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A bit of advice for Gary Oldman

Never apologise for saying what you think. The people whose opinions matter to you either agree with you, or if they do not, they at least understand why you think the things you do… but your enemies will still hate you anyway no matter what you say, so why bother apologising? If you have offended someone, that is not your problem, that is their problem. It is a fairly major mistake to give a damn.

UPDATE:

Here is what I think the issue is: ‘Jews’ pretty much run Hollywood. Indisputable. Generally when someone mentions this the subtext is “and this is bad because Jews are the secret reptile masters of the world” (or insert whatever particular strain of the craziness).

But I am pretty sure that is not the point Oldman was making. What I suspect is he was saying that it is actually impossible to mention that fact no matter what. Much like you cannot discuss race and IQ. Or race and crime statistics. Or race and GDP. Or anything that suggests some genders might be better suited to certain jobs. Cannot be done in ‘polite society’. It does not matter what your motivation and ‘subtext’ is, the entire subject is haram.

Now I understand why these topic are haram better than you might think. For example I once wrote this on Samizdata:

[it should be possible to discuss race in a reasonable manner with strangers]. In theory true but the reality is otherwise. I have yet to have a conversation with, well, almost anyone on-line about race which did not segue into a conversation expressing views that are simply race-collectivist (i.e. racist). That should not be the case but that is indeed my experience. Whilst I am willing to admit to the possibility of a discussion of race without racism, the empirical evidence suggest that if I assume anyone who brings up the subject of race is a racist, I will rarely, if ever, be proved wrong. Sure, if I was to find myself chatting academically with a genetic scientist, that may not be the case, but otherwise…

…and I shut down and ban ‘race realists’ on Samizdata’s comment section immediately, because of their habit of turning pretty much *any* discussion into a discussion about race. Utterly tedious. Some topics seem to simply be beyond rational discussion other than with a closed circle of friends.

But the trouble is people like the ADL are not defending their blog the way I do, they are reaching out and shutting down any discussion of “The Jews” (an alarmingly collectivist notion right there, it must be said, as if all Jews were some fungible mass). Heaven knows I can understand why a certain ‘sensitivity’ might have developed, but if Oldman was simply pointing out that people like the ADL treat the world as their blog and their job is to moderate all discussion therein, well he does have a point. And if the ADL dislike me saying that, take a guess how much I care ;-)

36 comments to A bit of advice for Gary Oldman

  • the other rob

    Gibbs’ Rule #6: Never apologize — It’s a sign of weakness.

  • Paul Marks

    Good post.

  • It is unfortunate that some of my fellow(?) Jews are bent on competing with other “disadvantaged minorities” (or whatever the current PC term is) in playing the offended-victim game, and the Anti-Defamation League seem to have become some of the worst, ahem, offenders on that score. I personally found Oldman’s original remarks somewhat awkward, but whatever happened to simply ignoring awkward things people are saying, and going about your own business?

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    The only thing more astonishing than Hollywood’s willingness to blacklist a self confessed alcoholic for things he said while inebriated is the fury they direct at anyone who dares (even very equivocally) to speak up in his defence. Identity politics is a nasty, nasty business. When teaching I always take the opportunity to warn my students against the sorts of people who will try and define them on the basis of a single aspect of their character.

  • David Crawford

    Alisa,

    Try being half American Indian. (Sioux and Northern Cheyenne.) We were the people who put George Custer and his crew into an early grave. But now we’re such delicate tulips that the name of an NFL team causes us injury beyond belief. Of all the issues Indians back on the rez face, the name of a sports team is not one of those. I wish they would put half as much effort into determining what is holding back private investment into reservations (hint, the answer starts with “federal” and ends with “government”).

    And yes, every year, during the college hockey championship tournament, I cheer for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. I love that name. Fighting Sioux, damn right bitches.

  • Indeed, David. And JV.

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    I have always liked an email signature which read:

    Please let me know if anything I say offends you. Because, if you are offended by what I have said, I will want to remember it, so I can offend you in future, on purpose.

  • Never apologise for saying what you think .

