Make mine a Gibson: Today's Mel roundup

151111__mel_lAs we all now know, Mel Gibson is, in his own words, "f—ed". The news of Gibson’s DUI and subsequent verbal pogrom comes in the midst of a "hot" Middle Eastern conflict that certain all-too-delighted commentators are calling World War III, so it takes on a special significance — probably too much significance, as is almost always the case with scandals involving celebrities. Still, Gibson is a major totem in the so-called culture wars (golly, but we love that metaphor!), thanks to that little bleeding Jesus movie he did; his behavior is significant, whether he — or we — like it or not. So before Mel’s tequila-pickled liver is dried and FedEx-ed to Frank Rich with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, let’s do a little roundup of the day’s commentary — and spin.

In fact, let’s begin with the spin. I received this mass-email at around 3:15 p.m. today:

In light of the controversy surrounding Mel Gibson’s arrest for diving [sic] under the influence and subsequent comments, I would like to make Dr. Ted Baehr, movie and television critic, available for interview.

   Dr. Baehr, Chairman of the Christian Film and Television, says while Gibson’s behavior is shocking, his apology should be taken to heart.
   “Mel’s behavior was shocking.  However, he was very quick to repent and ask for forgiveness.  No one is infallible.  We are all fallen and we all need forgiveness.  Mel is certainly no exception.” – Said Dr. Baehr.

Dr Baehr, you may or may not know, is a cultural commentator whose unfailing au courant film reviews and pop-crit analyses lean ever-so-slightly to the right. (Who knew The Ant Bully "pushes communism" while "mocking God"? Here I was, foolishly thinking it was just plain old bad.) Dr. Baehr made his bones defending The Passion of the Christ against charges of anti-Semitism — and calling the film’s detractors "anti-Christ." (Personally, I found The Passion more dispiritingly sadomasochistic than wildly anti-Semitic, a troubled Christian’s engorged, enraged expression of longing for a very atavistic, very un-Christian blood-god. But that’s just the personal opinion of a lapsed Southern Methodist who grew up watching similarly toned passion plays. Of course, ours didn’t have the blue-skinned gay Satan or jibbering demon dwarves, but maybe we weren’t interpreting the Scriptures as crazily, er, closely as old Mel — who would, at any rate, probably agree with my Baptist friends that Methodism is just a minor branch of atheism.)

Anyway, Dr. Baehr’s decided to line up behind Gibson on this one, hoping some premature and strategic forgiveness will shield the culture warriors’ richest and most important Hollywood asset. It will be interesting to see if other soldiers of the religious right will follow suit — I’m not sure how they feel about anti-Semites (it varies with the bombing campaign), but I know they don’t like drinkers, with one notable exception. Is Gibson himself — an Uber-Catholic who happened to spark a Christ-centric phenomenon at the box office — important enough to the political wing of the evangelical movement to warrant saving? His next movie isn’t exactly a slam-dunk with the Sunday set. And what evangelical appeal it possesses is mostly negative: an advanced yet tragically pre-Christian society extinguishes itself. (D’uh!)

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the always entertaining Christopher Hitchens, who gives Gibson what his movies suggest he’s always craved: an epic evisceration. (Admit it: You never even noticed Gibson was also anti-English.) As always, Hitchens, who was captain of the debate team at Berserker High, defends his position with such snarlingly hyperarticulate ferocity, the reader finds himself edging quietly away, even if he’s in general agreement. Congrats, Chris: You’ve made criticizing Gibson seem almost as batty as siding with him. That’s an achievement. (If they find me tomorrow with an exquisitely turned phrase through the heart, you’ll know who to question.)

But forget the high priests for a second: Let’s take this to the street. Salon’s already got a Mel Gibson parody video contest going, though I suspect the winning entry will be the elusive arrest videotape itself, whenever it turns up. At any rate, it’ll be well-nigh impossible to top the experts. But if you’re going to try, I suggest keeping it beautifully simple.

More updates as events warrant. If Gibson doesn’t die of ambient opprobrium before Wednesday, this could mature into one heck of a debate. Or one hell of a mud-circus. Either way, stay tuned.

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  • Reid

    So, Mel Gibson is crazy. Who’da guessed? Just because he used his own hand to crucify Christ, who would have ever thought that he might have some unresolved issues?
    I’m surprised Mel didn’t say he was only drinking water, and some Jew must have turned the water into wine in his stomach to make him drunk.
    Gibson’s publicist says “He is in a program of recovery at this time.”
    Well, that sounds good, until you consider that Mel considers Hitler’s “Final Solution” a program of recovery, too.

    http://www.reidaboutit.com/blog.htm

  • Ed

    Still loving Mel even though he’s human.

