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July 31, 2006

Oh Mel, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Us?

Is Mel Gibson a raving bigot or simply a drunken ass?

This question arises from his DUI arrest last week, which according to published reports involved various degrees of resisting arrest, attempted escape, striking officers of the law, anti-Jewish ranting (“Fucking Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” Mel stated before he asked the arresting deputy “Are you a Jew?”), and anti-woman ranting, referring to one of the officers as “sugar tits.”

Perhaps I’m being presumptuous about that last one. Perhaps Mel was thinking of that famous 1950s breakfast cereal, Kellogg’s Sugar Tits. I remember them. Screw Tony; they were great. And the mascot was unbelievable!

Mel also boasted that he “owned Malibu,” which no doubt he purchased from the Jews.

Okay, I find this whole thing rather funny, but that’s because I’m a Richard Donner fan and I fondly remember Lethal Weapon. However, I also remember his Jesus Christ bloodfest, and I have to tell you, either those big-eared hook-nosed Christ-bating trolls were supposed to be Jews, or Mel got confused, thought he was doing a Star Trek movie and those were actually Ferengi. If that’s the case, Mel was too late as Star Trek had already done the story of Christ – several times.

So now everybody’s all bent out of shape. Is Mel anti-Jewish (I refuse to say “anti-Semantic” when people make anti-Jewish comments) and, taken in the contest of The Passion of The Christ, was he revealing his true self, or was he just a babbling drunk?

Well, in vino veritas motherfucker. But I’m not suggesting Mel’s apology was disingenuous. I think there was a disconnect between his brain and his heart.

By all accounts, Mr. Gibson was raised by a raving Jew-hater. Understandably, Mel refuses to speak to this issue – his father is not a celebrity – but we’re left with the considerable evidence that is available. A lot of people overcome the hate-filled indoctrination of their childhood, but it’s tough for your brain to be overriding your heart consistently.

It’s real tough. I was raised in a strong Catholic neighborhood – it was called “Chicago” – and in my youth I was the constant subject of calls of “Christ killer” (at the time I didn’t even know who the cat was) and much, much worse. A lot of my friends had parents who had survived the Camps, and I had a cousin who was forced, at gunpoint, by the Nazis to bury his father alive. I didn’t need to hear about how Hitler had the right idea – particularly not from kids whose fathers fought in World War II. Upon occasion the abuse became physical and that stuff didn’t end until I started to strike back. As I entered high school and started dating I got a lot comments from girls who supportively told me I was one of “the good ones.” So I think I know something about anti-Jewish bigotry.

My gut tells me Mel was not disingenuous in his apology. But he’s got a lot of deep-rooted paranoia inside of him, and dealing with his alcoholism will not be enough. I wish him the best.

But I note his latest movie is being released by Disney. Friday’s incident would have made Walt very, very happy.

Posted by Mike Gold at July 31, 2006 02:48 PM

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Mel Gibson is a bigot and ass who only becomes raving when he's drunken. See, you can have it both ways.

I don't know if I believe his apology was sincere. The mea culpas come too easily these days. I want to see him do some serious penance, maybe be the bris-day boy (without anesthetic) to show some solidarity with his hook-nosed homeys.

Turning the other cheek may be his belief, but I'm an Old Testament kind of gal.

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at July 31, 2006 06:09 PM

Gee, I like the LETHAL WEAPON movies. What's not to like about racist South Africa asshole bad-guys?

Years ago, I sat in on the junket at a New York hotel for MAVERICK, because I was trying to do something like that for a Batman series. I sat with the guys in the tech room, watching Mel and Jodie Foster and Richard Donner do interview after interview. It was Mothers Day, so I ran out during the mid-day break to see my family for lunch.

During that time, when Jodie Foster and Richard Donner ate in their suites, Gibson came in and ate with the crew, and thanked them for working on the weekend. I always liked that, even when he's been a complete asshole and said things with which I disagree completely.

Posted by: Martha Thomases at July 31, 2006 09:22 PM

re: "The mea culpas come too easily these days."

Hey, he's CATHOLIC. The mea culpas are all that's required. That and a few Hail Marys. I don't think he's in Opus Dei; so self-flagellation probably isn't an option.

