I have been a longtime fan of Gary Oldman, but I was fairly taken aback by his recent Playboy interview. Some of it is a fascinating read (who knew he didn't like his performance in Sid & Nancy?), but what instantly made headlines were his comments on political correctness, and how Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rants shouldn't have been controversial because "No one can take a joke anymore." Oldman insisted that the cop who arrested Gibson had probably "used the word n—– or that f–king Jew," because "we've all said those things."
Oldman went on to share quite a few more opinions on what he described as Hollywood double standards. But after railing against the so-called hypocrisy of being condemned for using gay and racial slurs, Oldman pulled a 180 yesterday and apologized for his own "insensitive" comments.
If his original interview was cringeworthy, Gary Oldman's groveling apology is downright nauseating -- not to mention transparently insincere.
Here are a few choice quotes from the original interview (warning, strong language ahead):
I just think political correctness is crap. That’s what I think about it. I think it’s like, take a fucking joke. … No one can take a joke anymore. I don’t know about Mel. He got drunk and said a few things, but we've all said those things. We're all fucking hypocrites. That's what I think about it. The policeman who arrested him has never used the word 'nigger' or 'that fucking Jew'? I’m being brutally honest here. It's the hypocrisy of it that drives me crazy. Or maybe I should strike that and say 'the N word' and 'the F word,' though there are two F words now.
Alec calling someone an F-A-G in the street while he’s pissed off coming out of his building because they won’t leave him alone. I don’t blame him. So they persecute. 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, “But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, 'That fucking kraut' or 'Fuck those Germans,' whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That's what gets me. It's just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone, that we all stand on this thing going, 'Isn't that shocking?'
If I called Nancy Pelosi a cunt — and I’ll go one better, a fucking useless cunt — I can't really say that. But Bill Maher and Jon Stewart can, and nobody's going to stop them from working because of it. Bill Maher could call someone a fag and get away with it. He said to Seth MacFarlane this year, 'I thought you were going to do the Oscars again. Instead they got a lesbian.' He can say something like that. Is that more or less offensive than Alec Baldwin saying to someone in the street, 'You fag'? I don’t get it.
At the Oscars, if you didn’t vote for 12 Years a Slave, you were a racist. You have to be very careful about what you say. 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.
Whew. So that was … yeah, he didn't really hold anything back, did he? I actually agree with him to a point -- I do believe it's become downright impossible to say much of anything these days without offending someone -- but I definitely can't go so far as to concede that we all sit around in private using racial and gay slurs.
It would be one thing if he simply stood by what he'd said, but Oldman has now issued an apology to the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Weisenthal Center. Here's what he said:
Dear Gentlemen of the ADL:
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–Gary Oldman.
Well, I feel like he lost his integrity by passionately railing against political correctness and then tripping over himself to say sorry, he should have been politically correct. His original comments were not going to be loved by everyone, but they were candid and presumably honest. The apology reeks of B.S., probably because the studio behind his new movie, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, forced him to backtrack.
What really sucks about this whole thing is that I'm sure every celebrity who's ever considered doing one of those amazingly in-depth interviews Playboy has become known for is thinking, you know what, I'd better stick to the superficial promo stuff. We ask for more insight into an actor's life, then flip out when it's revealed their views don't completely align with our own.
I didn't love everything about what Gary Oldman said -- but I respected that he was willing to say it. In comparison, the subsequent apology feels so lame and scripted I can't imagine what purpose it serves. After everything he had to say about hypocrisy, it's sad that he felt he had to demonstrate exactly what he originally condemned.
What do you think about Gary Oldman's comments -- and his mea culpa?
Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr