February 28, 2008

A Simple Misunderstanding

I really don't know where to begin with this one so let's just start with some facts. About a month ago, the celebrity media service WENN published an article that claimed that Will Smith had described Hitler as "a good person." The quote wasn't buried in page three either; The the headline for the piece was: "Smith: Hitler was a good person." Will Smith later denied having said or even implied anything to that effect and sued the news service.

I've laughed out loud several times reading about this whole affair. Are Smith's views on Hitler an issue that anyone has been asking themselves? The tabloids inform us of the smallest details of major celebrities lives but rarely do they ask if the Brad Pitts and Scarlett Johanssons of the world think that Hitler is a good person. Maybe, WENN was just trying to correct this omission. I can't wait to see the headlines coming down the pike now that relevance is no longer a factor. Maybe, "Jennifer Anitson indifferent to the music of John Cage" or "Gilbert Gottfried upset over Pakistani election fraud."

Well, if you're one of those people trying to create the definitive list of the celebrities who think that Hitler is a good person, let me help you sort through this topsy turvy thing called reality. NOBODY thinks that Hitler was a "good" person. You see, Hitler is just one of those guys that you either love and will fanatically obey or hate with a passion normally reserved for Wilford Brimley. There are no riding-the-fence, the-jury-is-still-out-on-Hitler people and there certainly aren't any that would describe him as a good person or a stand up guy or any variation thereof.

But getting back to my original point, do inquiring minds even give a fuck? Even if Smith thought that Hitler was wonderful, what does it matter? The guy's a movie star not a historian or the ambassador to Israel. When he stars in a documentary about WWII or the Holocaust or something, then those questions become interesting but "Men in Black" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance" don't exactly have the most political of tones.

Regardless, it should be clear to anyone who actually reads the interview that the headline was nothing but the most rarefied sensationalism. Here's the quote that was misinterpreted to mean that Smith thought Hitler was a good person:

“Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today.’ I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good’."

He really could hardly have been more clear about what he meant. The "journalists" writing the piece should have read that quote and come to the obvious conclusion that Smith approves not also of Hitler but also of "twisted backwards logic" (which as everyone knows is right up there with modal logic as one of the most respected logical forms).

Will Smith later tried to clear the whole mess up by releasing a statement that included this line: "Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet." Now, we're back on familiar absolute love or hate terrain.

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