Author’s note: I used to blog at jaceonline.com, and in an effort to introduce myself to new readers and hopefully wring a little more entertainment value out of those old posts, I’m going to be dipping into the old site and re-posting some of my favorite entries. Hey, if Leo Sayer can have a “best of” collection, so can I.
I’m not going to get into the business of defending Mel Gibson. He’s a big boy, and an extraordinarily wealthy one at that. If his career really is over now, I’m sure he can retire to one of his sixteen homes and be just fine. But this incident has raised many important issues that I think deserve comment.
First of all, I’d like to point out that, if you enjoyed what Mel said about Jews and want to hear more stuff like that, your best bet is to go to the comments section of any liberal-lefty blog. There you will find all kinds of charming comments about how the Jews control American foreign policy, how they were the ones that blew up the World Trade Center, how they’re worse then Nazis for the way they treat Palestinians, etc., etc. The political left is lousy with people who think — and say out loud, though usually with more delicate and euphemistic language — that the Jews are responsible for the world’s problems. The way those same people can turn on a dime to self-righteously condemn Gibson’s anti-semitism makes me doubt Newtonian laws of motion.
So, we know that Mel’s an alcoholic. Now the question is, is he really an a**hole? The answer, sad to say, is “probably.” All the carefully hidden stories are breaking now: Mel Gibson’s arrogant, Mel Gibson’s a phony, Mel Gibson’s self-destructive. No one has sufficiently explained how this makes him worse than anybody else in Hollywood, though. The level of outrage over this seems kind of high for a town that’s still nominating Woody Allen and Roman Polanski for awards.
But of course Mel is worse than anybody else, and the reason is that, once upon a time, Mel made a movie called The Passion of the Christ, a movie that made people think more about religion. As we all know, movies are only supposed to make you think about two things: 1) boobs, and 2) buying the DVD. A lot of people don’t like to think about religion, because it gives them an irritating, itchy, tingly sensation in that place where their soul should be. These people need desperately to discredit movies like The Passion, so they don’t have to hear any more about religion and can get back to thinking about boobs.
Gibson’s wacked-out tirade has given the boob-thinkers another weapon with which to attack The Passion, and they are using it with relish. (Including some who I wouldn’t normally characterize as a boob-thinkers, like Christopher Hitchens. He’s usually a perceptive guy, but religion has the same effect on him as the white whale had on Ahab.) But they’re not making any arguments they haven’t made a jillion times already; remember, the anti-Semitic complaint about The Passion was absolutely pounded into the ground during its release. So, I’m not going to run through all that silliness yet again. Let the record show as a well-established fact that The Passion is a very important film to Christians (especially evangelicals and Catholics), and nothing is going to change that. It is also a well-established fact that all the waves of Jew-hatred that the movie was supposed to inspire failed to materialize. So whether or not Gibson intended it to be anti-Semitic, in practical application it was not. I hereby dismiss all statements to the contrary as lunkheaded foolishness, forever and ever, amen.
The fact that people are trying to discredit The Passion because of the behavior of its director just demonstrates that they don’t understand the meaning of the story it tells. Mel is clearly a messed up dude — maybe he’s full of hate, maybe he’s a drunk, maybe he’s nuts, maybe some combination of all of that. And Jesus died for him.
Everybody who professes the gospel is an imperfect messenger. Talking about Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t mean that you needed it any less, and you don’t have to reach some level of perfection before you can tell the story. If I had to take a stab at long-distance psychoanalysis, I might say that part of Mel’s problem is that he’s keenly aware of how imperfect he is. The moral of this story is that God can even use people like him.