Op-Ed: Gary Oldman's Big Mistake (not what you think)
That French rascal Robespierre proclaimed, “Find me 20 words written by any man and I will find reason to hang him.”
Actor Gary Oldman used 27 words in a Playboy interview that got him hanged, as follows: “Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess fed him.” There was more but that was all it took to ignite a huge outcry.
Oldman has been apologizing ever since. I caught up to him on Jimmy Kimmel Live where he seemed to be sincerely contrite. His Playboy gaffe is surely anti-Semitic. But is Oldman an anti-Semite? No more than anybody else. So the short answer, in my book, is no.
If I appear to be going soft, in Oldman’s case he won me over with his beautiful performance as Beethoven in the film, “Immortal Beloved.” Any man who can be so true to our greatest composer has to be good-hearted himself (I choose to believe), and remember – Beethoven lived in Europe at a time when anti-Semitism was as rife as ever but he never took the bait.
Beethoven was part of the Enlightenment and I trust that the same goes for Oldman.
In his Playboy interview Oldman referred to Neal Gabler’s “An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood.” He spoke of the book in admiration of the pioneers, so he knows that people like Carl Laemmle (Universal), William Fox (20th Century Fox), Louis B. Mayer (MGM) and Harry Cohn of Columbia did not invade Hollywood – they created Hollywood. They pioneered that universe.
Oldman’s biggest hit to date, “The Dark Knight Rises, (2012)” still owes its success to those Warner Brothers of 100 years ago.
My own page to screen moment, “Indecent Proposal” was produced by Sherry Lansing but we are still indebted to Paramount founder Adolph Zucker.
Oldman got carried away in that Playboy interview. He was speaking against political correctness. Most of us can agree that the PC business has gone too far. We can’t say anything about anybody. We have become so touchy and we can’t take a joke.
What Oldman failed to understand was that the phrase “run by Jews” has a particular nuance. It has a special nastiness. It is a blood libel that extends over the centuries. At the moment it is being used by BDS, but it goes back to Hitler and it even goes back Pharaoh – “The Hebrews grow too numerous.”
Oldman is a terrific actor. There is an assumption that because actors are clever in their roles, they are equally clever without a script. Not so, obviously.
Thus Oldman has been tearfully remorseful. So what do these people do when they get caught speaking their minds and it comes out stupid?
They run to the ADL’s Abe Foxman pleading for forgiveness – thumbs up or thumbs down. Foxman refuses to forgive.
“Insufficient,” he says about Oldman’s apology.
Somehow, word got out that somebody died and made Abe Foxman king of the Jews. But we have no king and we have no pope and nobody speaks for us as a group. We have no spokesman. The ADL – the anti-Defamation League – may be a fine organization, but I doubt that even five percent of us are so affiliated.
The gift of forgiveness is not in the hands of the ADL. Let’s get this straight: Abe Foxman is not our Santa Claus.
If someone needs to atone, go ahead; just say you’re sorry. Sometimes that’s good enough. Do not say, “Take me to your leader.”
My advice to actors is to keep acting but stick to the script.
Jack Engelhard writes a regular column for Arutz Sheva. Engelhard wrote the int’l bestseller Indecent Proposal that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. New from the novelist, the anti-BDS thriller Compulsive. Website: www.jackengelhard.com