When news spread Friday of the series of coordinated terrorist attacks across Paris, a campaign of hate conducted by gunmen and suicide bombers that left at least 127 people dead, it provoked a plethora of reactions on social media. Most Westerners opted for the de rigueur practice of posting a Parisian photo—the Eiffel Tower, or, say, a piece of commemorative art—accompanied by message and hashtag. Others, like leaky pustule Newt Gingrich and famewhoriest of the neocon famewhores, Ann Coulter, used the occasion to hype their political agendas (and moral bankruptcy). And political satirist Bill Maher, who’s waged a career-long war against the phrase “too soon,” presumed that the attacks were carried out by Jihadis in response to Western military forces bombing ISIS in Syria. Maher’s theory is not without merit. France launched its first series of airstrikes against Syria in late September, and during one of the night’s most violent attacks—at the Bataclan, a concert venue in Paris’s 11th arrondissement—an eyewitness told the New York Times they heard a gunman shout, “What you are doing in Syria, you are going to pay for it now.”
One of the more compelling celebrity responses to the tragedy came from filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. The Mexican auteur, responsible for films like Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim, opened up about a harrowing incident in his past, and how he dealt with his feelings in the wake of personal tragedy.
In 1997, del Toro was tasked with directing his first major Hollywood film—the $30 million-budgeted Mimic. But just as he’d finally got his big break, his father, automotive businessman Federico Del Toro, was kidnapped by criminals off the streets of his Mexican hometown, Guadalajara. The kidnappers were asking for $1 million in ransom, and since del Toro had all of his own money tied up in Mimic, he asked his good friend, Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron, for help. Upon learning of the situation, Cameron immediately marched over to a bank and gave del Toro $1 million in cash. He also put del Toro in touch with a negotiator to help facilitate the exchange. The ransom was paid, and the elder del Toro was released safely. But the horrifying ordeal led to del Toro and his entire family moving to the U.S., and though the kidnappers were apprehended, Cameron's money was never recovered.
So following the Paris attacks, del Toro tweeted, “What terror seeks is to provoke hatred—and thus, they will recruit the hated ones, the marginal, the desperate into the ranks.”
Then, the acclaimed filmmaker shared how he reacted in the wake of tragedy:
Del Toro ended his story with a message of hope, urging against violence begetting more violence: