Mad Mel, careening toward 2012
Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So reads a passage in the I Ch’ing.
Mel Gibson – a devout Catholic and director/producer of the 2004 blockbuster, “The Passion of the Christ” – may have come across the similarly astute observations of human behavior in verses of the Bible.
Perhaps he appreciates such wisdom a bit more today than he did in the wee hours of July 28. That’s when the Oscar-winning Hollywood billionaire, who jokes in public about “owning” Malibu, was clocked doing 87 mph in a 45 mph zone on his hometown’s most dangerous stretch of road.
As everyone knows by now, he was stopped on suspicion of driving while drunk – the bottle of tequila on the front seat of his new Lexus was the first clue. He started to act up and was taken to the local lockup.
It’s been incessantly reported that Gibson said, or slurred, random insults he shouldn’t have, and that he wouldn’t have, but for drink.
Actually, there was nothing random about his words or meaning. He was quite specific, especially for being drunk.
He didn’t call a man “Sugar Tits.” He said that to a woman – to a woman officer of the law, according to the police transcript: “What are you looking at, Sugar Tits?”
Gibson didn’t say that to her male counterpart or to a lamppost. He called the only woman in the vicinity a sexist term, meant to reduce a whole person to a body part. That’s not random. That’s targeted.
The arresting officer was a Jewish man. Reporters and commentators have said he “happened to be Jewish” – whatever the heck that nonsensical phrase is supposed to mean – and he “didn’t look Jewish.” The latter is, no doubt, what prompted Gibson’s question: “Are you a Jew?”
“F—-ing Jews,” Gibson is recorded as exclaiming. “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
You’d think he learned nothing from directing and producing “Braveheart” and playing the Scots hero William Wallace, whose people and person were savaged by the English.
While the English take a back seat to no empire when it comes to war, there is a long line of contenders in all eras and hemispheres for the war-maker crown. Britain’s close neighbor, Germany, and its predecessor tribes are champs in the field, and no one should ever forget that country’s war against Jews.
Gibson, who is Irish and Australian, used to crack on the English so much that he was branded as Anglophobic in the London press. He also was rightly called homophobic for the myriad vulgar things he said about homosexuals.
He stopped saying things in interviews that were negative about Brits and gays, and started saying and doing things that were called anti-Semitic but really were solely anti-Jewish. That prompted him to deny in 2004 that he was anti-Semitic, shortly after he characterized the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times of being “anti-Christian publication[s].”
He seemed to hold things together for a while, but something welled up in his heart for a few years and escaped from his mouth in July in the form of speech intended to demean a woman and a Jew.
He didn’t just “happen” to say those things around people who “happened” to be a woman and a Jew. He said what he did because they are who they are.
The son of a Holocaust denier, Gibson defended his father in a 2004 Readers Digest interview, saying the elder Gibson “was talking about numbers. … When the war was over they said it was 12 million. Then it was six. Now it’s four. I mean it’s that kind of numbers game.”
I wonder what numbers game Gibson played before deciding to direct and produce “Apocalypto,” a movie about the Maya civilization before the coming of the white man and about the year 2012, the end of the Long Count of the Maya calendar.
Some believe 2012 will be the end of the world; some believe it’s the start of a new one.
Was Gibson thinking about what epic he could release in this year of his 50th birthday? Was he thinking 2006 would be more than 20 years since he was People magazine’s first “Sexiest Man Alive”?
Was he thinking 2006 would be nearly a dozen years since he won his Oscars for “Braveheart” and played the voice of Capt. John Smith in “Pocahontas”?
Hum. Disney. Indians. 20? 12? 2012? End of Mel World, or Mel Reborn?
Gibson is rumored to have fallen off the wagon while on location in Mexico. Hosts of entertainment news TV shows are saying that he started drinking when he had to delay the opening of “Apocalypto” from August to December. One blamed this bout with alcohol on “the pressures of the rains and working with a cast of all Native Americans and Latin Americans.”
Watch out, Indian country. Before we know it, the entire Gibson meltdown will be the fault of those hundreds of thousands of Maya people who didn’t collapse with the pyramids, and the governor of California will find a way to blame it on casinos near the Pacific Coast Highway.
Gibson has said that the movie has been an anthropological journey for him. Terrific. We’ll probably get the version of history that says the Maya did themselves in by the excesses of civilization and improvident environmental stewardship.
The sound of the film is a Mayan dialect very few Maya people speak today and what’s said to be ancient Mayan music. That is, I guess, to make the people incomprehensible and more like scenery, pottery, jewelry and makeup than like human beings.
The film script is a super-duper secret written by Gibson and his assistant, Farhad Safina. The buzz is that it’s Gibson’s bloodiest, goriest movie so far. That makes it about a 15 on a blood-and-gore scale of one to 10.
Great. We can look forward to a Christmas holiday bloodfest that invites people to hate Indians and to think that we close some ceremonies to hide human sacrifices, rather than for privacy from prying eyes and camera lenses.
While I detest what Gibson did in July, I must confess that I’m glad he did it so publicly and at this time. Why? So that people might have a context of Gibson’s bigotry when they see or hear about “Apocalypto.”
Now all that’s left is for the Walt Disney Company to hire actorvist Russell Means, as it did for the release of “Pocahontas,” to snarl and growl at other Native people until some say the movie is the greatest thing since white bread.
After Gibson finishes this round of apologies, he’ll finish his “Apocalypto.” Then we’ll really get to see what lessons he may or may not have learned about respect for others. Out of the fullness of the heart, the director directs.
Suzan Shown Harjo, Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee, is president of the Morning Star Institute in Washington, D.C., and a columnist for Indian Country Today.