I'm no fan of the reborn Mel Gibson. Mike will recall my synopsis of The Passion of the Christ: A two-hour version of the last five minutes of Braveheart, with the part of William Wallace played by Jesus. But I give Gibsom credit for coming out with any kind of public mea culpa. That's more than you'll get out of the holier-than-thou neocons in Washington.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at July 31, 2006 09:43 PM

You mentioned Disney, and I just have to share a great quote about the Disney Company from Bill Plympton, who once tried to work a deal with them:

"Dealing with the Disney Company isn't so much good cop/bad cop. It's more like bad cop/Antichrist."

Posted by: Marilyn at August 1, 2006 09:14 AM

I don't understand the controversy. He's only saying what apparently most of Europe and some Americans believe. And some of them are even Jews.

Hell, at least he WAS drunk when he said it. Not like some other people who've said far worse and gotten less rebuke.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 2, 2006 11:05 AM

Ed - I hate you, too, whatever the hell ethnic, racial, religious, or other group you are. Someone out there must feel the same way I do. So don't take offense, ok?

Posted by: Marilyn Ferdinand at August 2, 2006 12:37 PM

No problem, Mary. Lots of people hate me. Some of them are family. But since you don't know me, at least with you, it's nothing personal.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 2, 2006 01:00 PM

Nobody has ever called me Mary in my life, and I don't want to set a precedent now. The name is Marilyn, please.

Posted by: Marilyn at August 2, 2006 01:36 PM

Yes, he was drunk and he did apologize. As I said before, I give him credit for the latter, and I agree that it's more than you'll get from those currently driving our ship of state into a hurricane on a dead coral reef.

But... "He's only saying what apparently most of Europe and some Americans believe."???

While it's probably true that "some" Americans believe that "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," I'm guessing those tend to be the same people who believe the world is only 6,000 years old and are gleefully awaiting its complete devastation, because they think that will make Jesus really, really happy.

And I doubt that "most" of Europe believes in the grand Jewish conspiracy today. I think it's entirely possible that "most" of Europe believed this 70 years ago -- and it certainly played well in Germany back then.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 2, 2006 01:51 PM

Nobody has ever called me Mary in my life, and I don't want to set a precedent now. The name is Marilyn, please.

Okay, but only if you stop calling me "Ed". It's not even my name. EC or eclark will do nicely.


Rick, if you want to argue about quantifiers like "most" and "some", go right ahead if it floats your boat. I could easily come back and challenge your "tends to be" point. Frankly it's not worth the hassle ( unless it ticks Marilyn off. She hates me, you know. ) 8^)

I will however defend my comment about "most" of Europe being anti-semitic. The fact that most of the Jews on the continent have fled to settle in Israel leads me to believe that there has been no real catalyst for a change in Europe's feelings towards Jews. Add to that the high number of Muslim immigrants, particularly in France, and there has not been a strong counterbalance to challenge the Islamic POV.

As Mike points out, sure it's possible to overcome ingrained childhood prejudices... given a reason.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 2, 2006 04:07 PM

When the distinction is binary (agree/disagree, true/false) "most" typically means "more than 50%."

And your opinion is nothing more than that -- an opinion. Where are your facts? Have you been to Europe and posed the question to a sufficiently large random sample to produce statistically significant results? Read the analyses of survey results in scholarly journals?

Furthermore, what difference does it make what "most" people think? "Most" white Americans a century ago probably thought blacks were mentally and physically inferior. "Some" probably still do -- but most of them probably understand that to voice that opinion in public would at least be somewhat controversial.

If Mel Gibson's comments didn't at least stir up some controversy, I could no longer maintain my tenuous grasp on my cynical view of our national character and would fall into abject depression.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 2, 2006 05:07 PM

No problem, EC. I haven't got empirical, only anecdotal, evidence of Europeans anti-Jewish bias, but I tend to agree with EC. There really was no reason to overcome prejudice because Hitler essentially accomplished his mission. Jews have largely been kicked out of Europe. But I will say that France is as phobic about Muslims as it traditionally was, if rules prohibiting wearing the veil in schools are any indication.

Posted by: Marilyn at August 2, 2006 05:31 PM

Oh come on, Rick. If you want facts you can read my book when and if I write it. I'm here to give my opinions.

Besides, I haven't seen the bibliography that backs up your astounding research either.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 2, 2006 05:43 PM

Perhaps I wasn't clear.

