We have all recently been made aware, if we weren’t already, of various celebrities’ ability to overexaggerate their personal feelings on certain topics that rub them the wrong way. Sadly, this foot-in-mouth disease extends beyond bad rape jokes, and goes all the way into comparing things they hate, or their own apparent persecutions, as being in some way connected to, or as devestatingly important as, Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. Yes, Godwin’s Law isn’t just for the Internet, anymore, folks. Of course, anyone who follows the American political scene already knew that.
It seems that, for whatever reason — maybe the upcoming Mayan Doomsday? — this year has been rife with celebrities breaking Godwin’s Law. Like National Socialism was going out of style, the invocation of Hitler and/or Nazis has become so commonplace that, while initially this list was going to be dedicated to less contemporary incidents, my research found enough celebrities with poor SAT verbal section skills to make The Worst Offenders of Godwin’s Law 2011: Celebrity Edition. And the year isn’t even over, yet. If this is a sign of the Apocalypse, then 2012’s list will be at least twice as long.
Are you ready for some ineloquent ineloquence?
Offense Occurred: October 2011
Broke Godwin’s Law By clarifying in an interview with filmmaker Bob Balaban that she gave a copy of her film Dead Man Walking to the Pope, “The last one. Not this Nazi one we have now.” Zing!
The most recent entry on this list, as it happened earlier this week, at least Sarandon does sort of have history on her side, even if it’s patently unfair to lay the atrocities of genocide at the feet of someone who was, at the time, a small child. Pope Benedict was indeed a member of the Hitler Youth during World War II, as most of his fellow Aryan supermen were, but unless he’s been setting up pogroms and concentration camps in secret since donning the Big Hat, the Nazi comparison doesn’t hold much holy water. After all, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling were both Mouseketeers, but would Sarandon accuse those two All American Dreamboats of being anti-Semitic? Doubtful, but at least she’d be consistent if she did.
Hank Williams Jr.
Offense Occurred: October 2011
Broke Godwin’s Law By referring to U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader John Boehner golfing together as “bein’ like Hitler playin’ golf with Netanyahu.”
For once, the dumb(est) haircut on “Fox & Friends” and I were on the same page. Neither of us were sure who was who in the above analogy, but the honky-tonkin’ voice of “Monday Night Football” clarified his message by then calling Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden both “the enemy” and the “Three Stooges,” so I think it’s safe to say that Boehner isn’t the world conquering madman in that golf game. When your rhetoric shocks even these airheads, a group that nodded solemnly to Glenn Beck’s assertion that our President “hates white people,” you know you’ve gone too far. Before Mr. Williams Jr. goes shooting his mouth off again he ought to first: a) Remember that the Stooges were all, to a man, Jewish, and b) Check his arithmetic. He does get bonus points for implying that he may own a working time machine, though.
Lars von Trier
Offense Occurred: April 2011
Broke Godwin’s Law By saying at Cannes, during a press conference with Kirsten Dunst, the star of his latest film Melancholia, that “I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things but I can see him sitting in his bunker. I’m saying that I think I understand the man. He is not what we could call a good guy, but yeah, I understand much about him and I sympathize with him … But come on! I’m not for the Second World War. And I’m not against Jews… I am very much for them. As much as Israelis are a pain in the ass. How do I get out of this sentence? Okay, I am a Nazi.”
No stranger to controversy, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier has already made headlines again for both apologizing, and then retracting that apology, for the above rambling, cringe-worthy quote. He maintains that he was attempting to make a joke and that he is sorry that he’s a bad joke teller, but he’s not sorry for saying it in the first place because by doing that he would be denying himself. And if denies himself, then how could he even exist? Or something like that, I never quite got existentialism. Really, though, he ought to apologize to Kirsten Dunst for making her wade through that verbal diahrrhea for several minutes. Nobody deserves to share this particular spotlight, especially not the star of Dick. Then again, without that scene, we would never have gotten this.
Offense Occurred: February 2011
Broke Godwin’s Law By not having the forethought to make sure nobody in the vicinity had a smart phone at a Parisian restaurant as drunkenly slurred, “I love Hitler. People like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers would be fucking gassed and dead.”
Christian Dior’s lead designer immediately lost the support of the fashion company’s spokeswoman, Natalie Portman (herself Jewish and from Israel). In a press release, the Academy Award winning actress stated that she would no longer be associated with the man in any way and backed this up by choosing not to wear Dior at this year’s Oscar ceremony. Scandalous, indeed. But royally ticking off one actress and embarassing yourself publicly is nothing compared to facing jail time. Turns out, anti-Semitic comments are totally illegal in France, with punishment up to six months in prison. Having seen Catch Me If You Can, I’m fairly certain French jails are much worse than their American counterparts. Whoops! Looks like John Galliano shouldn’t have concurred — with Hitler.
Offense Occurred: August 2011
Broke Godwin’s Law By trying to garner sympathy for all the slings and arrows hurled his way (most recently for his “Monster” music video), during his own concert with thousands of his own fans, saying, “I walk through the hotel, and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I’m fucking insane, like I’m Hitler.”
Oh, Kanye. You’re clearly as much a performance artist as Lady Gaga, but part of your schtick is never once copping to the artifice. Comparing your staggeringly successful music career and millionaire woes to the Holocaust is pretty much the definition of why Godwin’s Law exists in the first place. You’d fit right in on most Internet comment boards (Pajiba excepted, of course), as you constantly bring us to new depths of IRL baiting and general wankery. Congrats on being a poster boy for trolls everywhere, Mr. West! You’re clearly doing the Lord’s work.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force and tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar. He can’t wait to see who comes out on top (relatively speaking) of the Hitler/Nazi Sweepstakes next year.