Will Smith probably doesn’t know what hit him. Everyone is freaking out about the interview he gave to the Daily Record, a Scottish newspaper, in which he seems to have said that Hitler was essentially a good person. Here’s the direct quote:
Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today’ . . . I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was ‘good’. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.
So a lot of people will scream about his (astonishingly poor) PR judgment, or will misread him to be approving of the Holocaust, which he is not. Even when the newspaper says Smith called Hitler “basically good,” this is not a direct quote, but the Record‘s paraphrase of his gist, and there he applies it to all human beings.
The problem with Will Smith is not how he said it, what ought not to have been said, or what he is misread to have said. The problem is what he actually said. Most evil people do not “wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today.’” No, they just do really bad things, for whatever reason, and we need to be able to call them by their name. The star of Men In Black and Independence Day seems to believe everyone is essentially good, or that they are good so long as their intentions are good in their own eyes. It’s a small step from there to reducing the most horrendous regime in history to mere “stuff” that “just needs reprogramming,” like a bug in your software. All this does is desensitize us to both the evil and the good in our world. Which might explain why the bad guys in his films are so often from outer space.