    I usually see the need to apologize as a sign of things having been said that were not well-thought-out in the first place. IOW, one may have tried to say things he really thought, but instead said things that came across as something he does not really think is true. Happens to the best and the brightest, and in such cases an apology is a perfectly appropriate measure. Whether that was the case with Oldman I have no way of knowing.

  • Regional

    JV,
    Didn’t Hollywood campaign against ‘McCarthyism’?
    But I suppose they’re nice bigots.

  • Laird

    Alisa, I think that’s generally true only if by “not well-thought-out” you mean “I hadn’t properly considered the reaction of people whose opinions I care about.” Which can certainly be a valid reason for holding one’s tongue, especially if those other people can harm your career. But the idea itself may indeed be perfectly rational and well-considered. In that case no apology should be offered: if the idea is sound it needs no apology, and if one is offered it won’t matter in the least to those who are (or feign to be) offended by the remark. I think Oldman’s comments fall into that category, and his attempt at an apology foolish and ultimately ineffectual.

  • I agree on both possibilities, Laird (although again, I do not wish to presume what Oldman may have meant to say, as opposed to what he actually said. As I mentioned, I found his statements awkward.) But there is also a third possibility to which I alluded, and that is one where one fails not so much consider the ideas themselves, but the manner in which to express them – the formulation, the actual words used, etc. Many very thoughtful and intelligent people are less than articulate.

  • The problem is that in fact, Hollywood IS controlled by Jews — or at least, Jews hold a disproportionate number of the influential positions in the industry. That’s not a slam on Jews, of course, any more than it’s a slam on London’s influence in international finance, or Germany’s predominant position in industrial technological advances, or Italy’s (!) preeminent position in sports car manufacturing.

    Oldman’s problem is that his comments were seen as supportive of Mel Gibson — who is TRULY anti-Semitic — and that could be problematic in terms of Oldman’s career. Let’s not fool ourselves, here: if the studio brass decide to blackball an actor, he’s as done as a 24-hour roast beef, so Oldman’s apology should be seen as nothing more than an attempt to retrieve the situation. And Hollywood, which is completely hypocritical and in reality only cares about money, will “accept” Oldman’s apology and continue to cast him because his films make them money.

    It’s an industry which deals with illusion on a daily basis, so none of this should be surprising. I remember being enthralled by the Tim Robbins movie The Player, which I thought showed Hollywood decision-making in a very poor light. Then I was talking to someone who was once deeply involved with Hollywood, and she commented tartly that The Player wasn’t at all realistic “because they aren’t even that smart”. Then she followed it up with “And I thought Jews were supposed to be smart, but I guess all the smart ones went into banking and diamonds. Hollywood ended up with the dregs.”

    The other problem is that Hollywood has no idea how to deal with real talent, only with box-office receipts. So a buffoon like Will Farrell gets to make any stupid movie he wants (because: box office), while someone like Gary Oldman, who is monumentally talented, ends up with mostly co-starring bad-guy roles because he plays them so brilliantly. Because of that, Oldman is vulnerable and a blackball would end his movie career (except for the indy art movies, and actors can’t earn a living on art movies). His fumbling apology should be seen in that context, I think.

  • Well, duh Kim :-) I also think that he did that interview when UI, but I could be wrong.

  • @Alisa: I know my response is duh, but at the same time, I think the “never apologise for what you think” maxim is overly broad. Sometimes you have to apologise, no matter how ridiculous you think it is. It’s just a comedy of manners.

  • Yes, by ‘duh’ I meant ‘of course’, of course :-D

    BTW, Oldman is indeed a very talented actor, but I suspect that the reason he has not been getting better roles since, oh, “Leon” is mostly his personality. I could be wrong.

  • David Crawford

    There is something that bothers me when people mention the amount of Jews in an industry. It goes like this:

    What is said: There are a lot of Jews in (pick an industry).

    What is not said but “everyone” understands that to mean: And they are all colluding together to some evil or harmful (to those not Jewish) end.

    No one infers anything like that when other ethnic or religious groups are over-represented in an industry. Take southern whites. They are over-represented in the US Army. No one infers anything negative about that. They don’t imply that there’s a cabal of neo-Confederates plotting to harm the USA.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I’m not sure that’s entirely true David. It is possible to talk about an industry being run by Jews in an entirely subtext-free way. For sure, often when people do so there is a kind of “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” vibe to it, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In the case of Hollywood, to say it is run by Jews is simply stating a fact.

