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Prick Up Your Ears
June 25, 2014 8:13 AM   Subscribe

In an interview published Monday with Playboy magazine (mostlySFW), Gary Oldman, the British actor who first gained critical recognition in 1987 for his portrayal of gay playwright Joe Orton, defended Mel Gibson, Alec Baldwin and use of the other "F" word. He has since walked it [most of the way] back.
posted by wensink (124 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just in case you don't know, "ears" is meant to be an anagram here.
posted by ubiquity at 8:18 AM on June 25 [10 favorites]


Usury Prick Opera?
posted by gwint at 8:22 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I remember reading the quote where he basically says "oh come on, everyone says N**** or [jewish slur] in private" and I was like really? Really? You really think we all talk like that when no one is watching?

No. Not everyone uses it in private. All it showed is that you're a raucous idiot.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:25 AM on June 25 [40 favorites]


That seems to be very common, actually. Most people I know or read about that have accidentally outed themselves as bigots have expressed a firm belief that everybody is actually bigoted in private, and that the only thing they did wrong was get caught. I wonder how one comes to that conclusion.
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:29 AM on June 25 [21 favorites]


This makes me very sad. I have (had?) GREAT respect for Oldman as an actor. It could have been willful ignorance on my part, but I wasn't aware of any reason not like him as a person.

I hope the groups/peoples he spoke of get a genuine apology out of him.
posted by Twain Device at 8:30 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]


I heard about a science teacher who was teaching that God made the earth and God made everything and that if you believe anything else you’re stupid. A Buddhist kid in the class got very upset about this, so the parents went in and are suing the school! The school is changing its curriculum! I thought, All right, go to the school and complain about it and then that’s the end of it. But they’re going to sue! No one can take a joke anymore.

Really ? You get uptight about a bookshelf being off by 1/16th of an inch but people are just supposed to tolerate science teachers proselytizing?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:30 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


This just in; actor fools people into thinking he's intelligent because he seems "cool."
posted by gallois at 8:31 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]


That seems to be very common, actually. Most people I know or read about that have accidentally outed themselves as bigots have expressed a firm belief that everybody is actually bigoted in private, and that the only thing they did wrong was get caught. I wonder how one comes to that conclusion.

Racists and rapists are curious in that they both believe that everybody around them is exactly like them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:31 AM on June 25 [34 favorites]


That seems to be very common, actually. Most people I know or read about that have accidentally outed themselves as bigots have expressed a firm belief that everybody is actually bigoted in private, and that the only thing they did wrong was get caught. I wonder how one comes to that conclusion.

Because the alternative would be to realize what horrible people they are and how few other people share their views.
posted by kewb at 8:33 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


I think it helps to understand this if you define everyone narrowly as "other old men." Oldman likely hangs out with a select group of other old men who share his views. Insert "white" to clarify things and destroy the pun on his last name.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:37 AM on June 25


it's really grossly telling that oldman thinks that what mel gibson did wrong was say some non-pc words. he's the son of a holocaust denier who hurled anti-semitic abuse at a jewish person while he was being arrested for drunk driving. those aren't just words, those are actions. and that doesn't even get into the abusive way he treated his child's mother. i continue to be very disappointed in the other famous people who give him a pass.
posted by nadawi at 8:38 AM on June 25 [16 favorites]


Certainly changes my opinion of the man; I'm not sure I'm going to be able to enjoy Nil By Mouth again after this.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:38 AM on June 25


Gaaaah, this is so disappointing. I liked him!!
posted by sarcasticah at 8:39 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


"Everyone is racist in private" is nothing more than the projection of one's own racism.

That's rather ugly, but projection itself is a common, perhaps even universal, trait. Even if you're aren't a racist, you almost certainly project your own beliefs about yourself onto others.
posted by Frayed Knot at 8:41 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


I wonder how one comes to that conclusion.

The rich and powerful ones attract people like themselves, and the weak ones are attracted to people like themselves, and they all end up hanging out with people parroting back the same language and convincing each other that the whole world is like them. Ossification.

This just in; actor fools people into thinking he's intelligent because he seems "cool."

He doesn't seem too stupid in the interview until he goes off track. I mean "Reality TV to me is the museum of social decay", that's a nice turn of phrase. But you're right, he's trying desperately to convince people that he isn't racist when the real problem is that he revealed himself to be stupid: it takes exactly as much stupidity to say something apparently racist in a major interview as it does to say something racist and mean it.

Ironically near the beginning he says "When I first arrived in America to promote Sid & Nancy I made the mistake of being overly forthcoming in interviews. I had no rule book. I was so naive."
posted by forgetful snow at 8:42 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Because the alternative would be to realize what horrible people they are and how few other people share their views.

How come you're so cast-iron certain you belong to a majority? I think open-hearted, left-leaning progressives are probably a distinct minority, from a global PoV.

I think it helps to understand this if you define everyone narrowly as "other old men."

He's 56! That's not exactly ancient. For example he was 33-ish when he did JFK.
posted by Leon at 8:43 AM on June 25


he's the son of a holocaust denier

And not to excuse Oldman, but his background isn't too pretty either.
posted by robself at 8:43 AM on June 25


I am sure there are many, not "everybody," who use certain publicly forbidden words in private/cohort/groups.

And of course, in today's world, "private" is shrinking very quickly.

It's the use of the extremes "everybody" - "nobody" that skews the argument. "Some," as vague as that might be, would be a better choice IMHO.

If you are any kind of actor/politician/public figure, you had best be extremely careful about word choice (whether you use them in "private" or not).
posted by CrowGoat at 8:45 AM on June 25


The Jewish People, persecuted thorough the ages, are the first to hear God’s voice, and surely are the chosen people.

