Monday, October 24, 2011

Sometimes Dumb Actors Can Play Smart People

Actors are actors. They get paid to play roles. They get paid to pretend to be someone they're not. For example, we know that Michael Sheen is not Tony Blair. We know that Will Ferrell is not George W Bush.

Sometimes dumb actors can play smart people, just like smart actors can play dumb people too.

A lot of people confuse the gifted actress, Susan Sarandon, with the many strong and sensible characters she's played, when sometimes, in real life, she may not have as much common sense as the plebs who pay for her to entertain them.

Like Susan Sarandon, I was raised Catholic. Like Susan Sarandon, my politics are pretty liberal. I've known very liberal Catholics (like the Kennedys or Joe Biden) and I've known very conservative ones also (like Paul Ryan and Bob McDonnell). Hell, in my family, I have two cousins, sisters, one of whom is far out in leftfield and the other is a fan of Bill Donoghue's. Myself, I left the Church as early as possible and am a happy non-believer now.

But I don't fault anyone's faith.

Recently, Susan Sarandon made a lot of waves by referring to the current Pope as a "Nazi."

I know the Pope is German. I know he spent a time as a member of the Hitler Youth Organisation. I also know that membership in that Organisation was mandatory in Nazi Germany. After all, it replaced the Boy Scouts. I don't know if he Pope were eager to join or if he sorta kinda had to do so for safety's sake.

I take exception to the Pope's hiding paedophilic priests, to his stance on abortion rights and birth control. What happened with the Pope seventy years ago, when he hadn't even thought of entering the priesthood is of no concern to me.

Sarandon referred to the present Pope as a "Nazi" when relating a story of how she'd sent a copy of the book "Dead Man Walking" (the same name of the film which captured her an Oscar for Best Actress)to the last Pope, hoping he would "elevate the issue of the death penalty in Church teaching."

Say what?

The Popes reside in Vatican City, which is a separate entity from Italy, but which pretty much abides by Italian law. Italian law abides, in some instances, by European Union law - in which case, the death penalty is illegal. As far as the death penalty is concerned, wherever the Church is, it abides by the law of the land. She would have been better advised to have sent that book to her Senator or Congressman.

I don't know if she genuinely thinks the current Pope is a Nazi or if she called him that in a desperate attempt at attention. She is, unfortunately, an ageing actress in an industry where age consigns the actress to character parts.

If she genuinely thinks he's a Nazi, she's stupid; if she did this as an attention-seeking device, that's pretty stupid too.

I'm just going to let the brilliant Jewish writer David Wolpe deconstruct Sarandon's own particular brand of ego-driven stupidity:-

It is always worth remembering the basics. What is a Nazi? A Nazi is someone who believes large segments of humanity should be brutally, summarily slaughtered. A Nazi is someone who promoted, or now would applaud, the murder of six million Jews, and laments that the killing was not more comprehensive. A Nazi is not someone who condemns homosexual behavior, or even homosexuals, but rather is one who wants homosexuals literally wiped off the face of the earth, along with gypsies, those who are disabled – well, the list goes on.

A Nazi is someone who herded people into concentration camps, dashed babies against brick ovens, put the babies’ parents inside those ovens, turned gas on in mock showers to suffocate people, thought other races inferior, barely human, worthy of contempt, slavery and death and literally planned world domination. A Nazi is someone who belonged to a party that began a war enveloping the entire globe and resulting in the death of countless millions of people. That is a Nazi.

The Holocaust is not a stick with which to beat those who disagree with us. When it is used as a weapon, it cheapens the magnitude of the event and the suffering of those who endured it.

So when Susan Sarandon calls the pope a Nazi, it is a difficult question to decide: is she demonstrating astounding historical ignorance or brutal prejudice? Does she merely reach for the most savage epithet she can find to characterize those who disagree with her? I have no conclusion; I merely wonder.

Like every Jew whose roots are in Eastern Europe, both in my family in and my community I am close to people who survived the Nazis. Unless you are an enthusiast for genocide you do not qualify. Unless you believe that large segments of humanity are intrinsically inferior you do not qualify. There are many ways to be objectionable without being a Nazi. Calling other people “Nazi” is one of them. Susan Sarandon knows better, or should, and however much she may dislike the pope or what he stands for, she owes The pope as well Catholics all over the world, a genuine apology.

Sometimes, actors are best left limiting their utterances to the demands of the script.

1 comment:

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