What most Europeans may or may not secretly think about Jews is no more relevant than your opinions (or mine) on what they may or may not secretly think. And they are no more valid than Mel Gibson's outlandish claims. They have no basis in fact, and to turn a blind eye to ignorant assertions that foster religious or racial hatred has a proven track record of disastrous consequences, sometimes on a global scale of almost incomprehensible horror.

From "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," it's not a very big leap to "So let's kill all the Jews." And while that may only be my opinion, it's one based on historical precedents that most historians would agree are irrefutable facts -- unless your Mel Gibson's father. If you don't understand the controversy, I doubt that I can enlighten you.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 2, 2006 11:34 PM

That was as clear as mud, Rick, because your first statement seems to contradict your last. Point in fact, is that historical precedent will bear me out.

I don't understand the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson simply because an actor/director in a drunken stupor hardly has that much influence in world opinion. I argue, in fact, that the publicity given to the incident gives it more clout than it would normally have.

Furthermore, it's what the Europeans think, secretly or otherwise, that will decide whether turning a blind eye to those ignorant assertions is what they will do. Europe's desire to avoid war at all costs and to try and appease is in a big part responsible for the last World War.

Posted by: eclark1849 at August 3, 2006 01:56 AM


You're being somewhat disingenuous. More on that in a minute.

But first, I'll concede your point that my first statement seems to contradict my last statement. So I'll try to rectify that now: Opinions that have no basis in fact have no place in a rational debate in which truth is hopefully a desirable component for establishing a sane course of action. And to the extent that I am implying that some people are irrational and/or insane, I am referring to those here and abroad who share Mel Gibson' beliefs, not you -- unless you also agree with him.

Which brings us to the disingenuous part: While it might be easy to dismiss Gibson's comments as the ravings of a drunken actor, that isn't really what you said in your in your original post. You said: "I don't understand the controversy. He's only saying what apparently most of Europe and some Americans believe." The fact that Gibson was drunk seemed to be a secondary point. I take issue with the notion that an inflammatory statement that has no basis in fact and promotes irrational fear and hatred shouldn't be a source of controversy simply because a large number of people share the same delusion.

As for Gibson being little more than a drunken actor, do I need to remind you that the current governor of California is an actor and that a president held in high esteem by many Republicans today was also an actor? And Gibson is also something more than just an actor/director: he is a public figure with a religious agenda, which these days seems to inevitably lead to a political agenda. If memory serves, Gibson is a native-born American citizen; so he has a better chance of becoming president than Arnold does -- or at least he might have had a chance if not for his drunken outburst.

Finally, back to what "most" Europeans think about Jews, it would appear that there is no consensus. Most "experts" seem to acknowledge that overt acts of anti-semitism are on the rise, but they disagree on whether or not this is indicative of a general increase in anti-semitism, and none of those I encountered in my admittedly cursory research seemed willing to go so far as to state that a majority of Europeans harbor anti-semetic feelings. In any event, I have no argument with your assessment that what most Europeans think will play a significant role in how they choose to respond to racial and religious intolerance.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at August 3, 2006 10:14 AM

"Movie producer Dean Devlin said he and his wife are Jewish, and he considers Gibson who unleashed an anti-Jewish tirade when arrested for drunken driving July 28 one of his best friends in Hollywood.

"If Mel is an anti-Semite, then he spends a lot of time with us, which makes no sense," Devlin told the Los Angeles Times."

Unless Mel needs a Yiddishe beard.

"I have been with Mel when he has fallen off, and he becomes a completely different person," Devlin said. "It is pretty horrifying."

Yes, he shows his anti-Semitism. Pretty horrifying.

"Jodie Foster said she does not believe that drunkenness excuses hurtful remarks, but doubts claims that Gibson is prejudiced against Jews.

"Is he an anti-Semite? Absolutely not," Foster told the newspaper for a story in Friday's editions. "But it's no secret that he has always fought a terrible battle with alcoholism."

"Though it was widely believed that Gibson has been sober since the early '90s, some people close to him say he has been on and off the wagon for years.

"Gibson "was a shining example of how low you can go when you are young and still pull yourself up," she said. "He took his recovery very seriously, which is why I know he is strong enough to get through this now."

Yes, Jodie. You're a very smart woman so you are qualified to say unequivocally that Mel is not an anti-Semite. He took his recovery so seriously that he's been on and off the wagon for more than a decade.

What is wrong with these people?

Posted by: Marilyn at August 7, 2006 10:42 AM

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