Perhaps it’s open-mouth-insert-foot time in Hollywood. Hot on the heels of a series of ugly racist and sexist comments allegedly attributed to Mel Gibson and still unfolding in the media, NewsBusters.org is reporting that director Oliver Stone gave an interview on Sunday during which he made several anti-Semitic statements regarding Hitler, the Holocaust, and Jewish-Americans, whom he described as dominating the media. The Los Angeles Times reports that Stone has already issued an apology over remarks given to explain his efforts to put Hitler and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin “in context” for his Showtime documentary series, “Secret History of America”.
But, as the LA Times suggests, it’s probably not curtains for the controversial director; if Roman Polanski and Mel Gibson can be forgiven over and over again for their alleged sins, all it will likely take is an apology and Stone will be back in Hollywood’s good graces. It will also help that Stone apologized quickly and strongly, stating, as the LA Times says, “Jews obviously do not control media or any other industry” and adding that the Holocaust was an “atrocity.” Note that speed will help, though it will not erase the facts; only this weekend, Stone had suggested, as Newsbusters reports, that “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people,” and that the US focus on the Holocaust was the result of “the Jewish domination of the media…there’s a major lobby in the United States.”
According to the LA Times, Gibson, by contrast, took a very long time to apologize for anti-Semitic drunken rants made when picked up by Malibu police for drunk driving. The Mirror reports that, in 2006, Gibson demanded of the arresting officer at the time, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars. Are you a Jew?” The comment reverberated, and the actor was thereafter limited to less and less work, finally picking up a lead role in “Edge of Darkness” earlier this year.
Just when it seemed Gibson, accused of many racist and homophobic statements over his career, might be forgiven, the nasty split with his ex, Oksana Grigorieva, has released a torrent of racist invective in the public forum, with yet another unrecorded anti-Semtic epithet attributed to the actor by Grigorieva. Investigating authorities looking into allegations of domestic abuse were told by Gibson’s ex that he had once wanted to take a Jewish public figure “to the desert, stripped naked, knee capped and left in the heat”, further noting he wanted “Jew blood on my hands,” the Mirror reports.
While the full, shocking depths of Gibson’s alleged statements suggest a deep well of hate, it is the casual, off-handed remarks made in the name of politics by Stone that can do equal damage. Contrition is great, but other comments by Stone, suggesting in Newsbusters that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is “a brave, blunt, earthy” man and that President Ahmadinejad’s Iran “isn’t necessarily the good guy… but we don’t know the full story!” point to a kind of far-left extreme worldview that has increasingly stepped up anti-Semitic statements in the same way that some on the far-right, such as Gibson, have been known to do.
As someone who doesn’t mind being labeled “liberal,” I find it’s less and less possible to take the extreme wings of either party at less-than-face value. Hollywood’s public faces will be raked over the coals as they should be, but it is quite possible for political commentators to insert divisive and even offensive language into their message that’s less far transparent than the clearly repugnant statements of either Stone or Gibson.
Alana Goodman, “Oliver Stone: ‘Jewish-Dominated Media’ Prevents Hitler from Being Portrayed ‘in Context'” Newsbusters.org
Patrick Goldstein, “Oliver Stone has apologized for his anti-Semitic rant, but is the damage already done” Los Angeles Times
Tom Bryant, “Mel Gibson accused of new rant against Jews” Mirror