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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Oliver Stone has apologized for his anti-Semitic rant, but is the damage already done?

Oliver_stone It's such a quintessentially American thing to do that I'm surprised that someone hasn't already engraved it on our $20 bills: If you shoot off your mouth and hurl stupid insults at innocent people, the best thing to do is to apologize as quickly as possible. It's why Oliver Stone isn't going to become Mel Gibson, even though Stone's crackpot remarks about the "Jewish domination of the media" and the Holocaust sounded just as bad as anything Gibson said in his infamous drunken rant about the Jews after he was picked up by Malibu police for drunken driving.

I know this is going to be portrayed as yet another example of the terrible double standard in Hollywood, where lefties can say whatever they want and get away with it while conservatives are pilloried and symbolically burned at the stake. Or as Big Hollywood's John Nolte so succinctly put it: "Don’t expect Oliver Stone to get the Mel Gibson treatment. Gibson’s sin against Hollywood was producing 'The Passion of the Christ,' not the vile things that came out of his mouth. After all, this is the same industry that honors, continues to work with, and defends fugitive child rapist Roman Polanski. As long as your politics are in order, no 'Jewish domination of the media' comments can hurt you."

That's the right wing mantra about the way the media handles these outbursts, which is filled with some considerable irony, since Big Hollywood is run by Andrew Breitbart, the mischievous conservative bomb thrower who ignited the Shirley Sherrod media conflagration last week by putting up an edited tape of a speech she'd given, which made it appear that she was a racist. Of course, when seen in its entirety, the tape showed the exact opposite. By then, Sherrod had been forced to resign. After the unedited tape surfaced, Sherrod was deluged with contrite apologies from everyone from the White House, the NAACP and the Secretary of Agriculture to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, who'd been among the first to call for her firing.

So where does this leave Oliver Stone? First off, unlike Gibson, who took forever to issue a weak apology for his anti-Semitic rant -- and still hasn't apologized for more recent racist, misogynistic ravings reported to have been made to the mother of his young child -- Stone issued a quick, forceful apology. He said very clearly that "Jews obviously do not control media or any other industry," adding that the Holocaust was indeed an "atrocity." Has he really changed his views overnight? Perhaps not. But sincerity is hard to measure, especially in show business.

I don't know how it works anywhere else, but in America, if you apologize with speed and sincerity, people forgive you. They may not forget, but they'll forgive. Jews have long memories, so even a haphazard Jew like myself can easily call to mind Henry Ford, David Dukes, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and all the other infamous anti-Semites who've never done much in the way of apologizing for their vile words.

The conservative argument about Hollywood's double standard toward Gibson versus Stone is full of holes, the biggest one being that until Gibson went off into the wackosphere with his latest rant, he'd been quietly accepted back into polite Hollywood society. When his longtime agent Ed Limato's agency merged with the agency run by Ari Emanuel, who'd loudly said that Gibson should be shunned by one and all, Emanuel happily received Gibson as an agency client rather than risk Limato leaving with all his other top stars. No one in the supposedly liberal media criticized Emanuel for accepting Gibson with open arms. And hardly anyone in the showbiz press bothered to dredge up Gibson's past offenses when he was out promoting "Edge of Darkness" earlier this year. Forgiveness was in the air. It was only when Gibson went off of a new rampage, adding blacks and women to his hit list, that he officially became a Hollywood pariah.

I suspect that when Stone is out promoting "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" this September that he'll occasionally be required to issue a few more mea culpas. But not often. After all the crazy things Stone has said through the years, from signing a petition that compared Germany's treatment of Scientologists to the Nazi's oppression of the Jews to his unabashed embrace of tinhorn Latin American dictators like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, it takes a lot for people to get worked up over his latest foot-in-mouth antics.

Of course, for a filmmaker to make dark insinuations about a Jewish media cabal is sort of like a Republican officeholder advocating tax increases -- it can get you into a whale of trouble, even if, as this wry Jewish Journal post points out, it's not considered out of bounds for Jewish filmmakers to josh among themselves about the decline in Jewish domination of the film industry. If Stone were a comedian, he'd be able to push the envelope oh, so much further, since comics can get away with all sorts of outlandish, politically incorrect remarks without provoking a hailstorm of criticism. I guess if there is any lesson here, it's that Stone is a lot better off in American than in his beloved Venezuela, Cuba or Iran, where artists have languished in prison for years for making remarks far less rude than what Stone had to say about the Jews. Stone is a free man, which I suspect means that he'll saying something crazy again any day now.   

