Monday, July 19, 2010

The Hell With This Guy -- and the Pursuit Special He Rode In On, Too...

Three takes on that human slow motion train wreck known as Mel Gibson. One from Frank Rich:

...The Gibson tapes — in plain English and not requiring the subtitles of some of the star’s recent spectacles — are a particularly American form of schadenfreude. There’s little we enjoy more than watching a pampered zillionaire icon (Gibson’s production company is actually named Icon) brought low. The story would end there — just another tidy morality tale in the profuse annals of Hollywood self-destruction from Fatty Arbuckle to Lindsay Lohan — were it not for Gibson’s unique back story

Six years ago he was not merely an A-list movie star with a penchant for drinking and boorish behavior but also a powerful and canonized figure in the political and cultural pantheon of American conservatism. That he has reached rock bottom tells us nothing new about Gibson. He was the same talented, nasty, bigoted blowhard then that he is today. But his fall says a lot about the changes in our country over the past six years. We shouldn’t take those changes for granted. We should take stock — and celebrate. They are good news...

Every time Mel Gibson unburdens himself of a tirade against Jews or "n______s" or uncooperative females, there are commentators on hand to create a mystery where none exists. When he produced The Passion of the Christ, which lovingly and in detail recycled the bloody myth that all Jews are historically and collectively responsible for the murder of Jesus, it was argued by many mainstream Christians that his zeal for the faith might be a touch lurid but that the film itself was mainly devotional. When he was arrested on the Malibu freeway and screamed abuse at a police officer to the effect that Jews were responsible for all the wars in the world, pundits convened on page and screen to speculate whether our Mel had too much to drink that evening. Not long ago, I watched him go completely bug-eyed on television at a Jewish interviewer who asked him about the latter incident. "You've got a dog in this fight, haven't you?" he hissed. And now, in the wake of a Niagara of cloacal abuse directed at the mother of his youngest child, in which we were spared nothing by way of obscenity and menace and nothing by way of paranoid and sexualized racism, there have been those who diagnose Gibson's problem as a lack of anger management skills, combined perhaps with a touch of narcissistic personality disorder...

And one from me.

Have you ever noticed how often, just from knowing where a person stands on one or two political, constitutional, or social issues, you can usually guess what his or her stances on most other issues are? Trainloads of people who would describe themselves as liberal or left-of-center fit this description (perhaps myself included), but for some reason, this trait is much more striking among their conservative counterparts. I wouldn't say it's the conservatives' defining trait, but at times it does seem pretty close to being that -- and when you look at a piece of work like Mel Gibson, it's real hard not to unfairly tar all right-leaning people with the same brush you're using on him. People on the left can be anti-Semitic, or racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or sadomasochistic, but Gibson is all five. I defy you to name one self-described, self-respecting liberal who can make that same claim.

In Gibson's case, the strongest indicator was his sadomasochism. He practically gave the whole damn game away with his direction of the film The Passion of the Christ in 2004 -- it's just that very few of us realized it at the time. If you haven't seen that movie and you're not into whips and chains, don't bother seeing it. I saw it, and I found it appalling. S&M as the road to salvation -- how this qualifies as spiritually uplifting at all is a mystery I will never solve. But for Gibson, that's par for the course on the One True Path.

And that's the skeleton key here: his adherence to a strain of Catholic faith that isn't merely old-school, it's medieval-school. That was the tip-off that he wasn't just drawn to S&M, but also racism, sexism, anti-Semitism (another unsavory element of Passion on full display in the film) and homophobia.

And frankly, as a fellow human male, I can't blame Gibson for revealing himself for what he is. That is the defining trait among male humans, as far as I can tell -- this inexplicable desire to be as much of an open book as possible. (I plead guilty, your Honor. The difference between me and Mel Gibson, however, is that I haven't tried to spin shit around the truth. I make no apology over who and what I am.)

I don't feel the least bit sorry for Mad Mel. Lots of people like him have devoted the bulk, if not the totality, of their adult lives acquiring as much "fuck you" money as possible, only to find out that once they have enough of it to do, say, and act however they please, that their money has an uncanny way of saying "no, fuck you" back to them.

There's a reason the love of money is considered the root of all evil, you know...


  1. I'm a firm believer of what goes around, comes around. There's alot gonna come round to him!!
    M. :-)

  2. Glad you are back, sweetie. It has been a hell of a year for me, but it is nice to see you back, anyway.


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