What's Up With Hollywood's Hitler Moment?

First Mel Gibson, then Oliver Stone, now Paris Hilton: what's going on?

July 28, 2010 — -- First came Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic rants, the sequel.

Then, Oliver Stone's slam that maybe the movie industry made too much about the Holocaust.

After that, Paris Hilton's latest pose: one hand above the upper lip, the other angled in the air, military hat cocked slightly to the side.

And just like that, Hollywood dragged the 70-year-old tragedy of Nazism back into the limelight.

It's not clear what spawned the current fascination with all things anti-Semitic, or seemingly so. What's certain: a lot of people are unhappy about it.

In Gibson's case, the hateful slurs he spewed during his 2006 DUI arrest made it obvious that he wasn't right in the head. His latest rants -- telling his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, "I want Jew blood on my hands," according to a report from RadarOnline.com -- corroborate the now commonly held theory that he's just plain nuts.

Stone's musings were more surprising. In an interview with The Sunday Times of London, the director, promoting his documentary "South of the Border" about South American politics, called out the "Jewish domination of the media" and asserted that Israel had "f**ked up United States foreign policy for years." Stone's most controversial comments came when he defended Adolf Hitler. (It didn't help that he's currently sporting some Hitler-esque hair above his upper lip.)

"Hitler was a Frankenstein, but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein," he said. "German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support. Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people."

Monday, both the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee took Stone to task. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the ADL, called Stone "absurd" and said his words "conjure up some of the most stereotypical and conspiratorial notions of undue Jewish power and influence."

AJC executive director David Harris issued a statement saying "Stone has outed himself as an anti-Semite," adding, "For all of Stone's progressive pretensions, his remark is no different from one of the drunken, Jew-hating rants of his fellow Hollywood celebrity, Mel Gibson."

Hollywood's Hitler Moment

Stone, prone to edgy quips -- he praised divisive Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during his "South of the Border" press tour-- issued an apology Monday.

"In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret," he said in a statement. "Jews obviously do not control media or any other industry. The fact that the Holocaust is still a very important, vivid and current matter today is, in fact, a great credit to the very hard work of a broad coalition of people committed to the remembrance of this atrocity -- and it was an atrocity."

As for Hilton, the 29-year-old socialite claims the pose she struck on a yacht in St. Tropez was not intended to be a Heil Hitler-like salute. Her publicist told the UK's Daily Mail, "'Paris was dancing and having fun with her arm up in the air as she always dances like that and was scratching [her] face when a photo was taken."

Plausible? Sure. Stupid? Probably. After the hell Prince Harry raised by slapping on a Swastika armband for a 2005 costume party, it stands to reason that most people in the public eye would avoid Nazi-like arm gestures and fashion statements at all costs (excepting John Cleese, whose Hitler parody deserves some kind of trophy.)

Put together, the three incidents serve as a reminder that (to paraphrase "30 Rock's" Tracy Morgan) when it comes to making off-the-cuff statements about Hitler and the Holocaust, whether with words or body movements, it is indeed too soon. Gibson, with his affinity for anti-Semitic comments, is a goner.

"I'm not sure what the cause of this could be except a sudden bout of celebrity mental illness," mused Hollywood publicist Michael Levine. "Oliver Stone, he's a great filmmaker, a brilliant filmmaker, but that shouldn't give him a free pass to say morally contemptible things. I don't think Mel Gibson has a future in this industry. Paris, who knows?"