I'm not sure he's "walking it back" that far.
posted by Trochanter at 8:45 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]


A voice I particularly like is Charles Krauthammer. I think he’s incredibly smart.
Yeesh.
posted by yoink at 8:46 AM on June 25 [19 favorites]


Based on seeing Oldman interacting on talk shows and interviews for many years, I suspect that this is one of those situations where a whole lot could be explained if it was safe to admit he had some amount of cognitive/neurological deficiencies as a result of his pre-sobriety lifestyle (possibly childhood head injuries, as well).

The actual racism could be natural or head-injury paranoia, doesn't matter, but nobody can explain his diminished filters - or need to be assisted through interviews - because he'd never get hired again.

Which might not be so much of a stumbling block in the future.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:46 AM on June 25


am I very wrong to say that, horrible as much of it is, and as much as I disagree with pretty much all of his politics, I found the bulk of that interview fascinating? Mainly because Oldman just spits it out -- the bad, the ugly and the good of his frustrations with the business he's in and the life he inevitably leads ... under a microscope.

And this is great ...

I know it certainly doesn’t mean anything to win a Golden Globe, that’s for sure. [...] It’s a meaningless event. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is kidding you that something’s happening. They’re fucking ridiculous. There’s nothing going on at all. It’s 90 nobodies having a wank. Everybody’s getting drunk, and everybody’s sucking up to everybody. Boycott the fucking thing. Just say we’re not going to play this silly game with you anymore.

posted by philip-random at 8:47 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


I was a bit gutted when I read this the other day as I always liked him. (I also made the mistake of reading about it on the Daily Mail site. I normally don't read the comments but it was like not being able to tear your eyes away from a car crash, what with the majority of them being of the "HE IS SO RITE ITS WHAT WE R ALL THINKING PC GONE MAAAAD" variety.)

I also don't buy the apology. Is it just me or does "The Jewish People, persecuted thorough the ages, are the first to hear God’s voice, and surely are the chosen people." strike anyone else as being deeply insincere to the point of being offensive in its own right?
posted by billiebee at 8:49 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


That is a really weird apology that left me feeling a bit gross. He starts with the classic non-apology - apologizing that other people were offended - and then works himself into a froth. It's hard to take someone like this seriously when they insist that Jews are "the chosen people." Did he think Jews had never heard of sarcasm?
posted by koeselitz at 8:49 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.

It's hardly cutting-edge to be an unapologetic racist homophobic bigot, though many of them seem to think that they're just "telling it like it is". Fuck this guy. Srsly.

People who whine about "political correctness" can fuck right off. As far as I can tell, all the phrase means any more is "I'm being called-out on being a horrible person, so I'll blame it on feminazis".

Rather than putting in the time and effort of improving and trying to not be an awful human being any more.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:49 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


It seems incredibly cynical and more than a little hypocritical that he's apparently only apologized for the antisemitic remarks. I mean, he goes off on a rant about Hollywood, throws in the hoary old Jews-run-the-place business, and then runs right to the ADL when called on his shit. It makes him look like he's only concerned about the people he thinks will hire him.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:55 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy Interview were offensive to many Jewish people.
Classic "I'm sorry you were offended." :-(
posted by edheil at 8:57 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


It makes him look like he's only concerned about the people he thinks will hire him.

Exactly; he hasn't changed his view of Jewish people or anyone else, he's just presenting some of them in what he thinks is a more diplomatic fashion. Even his apology retains the premise that Hollywood is run entirely by Jewish people; it just couches that as a positive accomplishment rather than as a sinister conspiracy.
posted by kewb at 8:57 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Is it too much to ask that he get together with Mamet and produce Really Fucking Grumpy Old Men?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:58 AM on June 25


Advice for anyone thinking of hiring Gary Oldman, or are stuck with a franchise in which Gary Oldman stars: Just cast Paul Whitehouse instead.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Classic "I'm sorry you were offended." :-(

No kidding. That sort of flew in preschool, but I'm surprised when I hear adults saying such dumb things as if it still works.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:59 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


For anyone just reading the comments (as I sometimes do), let it be known that Oldman says shit like this:

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 has fed him—and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough. He’s like an outcast, a leper, you know? But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, “That fucking kraut” or “Fuck those Germans,” whatever it is?
posted by univac at 9:00 AM on June 25


In the words of the immortal TMBG: "Can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding"
posted by Walleye at 9:06 AM on June 25 [18 favorites]


Only apologizing about the anti-semitic remarks seems to have something to do with the fact this letter was addressed directly to a Jewish organization that called him out on it. Maybe more letters are forthcoming for his other transgressions. Not that they'd make any difference, since they'd be as hollow as this one.
posted by GrapeApiary at 9:06 AM on June 25


I get a kick about how he has to walk back on everything. Kinda proves - just a skosh - what he was bitching about. I'm just kind of surprised he went off the rails in the first place. Honesty has little place in public discourse.
posted by codswallop at 9:12 AM on June 25


Honesty has little place in public discourse.

It might be honest to say "I think and feel these things and I won't pretend otherwise."

It is not honest to say "I think and feel these things, and so do you, and if you claim otherwise, you're a hypocrite who's just like me in secret."

Let's not pretend that Oldman's problem is that he's just too darned *honest* for the rest of us.
posted by kewb at 9:15 AM on June 25 [36 favorites]


Classic "I'm sorry you were offended."

I don't really think so. "Remorseful" doesn't really enter that conversation. The entire response doesn't strike me as sincere, though, because it lays it on incredibly thick. Honestly, dropping "chosen people"?

I don't know why we even ask people to apologize like this anyway. Clearly it accomplishes very little. He said all the words you could expect him to and it rings hollow. Here we are picking it to shreds. We're left to conclude that the guy has some nasty backwards views. He said them aloud. I don't think this incident is going to change his views but he's probably going to keep them to himself now. This would be the state of things with or without this weird apology letter.
posted by Hoopo at 9:16 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I get a kick about how he has to walk back on everything. Kinda proves - just a skosh - what he was bitching about.

