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Friday, October 17, 2003

Easterbrook and the Kill Bill brouhaha

what goes around (the blogosphere) comes around
On Monday, Gregg Easterbrook, a senior editor of the New Republic Magazine, attacked the movie Kill Bill and its writer/director Quentin Tarantino for glorifying violence. In the process, Easterbrook criticized Miramax which released the film, and its parent company, Disney, as follows:
"Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Films made in Hollywood are now shown all over the world, to audiences that may not understand the dialogue or even look at the subtitles, but can't possibly miss the message--now Disney's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself. "
The antisemitic connotation therein soon raised a ruckus in the blogosphere. My favorite was the commentary of highly-regarded writer and blogger, Roger L. Simon, who proceeded to go off on Easterbrook in a post he titled "Racist Garbage in the New Republic":
"If the Jew Harvey Weinstein... or any other film executive of any race... were to have turned down Tarantino's next film, the chances are they would have been either ridiculed or fired. He or she also would have been accused of censoring a supposedly great artist. And this is not, Earth-to-Easterbrook, restricted to venal Hollywood. It's the same in the entire film world from Bollywood to Cine Citta. And guess what--some of those exploiters of violence are not Jewish.

So what does that make you?

As the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of a movie about the Holocaust, Mr. Easterbrook, I think I have earned the right to say this: You're an asshole."
Lots of other bloggers held forth quite well, notably Meryl Yourish:
"First you slam the Jews for worshipping money above all. Then you say that they should know better than to produce films where whole families are slaughtered, because whole families were exterminated by the Nazis, thereby drawing a parallel between, gee, fact and fiction.

If I follow that line of thought, I get confused. Is it only going to be a matter of time before there's a fictional Holocaust, or will the money-grubbing Jewish executives who distribute violent films cause real violence because of the violent messages they're sending?

Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice.

That is one unbelievable ethical standard to hold Jews up to. That's right, the Jews have to be the most righteous among all nations, because six million of ours were slaughtered. Your logic is missing a crucial step here, though. The Jews weren't slaughtered in the Holocaust as a result of people reading the violent popular fiction of the day. The Jews were slaughtered because of bigotry and hatred.

Come to think of it, back in the 1930s, people were blaming Jews for being money-grubbing worshippers of the almighty deutschmark at the expense of the Fatherland's more moral Germans. So if one is going to draw a parallel here, one might draw one at Easterbrook's slap at Jewish movie executives, rather than comparing their financing of a film hack to drawing down the responsibility of Arab terrorism on their heads."
Then the New York Times picked up the story, asserting that "Mr. Easterbrook said he planned to apologize." Indeed he did: "Of mangling words, I am guilty . . . What I wrote here was simply wrong, and for being wrong, I apologize."

Rather than calming the outraged, however, Easterbrook's apology seems to have set off another round . Leading the second charge, I believe, is Abe Foxman, National Director of the ADL, who issued an official statement finding Easterbrook's apology "insufficient."
"Sadly, instead of making a clear apology and a rejection of anti-Semitic stereotypes, Mr. Easterbrook says he "wrote poorly" and was misunderstood. Mr. Easterbrook's remarks reflect either absolute ignorance or total bigotry. We find it hard to fathom that a senior editor at The New Republic could have absolutely no knowledge of the hateful canards about greed and Jewish moneylenders that have contributed to two-thousand years of persecution against the Jewish people."

Whew. If you're looking for more, The Young Curmudgeon has a link to all the "widespread internet reaction." I have nothing to add . . . except maybe this.

hint: it's not Abe Foxman