Wednesday, August 02, 2006


It's interesting that, despite Mel Gibson's tirade when he was busted for DUI, most of the stories regarding this still cautiously note that "some" have detected "hints" of anti-Semitic "undertones" in The Passion Of The Christ.

Let's just put this one to rest, shall we? Gibson's claim that The Passion is based closely on the gospels is a joke--unless you can find the passage in the Bible that specifically mentions crowds of jeering, hook-nosed Jews watching as Jesus is whipped, you have to figure this is Mel's invention. And who should be seen wandering among the Jews, enjoying the spectacle. That's right--Satan. Very subtle.

According to a 2004 article in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Passion was widely shown and very popular in Muslim countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar, which ordinarily ban any movie which show a literal depiction of a prophet. An exception was made for The Passion, however, since, as one observer put it, "It withholds from Jews their claim that they are innocent." It should be noted that Gibson owns the rights to the film, and the decision to show it in these countries was entirely his. Unlike Pontius Pilate, Mel can't wash his hands of this matter.

What's so strange is, I would never have seen this coming. Once Mel Gibson was the star of Mad Max, the guy who did exemplary work in Peter Weir's Gallipolli and The Year Of Living Dangerously. One of his best movies is Gillian Armstrong's little-known Mrs. Soffel, in which he's tremendously moving as a convicted murderer with a tender heart, a man torn between his impulses and his conscience.

I could try to give him the benefit of the doubt, and wonder if Gibson is torn between similar extremes in real life. If it was only his drunken tirade, maybe. But he made a fortune off of a deliberately anti-Semitic movie, and it's not like he humbled himself, Christ-like, and gave his fortune away. ("I own Malibu," he told the arresting officer.) No, it's got to be said: Mel Gibson is a terrible, hateful person, and all the apologies in the world won't change that.