It’s been a while since Galliano’s polemical scandal of anti Semitic commentaries. I didn’t want to talk about that because it didn’t feel right to me. But today I’ve been reading several articles and posts related to the weird commentaries Lars Von Trier said in the press conference of Melancholia, in Cannes. I’ve been reading conclusions, judgments and accusations towards him. Before you go further reading let me tell you something. I’m not defending anyone; I’m not making excuses or agreeing with someone. I only want to express what I think is a reality nowadays towards what’s politically correct and the thin line that separates it from the politically incorrect actions.
I’ve been analyzing for a while what happened with Galliano when only a few days ago Lars Von Trier said “he was more of a Nazi” (because of his German roots) and he “understood Hitler”. Of course everyone was outraged, those kinds of comments just don’t go unpunished. Yesterday, with immediate effect, the Cannes board of directors decided to consider Von Trier a “persona non grata” for the festival. For a while every review of Melancholia was eclipsed by the continuous information of Von Trier’s comments and their consequences. Is it justifiable? Was he being sarcastic? Did Cannes board of directors overreacted?
Through Internet I’ve read multiple accusations. Ones say he just went nuts but it’s fair enough he gets punished for that. Other ones say he should only be seen for his work, only focusing on Melancholia and how great/bad it is.
There’s no correct position for that. Even if we claim to be objective or subjective we will be taking sides in the image vs. work debate. The truth is we no longer live in a world where you can think “freely”. It’s true we have more ways to express, and Internet has blessed us with multiple windows to self-expression but with this freedom comes an awfully big responsibility. I’m using the same argument we do when we discuss about curriculums vitae vs. Internet image. Until what point is it allowed to judge us for our thoughts? Can we no longer separate work from personal life? Sadly, the conclusion I’ve reached is no. We live in a world where we are surrounded by media in overwhelming ways. Every little thought poured on twitter or facebook is going to be recorded forever, open to other people to see it. We will be judged for those thoughts.
Unfortunately we can no longer think that whatever we say is going to go unnoticed, and that goes for us, simple users of Internet. What about celebrities and worldwide-recognized figures as Galliano and Von Trier? Do their work justify what they said? Does it mean that for them to have a private life we need to ignore whatever they do outside their work? Years ago the answer would have been yes. But we no longer live there. You just can’t expect to say something so polemic and go unnoticed. Not in a world where media is an extension of our minds and thoughts, where every piece of information about you is available for everyone to see. Privacy is a utopia now, at least for people with media exposure.
I’m pretty sure both Von Trier and Galliano regret their commentaries. They’ve not only overshadowed their work but have also demonstrated a big piece of their personality. Either it is related with Nazism or stupidity they have shown a part of themselves.
Of course we can’t forget about the hypocrisy of media. One-day media hates you, the other it loves you. If there’s something juicier (work, gossip, whatever) that can overshadow the previous scandal, it will be forgotten, just to make room for new news. The old say “you might forgive, but never forget” applies here perfectly. The media might forgive Von Trier for his comments if Melancholia wins the Palme D’Or (I’m not saying he will). But they will never forget. He might as well be considered in a future as a director with that typical case of verbal diarrhea, just one of those directors. Crazy dude but what a genius.
A piece of advice for us, readers, consumers, audience? Don’t take sides. Be objective. Read, inform. Know the context of things and think, what would you do if you were in their shoes. Would you like to be judge by something stupid you said while drunk? Take that as a lesson. Watch your image.
A piece of advice for the media exposed people? Wake up. We no longer live in a world where you can say something racist, sexist, homophobic, narrow minded, intolerant, etc. and go unnoticed. Don’t pretend your actions have no consequences. And that goes as well for all of us.