Wednesday, 2 March 2011

anne frank

I want you to look at these photos of Anne Frank, and think of what beauty was lost to the world the day she died in a concentration camp. Then I want you to multiply this loss by six million. This is not a pleasant thing to think about, but necessary after what I've heard on the news today.

I debated with myself whether I would post these thoughts, but in the end, I can't hold my tongue. Today, I read about John Galliano's inexcusable anti-Semitic rant, in which he talked about how Jews should be gassed and expressed his love for Hitler. I also read Natalie Portman's eloquent response, which I applaud.

What dismays me, perhaps as much as the rant itself, are the excuses I've read by various people for his behaviour. The two most common excuses are that he was drunk and that because he's talented, he should be forgiven.

Let me point out two things. Using the drunk excuse isn't even plausible when you're fifteen and think that it's actually a valid reason to get away with crap. But perhaps more importantly, having talent does not excuse degrading, dehumanising, abusive and abhorrent behaviour. I don't understand how we've developed this culture that allows famous people and artists to get away with this ridiculous behaviour by citing their "genius". Whatever your profession is, you are, first and foremost, a human being. If you say or do anything that incites hate and bigotry, in my opinion, no amount of beautiful art or creative genius makes you decent.

The other unpleasant thing that occurred over the past few days is relatively minor in comparison. I discovered that one of my film reviews was plagiarised and copied, word for word, on another blog, without credit. Thankfully, the post has now been removed and I suspect the blog is a spam blog anyway. But I do want to say a few things about this for the sake of clarity:

1. I don't mind my work being re-blogged, quoted, or re-used, as long as you let me know about it and give me credit for my work by stating that I'm the author and linking back. This is basic and fair, I do the same for the people I feature on this blog.

2. I do actually check whether my work has been copied online. This is fairly easy to do through anti-plagiarism websites. So if you "steal" something from this blog, I will eventually find out about it and take appropriate action.

3. Writing is my profession and therefore what I post on this blog represents me. This means I will protect it. In the end, if you steal someone's creative work, you're only fooling yourself.

Sorry for this dose of unpleasantness, but I feel I had to say these things. I know that with regard to the plagiarism issue, most of the people who read this blog would never ever do anything like this because you guys are too lovely. But let's face it, there are a lot of spam bloggers out there.

If you've read this post, your reward is me letting you know that I'll be posting another fabulous Miss Moss guest post tomorrow.

EDIT: Sorry, I can't let this go, because two days after I posted this, I read this post by Vogue Italia. Seriously? Are they trying to insinuate that he was provoked - is that really the issue here? I commented on this post on the Vogue Italia website, and I urge you to do the same. It might also interest you to know that the unbelievably insensitive editor in chief of Vogue Italia also capped off her defense of Galliano with a coded anti-Semitic remark herself.


Deleilan said...

Thank you so much, Hila, for posting about this. I'm constantly dismayed by the fact that certain people can manage to convince themselves that even their more aberrant behaviours will - and should - be forgiven, often justifying it to others (and no doubt to themselves) by offering as an excuse that they're "just human"... How demeaning for our entire race, which so many of us strive to elevate.

There seems to be an increase in plagiarism at the moment, and I'm so sorry that your work was shamelessly used in this manner...

(I don't believe I've seen these photos of Anne Frank before; they're lovely and terribly sad.)

Miss Moss said...

crikey, i agree 100% with you re: galliano. i was so disgusted to read / hear / see the things he said. and even more disgusted, as you pointed out, by the people defending him. holy shit! how can you defend such behaviour? and why are fashion designers put on such pedestals in the first place?

etc etc etc - your thoughts sum up my thoughts perfectly.

Mariella said...

This was a very brave post and I thank you for sharing it with us. My husband is Jewish but that's besides the point. I feel ashamed and disgusted first and foremost as a human being, but unfortunately it's not the first and won't be the last time this will happen. I just think that as you say, words like these cannot be taken lightly or even worst justified in any way, even more by taking talent or "genius" as an excuse, as this is an offense to talent and genius. As far as the plagiarism episode, I am sorry to hear that. I didn't even know there were spam blogs around that could do this. How do you get to know about them?

annie said...

oh, anne frank. is it because we lost her that photographs of her seem so eloquent and melancholy? i applaud YOU and this post. i think your thoughts are shared with many, many, many around the world, particularly regarding the blinding godlike status we allow so often to protect the famous + talented, no matter what. hopefully this incident will educate + illuminate.

anyway. thanks, hila. xo

Emily Vanessa said...

