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Cult of Outrage: Gary Oldman Called Anti-Semitic After Candid Playboy Interview

Gary Oldman is one of Hollywood’s most-beloved actors, having portrayed iconic characters like Sirius Black and Commissioner Gordon, but many may have not have known that he’s something of a conservative. Now, most of you may be thinking “Who cares about Gary Oldman’s politics?” and I applaud that. However, because the news loves controversy and celebrity, these stories (what I call the Apology Cycle) are part of the landscape now.

In an interview with Playboy, Gary Oldman caused controversy when he seemingly defended Mel Gibson who has become something of a pariah after his anti-Semitic rants and recorded phone conversations with his girlfriend became public. Oldman was not actually defending Gibson, but more or less railing against the culture of extreme political correctness.

In fact, the most troubling statement Oldman said was when he discussed a case in which a Buddhist family sued a public school in Louisiana and changed the curriculum because they were teaching Biblical literalism. This is not a case of political correctness run amok, because no religion should be taught as fact in a public school.

However, it was his comments about the propensity of Jewish people in Hollywood, specifically the film business, which earned him a condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League. Oldman sent them an apology, but according to Variety, rejected the apology and even offered “notes.” Abraham Foxman said, “I’d like to see a little more introspection, a little more understanding and a little more education rather than a statement that looks like a PR move.”

What’s brilliant about this is that it exposes these stories as what they are, high-school squabbles between the rich and powerful. Contrition is apparently the newest emotional currency in Hollywood.

Oldman did offer a public apology as well on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, according to Mediaite.com. Oldman said, his voice breaking, “I have deeply injured and wounded a great many people.” What he said may have been “poorly considered” at best, but anyone who is deeply injured by anything a celebrity says has deeper problems.

I am not suggesting that these sort of things – racism, sexism, general douchery – should not be addressed (although I do take issue with the scale of that conversation), but is there no place left in the discussion for developing a thicker skin?

What I wonder, fully recognizing that I am a straight, white American male, is if anyone was actually “deeply injured and wounded” in hearing that Gary Oldman thinks Hollywood is a town run by Jews because he read a book about it once? I understand surprise, I was certainly stunned to read the passage. I sympathize with being pissed off about it, as I was when I read that bit about the school district.

Yet what I cannot fathom is how an actor’s off-hand rant in Playboy (a magazine whose readers are now actually getting for the articles) could deeply wound anyone. Privileged or not, the maximum reaction anyone should have to any celebrity (not seeking political office) is “annoyance.”


Image via screengrab

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.