Tuesday, August 01, 2006

In Defense Of Mel Gibson

I haven't liked Mel Gibson for a good 15 years, thanks to access to nasty off-the-record comments he's given about gays and other people for years. I also think he's a poor director (though "Braveheart" is infinitely better than "The Man Without A Face" and "The Passion of the Christ"). I thought "The Passion" was laughably anti-Semitic and wildly inaccurate historically, starting with the depiction of Jesus lugging the entire cross (when we know He would have only carred the cross bar) and the simple fact that Jesus was a white guy. Yes, his dad is a Holocaust denier and Gibson has parroted those same beliefs (using the same language as them when discussing the Holocaust) when given chance after chance to politely distance himself from them. Yes, he broke with the Catholic Church to take part in a sect that rejects the Pope and yet still gets called a faithful Catholic by the clueless press. I accept all of that. And now he gets drunk and reveals the nasty, bigoted thoughts he has carefully hidden from the public. So of course he's a bigot. But mostly Gibson tries to keep those obnoxious thoughts to himself, if only because he knows it's bad for business. And when they did spill out, he apologized pretty profusely and completely. Roger Friedman of Fox News applauds talent agent Ari Emanuel for saying everyone should refuse to do business with Gibson. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Emanuel hasn't done business with Mel in many, many years, if ever. If I'm wrong, I'll apologize for leaping to conclusions. But I'm just guessing Emanuel is saying people shouldn't do business with a guy he's NEVER done business with. Try dumping a top-grossing client you DO have for their bigotry and I'll be a lot more impressed. Top Jewish leaders said Gibson's apology was insincere and not complete enough. Huh?
There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said.... But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith. I'm not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing. I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.
What exactly would you want him to say? That seems pretty complete to me. What exactly do we expect from people in a free society? That no one harbor bigotry and prejudice in their heart of hearts? No, that would be impossible, whether your bigotry is towards Jews or fundamentalist Christians or atheists. (Or blacks or Latinos or Serbians or Sunnis or whatever.) All we can ask is that people not give public voice to their hatred, whether through laws (like the laws that ban some 20 million Americans from federal recognition of their marriages) or words, like Gibson's rant. He said it and he apologized profusely. If he keeps saying it again and again, obviously he'll pay the price in public esteem and box office. But having said it, I can't imagine what else Mel Gibson could do to make up for it other than what he has. It doesn't mean I like him, but short of disappearing forever what else would you have him do?


priv8pete said...

I'll only be satisfied once he has been publicly flogged!

Ed Sikov said...

"I'll only be satisfied once he has been publicly flogged!"

He's already done that onscreen. Several times, I might add.