Gary Oldman Apologizes for Some of His Offensive Comments, But Totally Misses the Point
Gary Oldman might have captured all of our hearts as Harry Potter's loving, though occasionally bigoted, godfather Sirius Black, but he's certainly doing his best to break those same hearts now. In an interview with Playboy, Oldman made a variety of offensive comments that began with the key phrase "political correctness is crap". Has anything good ever been said directly after a phrase like that? Naturally, Oldman's interview caused a lot of controversy and backlash, so much so that Oldman has issued an apology — but only toward one specific group of people.
In the original interview, Oldman defended Mel Gibson over his notorious anti-Semitic rant in 2006 and Alec Baldwin over his use of homophobic slurs in 2013. This was all part of a larger criticism of a hypocritical Hollywood world in which, apparently, too much focus on not offending whole groups of people was restricting the personal liberty and honesty of others. "You have to be very careful about what you say," said Oldman while doing the exact opposite. "I do have particular views and opinions that most of this town doesn’t share, but it’s not like I’m a fascist or a racist."
The Anti-Defamation League saw things differently, accusing Oldman of "spreading anti-Semitic stereotypes", according to the Digital Spy. In particular, they were pointing to a quote from the interview in which Oldman implied that the only reason Gibson got in trouble for his anti-Semitic rant was because he "is in a town that’s run by Jews". In response, Oldman issued an apology to the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Weisenthal Center:
I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy Interview were offensive to many Jewish people. Upon reading my comments in print - I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype. Anything that contributes to this stereotype is unacceptable, including my own words on the matter.If, during the interview, I had been asked to elaborate on this point I would have pointed out that I had just finished reading Neal Gabler's superb book about the Jews and Hollywood, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood. The fact is that our business, and my own career specifically, owes an enormous debt to that contribution.I hope you will know that this apology is heartfelt, genuine, and that I have an enormous personal affinity for the Jewish people in general, and those specifically in my life. The Jewish People, persecuted thorough the ages, are the first to hear God's voice, and surely are the chosen people.I would like to sign off with "Shalom Aleichem"—but under the circumstances, perhaps today I lose the right to use that phrase, so I will wish you all peace.
Oldman's apology seemed heartfelt, although he has yet to issue any sort of comment or apology for anything else he said concerning other racist or homophobic language or behavior, but there was one part of the statement that seemed more than a little out of place. It's unclear how getting to elaborate on Neal Gabler's book was supposed to help his case at all.
If the conclusion that he got from reading An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews invented Hollywood was that Mel Gibson got in trouble because the town is run by Jews, then that's more problematic than his original statement not less. Oldman seems to be implying that the real issue is with how he phrased that point rather than that he tried to make that point at all.
Whether or not political correctness goes too far isn't the real issue here. Oldman's manager Douglas Urbanski has defended him by saying that his true criticism was of hypocrisy not of anything else, but that's not how Oldman's statements read. He may have been "being absurd" to illustrate absurdity, but he was being offensive and he needs to acknowledge that fact for the entire interview. This apology might be good enough for the Anti-Defamation League, but it shouldn't be good enough for everyone else.