    If a racing car driver got drunk and mouthed off about “rednecks”, and then someone commenting on his subsequent firing opined that Nascar was “run by rednecks”, I think it would be clear what is meant. There would be no implication of collusion or evil plot. It would simply be that rednecks own Nascar, and they don’t like people mouthing off about them.

    The same goes for Jews in Hollywood. Equally though it is quite legitimate to point out when a group (in this case the Anti-Defamation League) has a needlessly prissy attitude to offense.

    My own 2 cents is it is totally unfair to take something spoken in a couple of drunken rants and try and define a man’s whole life by them. No one could pass such a test, and for an alcoholic it is doubly unkind. That Gibson’s career has been completely destroyed by this says a lot more about “Hollywood Jews” than it does about him. And no, I don’t mean to imply anything more than what I just said in the preceeding statement.

  • David Crawford

    JV,

    I don’t buy for one minute that Gibson and Oldham were simply stating a statistic. No, they were implying that there is something about the number of Jews in Hollywood that bothers them. Otherwise, why would they notice and remember how many Jews there were, and why did it made such an impression on them that they brought it up in public. Like I said above, this only seems to come up when Jews are over-represented in an industry.

    I work in an office with 17 other people and I know the religion of exactly one of them. (He’s Mormon, and I only know that because I had to approve emergency leave for him. His son was in a bus accident while on mission.) Unlike Gibson and Oldham, I don’t go around determining and noting who belongs to which religion.

    Also, “rednecks” don’t own NASCAR, southerners do. There is a difference.

  • Regional

    David Crawford,
    Doesn’t NASCAR’ have it’s origins with Tennessee brewers getting their product to customers?

  • David Crawford

    Regional,

    And your point is that southerner automatically equals redneck. Obviously you don’t know the first thing about the south. Christ, you and JV sound like typical Guardian commenters.

  • I’m with David on this.

    JV:

    My own 2 cents is it is totally unfair to take something spoken in a couple of drunken rants and try and define a man’s whole life by them.

    What? Where? He said something, other people said something. Both sides are overreacting, but no one is defining no one else’s life by any of that. As has been noted, Oldman has been second-tier in Hollywood for years. Ditto Gibson, BTW, quite long before he started going on in public about the Joooos. And read the link I posted above about things we say when drunk or otherwise not being perfectly articulate: there’s free speech, and then there are social consequences thereof – one can’t pick up only one end of that stick.

    All that said, I still wish people would stop being so busy feeling offended and went about their own damned business, and I also wish talented people like Oldman and Gibson would focus on their art, instead of looking for this or that boogieman under their bed, while getting pissed senseless. Oh well.

  • Regional

    David Crawford, not familiar with irony then?
    Actually I respect ‘rednecks’

  • I also fail to see how ‘redneck’ is a pejorative…:-D

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Alisa,
    A quote from the Anti-Defamation League in the article:

    “Mel Gibson’s ostracisation 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. It is disturbing that Mr Oldman appears to have bought into Mr Gibson’s warped and prejudiced world view.”

    What I take issue with is the unchallenged assumption that drunken rants tell you what someone “really thinks”. Would it be fair to take everything a Schizophrenic says while off their meds as gospel truth? To blackball a man for things said in a drunken stupor without giving him an equal platform to defend himself while sober is, well, wicked.

    Also calling him a “bigot” and a “hater” isn’t just a comment on what he said, it is a comment on who he is. Ergo, they are trying to define the man based on his behaviour while drunk.

    This I would suggest is out of all proportion to his conduct. The explanation for this is at least partly down to what Oldman (quite inarticulately) tried to say. That is, there are lots of Jews in positions of power in Hollywood, and one of that towns unforgivable sins is to badmouth Jews since so doing offends them particularly and they make it their business to see that you don’t work again. However this isn’t just a “Jewish thing”. If Gibson had got drunk and gone on about “niggers” then it is likely his career would have suffered considerable damage as well (although I wonder if it would have been quite so fast and absolute). He offended against PC orthodoxy and that seems to be the greatest sin a public figure can commit these days – in Hollywood or out of it.