  • theBigE

    Hmmm, so who do we forgive? A president who cheats on his wife in the White House and lies about it? An R+B singer who has sex with (and urinates on) young teen girls? Or an outspoken movie star who says horrible, bigoted things while drunk, but who then takes responsibility for his actions, apologizes immediately, and seeks help?
    Let him without sin cast the first stone.

  • theBigE

    By the way, Baehr wasn’t the only reviewer to liken “The Ant Bully” to communism. A regular reviewer at the generally liberal Aintitcool website likened the movie to “a cartoon version of the communist manifesto.”

  • jon

    People would like to make this the end of Mel’s career but the problem is he’s well liked. I mean VERY well liked. Like Ronald Regan well liked. And because of it, there’s not much he can do to make that go wrong. He could… Well he could do anything those comics said in that “The Aristocrats” movie and still be liked. Because he’s Mel Gibson. Even I laughed at “What Women Want,” (for Helen Hunt, I promise)…

  • J C

    WTF.
    I am not one to excuse Mel Gibson. His words were clearly Anti-Semitic.
    However. Look at the vitriol spilled in this column toward Christians. The columnist is trying to paint all Christians as being just as stupid as the Dr. Baer.
    Christians are Conservatives are trashed all the time by you guys. You bash at least 50% of the country when you do this. Since it’s PC in all of your minds, it’s okay.
    You guys love to eviscerate your enemies whenever you get the chance.

  • Mark

    Jews must learn to accept different opinions and not assume someone hates them because they don’t agree with some of the things they say or do.

  • ken

    I think people everywhere have done things and said things in their past that was or could be found “shocking”. Mel is no different so before you start picking those stones up you may want to take a look at yourself first.I for one stand behind Mr. Gibson.

  • Christopher

    The question is, do you believe Mel Gibson?
    Forgiveness ought to be granted to him as a man, but Gibson is more than a man… he is a public figure, one who holds sway, and he denied being anti-semitic when he released “Passion of the Christ”.
    I think opening a dialogue with your friends, your children, and your parents about this is a good step. While it’s not wise to judge Mel Gibson without the facts at your command, it’s not wise to expose yourself to every opinion without considering it’s context.
    I wish Mel Gibson well with his life and his career, and I hope he rids himself of whatever evil seems to trouble him.

  • Manda

    Celebrity or not, there is absolutely no excuse for driving drunk. NONE. Turn on the local news, and you are likely to hear a story of how an innocent person/persons were killed by a drunk driver. Do you feel sorry for that drunk driver? Didn’t think so. You feel angry at someone for making such a poor decision and for putting innocent people in danger. Those who make the choice to drive drunk deserve the punishment handed to them. And while Mel’s “damage control” decision to join rehab is commendable, I think that he, like any other drunk driver, should be punished.

  • Catty Canuck

    The funny thing is that the DUI charge in itself wouldn’t have been a blip in his career – if anything it would have added to his appeal as a man’s man the ladies love. But the comments about Jews? It casts an unhealthy pallor over all of his work, and now I’m thinking I won’t be able to enjoy any of it again without getting creeped and guilted out. I think Mr Gibson may have overstated when saying his life is f***ed, but I’m thinking his career might be . . .

  • Frowny McBeard

    Hitchens was probably as drunk writing the article as Gibson was when he was driving.

  • kinglouieXVIII

    Uggh. I am so over this story. It’s not even been a week since the incident occurred, and I’m already disgusted with the amount of coverage it’s getting.
    So the guy is a drunk bigot! We can all agree that Hollywood is littered with less than perfect individuals. At least the guy still makes quality movies.
    Give it a rest! Those of you who keep bringing it up are only giving him that much more publicity. Trust me, everyone and their dog will know when Apocalypto will come out in theatres with all the publicity surrounding Mel.

  • Roxanne

    For Gibson to blame the alcohol for his anti-semitic remarks is disingenuous. Alcohol loosens one’s inhibitions, so all those things that one wants to do and say come easier (I think we all know that). It doesn’t make an unprejudiced person into a bigot. He already is one.

  • Jar-Jar Binks

    Mesa ‘tinking dat dissen all Bombad!!

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