Well Merry Christmas everyone. You probably thought you’d never hear from me again, but I just didn’t have anything worth saying for a while. I’ve been busy, you have too. Time for me to talk about this Will Smith debacle that when I read about it made me say, “Oy vey!”
As you probably have heard if you’re reading this, Will Smith was quoted in Saturday’s Daily Record as having said the following:
“Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today’,” said Smith. “I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good’.Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.”
When I read this quote, I didn’t think to myself, “Hey! Will Smith is an anti-semite! You evil horrible bastard, you who have been graced with the gifts bestowed on you by the entertainment industry, an industry replete with Jewish people who will be offended!”
But apparently, I was alone in this way of thinking for a day or two, particularly when said newspaper ran the headline SMITH: ‘HITLER WAS A GOOD PERSON’.
Within minutes, Will Smith was slandered and libeled in a potentially irreparable way by any number of major news sources, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith (who called for a boycott of his movie I Am Legend, a film which should be boycotted not for this reason but because it’s horrible), and even Page Six took a swipe at him, saying:
“Will, you’ve broken our hearts. It’s you that needs reprogramming.”
Now, I don’t know about you folks, but I have a brain and I have a heart. Sometimes, I think with my brain and other times I get emotional and try to think with my heart. When heart dominates over brain, I occasionally fall short of my marks on things. All of these people got so emotional, so over-the-top about this headline that they didn’t read the fine print and use the logical mechanisms they’ve been entrusted with to figure things out.
This is Will Smith we’re talking about. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, people. He gets jiggy wid’it. He’s not Mel Gibson who, by all published accounts, actually did launch an anti-semitic tirade and will now spend the rest of his life trying to recover from it.
If you’re still confused, well you’re not alone. Will Smith issued a statement through his publicist which read:
“It is an awful and disgusting lie…It speaks to the dangerous power of an ignorant person with a pen. I am incensed and infuriated to have to respond to such ludicrous misinterpretation.”
“Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet.”
And there, of course, is the loving father and husband that we have all come to know and respect. So if you’re still thinking that he said something anti-semitic, let me ‘splain for you what he was talking about, k?
When I was in acting school, we had an entire acting class dedicated to talking about Adolf Hitler and about how we would seek to portray the character of Adolf Hitler in a play or movie should such a challenge ever arise. Adolf Hitler, we all knew, was an evil and horrible man, a man whose atrocities were too numerous and horrific for the mind to contain them. But the challenge was in getting that message across to an audience in a performance. It didn’t matter how we individually or collectively felt about Hitler; for this acting lesson, we would have to play Hitler. To become him, what tools would we use? How could we deliver the message of who he was in a performance?
And the turning point came when our teacher said, “Now, consider this. Which one is more frightening: to think of Adolf Hitler as the horrible, evil dictator that we know him to be, or is it more frightening to think of him as a person who believed that what he was doing was right?”
A collective sigh went through the classroom as the reality sunk in: it’s far more frightening and disgusting to consider that Hitler believed what he was doing was “good”.
As someone who has considered this logic many times over the years, I couldn’t begin to fault Will Smith for having the same conversation that I’ve had hundreds of times with countless friends. As for the shame and guilt associated with the comments, cut The Fresh Prince a break. If anyone should be ashamed, it should be The Daily Record. Whoever chose to run with that headline ought to be hitting the bricks.
But, oh, wait — headlines like that sell papers. Well played, assholes.