    The knife-edge culture of people taking histrionic offense should you say one thing wrong is very troubling. I would contend that it is deeply unjust. Certainly Gibson is not a well man mentally, and his conduct was appalling. But my reaction on hearing of it was one of concern, not one of anger.

    PS -Oh and David, please read the first sentance of my previous paragraph. I used scare quotes around my initial uses of the word “redneck” on purpose. I presented a hypothetical in which imaginary people gave imaginary opinions, and you still mannaged to take offence.

  • David Crawford

    Mel Gibson = Luis Suarez, Jaded Voluntaryist = the Uruguayan press.

  • Well JV, from my anecdotal experience, people actually tend to be more honest when drunk, rather than when sober. Be that as it may though, and the ADL assertion about Gibson’s ostracization in Hollywood notwithstanding, I maintain two things: first that I seriously doubt that Gibson was in fact so ostracized professionally because of his antisemitic rants*. Second, and as mentioned earlier, one can’t simply mouth off stuff others find offensive, and expect them not to be offended and not to form their opinions of him based on his rants, whether drunken or sober. That goes even for professional offendees such as the ADL. They do have the right to be offended and to make a fuss about it, even though it makes me personally shrug in bemusement.

    *ADL aside, and back to ostracization business – whether real or imaginary: why do you expect businesses run by Jews to be willing to employ someone like Gibson, after he said the things he did about Jews?

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Absolutely Alisa, they are quite within their rights to ostracize Gibson. I would not for example support any steps to make such a response illegal.

    However, I also believe that such a response is a massive overreaction and I retain the right to say so. I also dislike the tendency for the media to try and make singular events in people’s lives come to define those people.

    If Gibson had said what he said about Scotsmen (of which I am one) and I ran a movie studio, I would categorically not shun him based on what he said. I would want to meet the man myself (while he was sober). But, he didn’t say it about Scotsmen, and I don’t own a studio so I suppose the point is moot.

    But on a personal level I’m always disappointed when people collectively resort to binary and populist thinking on such matters. The tabloids have a lot to answer for there, of course.

  • Like I said above, this only seems to come up when Jews are over-represented in an industry.

    No. Here is the issue: ‘Jews’ pretty much run Hollywood. Indisputable. Generally when someone mentions this the subtext is “and this is bad because Jews are the secret reptile masters of the world” (insert whatever particular strain of the craziness here).

    But I am pretty sure that is not the point Oldman was making. What I suspect is he was saying that it is actually impossible to mention that fact no matter what. Much like you cannot discuss race and IQ. Or race and crime statistics. Or race and GDP. Or anything that suggests some genders might be better suited to certain jobs. Cannot be done in ‘polite society’. It does not matter what your motivation and ‘subtext’ is, the entire subject is haram.

    Now I understand why these topic are haram better than you might think. For example I once wrote this on Samizdata:

    [it should be possible to discuss race in a reasonable manner with strangers]. In theory true but the reality is otherwise. I have yet to have a conversation with, well, almost anyone on-line about race which did not segue into a conversation expressing views that are simply race-collectivist (i.e. racist). That should not be the case but that is indeed my experience. Whilst I am willing to admit to the possibility of a discussion of race without racism, the empirical evidence suggest that if I assume anyone who brings up the subject of race, is a racist, I will rarely, if ever, be proved wrong. Sure, if I was to find myself chatting academically with a genetic scientist, that may not be the case, but otherwise…

    …and I shut down and ban ‘race realists’ on Samizdata’s comment section immediately, because of their habit of turning pretty much *any* discussion into a discussion about race. Utterly tedious. Some topics seem to simply be beyond rational discussion other than with a closed circle of friends.

    But the trouble is people like the ADL are not defending their blog the way I do, they are reaching out and shutting down any discussion of “The Jews” (an alarmingly collectivist notion right there, it must be said, as if all Jews were some fungible mass). Heaven knows I can understand why a certain ‘sensitivity’ might have developed, but if Oldman was simply pointing out that people like the ADL treat the world as their blog and their job is to moderate all discussion therein, well he does have a point. And if the ADL dislike me saying that, take a guess how much I care ;-)

  • I would want to meet the man myself (while he was sober).

