Oy vey. Every time actors speak I find myself holding my breath and hoping that what they’ll say will resemble one of the moving, well-written speeches that they deliver during the roles they’ve taken on in their lifetime. As it turns out, those speeches are crafted by experienced people (I believe they’re called “writers,” or at least they are when they’re not striking) who know how to turn a phrase, and directed by other experienced people who are called “directors.” Or sometimes, those emotional moments are brokered by a James Lipton or Barbara Walters or Oprah or Ellen, to get actors to discover the wonderful inner workings of their own minds, to entertaining effect for the audience. Often, these celebrities become spokespeople for wonderful philanthropic causes that help people all over the world, and they should be praised for devoting part of a significant fortune and pulpit to good works.
But woe, alas and alack, sometimes it might have been better if the celebrity had said nothing at all. For instance, a recent combination of Will Smith+Scotland=a possible boycott of “I Am Legend,” when the former fresh prince made the following opinion known.
Smith says he doesn’t believe, quote, “Hitler didn’t wake up going, “let me do the most evil thing I can do today,” adding that Hitler was trying to do what he thought was good, though his mind used “a twisted, backward logic.”
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.