Monday, 27 April 2015

Hollywood Babble On & On #1230: Knowing When To NOT Take A Stand


By now you've seen the video of Robert Downey Jr. walking out of an Avengers press junket interview because a British "journalist" ambushed him with questions about his past battle with addiction and his personal politics.

Good for RDJ.

It's not like he was trying to keep his past a secret. He's done multiple interviews about getting clean, most of them very frank and revealing. There was nothing new to be learned from bringing it up now, being a subject more fit for history over news.

Then there's the reporter's insistence that RDJ take some sort of public political stance, which RDJ refused, rightly.

Why was RDJ right to refuse to take a stance?

Because there is no good that can come out of him making some sort of partisan political stand. All he would succeed in doing is risk alienating a big chunk of the audience either way, and if he comes out as politically "conservative" he runs the risk of alienating Hollywood and possibly losing work.

Which is why I think it was right of him to walk out of that ambush. That reporter was just looking for attention for himself as "hard-hitting" which is why I deliberately left his name out of this post.


Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose (fitting name) and four other writers are boycotting the PEN America gala's tribute to Charlie Hebdo.

You may recall that Charlie Hebdo is the often off-colour French satirical magazine whose staff and contributors were massacred by radical Islamist terrorists out to avenge offensive cartoons. PEN America is a literary journal published by the PEN American Centre, a group dedicated to the promotion of free speech and free expression.

This means that Ondaatje/Prose and company are missing one of the fundamental points of PEN's mission. That in order for freedom of speech to exist, it must accept speech that some might find offensive or even enraging. The onus of responsibility for acts of violence perpetrated by the "offended" rests not on the offender, but on the perpetrator of the violence.

This boycott is an unwitting endorsement of violence as a means of imposing censorship by people who should know better. It's telling terrorists and wannabes that violence will get them what they want. 

That ain't right.

Then there's the whiff of hypocrisy that clings to this boycott like the pong of a rotting whale carcass. How would these same sensitive souls have reacted if Charlie Hebdo had been attacked by a gang of Christians who had been enraged by the magazine's more common attacks on their beliefs? I'd bet dollars to dirt-clods that these same people would be waving "Je Suis Charlie" flags and demanding that the magazine get the Nobel Peace Prize.

If the boycotters really believe in free speech then they will have to hold their nose and accept that non-PC speech has to be free too.

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