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Gary Oldman, Playboy and “political correctness”: Some scattered thoughts

Sections: Essays, Internet, Movies

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Gary Oldman for HTC One

Gary Oldman for HTC One

Gary Oldman gave an interview with Playboy, published this morning, that’s led to quite a bit of controversy. Before diving into the think pieces, I decided to dive right in to the interview itself instead. A few observations:

- Credit where credit is due: it’s rare for a celebrity interview to actually include substantive, memorable quotes. I also appreciate that Oldman, after sounding like a miserable prick for several paragraphs, is self-aware enough to note “that’s the sort of thing Sean Penn would say.”

- Oldman is more Bill O’Reilly-esque than you thought, having solidly get-off-my-lawn-style takes on such subjects as reality TV, twerking and the music kids are into these days. And if someone is asked to name the biggest ills of society today, and one of the first things they say is “helicopter parenting,” they’re probably an asshole.

- How did I not know that Oldman was once married to Uma Thurman? She was wife #2, out of four total.

- When discussing Mel Gibson’s having screamed slurs at both his former lover and a female police officer, blamed Jews for all of the wars in the world, or generally behaved like an insane person over the course of several years, I don’t know that “political correctness is crap” is an especially defensible response. Nor is “we’ve all said those things,” because no, we all haven’t.

- Oldman must be the first interview subject in history to praise both Charles Krauthammer and David Bowie in the same paragraph.

- Technically, Oldman did not actually call Nancy Pelosi a “fucking useless [c-word.]” He merely said that he “can’t” say that, yet Jon Stewart and Bill Maher “can.” But he’s (mostly) wrong. First of all, anyone “can” or “can’t” say whatever they want. Secondly, Stewart would likely face considerably more consequences for saying that than Maher (or Oldman) would, mostly because it would be jarringly off-brand for Stewart to use an off-color anatomical reference to bash a female Democratic politician. Maher, on the other hand, says faux-shocking stuff- often of a misogynistic nature- all the damn time. At any rate, Maher happened to appear on Stewart’s show the night before Oldman’s interview appeared, and no, neither of them referred to Nancy Pelosi, or anyone else, as a “fucking useless [c-word.]”

- Did anyone, at any point, state out loud that those who didn’t vote for “12 Years a Slave” for the Oscars were racist? It’s not like there were consequences for Academy members who voted for “Gravity” instead; Oscar voting is private.

- Oldman, however, is certainly right about the Golden Globes being a joke.

- After all those years of “I only read it for the articles” jokes, Playboy only ever seems to make news anymore for articles. When was the last time a female celebrity got naked in Playboy and it was a big deal? No, Paz de la Huerta doesn’t count. 

- That said, Playboy really needs to improve their web platform, stat. I googled for the interview and the article itself wasn’t even on the first three pages of results for “Oldman Playboy.” And on Playboy.com, the Oldman piece is almost impossible to find- this piece of hugely viral content is hidden as part of a rotating banner.

This whole thing, though, has led to some quality tweets:

Major takeaways:

- It’s been pretty well-known for quite a few years now that Oldman’s politics lean somewhat towards the right. For this, Hollywood has punished him with… a long, multi-faceted, accolade-filled career that’s coming up on its fourth decade, in which he’s been in everything from indie films to Beethoven biopics to Batman to Harry Potter.

- Oldman’s going to be “in trouble” for the things he says in the interview, and by “in trouble” I mean “people are going to write critical articles about him for two or three days, after which everyone sort of forgets about it.”

- I used to be pretty opposed to political correctness myself. But in recent years, the anti-PC movement has devolved into little more than wealthy white men saying, essentially, “I want to be as big as an asshole as I want, and as racist/sexist/homophobic as I want, without anyone ever criticizing me or calling me out or subjecting me to any consequences. Because I can’t anymore, I’m no longer free.”

- Oldman said some things in this interview with which I very much disagree, and they make me like him slightly less than I did before. Will it hurt my appreciation of him as an actor, or in any way affect how I perceive him the next time he’s in a movie? Of course not.

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  • Jurgen von Keil

    I make it a point to patronize anything that Gary appears in. It’s refreshing to see a Brit telling it like he sees it. The MAJORITY of his views I 100% agree with!
    Prost!