Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mel On A Wire

Posted by codemorse

Let's dish on the celebs for a minute.

From the NY Times:

In a little over 24 hours, Mr. Gibson’s arrest and subsequent behavior in Malibu had already prompted talk of a claimed cover-up, an exposé, worldwide news coverage, an apology and then a full-blown push for alcohol rehabilitation, even as his representatives and executives at the Walt Disney Company rushed to catch up with the event’s effect on the filmmaker’s movie and television projects with the company.

On Monday, Hope Hartman, a spokeswoman for Disney’s ABC television network, said the company was dropping its plans to produce a Holocaust-themed miniseries in collaboration with Mr. Gibson.

Passion of the Christ, which many saw as being anti-semetic, didn't register that way for me.

I think this is because Gibson's movie is largely accurate in its translation of the "anti-semetic" elements from established Church dogma/Biblical scripture to film.

Gibson's film doesn't suggest that the Jews killed Jesus. If anything, the church has suggested that through the framing of the crucifixion story in medieval passion plays, mystery plays, church-approved speech, etc.

Personally, I believe that the purpose of having the crowd turn against Jesus is to illustrate how man turns so quickly from the reverential to the dismissive. It's a story the Bible tells over and over. Just look at Moses and the golden calf for the exact same story, told with different elements.

That the crowd is probably largely Jewish (and why wouldn't it be? Jesus was a Jew who lived in a Jewish neighborhood. Of course his fellow men were Jews) is of no moral consequence. Blaming "the Jews" for killing Jesus seems like blaming the white race for whipping Kunta Kinte.

Gibson's latest remarks, however, do not help him with his critics. His subsequent apology is wonderfully written (and probably bought at a pretty price - insert lame "30 pieces of silver" joke here) and perhaps even sincere. But that doesn't really matter now. The damage is done. Saying something insanely stupid is something we all do, but when's it this stupid and insane, it's hard not to drop your jaw over it.

I'm of the belief that it's possible to appreciate good art without bringing the artist's life into the equation. In order to enjoy, say, Chinatown, I don't need to think about Roman Polanski at all, let alone his past history. But in an increasingly celebrity-saturated culture, it does become harder to separate the artist from their art.

Instead of releasing statements, Gibson should put his money where his mouth is. Contribute to awareness groups that help to reduce anti-semetism. Make a few public service announcements, specifically addressed to the Evangelical community that worship him so much now. Explain to them that he realizes this is going to look like an attempt at career-rehab, but that it is not, and that he's doing it to make clear that sometimes people say stupid, hateful shit that they probably shouldn't. Produce that Holocaust documentary with his own damn money, and hire the best Jewish historians he can find. Release it, and let his work speak for him.

Or choose the typical Hollywood bullshit, make one apology generally, and let people think you're a crazed anti-semite.


At 6:58 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

I have not seen the Passion, so I can't speak to its alleged anti-semitism (Codemorse thought it wasn't, and the Hammer thought it was), but here are some thoughts regarding Mel's latest ruckus with the Jews:

1) Braveheart is my favorite movie, and will always be my favorite movie. All else being equal, I guess I would prefer that its director and star didn't dislike Jews, but since there weren't many Jews in Scotland in the 1300's, and the movie didn't feature any, there's enough of a disconnect with me.

2) The one thing that's going to bother me about this (and it already has), is the response from the "Jewish Community." I read one quote from a Jewish "leader" that said something like, "we're glad he's getting help from alcoholism, we'd like to help him with the disease of prejudice." Come on! The disease of prejudice? Dude doesn't like Jews. Fine. But let's not indulge ourselves in an attempt to cure his "disease" by purification.

3) I'm not sure I'm buying the whole, sorry I was drunk and people say crazy things when they're drunk, excuse. Lord knows I've been drunk plenty of times, and have said more ridiculous things than I can count. I think at one point I asked the hotel manager in the hotel I was staying at in Madrid for an extra pair of shoes, as in .... "shoes?" But there are certain things I don't say simply because they don't occur to me. Things like, the Jews are the cause of all the wars in the world? I'll ask the audience, how many times when you're drunk do you find yourself making comments about this religious group or that racial group? Best guess is, none. Cause you don't think it. Even when you're drunk.

That being said, he doesn't like Jews? Fine. Not entirely surprising when his father apparently thinks that the population of Jews in Europe increased during the Second World War (although you can't blame the views of the father on the son). I don't really care. There are plenty of people that don't like Jews.

I guess at the moment, I'm concerned more with people like Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who has said, "If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak, and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology, and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew."

At 9:10 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

1) I'll continue to appreciate Gibson's directorial efforts, unless he funds/directs a film attacking Jews. Braveheart is just a kickass film. Passion, despite essentially being a two hour snuff film, is wonderfully shot and directed. Apocalypto looks to continue the trend.

2) This actually bothers me on both sides. Prejudice isn't something you're born with, it's something you learn. If Jews give up on attempting to educate the prejudiced, I can pretty much guarantee another Holocaust.

At the same time, I hear you. Disease of prejudice? Say what you mean, Jewish "leader": "We're going to shake the crazy shit from out Mel's brain."

On the third hand (is there a third hand? Help!), it also pisses me off to read the Rabbi's quote in that article that basically reads "He shouldn't make a Holocaust documentary for the same reason someone affiliated with the KKK shouldn't make a movie about Africans."

Is he serious? The Catholic Church = the KKK?

3) I don't buy it either. That's simply the PR advice I'd give Gibson if he expects to survive the media attention with his bankablity in any way intact.

That said, let's take one of my close relatives as an example of "saying stupid shit while drunk."

This relative of mine does not like gay people. He doesn't lynch them, he doesn't physically or verbally abuse them, but he also thinks they're
"unnatural," basically.

That's incredibly prejudicial to me.

On more than one occasion, this relative has gotten drunk, and on more than one occasion, has let some pretty absurd commentary fall from their mouth.

Were I to overhear this commentary without all of the above background, I'd treat this relative much the way I treat Gibson's comments: with disgust.

But my relative would never hurt a gay, or do anything proactive to make their lives harder. He's just been taught, basically since birth, to believe that they're "against God."

So, my relative is bigoted, but in an essentially "harmless" way, save for the prejudice itself.

I can tell him off and label him a homophobe, which he is, or I can attempt to show him that his opinion is wrong, because despite this flaw, he's a good person. A great person, as a matter of fact.

I've chosen the latter.

So there is a part of me that thinks, collectively, we can/should do the same for people we aren't immediately related to.


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