The Passion of Mel Gibson


Well, they finally got Mel Gibson! His talent agency -- William Morris, run by Rahm Emmanuel’s brother, Ari -- dumped him, his future projects are in jeopardy, and he’s apparently leaving the country, returning to his native Australia and ex-wife Robyn. The Hollywood and New York media establishment appears delighted to be rid of this right-wing, über-Catholic menace.

The tabloid media has told the story in the only way it knows how -- 1) as an ugly breakup between an older leading man and his younger, foreign, long-suffering second wife, and 2) as a revelation that Mel is an unhinged maniac.

This characterization is pure fantasy, of course. Whether or not the tapes were doctored, Miss Oksana Grigorieva is clearly attempting to extort money from Gibson, whose net worth after three decades of blockbusters approaches 1 billion.

Secondly, though Mel’s rants are painful to listen to, they simply prove that he’s human. I’ve lost it with my girlfriend and some family members on a few occasions; if I were to hear recordings of my tirades, I’d be mortified, to be sure. But I’d never think that cruel words shouted in anger represent my true character.  Mel’s ex-wife has sworn that he never abused her or his children, and in a stunning show of good sense, Whoopie Goldberg told her fans that Mel always treated her with respect.  (In response to the later, I overheard a Fox News commentator speculated that Mel’s “brain chemistry” might have changed since Whoopie and Robyn knew him…)

Frank Rich thinks, wishfully, that Mel’s downfall represents the decline of social conservatism in Obama’s America… The truth is that the scandal reveals less about Mel than it does about the taboos and preoccupations of the elite media. As James Edwards describes it, America’s journalism and film establishment, with its preponderance of Jews in positions of power, was never inclined to take kindly to a man who independently financed a heroic epic about Jesus Christ. After Mel connected the Jewish-dominated neoconservative movement with the war in Iraq in a drunken outburst, the establishment deemed it necessary to destroy the man. (Before this latest scandal, Mel had made a comeback of sorts, and even had a decent thriller under his belt (Edge of Darkness (2010)); his tormentors in the media were, no doubt, just waiting for the right moment to pounce.)

The other thing the scandal reveals is the Voodoo-like potency of the twin gods of “black sacredness and white guilt.” As Larry Auster writes,

[T]he thing that got [Gibson] in trouble, the thing that has all the tongues wagging, the thing that has scandalized the world, the thing that has people saying his movie career is over, was his single use of the word "niggers." Some of the news stories even said that Gibson punched his ex-mistress in the mouth and broke her two front upper teeth. Yet in every story in which that charge has appeared, it is way down in the article, as a distant afterthought compared to the only news that really matters--his use of the "N" word. Is any further proof needed that the worst crime in liberal society ... is for a white person to say anything discriminatory about black people?

We used to be a nation under God. Now we're a nation under blacks. … To be more precise, we are a nation under the twin gods, which we ourselves have constructed, of black sacredness and white guilt.

In 1977, Roman Polanski had sex with a 13-year-old girl, and though he remained notorious, he was able to continue his work as a director virtually uninterrupted for the next 30-odd years; Hollywood’s A List has little compunction in collaborating with him. The consensus with Mel is that his career is kaput, making known that, according to our age’s civic totem, using the N-word is a far graver sin than pedophilia.

I’ve always admired Mel Gibson, and for many reasons, felt that his career as a film artist is one that never should have been, that he hid behind his good looks and charisma, in a way, and somehow slipped through the cracks. If Hollywood had known what kind of artist he really was, it would have never let him in the door.

Mel broke into Hollywood with two Australian-made apocalyptic car-chase flicks, Mad Max (1979)and The Road Warrior (1981). He cut the part of both the hard-boiled action hero and charming and mischievous leading man, and played such roles adeptly in amusing and forgettable films like Lethal Weapon (1987), Air America (1990), and Maverick (1994).

(It says something about Hollywood that over the past three decades, it has gone abroad to find the archetypal tall, powerful, romantic WASP. Gibson, Russell Crow, Hugh Jackman are Aussies; Christian Bale is a Brit. With the exception of Harrison Ford, A- List American males have been adolescent-looking girlieman: Leonardo di Caprio, Jake Gyllenhall, and Shia LaBeouf being good examples.)

Gibson proved with Braveheart (1995) that his ambitions were far greater than anyone imagined: this film included the requisite action and blood and guts to make it a hit, but it also represents one of the most frank and moving expressions of ethno-nationalism and revolution in the past quarter century.

The Flagelation of Christ

I tend to agree with critics who found the unceasing torture in The Passion of the Christ (2004) excessive… What lifts it above, far above, Inglourious Basterds and the “torture porn” genre is the aesthetic influence on the film of Caravagio and Rembrandt, and even Salvador Dalí and Hieronymus Bosch. The Passion, spoken in Latin, Aramaic, and Hebrew, wasn’t simply too “authentic” and arcane for Hollywood, but too decidedly Western in its imagery. Gibson’s lesser known follow-up, Apocolypto (2006), was equally successful: Gibson both encouraged the audience to identify with the Yucatec Mayan-speaking protagonist as well as shriek back from his culture’s fascination with human sacrifice on a mass scale. The film’s climax, which depicts the Spanish landing in Central America during Columbus’s Fourth voyage, is one of the most breathtaking and rapturous images of European, Christian supremacy caught on film. Mel’s next step in his historical journey was to be an epic set in the age of the Vikings -- with dialogue in Old Norse!

This tantalizing prospect for a film brings me to this impassioned plea.

Dear Mel (if I may),

Hollywood and the media establishment hate you, loathe you, for reasons of their own. This won’t change.

The good news is that you don’t need them. An Evangelical production company made a hokey romantic drama starring Kirk Cameron, Fireproof (2008), for $500,000; screened at sympathetic churches, the film grossed 33 million. An epic about the Vikings deserves to be made and could be far more lucrative! You could produce it on your own, finance it by creating an options market for shares of its future profits, use unknown actors -- do what you must! Just decide now that you’re going to declare your independence from the Hollywood system. You can rest assured that there is massive audience eagerly awaiting your next project.


Richard Spencer