Think this through a little more first.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:17 AM on June 25 [25 favorites]


It is not honest to say "I think and feel these things, and so do you, and if you claim otherwise, you're a hypocrite who's just like me in secret."

Exactly. It was the "we’ve all said those things" part that was really aggravating. Speak for yourself but I sure as hell don't say them.
posted by billiebee at 9:18 AM on June 25


I know it certainly doesn’t mean anything to win a Golden Globe, that’s for sure. [...] It’s a meaningless event. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is kidding you that something’s happening. They’re fucking ridiculous. There’s nothing going on at all. It’s 90 nobodies having a wank. Everybody’s getting drunk, and everybody’s sucking up to everybody. Boycott the fucking thing. Just say we’re not going to play this silly game with you anymore.

As a person who works in a thankless industry, I grow more and more weary with beloved, successful celebrities complaining about being publicly showered with praise. Interestingly, I think it's related to that whole entitled mindset of being a successful, powerful man who complains because they can't say anything they want without facing reprisal. Definitely a libertarian.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:28 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Relevant.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:28 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


@Ubiquity. I wasn't aware of the anagram. I'm such an arse.

@Trochanter: I tried to edit the post, but was unable. It should read, "walked it [some of the way] back".

I tried to get this posted yesterday, but it was rejected by the mods as being nothing more significant than "celebrity says vile things." This morning's apology by Oldman provides more of a context, I suppose. But what I did find notable in the interview (aside from, celebrity saying vile things) was the discussion of the double standard that does seem to exist among certain public figures. Why, for example, did Alec Baldwin and Jonah Hill get a relative pass for their slurs (screamed in anger), while a 15-year-old Biebs* gets pummeled in the press for his?

* not a Belieber, nor the parent of one
posted by wensink at 9:28 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Oldman's own father was an abusive alcoholic who left his family for another woman when Gary was seven; by the time Oldman reached international acclaim as an actor, he'd developed a serious drinking problem of his own. Nil by Mouth was one of the factors that helped him stay sober after he detoxed in late 1994. "This story was swimming around my head," he recalls. "But I had to get clean to do it. I had to be in the solution, I couldn't be in the problem."

His Playboy interview makes one wonder if he has fallen off the wagon.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:29 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


I wasn't aware of the anagram. I'm such an arse.

Well, I think the story is that "Prick Up Your Arse" was supposed to be the original title of the movie.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:30 AM on June 25


I heard about a science teacher who was teaching that God made the earth and God made everything and that if you believe anything else you’re stupid. A Buddhist kid in the class got very upset about this, so the parents went in and are suing the school! The school is changing its curriculum! I thought, All right, go to the school and complain about it and then that’s the end of it. But they’re going to sue! No one can take a joke anymore.

Oh god, I hadn't even noticed this choice shitnugget in the sea of awful.
posted by kmz at 9:31 AM on June 25


Well, I think the story is that "Prick Up Your Arse" was supposed to be the original title of the movie.

The movie was based on John Lahr's biography of the same name, published in 1978; so no, I don't think anyone was thinking of retitling it.
posted by yoink at 9:36 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Why, for example, did Alec Baldwin and Jonah Hill get a relative pass for their slurs (screamed in anger), while a 15-year-old Biebs* gets pummeled in the press for his?

My media exposure is probably not the same as yours (for example I have no idea what Bieber said nor what the response was) but from where I sit people are still pissed as shit at Baldwin whereas Hill went severely out of his way to hand out as many very-sincere apologies as possible, refusing to make excuses for himself, saying that he knows his apologies and background don't make up for his usage of [terrible word] and etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:37 AM on June 25 [9 favorites]


I wasn't aware of the anagram. I'm such an arse.

Well, I think the story is that "Prick Up Your Arse" was supposed to be the original title of the movie.

Oi, got it. Also just learned that the title was intended to be a phonetic play on "Prick Up Your Rears."
posted by wensink at 9:38 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


It appears that Gary Oldman has a problem with watching what he says and that this has affected his career. Here is an interesting story about this by David Poland a movie columnist.
posted by bove at 9:50 AM on June 25 [6 favorites]


I don't remember Baldwin getting anything like a pass.

Oldman sounds like an asshole, and like he doesn't really care who knows it.
posted by rtha at 9:52 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


wensink, my comment was nothing against your framing. I see that chosen people thing as an out-and-out "screw you." Between it and the reference to the Gabler book, I see it as a pugnacious not-apology. And not in the usual non-apology way -- more just another punch.
posted by Trochanter at 10:05 AM on June 25


It might be honest to say "I think and feel these things and I won't pretend otherwise."

It is not honest to say "I think and feel these things, and so do you, and if you claim otherwise, you're a hypocrite who's just like me in secret."


Nicely put, kewb.
posted by NoMich at 10:10 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


@Trochanter I completely agree. I wanted to walk back my description from "most" to "some" because of that jab, as well as the lack of apology to groups beyond the ADL.
posted by wensink at 10:17 AM on June 25


Now I'm really sad. I absolutely LOVE(d) Gary Oldman (The Professional! The 5th Element! True Romance!) and felt he had been underutilized for a long time. Now, this will be all I can think about.
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:22 AM on June 25


Movie idea: Gary Oldman, Mel Gibson, and Alec Baldwin in a remake of John Cassavetes' Husbands, with David Mamet directing.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:25 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


This was disappointing.
posted by flippant at 10:25 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


The best part is that he thinks ethnic slurs are such a basic part of the human personality that Jews have to reach all the way back to 1914 so they can call people "krauts."

