From David Poland‘s HotBlog, posted earlier today: “I have to say, it makes me kind of sick to my stomach to think that Lars von Trier, stumbling over his own ideas about being Jewish and German, basically saying stuff that has been said by high school upperclassmen and college freshmen for decades, and having it all reduced down to ‘I Heart Hitler!,’ leading to Cannes’ board meeting and saying that the filmmaker is now ‘persona non grata.’
“As inarticulate as his comments and the tortured path they rambled down were, he never said anything more generous to Hilter than, ‘I think I understand the man.’ And he ‘liked” Albert Speer, which American TV networks have done, via mini-series, in the past.
“The word ‘Nazi’ was used, in the context of the press conference segment I posted last night, by von Trier as a provocative shorthand about himself. And then it snowballed into snippets that could be taken out of context. But what i heard was that he was thinking about the German mindset and the Jewish mindset and how he is caught between the two, part of the two, and understands both…even Hitler.
“Of course, von Trier was marginalized by much of the American critical community in years past as ‘anti-American,’ making it hard for some of his work to get distribution here. And there was the stupid – really stupid – claim that Anti-Christ was torture porn of some kind. This was about as accurate as saying that paintings of Christ on the cross are torture porn.
“What really disturbs me is that this is not Fox Fucking News, where anti-intellectual hysteria is a way of life (as they support everyone who would drain every last dollar out of the pockets of anyone earning less than $200k a year). This is a FILM FESTIVAL. We are film critics.
“And the media is completely complicit as we incite the rage by making headlines referring to a ‘meltdown’ or blasting ‘I am a Nazi’ all over the place, when it could not be more clearer than von Trier was NOT endorsing the mass murder of Jews or any race. And if you were to kick every filmmaker at Cannes who thinks ‘Israel is a pain in the ass’ out of the festival, it would be a quiet place indeed.
“Is von Trier an ass at times? Absolutely. Aggressive provocateur? Absolutely.
“But he is one of the few high profile filmmakers who pushes audiences to Think. You can hate what he makes, but you can’t deny that he is skilled and alive with ideas. Who will stand for this in a homogenized, instant-news-cycle culture if Film Critics and Festivals will not?”