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Lost in Hypocrisy
March 5, 2004

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

With all the pressure in Hollywood to conform to PC expectations, one cinematic controversy has virtually been ignored by the media.

Asian Mediawatch has been trying to get some traction in its campaign against the film "Lost in Translation" for its stereotypical portrayals. The group had even urged members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to vote against the film.

Asian Mediawatch told the Associated Press that the film "mocks the Japanese people."

In the movie, Bill Murray plays an aging actor who's in Japan to film a whiskey commercial. He makes a connection with a bored young wife (played by Scarlett Johansson) and together they embark upon a journey through Tokyo's nightlife and pop culture.

In one scene, a Japanese prostitute visits Murray's character's hotel room, lifts up her skirt and demands that he "Lip [rip] my stocking!"

Director Sofia Coppola told the Independent, "I'm surprised [at the criticism] ...I can see why people might think that, but I know I'm not racist. I think if everything's based on truth, you can make fun, have a little laugh, but also be respectful of a culture. I just love Tokyo, and I'm not mean-spirited."

Coppola explained that, "Even on our daily call sheets, they would mix up the r's and the l's - all that was from experience, it's not made up. I guess someone has misunderstood my intentions. It bugs me, because I know I'm not racist. I think that everything you do, people could be offended by - unless you're just trying to be nice about everyone."

Being forced to deny bigotry because of a film. Sounds familiar.

Sofia's just been forced to translate the meaning of political correctness.

Franco Zeffirelli is the latest guy to join a peanut gallery of gripers who are trying to rain on Mel Gibson's artistic and box office parade.

In commenting on "The Passion of the Christ" in Milan's daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, Zeffirelli writes " what conclusion can one reach, in particular young people, other than that his blood was shed because of the Jews?"

The Italian director claims that "rather than the divine message of Christ, what pushed Gibson into this difficult project was with strips of flesh, his own torments and blood."

But in the midst of all his carping, Zeffirelli also seems to want to ride the "Passion" wave. He reminds readers that he tackled the territory before Mel, with his 1977 film "Jesus of Nazareth."

Zeffirelli indicates that his film sought to "render justice to Jews and unburden them of the accusation of Diocide." Kevin Costner has a different take. The actor/director tells Access Hollywood, "We shouldn't be attacking a filmmaker like Mel Gibson who, number one, is an honorable filmmaker . . . and probably questioned himself more than anybody even knows. So, like leave him alone."

Zeffirelli might be suffering from genius envy.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2004
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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