Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hugging the cactus—UPDATED

©2011 Getty Images.
In quick succession, we've seen Hollywood figures at their most generous and at their most infantile.

On Saturday, Robert Downey, Jr. delivered a speech in acceptance of the 25th annual American Cinematheque Award, an award which pays tribute to an actor "fully engaged in his or her work and ... committed to making a significant contribution to the art of the motion pictures." Certainly Downey throws himself completely into every role he plays, and is very knowledgeable in films and the art of story-telling, so I can think of few people as deserving of the award.

Except for the actor who presented him the award — Mel Gibson. And Downey paid him tribute both for his craft and his friendship by demanding that Hollywood forgive Gibson for his indiscretions of the last few years. Here's the part of the speech, as presented in Forbes:

When I couldn’t get sober, he told me not to give up hope and encouraged me to find my faith. It didn’t have to be his or anyone else’s as long as it was rooted in forgiveness. And I couldn’t get hired, so he cast me in the lead of a movie that was actually developed for him. He kept a roof over my head and food on the table and most importantly he said if I accepted responsibility for my wrongdoing and embraced that part of my soul that was ugly – hugging the cactus he calls it — he said that if I hugged the cactus long enough, I’d become a man. ... I did and it worked. 
All he asked in return was that someday I help the next guy in some small way. It’s reasonable to assume at the time he didn’t imagine the next guy would be him or that someday was tonight. So anyway on this special occasion and in light of the recent holidays including Columbus Day, I would ask that you join me, unless you are completely without sin in which case you picked the wrong f—ing industry, in forgiving my friend his trespasses and offering him the same clean slate you have me, allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame. He’s hugged the cactus long enough.


Forbes doesn't say whether Susan Sarandon was at this speech; probably not, as the dinner was held at the Beverly Hilton on Friday and Sarandon was in Long Island on Sunday calling Pope Benedict a Nazi.

©2011 David Shankbone.
Sarandon had stopped by the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor and was discussing Dead Man Walking, the movie based on the book by anti-death penalty activist Sr. Helen Prejean (whom Sarandon portrayed), with fellow actor Bob Balaban. In the course of the discussion, she mentioned that she had sent a copy of Sr. Helen's book to the Pope. "The last one, not this Nazi one we have now."


Balaban apparently tried to back her away from such a strong (dare we say "libellous"?) term, according to Rafer Guzman at Newsday, but Sarandon only repeated the charge, while the audience laughed. As Guzman noted quietly, "Of all the places on largely Catholic Long Island, perhaps only in the Hamptons could Sarandon get a laugh with such a comment." For those of you who don't watch USA's Royal Pains, the Hamptons, sitting on the eastern extreme of LI and thus not yet absorbed into the NYC megalopolis, is where limousine liberals go to vacation in summer, away from the hoi polloi to whom most of their causes (but not their money) are dedicated.

Dylan Parry has a takedown of the "Nazi" charge on A Reluctant Sinner. I seriously doubt, though, whether Sarandon cares if the charge is historically accurate. Like most limousine liberals, Sarandon is an activist chiefly in the sense that she actively runs her mouth about her favorite causes (unlike Angelina Jolie, who tries to help underprivileged children in other ways besides adopting them), and thus has had no real opportunity to learn humility. And, like many people – liberal or conservative – no sin, real or imputed, is too far back in the past to be held against an opponent.

Given the leftist slant of Tinsel Town, it's highly improbable that anyone there will make Susan Sarandon hug the cactus for her thoughtless, mean-spirited character slam. Insulting Jewish people is a sin. Insulting Catholics, however, is a sport. Especially when the Catholic in question hasn't made the Church the religious arm of the Democrat Party.

Update: Later the same day
Hat tip to Stephen D. Greydanus, our blogosphere's resident Catholic movie maven, for broadcasting the Anti-Defamation League's doughty defense of Pope Benedict XVI:

We hope that Susan Sarandon will have the good sense to apologize to the Catholic community and all those she may have offended with this disturbing, deeply offensive and completely uncalled for attack on the good name of Pope Benedict XVI.
Ms. Sarandon may have her differences with the Catholic Church, but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies. Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust.
This is an aspect of the insult that, I'm sorry to say, I had not thought of. Calling the Pope a Nazi is not only insulting to Catholics but to everyone who suffered at the hands of the Nazi Party between 1933 and 1945, in particular the Jewish people of Europe. Abraham H. Foxman, the national director, does us all an unmerited favor by reminding us of this truth. We should keep this in mind before we start slinging other such references, including "feminazis" and (I blush to admit) "Gay Brownshirts"; comparisons to Nazi philosophy and crimes should only be made with care and surgical precision, and not used as cheap Molotov cocktails for demonizing opponents.

Update: October 19, 2011
Hat tip to Tom Peters the American Papist for finding the YouTube clip of the speech:


Update: Later same day
Another hat tip goes out to Abp. Timothy Dolan, who in his blog The Gospel in the Digital Age brought forward an editorial from the New York Daily News condemning Susan Sarandon's attack on Pope Benedict. The unnamed writer sardonically noted: "The world now awaits the sort of outcry that greeted Hank Williams after he mentioned the name of Adolf Hitler inartfully close to that of President Obama. Williams was fired from his gig belting out the Monday Night Football song. [Well, of course ... it was Obama the Chosen One.] Doubtless Sarandon faces no such opprobrium because so very often the Catholic Church is considered fair game for anything."