Thanks for this. It's refreshing to hear someone calling a spade a spade at last; John Galliano might have been drunk but he's still a rascist jerk, whether sober or not and thoroughly deserved to get the sack. Having talent can never excuse you for saying such things and in fact, I find it disgusting that someone in such a position of influence can out with such filth. So sorry as well to hear about your work being plagiarised; sigh, some people are the lowest of the low.

natalie said...

I completely agree with you. Why has our society deemed it okay to excuse such disgusting slander and hatred? And I think, that when someone is drunk, it shows a lot of what they hold back when sober, which is exactly what happened to Galliano. It wasn't a slip, it was a complete and concrete secret he had been hiding. Racism and bigotry should NEVER be tolerated, no matter how talented or famous they are (and honestly that excuse makes me cringe to think that people will excuse comments like these because someone is famous). I am just as disgusted as Natalie Portman.

As for plagiarism, I am a writer as well and I find is incredibly scary to post any sort of creative work on my blog for fear of someone stealing it. Not that I think my work is so fabulous that someone would feel the need to steal it, but it does happen. And I am terribly sorry to know that it happened to you. I hope it never happens again...to any of us. :)

Olga said...

I don't think that being a genius makes you 'decent' while you do terrible, unthinkable for a 'normal' human being things, but i do believe that being a genius can make you see things differently, feel what is moral and what is bad differently, and exactly because you don't fit in the standart thinking you are a genius. this is not excusing galliano and certainly not excusing hitler - whome i don't consider genius, just very troubled and very sick. but i do understand that certain people, if they recognise in a person a sing of genious can forgive such a person most dreadful sins.

etre-soi said...

there are people in this world that really think that they are superior than the rest of us just because they have a public job, I couldn't have said it better, thank you Hila !
I'm so sorry for the plagiarism, incredible that there are still people that think that they can steal and never be discovered...where is the world going !

Carolina said...

I didn't know about this video until I read this post! Wow. Both Portman's and your own response are spot on, I think. There is no excuse for such hatred, and the fact people are continuing to try and make excuses for him is equally shocking to me.

PS. I hope the plagiarist got the hint! Well said, on this topic as well.

steph. said...

thanks hila. like everyone else, i am in agreeance. if one is in the public eye it's even MORE important to take responsibility for one's actions.

hopefully no one steals your work again. looking forward to the miss moss post! x

avalonne hall said...

I recently discovered your amazing blog and I've become a huge fan of your writing. Firstly, thank you for addressing John Galliano's anti-Semitic rant. I was absolutely appalled and disgusted by the video. I think it's even more shocking when a famous person does this. Fame and talent do not excuse this inappropriate and offensive display of antisemitism.

Also, I'm so sorry to hear that your work was plagiarized. Plagiarism scares me, especially when so many of us publish work on the internet that is accessible to anyone and everyone.

Thanks for your beautiful and inspiring writing. I shall be back again soon!

SJ said...

It's a well known fact that homosexuals were targeted and sent to camps by Hitler's regime so for a gay man to say comments like this, well it's just baffling.
There isn't any excuse for his behaviour, and it's certainly not a one off event, he's done it a few times. You can be a genius and still a jerk, they're not exclusive.

I hope there's no more incidents of plagiarism. I have no respect for people who copy others work, it bugged me in high school and it still bugs me now.

If Jane said...

it was totally,completely and utterly inexcusable what john galliano said. it was beyond horrible and i was/am disgusted.

sadly plagiarism exists even in the blog-o-sphere..

hila said...

thanks so much for taking the time to comment on this difficult posts guys, I was a bit hesitant to write it, but it needs to be said right? My sincere hope is that the fashion industry doesn't white-wash this whole episode and discretely get Galliano back into favour. When you denigrate such horror and exhibit such hate to other human beings, you don't really deserve a second chance.

ah, it's too sad!

Tracey said...

Thank goodness for the sense of Natalie Portman ... I'm still shocked by Galliano.

Dealing with plagiarism online seems to be a sad, yet necessary reality. Some people have no scruples ... makes me more appreciative of all the good people! :D

Sarah Morgan said...