Krauts?
posted by ostro at 10:26 AM on June 25 [7 favorites]


That seems to be very common, actually. Most people I know or read about that have accidentally outed themselves as bigots have expressed a firm belief that everybody is actually bigoted in private, and that the only thing they did wrong was get caught. I wonder how one comes to that conclusion.

I can actually fully understand this process. Growing up I had similar thoughts on religion. I didn't believe a word of what the priests were saying, and I assumed nobody else did either but that we were all too polite to say it out loud.

I think it's a similar dynamic here. Not that racism and atheism are related, but that both are 'taboo' subjects in general society.

The challenge I see is: how do you confront something that is hidden and rarely expressed?
posted by kanewai at 10:29 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


It's probably weird that one of the thoughts I had about this - after huge disappointment because I liked the man - is if he ever revealed this side of himself to the Harry Potter cast.

Daniel Radcliffe used to talk about Oldman in interviews, how close they were, how much he admired the man. And as some of you may know, Radccliffe is incredibly supportive of gay rights. It's an odd thing to think about, but I do wonder.
posted by aclevername at 10:34 AM on June 25


Thing is, it is totally possible (and maybe even useful) to have a reasonable and rational discussion about whether we as a society are too sensitive about the use of certain words and ideas.

This, however, is not the way to do it.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 10:35 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Don't think the HTC phone marketing folks are looking forward to people asking the internet.
posted by wensink at 10:36 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Also paging Lars Trier. In my experience, Oldman is right to think a lot of white men in his age-group see things this way. Until recently, I always thought they were joking, because what they said what so absurd. But I'm beginning to think this is seriously how they understand the world. Sad and strange.
posted by mumimor at 10:40 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Oldman is so fucking good at what he does that he could go on a cross-border killing spree and I'd probably advocate for a full pardon so that he could return to work and I could continue to enjoy his acting. There is literally no one in Hollywood who is as skilled a chameleon, often nearly unrecognizable from role to role. A once-or-twice-in-a-generation talent. I straight-up could not care less that he is also apparently a crotchety old assclown.
posted by eugenen at 10:46 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Aw, no need to bring von Trier into this. The guy's an uncomfortably sarcastic provocateur, but he doesn't believe or express any sentiments like the ones in the Gary Oldman interview.
posted by naju at 10:58 AM on June 25 [4 favorites]


he could go on a cross-border killing spree and I'd probably advocate for a full pardon so that he could return to work and I could continue to enjoy his acting

And that is how behavior like this is normalized.
posted by Tknophobia at 10:59 AM on June 25 [24 favorites]


It would be great if celebs stayed away from politics (racial, sexual or otherwise), but they can't resist it!
posted by KokuRyu at 11:16 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


That interview is cringeworthy. I'll still greedily watch anything he's in because he's an amazing actor and I have five bookshelves worth of experience at adoring the art of clueless assholes I wouldn't share a cab with.
posted by echocollate at 11:19 AM on June 25


And that is how behavior like this is normalized.

This is a self evidently bogus claim.
posted by echocollate at 11:21 AM on June 25 [3 favorites]


alec baldwin got absolutely nothing like a pass. even if he had, or if you nod along with oldman's argument that bill mahr joking about ellen being a lesbian is the same as baldwin screaming homophobic slurs at a gay man, it's like the other argument that he puts forth - that saying something like "jews run the world" is in any way comparable to "kraut" - the only way you can get there is to ignore all historical context and how these slurs have been used and which are still being used along side hate crimes. it's basically the same train of thought that leads people to suggest that calling someone a racist is just as bad (or worse!) than actually being racist. fuck that.

while i also like oldman's acting skills, it is interesting to me to hear how much he hates the work that many of us love.
posted by nadawi at 11:30 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]


From that David Poland piece bove linked to above ...

I don’t think Gary Oldman is an anti-Semite.

In fact, I think the Playboy interview gets his personality pretty perfectly. He has strong opinions. He doesn’t abide fucking about. He will take shots at people with words that are not right for polite company. He can be quite vain. But his mind is as fascinating as the mind of any character he’s played.

And I completely get what he was trying to say—what he said—in that interview. Did Mel Gibson need to be run out of town for saying something beyond idiotic when he was drunk? Not in my opinion. But, on the other hand, when it became public, it became a public issue and being seen as a bigot and/or a punchline devalues a person significantly as a public personality.

The Alec Baldwin conversation is completely appropriate for Oldman to bring up. Baldwin is a a guy who does not appear to be a homophobe, but who grew up in a culture when “fag” was a light insult, thrown around without much attached to it. Does it mean that, in fact, one is using someone’s sexuality as an epithet? Yes. Is it okay? No. But is it the level of discourse that should bury a 50-year-old man’s career?

[...]

Really, the most frustrating thing about Gary Oldman in that interview is that he respects Charles Krauthammer.

And I don’t buy the argument that the interview clips were out of context and that is the problem. Because in the full interview, he says what he says and the interpretation of the words is not confused. What is unfortunate is that many people can’t get past what he said to hear what he meant… with which most people would agree.

Defending people for what some people understandably consider hate speech, even if you think—and I basically agree—that it becomes pitchforks and torches instantly, and out of proportion, is just a bad idea for a public figure. Especially if you are paid based on the public’s perception of you. And he knows that.

Personally, both as a consumer and as someone who asks people to talk to me as a career, I don’t want people to self-censor to the point where all we get are platitudes. We are choking on platitudes. And I think that is what Gary was trying to say.


It's also worth noting (from that Poland piece) that the elephant in the room here is Steven Spielberg. Oldman crossed him more than a decade ago, and that's just not a wise thing for anyone to do in the biz.

