August 2, 2006
Mad MelBy Thomas Lifson
Most guys who made a personal profit well into the hundreds of millions of dollars on their last film might feel pretty happy. If the film triumphed over a generally hostile press and the opposition of industry big—shots, the pot of gold would seem all the sweeter, one would think.
And if you happen to blessed with good looks, apparent good (physical, if not mental) health and the adulation of millions, you might walk around with an attitude of gratitude, particularly if you were given to proclaiming in public the depth of your religious convictions as a follower of Jesus Christ.
But not Mel Gibson. He seems to have been one angry dude late last week, partying in a Malibu bar and getting his picture taken with the sort of ladies who hang out at Malibu bars. That's rarely a wise move for a married man with lots of kids at home, someone who would have no perceptible reason to question his attractiveness to the opposite sex.
So what's with Mel?
Maybe his care—givers and fellow inhabitants of the rehab program he has announced he is entering will find out. On the other hand, maybe even Mel himself will never figure out the dark currents of his troubled soul, much less be able to verbalize them to others.
I can still look upon his masterwork, The Passion of the Christ, with the same eyes, but my feelings about the man have changed. I abhor the repulsive things he is reported to have said and I can't bring myself to like him. Maybe never again. He now falls into the same category as Richard Wagner, a man who composed some glorious music that still can stir my soul, but whose personal beliefs were repellant, and some of whose notable fans are among the most evil people ever to walk the surface of the earth.
But Mel, unlike Wagner, is still breathing, and has a chance to find redemption, spiritually, and maybe even professionally. Tim McNabb today presents the Christian perspective of the Holy Spirit
Such spiritual matters are beyond my depth. But when it comes to the crass realities of politics, business, and their Hollywood nexus, I am back in my element.
I am glad that Abe Foxman of the anti—Defamation League has accepted Gibson's second—draft version of an apology, and that a rabbi has invited Mel to address his congregation on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
All of us who have sinned (and to me that means all of us) ought to welcome sincere efforts on the part of those who have sinned against us (and Mel has sinned against Jew, Christian, and non—believer alike) to reform and make amends. Like all of us, Mel will meet his Maker, and the final judgment is out of our hands.
But I do wish Ari Emmanuel, powerful Hollywood agent and brother of Democrat powerhouse mover and shaker Rahm Emmanuel would not
The fate of Mel's soul aside, does it really make sense for Hollywood's most powerful Jews to do their best to prove to anti—Semites everywhere that Jews really do run Hollywood and can dictate who can make movies and what they can say? David Duke must have been delighted when Ari Emmanuel issued his ukase.
There has been a lot of triumphalism on the part of those who indicted (falsely, in my view) The Passion of the Christ as an anti—Semitic work. I have yet to hear of a single pogrom occurring as viewers left a showing of the film. And in the wake of viewing of the film, I have had a number of rewarding discussions with deeply religious Christian friends about the Gospels and the role of Jews in them. Most of them reported a deepening of their sympathetic understanding of Jews in the Gospels.
In centuries past, the Gospels and Passion Plays have indeed served as a pretext for horrifying treatment of Jews. But the times and the spiritual understanding of most Christians have changed. In no sense was the film an incitement. It's role has been very positive.
I do not excuse Mel his tirade. My guess is that these thoughts were implanted in him early on in life by his Holocaust—denying father, who seems to be most charitably regarded as an eccentric man. I do know that during the controversy over The Passion of the Christ not one incident of personal anti—Semitic behavior by Mel Gibson was ever brought to the public's attention. Gibson has worked with plenty of Jews in the film industry, and his behavior must have been impeccable, given the widespread desire to dig up dirt on him.
So the man has dark thoughts, which he had evidently repressed until alcohol temporarily altered his brain chemistry. He has stated that he repents, and I will await the results of his rehabilitation efforts with avid attention. I do not in any way excuse his behavior. But I hope for the redemption of his sins, as I hope for the redemption of mine.
Those who condemned the film without ever seeing it might do some reflecting of their own. Could their reflexive condemnation have aggravated an old tumor on the soul of Mel Gibson? Could their brave strutting nourish tumors on other souls and give comfort to those who seek to prove nefarious plots on the part of Jews?
Maybe they have something to think about, too.
Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.