Russell Crowe has some thoughts on circumcision, and as a result he got himself into a little Twitter contretemps involving “Hostel” director/Bear Jew Eli Roth. (Since this story involves the discussion of male Jewish genitalia on Twitter, I am obligated to mention Anthony Weiner. Okay, moving on.)
So! Last night, perpetually calm actor Russell Crowe took to the Twitters to say some things. Movieline did us the service of capturing his thoughts before the tweets disappeared (as did the Hollywood Reporter and Huffington Post), but here’s the key tweet:
10:46 p.m.: many jewish friends, I love my Jewish tfriends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting yr babies @eliroth
First off, Crowe gets a gold star for “the apples and the honey and the funny little hats.” No notes for you on that front, Russell. But the whole “stop cutting yr babies” thing may have been a mite indelicate. In an earlier tweet (also removed), Crowe called circumcision “barbaric and stupid.” He followed this by arguing with Twitter followers; when someone pointed out the hygienic value of circumcision, Crowe wrote: “Hygenic? Why don’t you sew up your ass then?”
Look, circumcision is a very delicate (ahem) and controversial issue. (See: San Francisco, where voters could ban circumcision because, to the best of my understanding, a Jewish supervillain is rampaging around in search of things to snip.) I get that. Crowe is perfectly entitled to his beliefs, and perhaps it’s the “stop cutting yr babies” language of Twitter that makes the whole thing seem more goofy than offensive to me.
So then Eli Roth jumped into the picture because they are buddies now (Roth is producing “The Man With The Iron Fists,” a movie by RZA that Crowe will appear in, and yes, this sentence is much more interesting than this entire circumcision thing), and Roth had some things to say. He was offended that news outlets were reporting what Crowe tweeted by copying and pasting his tweets, verbatim:
11:35 a.m.: I cannot believe what @THR and other news outlets are doing. I am absolutely sick! It’s horrible – it’s slander and it’s NOT TRUE.
I assume one of Roth’s followers will tell him that slander has to be spoken; if it’s printed, it’s libel. It’s also not libelous to report what someone says, in public, to their 228,000 Twitter followers. But that didn’t stop Eli Roth from going on a mini-rampage about the media outlets who dared to report on Crowe’s tweets, because I suppose he felt his friend was being attacked unfairly. He was quick to point out that “no one takes newspapers seriously anymore,” which must have bugged the outlets he was attacking: The Hollywood Reporter and the Atlantic (magazines with Web sites) and the Huffington Post (Web site). Roth also couldn’t believe that the media outlets didn’t contact Roth and Crowe for comment, and on that front I am less than sympathetic. After all, Crowe publicly tweeted the “cutting yr babies” comment to Roth (97,000 followers), and got into a back-and-forth with other, non-Roth people about it. Crowe is entitled to his opinion (again, “funny little hats” proves this), but for Roth to claim the entire thing was a joke seems implausible. (Crowe was joking with Roth by going back and forth with his followers?)
Rather dramatically, Roth declared “You POISON his name” to the outlets that reported on Crowe’s tweets. Is there anyone out there who thinks of Russell Crowe as a sweet and cuddly guy? Sure, Russell Crowe wouldn’t hurt a fly, so long as that fly isn’t a hotel worker, an awards show director who dared cut off Crowe’s speech or married to Meg Ryan. (Requisite “South Park” link. TUGGA!) As far as I can understand it, his public persona has long been that of a very gifted actor who is also an egotistical diva prone to fits of rage. (Oh, and some people make fun of his fluctuating weight.)
But that’s besides the point. Roth is complaining about this as though these are secret e-mails or text messages or a private conversation surreptitiously acquired and broadcast. This isn’t TMZ recording two guys chatting at an outdoor bar. This is Crowe tweeting something publicly and people reporting on that. Roth seems to think this is going to cause stars not to make jokes on Twitter, but if I learned anything from the Anthony Weiner saga, it’s that famous people with access to technology are always going to make dumb mistakes. Anyway, we can now thank Russell Crowe for “the funny little hats.”