Oh, Twitter. Other than “Sh*t My Dad Says,” did anything good ever come out of you? My bet is that even Anthony Weiner would say no to that one at this point. Twitter has become little more than an additional venue for idiocy and shitstorms (as opposed to back in the beginning of Twitter, when it was curing cancer and feeding starving children).
Jewish film director Eli Roth and his friend Russell Crowe, i.e. Maximus in Gladiator, among others, were recently joking around about circumcision on Twitter. Crowe Tweeted, “I love my Jewish friends. I love the apple and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting yr babies,” adding, “I’ll take attentive parenting over barbarism.” A writer from The Hollywood Reporter took the Tweet and ran with it, as well as a headline stating that Crowe “insults Jews.”
Admittedly, running a Tweet without looking for more substantive comment is not such great journalism – even if the quote in question might court controversy. Roth told TMZ that no one had contacted either him or Crowe before running the story: “The [Hollywood Reporter] headline blatantly attempts to make Russell look like an anti-Semite. It’s tabloid journalism at its worst. No one contacted either of us. It’s terrible. Russell is a great person and respectful of all religions.”
Crowe and Roth’s jests may have reflected a bit of obliviousness, perhaps, as to how just high tensions are running over a San Francisco ballot measure that will allow residents to vote on banning circumcision (though there was a similar ban, now off the ballot, being proposed in more-local-to-Hollywood Santa Monica). Anti-circumcision activist Matthew Hess has recently come under fire, by me as well as others, for his Foreskin Man comic book which depicts Jews as blood-thirsty would-be penis choppers.
The inconvenient thing is that, debate over this ballot measure notwithstanding, simply being against circumcision doesn’t make you against Jews.
All of this, Roth says, is a mountain being made from a foreskin. Okay, from a joke about a foreskin. “What’s more disturbing is that there are real antisemitic incidents every day that they clearly could care less about,” Roth subsequently Tweeted regarding the media, garnering consensus from his followers. True…but I don’t see Hollywood Reporter or US Magazine doing an anti-semitism watchdog column anytime soon.
Oh, poor Russell Crowe. You know something? I don’t know you, and I’m going to go with our mutual acquaintance Eli (a smart guy with whom I’ve spoken on a few occasions), go out on a limb and say that you are not anti-Semitic. I too feel that that label is tossed around far too freely.
So let’s just say you were being a little bit of a jackass instead, shall we? But Twitter is totally the right place to be a jackass! So you’re good with me, Russell. At my signal, unleash hell!
UPDATE: Crowe apologizes.