Photo: Oliver Stone at the British premiere of his film "South of the Border." Credit: Max Nash / AFP/Getty Images



 

 
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Oliver Stone is expressing what many of us American feel, Israel has hijacked US foreign policy for decades, any one who dares speak the truth is labeled anti-Semite right away, and yes Russia or the soviet Union then lost eighteen million people during the war.

Patrick, well said......but one thing to bear in mind. Stone was giving that interview to a pretty leftwing female reporter for the Guardian in the UK and their interview chat was sort of leftie to leftie, male womanizer to pretty young thing, so he said things she wanted to hear and she heard things she wanted him to say. That kind of interview would never have taken place in the USA. That was a British set up. The Brits hate Jews, always have. From Shakespeare on down. Smile.

Meanwhile, Stone is half Jewish, the bottom half I think, so he can be half critical of Jews, it's okay. I am full Jewish, both top and bottom, and I am often criticial of my own people, and Israel, too. We are allowed to even criticzie God Almighty. Still, Oliver messed up good this time. I think it's the moustache. It went to his head!

Here we go again! Someone says something against Israel and jewish people and it’s the end of the world! This is why we are considered dumb Americans, we believe whatever the media puts out there, never making decisions on what’s right and wrong. The media doesn’t touch the fact that these people who point out the problems with Israel and jewish people have strong points, the media will continue to spin it until we are way off the point that was brought up in the first place. The media doesn’t want to lose money from advertising dollars, they don’t state all the facts, they twist everything to satisfy the money, end of story!! We are dumb Americans, and this will continue for a long time, especially when we can’t see right in front of our faces that Israel and jewish people are extremely wrong many times over. What a joke the media is, watch the instant spin, but open your eyes America, this is front and center why the world laughs at us, we have no idea what is going on because we don’t think with our minds, we only believe what is told to us from the media. DUMB AMERICANS, OPEN YOUR EYES STARTING NOW, IT’S RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE, RIGHT AND WRONG, GOOD AND BAD, IT CAN’T ALWAYS BE ABOUT MONEY!!!!

I don't think these comments are anti-Semitic at all, or least that they weren't intended to be. My grandfather was in a German camp during WWII. I know my history. So I think Mr. Stone's first statement was not so much an attempt to make light of the Holocaust as it was to bring awareness to the absolute devastation Hitler's regime brought to EVERYBODY. The Jewish people suffered terribly during the Holocaust, but so did the Polish, Czechs, Slovaks, gypsies, homosexuals, physically/mentally malformed, French, Catholics ... the list goes on endlessly. People often forget that the terror of the Reich was not reserved for Jews. The Polish people were spared for a short time to serve the Reich as slaves, only for an ultimate goal of the same total destruction as the Jews. He could have phrased himself better, but I can see what he might have meant.

As for the second comment ... Come on. There ARE a lot of Jewish people in the media. If you look at it in terms of numbers, they do 'dominate'. That doesn't mean they're controlling some Big Brother-type scheme!!

People really need to lighten up.

The Jews control the media? This is not a scoop.

Why does the majority of the media in the US keep taking a shot at the Catholics and Muslims? Why the same press victimize the the Jews so much? The Holocaust was horrible, I agree, so is the the treatment of the Palestinians who live in the prison camps controlled by Israel.

You know frankly I think Stone deserves harsher condemnation for the offensive smear of Jim Morrison that "The Doors" was...if Mr. Stone is so worried about mischaracterizing fascist dictators than perhaps he should learn how to honestly characterize real people first.

Stone wimped out and took it back. he had the guts to speak the truth but then the pressure was too much for him and he had to squirm out of it. I'm sooooooooooooooooo sick of hearing about the poor Jews!

Why doesn't anybody get Oliver Stone, I know those who do, but come on, He is a BRILLIANT DIRECTOR, and he is honest and people can't stand that. I have been defending him for so long. But people are ignorant

Stone's comments were not about any so-called Jewish domination of the media but about the anti-Defamation industry that exists with a sole function of attacking anyone who criticizes Israel (as critics of Alan Plagiarist Dershowitz have all learned). Nothing Stone said was anti-semitic. His comments about Hitler and WWII are especially notable in that he made accurate observations about the power players in the pre-war years and about the sacrifices made by MILLIONs of Russians fighting Hitler. Stone was saying that this is all history that is written out of the normal History Channel narrative.

So watch out forhe anti-defamation police, they'll go after everything that moves.

Oli, It's good you appologised, but more is needed from you. Namely some Pro American, Pro Israel. Pro Jewish, Anti Hitler, Anti Leftist, Anti Political Elitist. Why don't you do a movie about the struggling middle class entrepreneur who pays taxes through the nose to a political "elite" who view him as a "given" and expect him to continue to bend over the proverbial ballot box. Hmmm..?

 
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