Corporate sidelight: Kill Bill is distributed by Miramax, a Disney studio. Disney seeks profit by wallowing in gore--Kill Bill opens with an entire family being graphically slaughtered for the personal amusement of the killers--and by depicting violence and murder as pleasurable sport. Disney's Miramax has been behind a significant share of Hollywood's recent violence-glorifying junk, including Scream, whose thesis was that murdering your friends and teachers is a fun way for high-school kids to get back at anyone who teases them. Scream was the favorite movie of the Columbine killers.
Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Films made in Hollywood are now shown all over the world, to audiences that may not understand the dialogue or even look at the subtitles, but can't possibly miss the message--now Disney's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself.
Most excerpting of the statements above don't include the paragraph about Miramax - but I found it relrevant for context of the final one which spurred the controversy. The invited accusation of anti-Semitism predictably came from Yourish, who responds:
WTF? Did he just blame Jews for being greedy, money-grubbing Hollywood executives partly responsible for today's real-life violence? Did he just say that because of the Holocaust, Jews should know better than to allow films that depict mindless violence to be made on their watch? And is he actually implying in that last sentence that Jewish film executives are partly responsible for Muslim terrorism?...
That is one unbelievable ethical standard to hold Jews up to. That's right, the Jews have to be the most righteous among all nations, because six million of ours were slaughtered. Your logic is missing a crucial step here, though. The Jews weren't slaughtered in the Holocaust as a result of people reading the violent popular fiction of the day. The Jews were slaughtered because of bigotry and hatred.
(note that Yourish does not call Easterbrook an anti-Semite, but calls his words anti-Semitic. Important and subtle difference). Easterbrook duly apologized, and clarified what he intended by his remarks:
Nothing's worse, as a writer, than so mangling your own use of words that you are heard to have said something radically different than what you wished to express. Of mangling words, I am guilty.
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'm ready to defend all the thoughts in that paragraph. But how could I have done such a poor job of expressing them?
In other words, Gregg apologizes for the packaging, but not the content. The full apology is worth reading in full beyond this excerpt. Yourish finds the apology adequate and argues in his defense that he shouldn't have been fired. Yourish also writes about the casual anti-Semitism of civil society as the rationale for her anger. She also points to another writer who explains why Jews shouldn't be held to a higher standard even though their religious beliefs postulate that they are bound to one, and this interesting survey of reactions that hints at wider social implications of the whole affair, and this bit by Jeff Jarvis about how many are using it to promote their own agendas. The epic flamewar between Yourish, Diana, and Judith takes place in the comments of that last link.
What do I think?
If I read it correctly, he says that Jewish executives should not use the fact that Christian executives profit from the adulation of violence, as carte blanche to profit from the adultion of violence themselves. He says that recent European history should be a disincentive to Jews especially from glorifying fictional violence for any reason.
I have to note here that as a muslim, I am accused of having a religious and cultural indoctrination in favor of anti-Semitism. Any critique I make of Israel, for example, can and should be interpreted through the lens of muslim anti-semitism. And as a muslim, I am held to a higher standard of critique against any Jewish institution, because what I say may ultimately enable that institutionalized angti-semitism of my coreligionists and in the end translate directly to real harm against Jews.
If you accept that premise (which i do not), then certainly the actions of Jewish executives such as Eisner and Weinstein are likewise causal, though of course in that latter case the glorification of violence is a general one and not necessarily aimed at Jews alone. So I perceive some contradiction in attitudes amongst his accusers.
I don't have any real sympathy for Easterbrook, since he made a fair point unnecessarily complicated (the argument would have stood alone without any reference to anyone's religion or to European history).
Easterbrook does get a pass on the question of being an anti-Semite, presumably because he is not muslim and thus lacks the perceived institutionalized hate that my religion supposedly bestows. Had he been muslim, Yourish would not have regretted his firing, nor would the question be why was what he said anti-Semitic? , it would have started firmly at Why is he anti-Semitic? and moved quickly to why are muslims anti-Semitic?
For this I am thankful, because in answering why what he said was anti-Semitic, there was much interesting discussion about Jewish beliefs and the whole higher standard thing. But having been on the receiving end of an accusation of anti-Semitism myself, I see that the concept of higher standards is not a problem uniquely faced by Jews.
And what of the casual anti-semitism of civil society? Yourish's examples are of course unfortunate, but the net harm appears to have been hurt feelings. I don't rank anti-semitism in this ocuntry as any greater a scourge than I would, say, the anti-muslimism that I endure without complaint at airports. I actually have had eggs thrown at me and been spit upon, and called a rag-head, all of which was before 9-11. And I think I get off pretty easy: I'm not a black man. I see Yourish's invocation of a deep strain of endemic anti-Semitism as more victimization of victimhood.
 CAUSAL: to cause.
 CASUAL: not formal.