    Why do you presume that the studio owners or cast directors or whoever have not met him? To me he always sounded as an unpleasant character, and as I said earlier, my uneducated guess is that this was the main reason he has not made much headway in Hollywood long before the current incident. Same goes for Gibson.

  • Tedd

    What is said: There are a lot of Jews in (pick an industry).

    What is not said but “everyone” understands that to mean: And they are all colluding together to some evil or harmful (to those not Jewish) end.

    It’s always risky to speculate about what other people think, but I think you’re miles off the mark with that comment. I do agree that some people will infer what you said; some people are morons, or are spring loaded to the panic position about anti-semitism for other reasons. Much more commonly, I suspect, people will infer that you mean either that there’s something about Jewish culture that predisposes them to enter (or to succeed in) that industry, or — if they’re less charitable — that you think there’s a degree of nepotism in that industry.

  • toolkien

    I think there’s a large proportion of Hollywood owned by Jews, and I think there’s an aspect of collusion in the stance that Hollywood takes with respect to Jewish affairs. So what? Whatever concentration there may be was a result of people voting with their dollars (stridently demogogic movies are usually sniffed out and people stayed away). Also, the Jews owned a goodly chunk of Hollywood from its foundation, and yet their fare was very anglicized, many Jewish entertainers changing their names to suit the tastes of the dollar-voters. Also, one might theorize that Jews are more adept at things creative and capital, both which require greater than average intellect, whether one believes that it is driven by nature or nurture it is rather a truism.

    If still you have a problem, compete with them and gain the resources to offer a contrasting view. Of course many of the Hollywood Jews tend to be liberal (in the modern sense) which can be frustrating, but I certainly don’t want some sort interference in their ability to say what they wish with their own resources, even in terms of the fantasy making industry. If anyone, Jewish or Gentile, compiles any sort of fortune and seeks to buy power and influence with the corridors of power, well, I have the same opinion of all of them regardless of their philosophical bent.

    Of course, given the same set of circumstances, one has to wonder if Hollywood was dominated by Catholics how other sectors of the spectrum would feel about the assembled power/collusion.

  • If still you have a problem, compete with them and gain the resources to offer a contrasting view.

    I really don’t give a fuck about Jews (or anyone else) in Hollywood, or elsewhere. Unlike Islam, “Jewish” is not a political philosophy. I just dislike the ADL and their ilk throwing shit at people who even discuss any topic they decide is haram.

    one has to wonder if Hollywood was dominated by Catholics how other sectors of the spectrum would feel about the assembled power/collusion.

    Oh I imagine that would be far more likely to generate conspiracy theories here in the UK than Jews-in-Hollywood do, given there are probably more people here who dislike Catholics than dislike Jews.

  • Rich Rostrom

    David Crawford @ June 27, 2014 at 9:51 pm:

    Take southern whites. They are over-represented in the US Army. No one infers anything negative about that.

    Uhh, you haven’t looked hard enough. There are quite a few lefties who regard the U.S. Army as a citadel of “reaction”. The presence of white Southerners buttresses leftist credulity toward atrocity claims.

    Regional @ June 28, 2014 at 5:08 am:

    Doesn’t NASCAR have its origins with Tennessee brewers getting their product to customers?

    Distillers, not brewers.

    toolkien @ June 29, 2014 at 8:00 pm:

    …one has to wonder if Hollywood was dominated by Catholics how other sectors of the spectrum would feel about the assembled power/collusion.

    There was a time when such a situation would have spawned intense conspiratizing, perhaps as recently as the 1920s. The Catholic Church is, after all, a globe-girdling organization with enormous propaganda and recruitment activities and the explicit goal of controlling the spiritual life of all men.

    They’ve long since retreated from that goal in practice, have lost nearly all their political power, and are so obviously disunited that hardly anyone sees them as a serious threat. (The exceptions being fever-swamp Protestants, hindutva activists, paranoid Moslems, and a few cranks.) But it wasn’t all that long ago that many did see Catholics in that light.

  • But it wasn’t all that long ago that many did see Catholics in that light.

    You have clearly never been to Ulster or Glasgow, because long ago is last week ;-)