Ok, here's what I saw over the weekend. Clerks 2, a half-hour (as much as Peggy and I could take) of You, Me, and Dupree, Scoop, one-half hour of The Amityville Horror remake, and Hustle and Flow. So let's get into it ... later in the week. Today, I'm going to ask you one question:
What the f**k happened to Mel Gibson?
I remember the hullaballoo that surrounded Passion of the Christ when it came out, and when I finally saw it on video, I thought the critics who charged the film with anti-semitism were right on. The Passion of the Christ depicts Jews as evil bastards who killed a nice guy for saying things they didn't like. I thought it was a ding on Mel Gibson's record, but I mostly, and naively, forgave it. I figured that maybe, as a diehard and misguided Catholic, he really believed that the Jews of that time were culpable in the death of Christ, and he was depicting events as he believed they'd taken place. I chalked up his treatment of the Jews in his movie as another symptom of his overweening, Opus Dei-style Catholicism, and that his weird beliefs stemmed from the overarching insanity of his style of Christianity, not a more personal insanity. And so when Diane Sawyer asked him in an interview if he agreed with his father that the Holocaust was "mostly fiction" and he answered that he wouldn't speak against his father, I figured that was an issue of family privacy, not of substance. I mean, surely the Mel of Braveheart, and Lethal Weapon and Signs and Mad Max and Ransom, couldn't hold any of that outdated, tinfoil-hat wearing, White Power kind of hatred for Jews in his heart. Not in this modern day and age.
I see now that I was way wrong.
As you've probably heard ad nauseum by now, Mel Gibson was pulled over on Friday morning for drunk driving. To the arresting officers, he said "the f**king Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked one of the arresting officers if they were a "f**king Jew". Some of his defenders (to the death, I'd imagine), and his own first official press statement essentially chalked up the anti-semitic speech to how drunk he was. Which, obviously, doesn't cut it. Drunk only removes the filter, it doesn't invent shit for you to say. His comments, while terrible, are nothing compared to what it reveals about the depth of Gibson's anti-semitism. This is what I think his comments prove:
1) Mel Gibson is, undeniably, an anti-semite.
2) Mel Gibson believes the Jews killed Christ and continues to hold them, as a group, accountable for it.
3) Mel Gibson believes the Holocaust is a fiction invented and perpetuated by the Jews.
4) Mel Gibson believes there is a cabal of Jews who scheme and conspire, not unlike the Jews depicted in the classic racist tract, The Protocols of the Ancient Elders of Zion.
5) The Passion of the Christ is an anti-semitic film.
When I heard the news, what I felt wasn't too far off from what I'd feel if I'd heard Mel Gibson had died. This was incredibly disappointing to me, because I think he's a good actor and a good director, and it's all wasted on what we now know is a sick brain. Mel Gibson said in a press statement released today that he wants Jews to "help him" find a "path for healing". What Mel Gibson is truly sincere about here is rescusitating what is, at this moment, a dead career. I don't think rescusitation is possible unless he a) publicly denounces his father's views on the Holocaust (of course), and b) stops denying he's an anti-semite, and confess the truth to the world, and c) convince the public that not only does he know how wrongheaded and ignorant and irrational and bigoted anti-semitism is, but that he's serious about reforming back into the world of sane people. Obviously, b) has to happen in tandem with c). Even still, people will doubt his sincerity, but I think short of these measures, all he can hope for is a marginal career as an independent film director who used to be a big time actor/director.
Anyway, for an excellent, and scathing, piece on Mel Gibson's outing as a Jew-hater, go here for Christopher Hitchens's essay. Also Andrew Sullivan has been going full-bore since Friday into all of the conservatives who defended Mel against charges of anti-semitism when Passion came out. He's calling them out and, not surprisingly, many are silent.