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Arts and Culture

Gary Oldman Does Himself a Great Disservice With Anti-Semitic Diatribe

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Posted on Jun 24, 2014

  Et tu, Gary? Oldman poses in the press line for the “Robocop” reboot in Hollywood on Feb. 10. Shutterstock

British actor Gary Oldman unleashed a torrent of instantly regrettable remarks about Hollywood culture in the latest edition of Playboy, couching his statements in that tediously familiar type of defiant language so often brandished by the clueless.

As per usual, “political correctness” is set up as the refuge of the cowardly and the brainwashed, thus granting the gutsy speaker—Oldman, in this case—license to flex his ignorance in the guise of “telling it like it is.” No, really—please don’t.

Too late. Variety’s Dave McNary charted the course of Oldman’s train wreck interview in a write-up for the entertainment industry trade on Monday:

Gary Oldman has blasted Hollywood for what he perceives as a double standard — asserting that Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can get away with politically incorrect humor while others like Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin cannot.

[…] The most explosive part of the interview includes attacks on Maher, Stewart and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, following his declaration that political correctness is “crap.”

“Well, if I called Nancy Pelosi a c*** — and I’ll go one better, a f****** useless c*** — I can’t really say that. But Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can, and nobody’s going to stop them from working because of it. Bill Maher could call someone a fag and get away with it. He said to Seth MacFarlane this year, ‘I thought you were going to do the Oscars again. Instead they got a lesbian.’ He can say something like that. Is that more or less offensive than Alec Baldwin saying to someone in the street, ‘You fag’? I don’t get it.”

While someone—perhaps Playboy interviewer David Hochman—might have suggested that in that instance, Maher wasn’t necessarily pinpointing MacFarlane’s sexual identity so much as Ellen DeGeneres’, that was the least of Oldman’s semantic problems. The actor, currently doing junket duty for his latest big-screen role in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” also sprang to the unwise defense of repeat offender Mel Gibson.

“I don’t know about Mel,” Oldman began, readying his mouth for the imminent introduction of his foot. “He got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things.” And when “those things” relate to, say, Gibson’s frothy-jawed commentary about Jewish people—which, it is important to note at this time, effectively ended his filmmaking career—Oldman is dismayingly in agreement. To wit: “Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews,” he announced to Hochman, who is Jewish.

“We’re all f****** hypocrites,” Oldman added. “The policeman who arrested [Gibson] has never used the word n***** or that f****** Jew?”

Because we’ve all said it, amirite?

Well, no. Predictably, it didn’t take long for Oldman’s words to double back on him, and though they might have been spoken to incite controversy, critics like Anti-Defamation League director Abraham H. Foxman were ready to bat them down with the reality stick (via Variety): 

“He should know better than to repeat and give credence to tired anti-Semitic tropes. Mel Gibson’s ostracization in Hollywood was not a matter of being ‘politically incorrect,’ as Mr. Oldman suggests, but of paying the consequences for outing himself as a bigot and a hater.

Looks like Oldman, who has played such highbrow roles as Ludwig van Beethoven in “Immortal Beloved,” Rosencrantz in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” and Sirius Black in those “Harry Potter” movies, might do best sticking with the chimps for now. Regardless, it’s going to take a lot to live these words down, and here’s a hint—it’s probably not because Hollywood is a stifling hotbed of political correctness.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

 


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