The XX Factor

Mel Gibson’s Holocaust Joke

In an interview in GQ , Winona Ryder (nee Horowitz) tells a story that happened 15 years ago when she was at a party with a gay friend and ran into a drunk Mel Gibson. Ryder says, “He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about ‘oven dodgers,’ but I didn’t get it. I’d never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, ‘He’s anti-Semitic and he’s homophobic.’ No one believed me!” One can understand Ryder’s bafflement that there she was talking with a seemingly sane public figure who, it turns out, thinks of living Jews as people who somehow managed to “dodge” Nazi crematoria. (And in a strange episode of harmonic convergence, this week we heard the almost-40-year-old recordings between Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in which Kissinger, talking about the precarious position of Jews in the Soviet Union, said, “And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union it is not an American concern.”) After Gibson’s arrest a few years ago for drunk driving, there was a lot of publicity about his anti-Semitic outburst at the officers who arrested him. Gibson was given a chance at a second act. I hope there is not a third.

Photograph of Mel Gibson by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.