.” The store has hosted many controversial authors over the years and has rarely canceled, but said “the current charged environment” forced its hand. 

When has being anti-semtic been so acceptable? Why are we allowing citizens to be bullied and harrassed and even have their life threated for simply believing they have a right to exist? Citizens of this country don’t have a say in worldwide politics, the threats just don’t make sense, unless you realize it’s just plain antisemitism.

Brett Gelman has been outspoken in his support of Israel in the wake of Oct. 7, but claims the cancellations on his book tour were because of his emphasis on his “Jewish identity.” Brett Gelman’s book, The Terrifying Realm of the Possible: Nearly True Stories, is not overtly political and in the vein of Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. The anthology weaves five interconnected short stories told through the perspective of five different Jewish characters. Gelman describes it as a “return to the literature that I loved and that I felt wasn’t being represented — dark Jewish humor.” The book is scheduled for release March 19. You can pre-order it here.

His appearances were also canceled at Book Passage in San Francisco and The Book Stall in Winnetka, Illinois, and he has an upcoming date in New York on March 19 at Town Hall canceled. This isn’t a one time thing, its deeply concerning to see Jewish voices threated and silenced. The public allowing Jewish voices to be silenced it deeply concerning and an alarming change of pace for the nation and for the entertainment industry which was founded on the creativity of the Jewish community who were barred from jobs like newspapers and the like forcing them to innovate and create what we know as comics and Hollywood today. This same systemic antisemitism is rearing its head now as it works to silence the smallest margin of people in the United States from having a free and equal voice in society.

The book’s publishing house, Dey Street, an imprint of HarperCollins, echoed the Book Soup story on the L.A. cancellation. “The store has seen an uptick in angry calls and emails. Although the store had planned to hire additional security and is aware that Brett was planning to bring his own security too, Book Soup does not feel like they can keep Brett, their staff, and attendees safe.”

If you’re championing one cause against the other, it shouldn’t leave citizens on either side feeling threated for their lives for your cause. If you’re threatening people with their safety you’re likely on the wrong side of history. Especially a person not directly involved in the issue at hand.

Gelman told the Los Angeles website, “It’s hurtful on the level of it happening to my book, but it’s also traumatic in terms of like, what is my standing in the world? The fact that they are backing down for whatever reason they are allowing this to happen is something that I never thought I would ever experience. I never thought that I would be discriminated against in such an aggressive way because of the fact that I’m Jewish.”

He added that threats against his appearance aren’t serious enough to cancel his appearance. “These are the screams of bullies,” he said. “Maybe they’re worried that a gang is going to, you know, march outside and maybe throw a trash can through the window, but I had said that was not going to happen. I was going to provide enough security to make sure that wasn’t going to happen.” Brett Gelman continues: “I support Israel, but that does not mean that I celebrate the death of innocent Palestinians. It kills me that as a Jew, I’m conditioned to think that I need to apologize for being a Jew, for advocating for my people’s rights for my people’s humanity,” says Gelman. “It’s a power grab. We’re being dehumanized. We’re being scapegoated on all sides. We are the most gaslit people of all time.”

It’s also noteworthy to know a Los Angeles book event in early February featuring Moshe Kasher and Mayim Bialik was also disrupted by protesters, allegedly because of Bialik’s commentary on the Israel/Hamas war.