Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mel Gibson's Moment of Truth

By now anyone who pays attention to the news will have heard that Mel Gibson of "Braveheart" and "The Passion of the Christ" fame was arrested for drunk driving. It is not a secret and Gibson himself has been very open about the fact that he has battled alcoholism. Unfortunately the story does not end here. It is now being reported that during his arrest Gibson made all sorts of vulgar and very ugly remarks. Some of those remarks were anti-Semitic slurs. Among the things he is reported to have said are "F---ing Jews" and "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" and asking the arresting deputy "Are you a Jew?"

Where do I begin? I am crushed. Mel has always been one of my favorite actors and directors. Not just because of his skills in those professions. But also because he was one of the few people in Hollywood who seemed to have his head screwed on right. He has a reputation as a man who loves and jealously guards his family. No hint of scandal has ever touched his name in connection with another woman. He is by all accounts someone who is deeply religious (though his relationship with Rome has always been rather ambiguous) and is a man who overcame personal demons from his youth.

Thus when people were accusing him of being an anti-Semite because of his faithful rendition of the Gospel accounts of Christ’s passion and death and because his father is a certifiable nut case, I defended him. A lot of people did. Yes it’s true that Mel has been associated with some of the more extreme elements in the Roman Catholic Traditionalist movement. And yes it’s well known that some of these groups (not unlike Orthodoxy’s radical Old Calendarists) have a very nasty strain of anti-Semitism in them. But I was willing to set all of that aside noting that Mel was not his father, and there was no convincing evidence of his being hostile to Jews. Indeed I pointed out, how can you be an anti-Semite in such an open place like Hollywood which is well known for being overly fond of scandal and where anyone to the right of Ted Kennedy is viewed as a fascist?

The tragedy, here is pretty big. Mel has obviously fallen off the wagon and back into the bottle. And as anyone who knows anything about drunks can attest to, booze is like fire for the inner demons. It loosens all of your inner inhibitions and causes people to do or say things they would never normally do. But it is not something that typically makes someone act contrary to their nature. Some have called alcohol a form of truth serum. I am not inclined to argue with that from my own experience with drunks in the Navy and elsewhere. Those slurs did not come out of thin air. If they were not in his heart they would never have been given voice by the booze. The bottom line is that Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite.

Today Mel issued an apology which seems to be heartfelt. I am inclined to accept it at face value. But an apology is not going to be enough in this case. Drunk driving is a crime that can and will be dealt with by the courts. But the things he said are going to have a much longer impact. There are a lot of things a person can be forgiven for (especially in Hollywood). Anti-Semitism is not one of them. The Hollywood double standard (it’s perfectly OK to viscously slander certain people, groups and religions but others are off limits) is not an excuse. Mel is going to be crucified, and on a certain level he should be.

This may well be the end of his illustrious career in films. Talent can not overcome some things. Leni Riefenstahl was arguably the greatest female director ever to move on God’s Earth. But she was blacklisted by Hollywood for her close ties to Hitler and the Nazis during the 30’s. This is something where we will have to wait and see what happens. But if Mel were to ask for my advice, this is what I would tell him.

Don’t worry about saving your career. You have over a half billion in the bank by conservative estimates. You don’t need the job. Worry about salvaging your family and then your good name and reputation. That is going to be hard, but it’s doable. You need to get right with God. Go back to AA and work closely with your spiritual father confessor unless he is also an anti-Semite. Then get a new one. If your church is preaching anti-Semitism then you need to take several very big steps back and find another one. As for your name and reputation, start by going to a Synagogue and making a direct apology from the pulpit. Announce that you’re retiring from the film business and that you have made your last movie. Dedicate your life thereafter to public service.

Mel Gibson remains in my prayers as does his family.


Matthew said...

First, Anglicanism now, Mel Gibson!
what can be next-
Oh My!!!

Matthew said...

At least Mr. Gibson has made a "honest to GOD" apology to the Jewish Community which has been accepted by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. If only the Episcpalians(Anglicans) would do the same and seek help as Mr. Gibson is doing. As if.......!
In GOD's time.