Friday, December 28, 2007

The Fresh Prince of the Third Reich?

Will Smith has been getting a lot of grief for an off-hand invocation of Hitler in a recent interview.
"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Will. "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."
This is the kind of statement that can be seriously misconstrued and misappropriated. (And it was.) I don't hear this as a defense of Hitler, but it seems an odd anecdote nonetheless. Esther K has a sober assessment of what she thinks Smith meant and the impact it will have on his popularity.
Do I believe that Will Smith is an anti-Semite? No. Will I never look at his movies the same way again, like what happened in the wake of Mel Gibson's trip to Crazytown? No. Will I insist, as the local JDL is, that Hollywood "shun any future projects involving Smith." Clearly not. But do I find it surprising that Smith would invoke Hitler, the most hated, and most acknowledgedly-evil human to have walked the planet (at least in recent memory) through a haze of attempted comprehension? Uh-huh.

The report continues that "Smith himself is angry at the way critics have interpreted his words" [I bet he is] "saying there's no way they should be read to imply that he believes Hitler was anything but "a vile, heinous vicious killer."

Good. We all agree. Let's move on. And please, celebrities...whether you yell at Matt Lauer for the evils of meds-prescribing psychologists or try to understand Hitlerian logic, even as an intellectual exercise that challenges the concepts of good and evil, I implore you: think before you speak.

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