There is little to be said about Mel Gibson that hasn’t been said already. But I have to ask why Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks, which shouldn’t have shocked or surprised anyone, have even the Hitch contributing a rant. Anybody who has been following Gibson’s paranoid answers to interview questions, the demented one-frame cameo appearance in the Apocalypto trailer, and his insistence that Jews be maligned (without the consolation of subtitles) in The Passion of the Christ should know by now that Mel Gibson is as feral and unstable as Martin Riggs. His comments were depraved, hateful and clearly the heartfelt vitriol of a kook caught drunk. But why do the words of a Hollywood superstar dwarf the hatred spewing in Israel and Lebanon? Why the outpour from Gibson fans and blogs and cultural commentators? There’s a bloody war going on right now. Could the Western world be so hopelessly swirling within the seductive spiral of celebrity that it is only capable of understanding anti-Semitism and hatred through the likes of Mel Gibson? Is that how low the bar is now set?
I won’t abjure myself of cultural navelgazing. I’ve been just as guilty too, but let’s put this into perspective. 37 children died because of an air strike on Lebanon within hours of Gibson’s arrest. Do you mean to tell me that it takes a Mel Gibson arrest to get people aware of hatred these days? Has our culture become so depraved that gossip means more than the lives of children? Have we reached the point where we have merely a refractory Hollywood context for the way we perceive the world?
The big issues now making the rounds: What does this mean for Gibson’s career? How will Apocalypto make money?
I’d like to put forth some more profound questions to think about.
Is it possible to reconcile Israel and Palestine, much less Israel and Hezbollah? Why are the United States and the United Kingdom the only nations championing Israel? Will Iran get involved? Will this mean more American involvement? More lives lost? More hatred unfurled?
All of these are difficult questions to answer. They’re neither as easy nor as satisfying as pointing to Mel Gibson and saying, “There is a man who, in his own words, fucked up. There is a man who has problems.” But perhaps we should be pointing the fingers at ourselves instead. Here is a nation that has perception issues. Here is a nation that has fucked up.
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.