Finally, Poland finishes his piece with a link to a fairly recent (post-Tinker-Tailor-Soldier-Spy interview with a much more thoughtful Gary Oldman.
posted by philip-random at 11:46 AM on June 25


Wow, yeah, I have always admired his work as an actor. What a tool, though. Gross.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:47 AM on June 25


This is a self evidently bogus claim.

Except for the part where, y'know, Oldman clearly thinks his behavior is normal because everyone does it, as per his quotes.
posted by Tknophobia at 11:58 AM on June 25 [5 favorites]


His Playboy interview makes one wonder if he has fallen off the wagon.

Let me introduce you to the concept of a dry drunk.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:06 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Except for the part where, y'know, Oldman clearly thinks his behavior is normal because everyone does it, as per his quotes.

Does everyone he regularly interacts with behave like that?

Is he making a blanket statement about humanity or a blanket statement about his experience with Hollywood finance and politics?

Once you dig through the Curmudgeonry, I think it's the latter.

It's not like anyone believes that Hollywood is run by nice people, do they?
posted by pan at 12:06 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


We are choking on platitudes. And I think that is what Gary was trying to say.

This is what a lot of these "anti-PC" ranters are trying to say. It sounds almost noble when you word it like that; everyone should just be real instead of holding back out of politeness! But it's fascinating because what he really ended up saying was:

-everyone says "nigger" or "that fucking Jew" in private. (what? I don't even think those words to myself, let alone utter them)

-that words like that are just "a fucking joke" and people should "get over it" (telling marginalized people how they should or should not react to inflammatory slurs)

-Hollywood is run by Jews (presumably not "a fucking joke" since he doubled down on that later. How can we tell when he's joking and when he's not?)

What he's really saying is that everyone is as awful as everyone else and you're a hypocrite if you say otherwise. And so nothing should change and no one should call anyone out for any bad sentiments. That's worlds away from choking on platitudes.
posted by naju at 12:06 PM on June 25 [18 favorites]


And yeah, the "apology" was more like detonating a nuclear bomb and walking away smiling. The "Chosen People" kiss-off has me more furious than anything else he's said, because it's clear he's hateful and just doesn't give a fuck. Screw that guy.
posted by naju at 12:08 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


This is what a lot of these "anti-PC" ranters are trying to say.

... and lacking the right words they come across as horrible people or idiots.
posted by pan at 12:09 PM on June 25


gallois: This just in; actor fools people into thinking he's intelligent because he seems "cool."

No, we think he's intelligent because he's a brilliant actor with a lengthy resume of impressive roles. And we're almost certainly correct.

Unfortunately, he's also a bigoted prick.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:11 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think that the only option to refraining from using slurs is choking on platitudes. I guess if people want to think of themselves as brave, honest iconoclasts for using them, that's their right. I'll take it as a sign that they're racist assholes.
posted by rtha at 12:14 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


"Choking on platitudes" is a revealing turn of phrase. It implies that what teh libruls want is for you to Say Nice Things instead of brave (racist, homophobic, sexist) "truths" and that's it. And I'm sure some people do (publicists, certainly) want those platitudes.

But the people who actually protest this crap don't. They want you to stop being an asshole.

I don't have much hope for Mr. Oldman to stop being an asshole at this point in his life, because the older you get the harder it is to change. But he can stuff the fake apologies in the meantime.
posted by emjaybee at 12:17 PM on June 25 [22 favorites]


girlmightlive: Definitely a libertarian.

Yeah, I got that strong vibe, too. And an "independent", which is (often) just dog-whistle for further right than the GOP.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:19 PM on June 25


he reminds me of jeremy irons and jeremy clarkson and the like - men who think they are bravely truth telling about the world, but end up just showing everyone what miserable jerks they can be.
posted by nadawi at 12:30 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


he reminds me of jeremy irons and jeremy clarkson and the like - men who think they are bravely truth telling about the world, but end up just showing everyone what miserable jerks they can be.

Both could be happening. They are bravely telling the world what miserable jerks they can be. (I mean, I try not to scream from rooftops the greatest character flaws I possess).
posted by el io at 12:33 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


It is so damned disappointing to see people with talents that could make them giants turn out to be hateful schmucks instead. Just think: a presence like that, arguing against bigotry instead of being an apologist for it.

Dammit.
posted by Mooski at 12:34 PM on June 25 [3 favorites]


Here's the game I like to play. First, you say something horribly racist or otherwise stinking of bigotry. I tell you that you're a bigot whose views have no place in polite society. You object to my calling you a bigot. I say, "Hey, man, I'm just telling it like it is. I don't believe in that political correct bullshit, y'know?"
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:38 PM on June 25 [20 favorites]


Except for the part where, y'know, Oldman clearly thinks his behavior is normal because everyone does it, as per his quotes.

Go back and reread the comments. The one I quoted clearly implies that continuing to appreciate and support Oldman's work as an actor contributes to the normalization in society of the dumb shit he says and believes privately. Which, as I noted, is bogus and completely unsupported by any kind of evidence, but man does it sound good.
posted by echocollate at 12:41 PM on June 25


Go back and reread the comments. The one I quoted clearly implies that continuing to appreciate and support Oldman's work as an actor contributes to the normalization in society of the dumb shit he says and believes privately. Which, as I noted, is bogus and completely unsupported by any kind of evidence, but man does it sound good.

Actually, if both of you go back and reread the earlier comments, you'll see that the "normalization" comment of Tknophobia is in response to eugenen's comment about a "cross-border killing spree." Pretty sure both comments were meant as jokes.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:50 PM on June 25


The problem isn't appreciating Oldman's work. Go ahead and appreciate his work. The problem is defending the man and pardoning/ignoring awful things he says just because he's a brilliant artist. We don't even need to exaggerate to see why this is poisonous thinking that leads to normalization of behavior. Look at all the people - famous people who should know better! - who were calling for Roman Polanski's pardon. You don't think saying "aw, leave the guy alone, he's a great actor" doesn't send a clear message that he hasn't really done anything wrong, or that art somehow excuses being a shit human being?
posted by naju at 12:53 PM on June 25 [14 favorites]


(To be clear, I'm not saying that Roman Polanski and Gary Oldman are comparably shitty. They're both shitty though)
posted by naju at 12:55 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Daniel Radcliffe used to talk about Oldman in interviews, how close they were, how much he admired the man. And as some of you may know, Radccliffe is incredibly supportive of gay rights.

