Monday, July 31, 2006
God's favourite filmmaker Mel Gibson was unusually contrite yesterday after a lapse in his struggle with the demon drink. A famous alcoholic, with more than one or two similarities to the current tenant of the White House, Mel ('not short for Melvin', as news sources outside Longford and Athlone have long strained to point out) was driving at 87mph in a 45mph zone in Malibu, California and was arrested, and failed a breath test, a three-quarters-full bottle of tequila found on the passenger seat beside him.
Mel then proceeded to shower his captors with anti-semitic invective, including the familiar allegation that "the Jews have started all the wars in the world"; he also asked one of the officers on duty if he was Jewish. We will come back to the Gibson family's anti-semitic heritage in a moment. But the Holy One's outburst was baffling given the low number of Jews in police forces anywhere in the world (except Israel, of course); you would be more likely to find a Jew in the NBA than in the LAPD. But of course, Malibu is not, strictly speaking LA, and I wonder if Mel was roughed up by the same local police chief as the Dude in The Big Lebowski?
One might reasonably assume that Mel's anti-semitic remarks, his first of the kind to be made public, can be put down to in vino veritas. Mel has since apologised for what he calls his 'despicable' remarks and has put it down to his 'horrific relapse'. It's a familiar excuse from an alcoholic; they are of course altered people when they are off revelling but their more colourful pronouncements are usually drawn from some well-stocked yet well-repressed pile, and mean more to them than they claim after the fact. Mel's father Hutton Gibson, an exceptionally repugnant old Catholic bigot, is on the record as being a holocaust-denier (I imagine he does not holiday in Germany too much then).
Now, as those Old Testament Jews would have it, let not the sins of the father be visited upon the son. But with his film The Passion of the Christ a couple of years back, Mel seemed to be dusting off the old Roman accusation of Deicide for a new generation. The Passion, to be fair was no more anti-semitic than its source texts, the Four Gospels (though this does not make it lightweight in this repect). It was, however, a lugubrious, dull, pedantic, quasi-pornographic work, that rammed home the message that Christ died on the cross for our sins, and had the poor old human side of him dragged through the mill along the way. It looks like the other partners in the Blessed Trinity stepped well back from the action on that particular Friday 2000 years ago. The Jews in the film don't get a very good press, and for the most part they look similar to the portrayal of their co-religionists in propaganda films made for a certain 20th-century European power. At the time Mel attempted to complicate the auteur theory by claiming that the Holy Spirit directed the film through him - a little like how the Lord talks through Bush, but being an Evangelical Protestant, Dubya cannot have the same privilege of access as devout Catholic Mel. Judging by the finished item, the Holy Spirit might have some trouble getting funding for its next project, unlike Mel, who enjoyed extraordinary success worldwide with the film, particularly in Poland, where many of the Catholic faithful have a taste for the retro pleasures of Jew-baiting.