John Galliano’s Anti-Semitic Rant

All you fashionistas out there would have known that earlier this week, British fashion designer, John Galliano, was fired as the head designer of Dior because of his anti-Semitic rant that was caught on video and released on the Internet. The video showed Galliano hurling insults to a group of Italian women at a Paris cafe, and saying “I love Hitler”. The designer formally denied the accusations that were made against him but after this video, this might seem a little bit hard, no? The designer has since apologised for his behaviour, stating that “Anti-Semitism and racism have no part in our society”, and is now facing trial in Paris on charges of “public insults based on the origin, religious affiliation, race or ethnicity” against three people. If found guilty, Galliano could face “up to six months in prison and $31,000 in fines”.

This incident follows the star of Two and A Half Men, Charlie Sheen’s comments on the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre. Sheen verbally attacked Lorre, and referred to Lorre repeatedly as “Chaim Levine”, which is the Hebrew version of Lorre’s real name, Charles Michael Levine. The executives at CBS and Warner Bros considered this as anti-Semitic.

These two incidents show that prejudices still exist in this day and age, in this case, anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is a “prejudice against or hostility towards Jews often rooted in hatred of their ethnic background, culture, and/or religion.” Prejudice refers to “a negative social attitude held by members of one group toward members of another group”. It is one example of an attitudinal barrier to intercultural communication.

Now, all of you might be disgusted by the comments that Galliano and Sheen made but let’s face it, all of us are prejudiced in one way or another. For example, in Singapore, some people might be prejudiced against ah lians and ah bengs, mats and minahs. If people see them hanging out at void decks, people automatically assume that they are up to no good, even if that’s all they’re doing, hanging out. Others interpret their actions negatively and cognitive biases such as this allow us to maintain our prejudices even though our assumptions are unwarranted.

Another cognitive bias used to maintain prejudices is fundamental attribution bias, whereby people interpret “another’s negative behaviour as internal rather than external”. Going back to the Galliano incident, other fashion bigwigs have given their own opinions regarding the incident. Diane Von Furstenberg, who said that she was disgusted by the British designer’s offensive remarks, also said that Galliano was probably provoked, causing him to lash out at the people in the cafe. Hilary Alexander, the Fashion Director of The Daily Telegraph attributed Galliano’s behaviour to the stress and pressures of the fashion industry.

Galliano himself said that he was “subjected to verbal harassment and an unprovoked assault when an individual tried to hit me with a chair having taken violent exception to my look and my clothing” at a Paris cafe last week.

Think about this though. If someone who was not in the fashion industry hurled anti-Semitic comments, or any kind of offensive comments for that matter, against other people, would these people who defended Galliano have said the same thing?

Both John Galliano’s and Charlie Sheen’s anti-Semitic comments show that prejudice is still prevalent today. Although it is impossible to eradicate all prejudices completely, people should make an effort to understand others who are from a different culture and see things from their perspectives.


Toronto Sun
The Hollywood Reporter
John Galliano (Wikipedia)

10 responses to “John Galliano’s Anti-Semitic Rant

  1. I had no idea that the Charlie Sheen issue was based on his anti-Semitic comment! I thought he just some attention, by provoking the press or something. Clearly I have been leaving under a rock!

    Anyway, I think the other designers who are trying to reason out Galliano’s actions are merely trying to show their support for him and/or give excuses for his actions. Like subtly informing Galliano, dude I got your back.

    Personally, it would be hard not to think negatively towards another/person or group due to their attitude because its human nature. Fundamental attribution bias seems much harder to resist seeing that it is internal.

  2. Haha Charlie Sheen has been making so many offensive comments to so many different people that it’s hard to keep track of it all.

    “Personally, it would be hard not to think negatively towards another/person or group due to their attitude because its human nature. “

    I do agree with you on this. People are just so judgmental towards others but when it comes to their own selves, they try to reason their way out of their behaviour. Human beings are full of excuses, no?

  3. Tech loves me

    I kind of pity John Galliano though. I mean, there must be a very good reason why he became the head designer of Dior right? Being fired over Anti-Semitic comments is like appeasing the crowd but then again, you lose a valuable co-worker. But then again, how hard is it for Dior to look for another talented designer?

    I guess prejudice is rather prevalent in Society? Correct me if I’m wrong, but there are just too many shows that make fun of Jews like Family Guy. I mean, I don’t take it to heart or for that matter, get enraged because I know it’s a form of media. And seriously, there’s too little truth in media these days (*cough* Election Issues).

    “If someone who was not in the fashion industry hurled anti-Semitic comments, or any kind of offensive comments for that matter, against other people, would these people who defended Galliano have said the same thing?” Definitely not! Just because they are a public figure, they would want us to forgive them because they are “only human”, that it’s normal for them to err. Then what is so different between us and them since we are all “only human”?

    • “But then again, how hard is it for Dior to look for another talented designer?”

      Not that hard, actually. Rumour has it Dior is going to appoint Riccardo Tisci, designer for Givenchy, to replace Galliano.

      Personally, I think the media is just using its power to make these kinds of comments in a, sort of, light-hearted manner, such as in Family Guy like you mentioned. If you hear these comments on shows like that, somehow it doesn’t seem all that serious but if someone as prominent as John Galliano said something like that, all hell breaks loose. Not to mention other celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson, who have also been caught in this anti-Semitic controversy.

  4. haha i have to admit that i hold prejudice against ah lians and ah bengs in Singapore. if i do see them under my void deck, i would just walk away quickly! for me i think that it is kind of hard to not think in that particular way. perhaps this is just into us.

    • Haha yup I can relate to that too. I think it’s just because we’re so used to thinking of them in a certain way that it’s hard to change our perceptions of them.

  5. rhymeratus

    it’s such a pity to know that a great designer has fallen from grace. Strangely enough, quite a few of his fans has attributed his actions by claiming that Galliano, being a genius, is excused of his actions because after all, geniuses do crazy things to achieve something brilliant.

    furthermore, Galliano was provoked and drunk, and you have to admit that within every individual lies certain prejudices against others. It all depends on whether you voice it out.

    • It’s not at all surprising that his fans have sided with him on this issue. Another example of attribution bias!

      On the one hand, I pity that Galliano is caught in this issue but on the other hand, he brought it upon himself by making those remarks in the first place. No matter what kind of condition he was in at the time, he should have known not to cross the line. If the women in the cafe were really provoking him, he should not have fought back by insulting them with racist comments. After all, he is such a prominent figure in the fashion industry. He should be aware that there would be major backlash by making those comments.

  6. cheryl

    I have to admit most of us out there will tend to be more prejudice against certain individuals, be it races or religions. However, it is different when one talk about it when one is in the public. After all, not everyone will be able to accept the fact that they are being discriminated just because of their colour or their beliefs. Hence, I think that, be it John Galliano or Charlie Sheen, are just too careless using words in the public. Not trying to be an extremist here, but yes, that is just their punishment for being a celebrity who uses the wrong words.

  7. Yup it’s just human nature for us to be prejudiced towards certain groups of people. It’s not right, of course, but it’s just a fact. I agree with you that Galliano and Sheen deserved the consequences they got from making the anti-Semitic comments. If one makes racist comments like that, and it gets out to the public, especially when one’s a celebrity, it can bring about a great amount of backlash.

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