And he's Jewish.

But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, “That fucking kraut”

I have said "That fucking Krauthammer," if that counts.
posted by maxsparber at 1:08 PM on June 25 [10 favorites]


Pretty sure both comments were meant as jokes.

i'm not so certain, but i'm definitely willing to give the benefit of the doubt. my apologies to the original poster if i missed the sarcasm.
posted by echocollate at 1:26 PM on June 25


daniel radcliffe is so freaking awesome - here he is recently summing up why the friendzone is a bullshit concept. he and joseph gordon levitt are the sorts of dudes i'm glad are famous.
posted by nadawi at 1:26 PM on June 25 [11 favorites]


I once peed in the urinal next to the one in which Gary Oldman was peeing. I said, "Hi." He said, "Hi."

He is pretty short.
posted by Dr. Wu at 1:43 PM on June 25


I have met so many older white men who assume that, behind closed doors, everyone else is as much of a bigot as they are. They look around to see if any minorities are in earshot, and if not their eyes light up and they start spewing racist crap right and left. And they are shocked, genuinely and truly shocked, when I (a 39 year old white guy) don't join in, and they're horribly offended and grumpy if I dare to criticize their use of bigoted terms in even the mildest of ways.

So I'm disappointed but not terribly surprised by Oldman's defense of the use of bigoted language. I'm sure that he genuinely believed it when he said "He got drunk and said a few things, but we’ve all said those things. We’re all f—ing hypocrites. That’s what I think about it. The policeman who arrested him has never used the word n—– or that f—ing Jew? I’m being brutally honest here. It’s the hypocrisy of it that drives me crazy."

I have no doubt that like all the older white bigots I encounter daily Oldman uses bigoted language and assumes that everyone else does as well. From his POV he's just a normal guy doing normal stuff and the only thing different is that he's honest enough to tell it like it is and stop lying about it.

The existence of people like me, a not so young white guy who doesn't use bigoted language in private, is something he simply does not believe is true. In his mind I'm just better at hiding it and more unwilling to admit the truth.
posted by sotonohito at 1:54 PM on June 25 [18 favorites]


[One comment deleted; paralysis jokes are super shitty and it should be obvious that that kind of thing has no place here.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:56 PM on June 25 [4 favorites]


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 has fed him—and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough. He’s like an outcast, a leper, you know?

I'm a bit jetlagged, so I'm not fully awake yet, but I'm having trouble parsing what he means here... I'd be grateful if someone could throw some light here for me.

Does GO mean that what was wrong with Mel's statements was that he said it in a town that's "run by Jews", and those Jews were feeding Mel, so by making anti-Semitic remarks, Mel was biting the hand that feeds him, and that's not cool?

The other interpretation I came up with, is that GO meant that Mel was brave to make such statements because he was jeopardizing his feeding status, and he won't be bought off by Jews and he has his principles, and for the sake of his principles, he bit the hand that fed him, how brave and principled of him; but if this is what he meant, then I am completely confused, because isn't that bravery undermined by the fact that, as he states, Mel no longer needs to be fed by Jewish hands, because he's got enough dough? Well, that's not very brave - it's rather the opposite - he kept quiet until he was full and only once he was full then he bit the hand. I guess I'm trying to reconcile those two statements. I must be missing something, but I'm too tired at the moment to figure it out. Halp!
posted by VikingSword at 3:52 PM on June 25


My take on this is Gary was saying that everyone talks smack, sometime or another, about someone else. They use invective; abusive words that are easily within reach depending upon the circumstances, cultural bias, upbringing, limited vocabulary and preset prejudices of the person. Or not. Perhaps the person using the words do not truly believe in a slur per se, but they are nasty, abusive labels that can be quickly grabbed in moments of passion and/or drunkeness.

An example would be someone not liking me, and calling me a red-headed so and so. Just because they say it doesn't mean they hate and dismiss and feel like stamping out all red-heads, it's just a convenient label. Because I have red hair. The funny thing is, there actually is gingerism. Or at least that's funny to me.

Because he was describing the Mel Gibson Situation, the words being discussed were racist. And he extended his metaphor to the cop, to Hollywood, to everyone, etc., poorly. The underlying takeaway, again, was that people use invective. And anyone who says that they don't use invective themselves are hypocrites.

Which surprises me, because so many of the people in this thread who seem to be really upset that one person uses abusive, insulting language would take the opportunity to use insulting language to describe that person.

I'll admit that I may be overly charitible in my reading of this interview, but then again I used to do interviews with folks a lot. There were several points where the writer of this piece could have asked for more information that I'm sure would have allowed Gary to explain himself a little better. But I could also see where the writer was just hanging on every poorly chosen word knowing that he had a "scoop." That's just my impression.

Reading the link above, about the whole Spielberg thing was an eye-opener, and I think a lot of folks would do well to take into considerations the HUGE EGOS involved with all these folks.

Also, as a mental excercise, I would posit that the word "cocksucker" isn't a very good word. In fact it carries a lot of freight. But it's almost impossible to watch a season of Deadwood and not find it slipping into your vocab when you hit your thumb with a hammer. My point is a lot of these guys, as actors, are masters of invective, it's one of the things that makes them so entertaining, and one of the reasons we watch them. Would you be surprised to find that they throw these words around with less thought than you and I?