Hila, thank you so much for posting this. It is so important to remember that behavior such as Galliano's is not acceptable under any circumstances.

Olga said...

John Galliano is a really sick individual. This incident hurt the feelings of so many people. I am one of them.

When you see plagiarism, it is really painful; I know this from personal experience.

P R I M O E Z A said...

his behaviour is shocking. i hope he gets appropriate help though. people who are racist come from a very fearful perspective. probably the worst punishment is having to live out a life dictated by anxiety and worry.

Sundari said...

Hats off to you for writing this post. I don't ever forget about the Holocaust but whenever I see the figure 6 million, I gasp all over again.

I am extremely dismayed by the Galliano incident and by the way so many people seem to be jumping to his defence in the name of a 'fair trial' or 'other side of the story'. It seems ridiculous that there are people out there who speak like this let alone defend this.

Also, I was never a fan of Mel Gibson, so I must have missed the whole Mel Gibson incident that is regularly compared to the Galliano incident. So I had to have a quick look at what it was about...oh my goodness.. There are disturbed people out there.

Sundari said...

Oh and those photos of Anne Frank are quite moving. Do you mind if I use them as part of my research? Did you happen to have the source?
And I just realised that some of the sentences I just wrote are quite long and clumsy...sorry.

If Jane said...

oh and i found this:

skeletaldreams said...

It sickens me that this happens in our current day. Having some family members murdered in the Holocaust, this makes it all the more distressing. I'd like to share with you this comment that I just found on a youtube clip about this whole incident, which sickens me more:

"C'mon, Jews are the first to say "kill the arabs". Jews screwed up Jesus and sell him! they Keep Palestin under pressure, and they think they are special who said that? God? Please...., In this world they are only good businessmen cause they are maestros of scam. And of course Galiano can say whatever he likes, this is democracy! Israel can bomb all the arab contries without limit and a single man can't say what he thinks in a bar after some drinks... hypocrites!!!"

It just goes to show that events like Galliano's anti-semitism can bring out the truth in people, and that it's a lot more prevalent that we think. It makes me very sad.

Excellent post by the way, you're incredibly brave and I'm happy there are people like you in the world, I really am. x

gracia said...

"If you say or do anything that incites hate and bigotry, in my opinion, no amount of beautiful art or creative genius makes you decent."

I couldn't agree more, Hila.

Rina said...

Go Hila!! you are absolutely right of course, and I´m glad that you said what you thought. I think this kind of people like Galliano, have no idea where they are, so I think that there´s a lot of publicity there, and you know, I think the fault is from Vogue or anyone who pay attention to this guy. It remembers me Maradona, he´s a great soccer player, but when he opens his mouth!! oh my!

You have to protect your work of course, It happens in design too, so we need to fight for this!

Take care and there´s a lot of great people out there! so don´t worry...

hila said...

the more I read about this, the sadder I get. You guys are so great though, thanks for your incredibly thoughtful responses, and for commenting on this.

sundari: you have nothing to apologise for! Sorry, I'm not sure where the images are from, I don't even think they're from the internet, probably a book. I've had them on my computer for years. Maybe if you do a google search you'll find them?

if jane: thanks for this!

skeletaldreams: oh yes, they had to bring up Israel. That's pretty much standard these days, regardless of the fact that the state of Israel is a separate issue from the Holocaust. These kinds of comments only display the ignorance and rather simplistic logic of the people who make them.

Rina: yes, I forgot about maradona!

oh and a few of you guys have very kindly called me "brave", and I have to say that I don't personally think there is anything that brave about posting on this topic. You know, the worse thing that happened to me as a result is losing a few followers on twitter, which hardly qualifies as a huge loss :) I think there are far more courageous actions being undertaken by people, so the term brave should be applied to them - in fact, it should definitely be applied to the holocaust survivors I interviewed.

Thanks again everyone.


Megan Champion said...

(sigh) I agree with everything you said.

hila said...

thanks megan, sigh.

Bukola said...

Hello, i just discovered your blog through fieldguided. i agree with all you said and thank you for doing so.

I was wondering if you could share the websites by which you track plagiarism of your work online as you ,mentioned above. i never knew there was such a thing, but would love to bookmark or my use and to share with other writers i know. thanks so much!

hila said...

hi there, I left you a comment on your blog with the website's name, I hope you find it useful.