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July 31, 2006

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I didn't go see The Passion of the Christ for two main reasons: one, I hate the kind of movies that make pornography out of violence, and from every single review I read, positive and negative, it seemed clear that this was one of them. (Chacun à son goût, I hasten to add.)

The other reason was that it was the first (and so far the only) movie I'd ever seen advertised by spam, and I figured that, all else being equal, I should actively avoid going to a movie being advertised like that.

Sorry - what I meant to add was: though all I know about TPotC is the reviews, the reviews specified that the movie was strongly based on the medieval "Passion Plays", and therefore was fairly likely to be as anti-Semitic as those plays were.

Whether or not that made Mel Gibson actively anti-Semitic or just passively oblivious was a different question, now answered: whether or not that should make a difference to your appreciation of his movies is a very different question. One that, with Orson Scott Card, I am still trying to find an answer to.

After reading J-Pod's recent musings on mass murder and ethnic cleansing, I thought he would become more enamored of Christian anti-Semitism.

I haven't gone to a Mel Gibson movie since Braveheart, won't ever again, which doesn't hurt much, since he hasn't done anything since then I wanted to see anyway. I haven't read any of Card's work since his screed against gays, which does hurt, since that meant not finishing the Alvin Maker series or reading any more books in the Ender universe.

For me, it's a question of whether I want to give my money to people who espouse views I find not merely objectionable, but downright hateful and (considering the tenor of the times) dangerous. I don't demand everyone else boycott their work; but I, myself, will not support them.

not finishing the Alvin Maker series or reading any more books in the Ender universe.

I am a less principled boycotter than you are, and I can say that you didn't miss anything. Whenever you stopped, the ones you read were better than the ones you didn't.

Hey, look, if I can get Holocaust, Passion of the Christ, and Fugazi references all in one post, then Von needs to show up more often!

First: an admission. I never go to see controversial movies while everyone else is salivating or slavering, whatever the case may be. So, I didn't see "Passion of the Christ" until just last month --- just me and popcorn on the couch late at night.

Tough to look at times, but I admit I was moved. It was a brave movie, sort of a "Wild Bunch" for Catholics.. or a "JFK" for conservative religious types who hate paranoia by the Left but are happy to roll around in it if it's them being scourged. Was it anti-Semitic? You bet. But, if the rabbis turned Christ in, I think it's time everyone* got over it. Including Mel. And the rabbis. And the apocalypse-mongers jacking off to the Republican Party's descent into madness. Cause,you know, they might get what they ask for. In fact, when I open up the morning paper, I see that they are, the dumbasses.

Anyway, here's my little offering as an agnostic to the current scene. Not a prayer, because every time I pray, I find that I'm talking to myself, which makes me want to start a cult. I think Mel should be forgiven and helped, by his family, by his friends, by his Church. And I think the Muslim who shot the Jews in Seattle should be prosecuted. And I think the tough guys, the Christians, who WANT all the bad stuff to come down in a final bloodlust nuclear slaughter with the 144,000 saved -- and the guys and gals -- you know what I love about feminism is that it permitted the conservative girls to be just as ready for big-time oceans of blood as the guys -- and who have decided at Redstate and Tacitus that the idiot who shot the Jews in Seattle is representative of anything more than misguided, fallible human idiocy and we should regard all Muslims as suspect, what a surprise he's a Muslim, they exclaim mockingly, and can we deport the Mexicans, too -- Gibson is not representative of any Christians I know .... let it go.

-- I exchange forgiveness for Gibson for the other side backing off on the "every Muslim is a terrorist" deal.

The offer is good for five minutes. Then we all go.

*I think Michael Medvaed requires a period of public humiliation, and then he may be permitted one hour to get away and shut up ...FOREVER.

CaseyL: I haven't read any of Card's work since his screed against gays, which does hurt, since that meant not finishing the Alvin Maker series or reading any more books in the Ender universe.

I stopped reading the Alvin Maker series well before the infamous anti-gay tirade - I got bored. I stopped reading the Ender universe after Shadow of the Hegemon - not actually directly because of the anti-gay tirade, but because the peeking ahead into the next book in the sequence suggested it was going to bore me even worse than SotH did. (Though I don't know if it would bored me worse than Children of the Mind.)

What actually hurts is when I re-read novels and short stories of Card's that I previously enjoyed and find stuff in them that I overlooked or misinterpreted before, that I can't overlook or misinterpret now. I can deal with Kipling's prejudices, or Sayer's, by saying "Well, they were of their time" - but Card is of my time.

His anti-gay screed wasn't just bigoted: it was dishonest, both as an anthropologist (he has a degree from Notre-Dame in anthropology) and as a writer.

I thought the Italians killed the Messiah?

LB and Jes: Nice to know I didn't miss much.

Speaking of writers who reflect the attitude of their times: I adore Ngaio Marsh's mysteries, and tried to overlook the anti-Semitism that popped up in so many of the earlier ones, the ones written before WWII. What's interesting is how revelations of the death camps affected her work. Not only did she back off with the anti-Semitism, but a Jewish character (a religiously observant one, no less; March made the effort to research the subject) was a conspicuously good character in her final novel.

Aw, drat. I hadn't read Marsh since high school, and missed the anti-Semitism. Now my residual crush on Rory Alleyn feels wrong. (But at least she got better.)

Despite my being Jewish, I didn't mind it so much, possibly because it was part and parcel of her general attitudes, which (despite her being a Kiwi) were very much upper-class Brit. It did bug me, but not enough to stop reading, or liking, her work. Her scorn for the counterculture actually bothered me more.

I thought the Italians killed the Messiah?

No, that was just red sauce.

Andrew Sullivan has the second-best comment on the Gibson incident--a juxtaposition, really (bolding mine):

"Mel Gibson might be my favorite feminist. If he's not number one on my list, he's pretty close, in competition with Pope John Paul II... In a day when "Take Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries" is an often-heard chorus in mainstream abortion debates, Mel Gibson's understanding of women and his articulation of their unique mission could have remarkable repercussions. This new — or old, inasmuch as it is natural and commonsensical — kind of feminism, a focus on the different contributions of men and women and the different ways they live their missions, should make us all rethink how we live and love," - Kathryn-Jean Lopez, National Review Online, not so long ago.

"What do you think you're looking at, sugar tits?" - Mel Gibson to a female police officer last Friday.

But Jack Balkin has the best comment:
Mel Gibson's next project is a mini-series on the Holocaust. Apparently, it has a surprise ending.

I don't know if this is true for everyone, but when I hit Sullivan's site, the sponsored links were the following three.

* "Sins of the Church" 7 Great Lies of Organized Religion A Hard Look at Past & Present 7Lies.org
* Feminism - Redefining it No longer the F Word. Celebrate. Site for authentic, positive women. www.BeingJane.com
* The Passion - Mercy Nail New bronze crucifixion nail replica Contemplate his passion and mercy! www.GiftsCatholic.com

That he can try to get away with this by saying he didn't mean it, he was drunk, just shows how delusional people are about alcohol. The idea that alcohol releases inhibitions and makes you irresponsible is a social construct. Alcohol makes your reactions slower, and your thinking slower. It does not make you think or mean or even say something you otherwise wouldn't, except as a result of cultural conditioning.* This means, for one thing, that when a battered wife excuses her husband on account of his drunkenness, it's really dangerous as well as a tragedy. The man really is like that, he doesn't just become that way when drunk. Keeping him away from alcohol won't help since he wants to get drunk so he can do it again without taking responsibility for it.

This goes for Mel too. He really meant all those things he said, he resents jews, and it's in every way exactly as bad as if he had said it completely sober. He should be treated as if he had.

* Well, there are some who say that brain damage, from for instance a stroke, can lead to dramatic personality changes when drunk. Perhaps this is the root of our cultural misconception that alcohol affects behaviour.

(My main source on alcohol and culture is Hans Olav Fekjær, in particular his book "The psychology of getting high", downloadable here. )

So, the fact that Brando and Gibson managed to become big Hollywood stars - does it mean that the Hollywood, contrary to popular opinion, is not run by Jews after all? Or did they become stars first and then caught the bug? Or did they keep their mouths shut until they became stars? The last one would be difficult to do, I suspect.

great, now i'm going to have Fugazi songs in my head all day. thanks von.

I think of it this way: it's possible that some people just have a sort of Tourette's Syndrome of viciousness, which they can control fairly well when young and/or sober, but keeps getting closer and closer to being out of control as they age.

Or, Mel's just been around his dad long enough that some of those Bad Thoughts have simply taken root.

Who knows? It's bad no matter how you explain it. I don't know if I'd do a Mel boycott, but I doubt I'll ever look at him the same way again, which might accomplish the same thing.

Slarti,

Agreed. This whole incident reminds me in some ways of the Pete Rose scandal. I recall someone saying of that incident that it's not enough that our idols be good at sports/acting, but we expect them to be good at life, too. You'd think we would have learned better by now.

I thought the Italians killed the Messiah?

Yes, but apparently the Jews put out the contract.

My favorite Fugazi song is "Merchandise", off the Repeater album. I stopped liking Mel Gibson's movies after the ridiculously bad "Patriot." And I never saw PotC, for much the same reason that Jes mentions above - the reviews made it seem like the movie was reveling in torture. Given what I've read about his father's views, I have to say that this doesn't surprise me too much.

Alcohol makes your reactions slower, and your thinking slower. It does not make you think or mean or even say something you otherwise wouldn't, except as a result of cultural conditioning.

While I agree with your main point, I have to raise a small objection to this. There have been times where alcohol has changed my sense of what is offensive. Well, I know it's still offensive, but saying it seems really funny. Hilarious!

It doesn't sound like Mel was going for yuks though.

the reviews made it seem like the movie was reveling in torture

Though that has been a constant feature through Gibson's career. Mad Maxes had Gibson in various states of apres combat, the Lethal Weapon series revels in Gibson getting pummeled and beaten in various ways, the drawing and quartering scene in Braveheart and the sledgehammer + toes scene in Payback and the damage hinted at in The man without a face. That coupled with the notion of the underdog fighting against the system makes this outburst doubly sad I think.

Actually, I think by Gibson copping a plea to alcoholism he's getting off easy. The report smells to me of uppers (meth? cocaine? prescription? or maybe steroids?) mixed with the alcohol.

I loved Gibson when he & I were young, in Gallipoli (one of the best war movies of all time IMHO) and The Year of Living Dangerously. Not to mention that he was *really* pretty back then.

As for Orson Scott Card -- *sigh*. What depresses me most is how he has betrayed his characters, and his art. Card's good work is *all* about abused children, their betrayal by parents & authority, and how their only hope is to reach out for love and understanding -- even if it's from the supposed monsters called "buggers".

I assume that Card, whether he's conscious of it or not, was himself abused and/or neglected as a child, and it's horrible to see him crawling back to his abusers like this.

Fugazi..thank you...would've been nice to have a clip play...

Mel is a drunk. A drunk that drives! Had he killed someone then spouted the 'jews are.." crap. Which woulda been worse?

Alcohol certainly makes one more uninhibited. You might be more of what you already are - sillier and funnier, or more thin-skinned and more belligerent. Or you might do and say things that are otherwise kept under wraps, not because you've never felt those things, but because you know (when you're sober) it would be a Bad Idea to express them.

I've been three sheets to the wind, more than once. I've done things that embarrassed me afterwards, oh lordy, yes; but I've never done or said anything that was outright hateful and abusive.

I might give Gibson the benefit of the doubt that he didn't mean what he said if he hadn't already at least flirted with overt anti-Semitism. It seems that, in his case, alcohol simply made him feel free to express things he normally keeps under wraps, or only hints at.

CaseyL, Mo, you both missed my point. What I said was that it's cultural conditioning which makes you behave differently, not the alcohol. If your culture had taught you that alcohol makes you reflective and poetical, that's what you would have experienced.
A point used to illustrate this is that sometimes people get a shock of some sort, so that they get "scared sober". What happens is that they are distracted from the fact that they are drunk, and forget to behave in the way they have been taught. Their blood alcohol level is exactly the same, of course.

"Or you might do and say things that are otherwise kept under wraps, not because you've never felt those things, but because you know (when you're sober) it would be a Bad Idea to express them."
The problem is that it's not the alcohol which makes you forget that it is unwise, it's our cultural prejudice that people become wild and crazy when they drink, and less accountable for what they say or do. What makes you say these things which are "bad ideas" to say, is that you can rationalize to yourself and others that "you were so drunk at the time". And that is completely a product of our culture.

Wouldn't it be a great thing if we managed to get this idea out of people's heads? If we got people to understand that alcohol does not make you reckless? Sure, people would get less opportunity to say and do things they were afraid to take responsibility for... but they could learn to take responsibility for them instead! And thousands of abused spouses would quit making excuses for their partner's behaviour, and could instead get away while they could.

For a start, you two could get it. I repeat: all alcohol does by itself is slow your reactions and your thinking. It does not affect your personality or even mood in any way (unless possibly if you've had a serious brain injury in the past, but we'll skip that for now).

I think Harald is being a bit harsh & also reaching toward some unwarranted conclusions. (Attn: that a phenomenon is "socially constructed" does not make it any less real, nor even necessarily any easier to change.) But it's worth pointing out that (from my brief, non-expert review of some of the literature) there really does seem to be a strong consensus among the relevant researchers that the disinhibition effects of alcohol are strongly shaped by cultural conditions. There are, for example, cultures where alcohol use leads to increased violence, and cultures where it doesn't.

The way people comport themselves when they are drunk is determined not by alcohol's toxic assault upon the seat of moral judgment, conscience, or the like, but by what their society makes of and imparts to them concerning the state of drunkenness.
MacAndrew, C., and Edgerton, R.B., Drunken Comportment, Aldine, Chicago, 1969, p. 165. (Which, by the way, appears to be one of the seminal works in this line of research.)

I mention this only because it's interesting and I don't think Harald's posts have taken into account how prevalent the simplistic assumption that alcohol-->disinhibition-->crazy behavior is. It's not really nice to act as if people are idiots for not knowing something that just isn't common knowledge. Even if you think it should be.

I don't mean to say people are idiots. I do mean that in this case, the harmful social constructions surrounding alcohol should be easy to tear down on the individual level, once you know.

Just don't act like a fool, and don't accept that others act like fools just because they are drunk.

To repeat, I didn't mean to insult anyone. But yes, I think it should be common knowledge. You saw for yourself how old the research is. It isn't, I know, that's why I'm hijacking this thread :-) We continue to preserve and create new myths about the magical effects of alcohol and other intoxicants, because these comfortable fantasies please us, and we don't consider the harm they to.

Well, thank God, it's now been revealed that the reason Mel was so wrong is that he was a liberal all along.

"The guy got drunk and began abusing a Malibu cop — a job category that vies with Shiite sheikh for perhaps the least likely to be held by a Jew...."

J-Pod, unable to write post that doesn't get something wrong, since arresting officer James Mee, by all accounts, is, indeed, Jewish.

Funny, officer, you don't look Shi'ite sheikish.

So does Mel Gibson's idiocy forgive the the approval of Green wald who recently wrote

That really is the essence of neoconservativsm. It's nothing more noble or complex than a base belief that we have to wage as many wars as possible and kill as many people as possible until people are sufficiently fearful of the U.S. that they will comply with our mandates.

See, Greenwald really, truly believes that the US govt is run by Israelis.

And he has said it time and time again, and many Obwi readers and posters approve of Greenwalds theories, certainly hilzoy has riffed on Greenwald's posts.

DaveC: if you were to post coherently on the subject and get rid of those bizarre non sequiturs and strawmen, I might be able to respond. As it is, all I have left is admiration for the Dada-esque nature of your prose -- which I somehow doubt was your intent.

I think Leonard Pitts has said it all on Mel.

"See, Greenwald really, truly believes that the US govt is run by Israelis."

Well, DaveC, I know how to read English, and I don't see any justification for such a claim in your cites.

(I don't quite agree with everything Greenwald says there in that first post, but that's different.)

So, once again, you lose credibility points, by, apparently, either saying false things, or not reading well, or something.

I'm starting to wonder why I bother wasting my time reading things you cite, when you so consistently say things that aren't true.

And it's hardly as if I'm not highly sensitive to accusations about imputations of Israeli control, etc.

But please do quote the precise passages which you feel demonstrate your point, which you might have tried doing in the first place, rather than very annoyingly leaving it to your readers to do a lot of unnecessary reading to find that you are, as usual, wrong.

Oh, and I'm certainly not going to read eight billion Haloscan comments to find you're wrong. This is really stupid behavior on your part, that you are too lazy to quote, but expect us to read hundreds of comments to find whatever you're gibbering about. It's an insult to those of us you expect to read you.

As it was, it's damned annoying of you to be too lazy to effing cut and paste, but I reread Greenwald's posts, anyway.

Waste of goddamned time.

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