Tl;dr: I think Gary was saying everybody says shit, then went on to prove his point. I think folks who respond by saying shit about him also proves his point.
posted by valkane at 4:36 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


Does GO mean that what was wrong with Mel's statements was that he said it in a town that's "run by Jews", and those Jews were feeding Mel, so by making anti-Semitic remarks, Mel was biting the hand that feeds him, and that's not cool?
I took it to mean that Mel Gibson could afford to bite the hand that feeds him, because he has enough money that he doesn't need to placate the Jews, as long as he's ok with being an outcast. It's a neutral statement, I think: a statement of fact (in his twisted mind), rather than praise or criticism.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:44 PM on June 25


It is a truth universally acknowledged that those who whine about "political correctness" are the first to throw temper tantrums when their own oxen come in for goring.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:05 PM on June 25 [13 favorites]


Which surprises me, because so many of the people in this thread who seem to be really upset that one person uses abusive, insulting language would take the opportunity to use insulting language to describe that person.

Oh man, it's false equivalence day, isn't it?
posted by naju at 5:18 PM on June 25 [7 favorites]


No man, it ain't false equivalence day.
posted by valkane at 5:33 PM on June 25


@valkane there's a rather large and significant difference between talking shit and using bigoted language. You can insult people, if that's what you're into, without using racial slurs.
posted by sotonohito at 5:46 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Oh, OK. I didn't realize he was being neutral there, since I thought the idea was he was defending Mel. I find it slightly surprising, because looking at those statements, it makes Mel look either like an ingrate, a fool, or a coward, which is hardly neutral. I mean by GO's statements Mel had been fed when he was hungry - ingrate; and then when he was full he turns around and lashes out - like a coward, since he didn't do it before he was full; or a fool, if it was the "wrong" thing to do since it makes him an outcast given the supposed grim realities of "Jews control Hollywood". I guess I just find it hard to lay out clearly - GO meant that to be a "neutral" description of facts - but the way he portrays those facts makes Mel look just bad. Hmm.
posted by VikingSword at 5:47 PM on June 25


@valkane there's a rather large and significant difference between talking shit and using bigoted language. You can insult people, if that's what you're into, without using racial slurs.

I absolutely agree with this statement, and was very careful to choose my words carefully. I abhor using slurs that infer people are less than through no choice of their own. I also see little use in hurling insults as a result of self-righteous indignation. I only see change as something that happens through empathy and education. Using invective is not the way towards that goal, in my opinion.
posted by valkane at 5:51 PM on June 25


So if this isn't false equivalence day, then you appear to be saying that me calling Oldman "shitty" and a "shit human being" is actually JUST AS BAD as all the fucked up, transparently hateful things Mel Gibson has said over the years. Because it's all just "invective." Seriously. Go and read that and then tell me you can actually make this argument with a straight face.
posted by naju at 6:46 PM on June 25 [2 favorites]


Actually, naju, I was riffing off of this, because your setup was irresistible. I apologize for that, because in my head it worked. Sorry.

No, i get it. Racism and sexism isn't the same as calling someone an asshole for being a racist or sexist. I was trying to look beyond the labels, and yeah, I have a problem with folks instantly judging other folks based on some stupid shit that gets printed. It's the journalist in me. I distrust journalism.

I hope we're okay.
posted by valkane at 6:59 PM on June 25


Sure we're okay, I'm just bewildered. I believe in reading the words that people say with their mouths, and coming to conclusions based on those words. There's no illuminating context we're all ignoring here. Oldman said exactly what he felt in the interview, and then had a chance to clarify those words in his apology. He's not being strung up by bad journalism.
posted by naju at 7:04 PM on June 25 [1 favorite]


Well, the words people say with their mouths, and what passes for journalism is a whole nother kettle of fish. I want to understand your position, and i will certainly try. I only ask that we stop hijacking the thread.
posted by valkane at 7:07 PM on June 25


It would be great if celebs stayed away from politics (racial, sexual or otherwise), but they can't resist it!

This sentiment irks me because it's so often used by right-wing pundits when talking about leftist celebs. So hypocritical when Blessed St. Reagan was an actor. I think people should take an interest in politics and celebrities are people, too.

Anyway. That said, I'm disappointed that Gary Oldman opened his face and defended Mel Gibson, because I'm not going to be able to enjoy Gary Oldman in the way I once did. On the other hand, I doubt he woke up that morning and thought, "Hey, Mel Gibson got a bad rap," I mean, clearly he already felt that way. So I'd rather know and react accordingly than not know and support the career of someone who secretly thinks Mel Gibson got a bad rap. Because, ugh.

That paragraph got away from me, so I hope that made sense. I try not to support people who hold beliefs that are harmful to me.
posted by Ruki at 8:03 PM on June 25


When people say 'Everyone's racist somehow' I have wondered how much of that sentiment comes from the same assumptions Gary Oldman is expressing.
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:31 PM on June 25



When people say 'Everyone's racist somehow'


I don't think so. I read lots of Gary Oldman's comments as "Come on, everyone privately says things like X people are so Y, and if you don't agree with that you're a hypocrite and everyone's so busy policing each other we can't say what we think" or whatever.

I think saying "everyone's racist" (or really, everyone carries some conscious or unconscious privilege) is more about acknowledging that no one's doing this perfectly, and sometimes you need to examine your own prejudice, especially when confronted by others who might be telling you what you're saying isn't cool. It's more about policing yourself to function well in society rather than "we all think it, who cares if I say it."

Oldman saying this stuff reminds me of Seinfeld saying he doesn't have to reflect the census numbers of America or a pie chart when casting his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee show. Inclusiveness, diversity, sensitivity etc is just this outside notion to them. It's not about real people or real situations. It's pretty ugly.
posted by sweetkid at 9:48 PM on June 25 [5 favorites]


I know that's the proper version, sweetkid - I know that's the appropriate meaning, those subtle little parasitic vermin assumptions we don't even know we've got.

