Sunday, October 19, 2003
Some notes and comments on the previous two posts. (Yes, they are a bit late. That's our slogan here at Thinking Meat: Yesterday's News, Tomorrow!)

ESPN has fired Gregg Easterbrook, apparently over the comments he made at TNR. It is unclear whether he was fired because his remarks were perceived as anti-Semitic, or simply because he harshly criticized Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney, which owns ESPN. Frankly, I'm guessing that it was the former: ESPN has already showed that they shun any sort of controversy when they fired Rush Limbaugh for his comments on McNabb. In a way, it's almost understandable: ESPN is a sports network, not a news and opinion outlet, and they don't want their brand tarnished by association with perceived racists and anti-Semites, however unfair the perception may be. They have a business to run, and want to keep the controversies to sports. (Though in that case, I can hardly understand why they'd hire Easterbrook and Limbaugh in the first place.)

For what it's worth, I don't think that Easterbrook meant for his writing to be interpreted as being about "money-grubbing Jews." That phrase was most unfortunate, possibly inserted for its shock value, and Easterbrook has since apologized for them. That's commendable, but what offended me in the article was the notion that Jewish executives and Jews in general should somehow be especially appalled by violence. Even his apology article repeats this:

How, I wondered, could anyone Jewish--members of a group who suffered the worst act of violence in all history, and who suffer today, in Israel, intolerable violence--seek profit from a movie that glamorizes violence as cool fun?
This still doesn't sit with me, though I should give it some context (unknown to me before). Here's some context for the preceding quote:
Monday I wrote an item about the disgusting movie Kill Bill, which so glorifies violence as to border on filth. I was indignant that a major company whose work is mainly good, Disney, would distribute such awfulness, in this case through its Miramax subsidiary. I wondered how any top executive could live with his or her conscience by seeking profits from Kill Bill, oblivious to the psychological studies showing that positive depiction of violence in entertainment causes actual violence in children. I wondered about the consciences of those running Disney and Miramax. Were they Christian? How could a Christian rationalize seeking profits from a movie that glorifies killing as a sport, even as a form of pleasure? I think it's fair to raise faith in this context: In fact I did exactly that one week earlier, when I wrote a column about the movie The Passion asking how we could take Mel Gibson seriously as a professed Christian, when he has participated in numerous movies that glorify violence.

But those running Disney and Miramax are not Christian, they're Jewish. Learning this did in no way still my sense of outrage regarding Kill Bill. How, I wondered, could anyone Jewish--members of a group who suffered the worst act of violence in all history, and who suffer today, in Israel, intolerable violence--seek profit from a movie that glamorizes violence as cool fun?
I've got no argument with Easterbrook on Kill Bill -- I haven't seen it, but I've seen Tarantino's other work, and he does seem to take sadistic pleasure in the graphic deaths of his characters, portraying it as good fun. (Not sure about Gibson, but I found Payback particularly vile, for the same reason.) But the whole Jewish angle is, to put it bluntly, stupid. Yes, Jews and Israelis suffer from "violence" -- but so does every other nation on the planet. And violence is not a force of nature: it's a catch-all term for human beings out to hurt, maim, and kill other human beings. The perpertrators, actions, and victims matter more than the v-word here. Nowhere in recent Jewish history do we have people suffering from "violence" committed by sword-wielding babes. Had Tarantino made a movie about the hilarious lives of suicide bombers, I might see Easterbrook's point, but the kind of violence shown in Kill Bill has as much to do with Judaism as do pork roasts. By lumping stylized swordplay with gas chambers and bus bombers under the heading of "violence," Easterbrook in fact commits the sin of moral equivalence, which I find more wrong than any crack about money-grubbing.

(Most of the links in this post came from Little Green Footballs.)

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