I'm thinking though more of a Gary Oldman 2.0 - New And Enlightened And Really Excited About It - but with the same certainty of how other people's interior monologues spool out, just this version acknowledges the toxicity of the thoughts. More like "Come on, everyone privately says things like X people are so Y, and if you don't agree with that you're a hypocrite and everyone's so busy policing each other we can't say what we think those are wrong ideas and we need to admit them and change them. No, come on, really, you know you say it. You totally do! You're thinking it now!"

Kind of like the fundamentalist pastors who are so certain that moral resolve is the only barrier keeping men from succumbing to homosexual urges.

I Know What You're Thinking Guy is just always awful no matter his stripes. /derail
posted by Lou Stuells at 11:08 PM on June 25


Perhaps the "candid" nature of the interview and the fact that he was talking to a lad's mag that (he may have assumed) wouldn't have any truck with "PC nonsense" made him drop his guard? Aside from his anti-Semitic etc remarks, is the fact that he agreed to be interviewed by (and presumably got money from) a pornographic mag such as Playboy completely unremarkable? Porn is just a totally acceptable part of mainstream culture now?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:49 PM on June 25


People get paid for doing interviews now?
posted by dabitch at 12:06 AM on June 26


I'd say but it'd cost ya.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:19 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


Aside from his anti-Semitic etc remarks, is the fact that he agreed to be interviewed by (and presumably got money from) a pornographic mag such as Playboy completely unremarkable? Porn is just a totally acceptable part of mainstream culture now?

Thanks to Hugh Hefner's intellectual pretensions, Playboy has from the very start done surprisingly high-quality interviews, and for many years it also printed surprisingly high-quality fiction.
posted by kewb at 4:12 AM on June 26 [5 favorites]


Playboy has been part of mainstream culture for decades.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:09 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


playboy has interviewed jimmy carter, john wayne, martin luther king jr, malcolm x, bette davis, and more, all before the 80s. it's been a source of mainstream, high level writing for a long time. the old joke is "i read playboy for the articles."
posted by nadawi at 5:38 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Oldman on Kimmel last night: “I’m a public figure. I should be an example and an inspiration, and I’m an A-hole. I’m 56. I should know better."
posted by wensink at 6:22 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


It wasn't just Hefner's pretensions of high class; for many years, the standard for obscenity in published materials excluded anything with any sort of artistic, literary, or intellectual merit. Thus, porn magazines would include short stories or nonfiction articles as a sort of fig leaf, as it were, covering their real purpose. Almost all of the short stories that Stephen King published before Carrie (most of which were reprinted in the collection Night Shift) were originally published in porn magazines; in one case, King sent off a short story, "The Float", to Adam magazine without keeping a copy of the manuscript, and although he was paid for it he never got a copy of the magazine itself, so he ended up rewriting it for publication in Skeleton Crew as "The Raft."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:38 AM on June 26 [2 favorites]


I'll take that apology on Kimmel. I thought it was good.
posted by sweetkid at 8:13 AM on June 26 [3 favorites]


As I'm reading this, "kraut" is assigned a specific historic period in time, when there was systemic prejudice - a time one commenter designates as 1914 - and thus is not equivalent to the kind of scurrilous "Jews control the world" comment he originally made. On historical grounds.

This is a very sore subject for me. My grandmother was subject to the "Enemy Alien Control Program" in World War II. Most people go to their grave not talking about their experiences. Japanese Americans on the West Coast received the most sickening treatment, but they weren't alone in being accused of disloyalty or subject to internment, despite American citizenship or longstanding residency in the country.

Just because "kraut" is a historical artifact to some, it doesn't mean there aren't still people walking around for whom that is a very visceral slur.
posted by mitschlag at 8:22 AM on June 26 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that link, wensink. It really does redeem him quite a bit: he admits actual fault, and actually apologizes.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:54 AM on June 26


I read something the other day about how to keep from seeming like a noxious fool when talking. It involves considering the human experience as a series of circles, especially when addressing tragedy. In the center of the circle is the person or people who actually experience the event. The next circle is the people who are directly affected by the first group. And then on out, circle after circle, each circle representing the people who are increasingly less affected.

Take illness as an example. The person who is sick is in the middle circle. Around that person are immediate relatives and loved ones -- the people who might have the most emotional or personal skin in the game. Outside of that are, I don't know, distant relatives, acquaintances, coworkers. Outside of that are people who just have an opinion.

This also doubles as a graph of who has the most say, whose opinion is the most valuable, and who has the most direct experience. And you avoid looking foolish by deferring to people who are closer to the center than you, and you can reasonably expect people who are father away from the center to defer to you.

He was not the one hurt by Mel Gibson's comments about Jews, or by Alec Baldwin's homophobic comments. Not only was Oldman not in the middle circle in those circumstances, he's a very distant circle -- he's just a guy with an opinion. He would have been wise to say something like "I'm not the person who those comments affected, and so they probably know best how the comments affect them." Instead, he dictated to people closer to the center how they should feel about this -- that we all say horrible things, and we should be forgiving.

Obviously, this approach isn't perfect. But I have started to find it useful as a way to approach the question. It's actually a bit of a relief. It's nice to be able to say "I'm not really the person who can speak authoritatively about this; maybe somebody who has direct experience with it would be a better person to ask."

With this approach, the appropriate response to Jimmy Kimmel saying "When you apologize, people should forgive you" is to say "I can't dictate to people when they feel they must forgive me. All I know is my part, which is that I should apologize."
posted by maxsparber at 10:11 AM on June 26 [4 favorites]


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