EPISODE 230: artist profile of MEL GIBSON by · Published August 15, 2011 · Updated February 11, 2015 In this episode, Tyler and David discuss the controversial directorial career of Mel Gibson.Related Posts:The One Where I Met Your Mother: Season Four, Episode Nine:…Episode 835: Oscars 2023 (Tyler's Take)Episode 834: Oscars 2023Episode 830: Straub-HuilletEpisode 824: Being the Movie UncleEpisode 826: Sundance 2023 PreviewEpisode 832: Through the Cracks 2022Episode 822: Christmas Movie Memories Share
Enjoyed the episode, but couldn’t help but think it would be cool if you guys could decide ahead of time who the next profile would be to give your listeners a chance to brush up and engage more in the conversation. I realize though that this may not be possible if it’s more just about whoever you feel like discussing at the time.
I enjoyed the podcast. Mel Gibson has made one of my favorite movies, Apocalypto, and one of my least favorite, The Passion, so the discussion interested me.
One thing that really shocked me about the Passion is what I perceive as its blatant anti-Semitism of the film. I think you are supposed to get the message that this drooling, shrieking gang of Jews killed Jesus.
To me, to see that on screen was truly startling. The message I always took from the Saducees and Pharisees in the Passion was starkly different than their portrayal in the film. The message to me was this: these were the best educated, most faithful, most socially generous people of their day. And when the Messiah was in their midst, they couldn’t recognize him. It’s a warning to Christians not to emulate them by thinking that they do indeed know best. And that’s a message that’s consistent with the rest of the New Testament, from the parable of the Sisophonoecian Woman, to the stoning of Mary Magadalene. In the New Testament, people fail most profoundly when they stand in judgment. And the message to Christians should be, “Don’t stand in judgement yourself.” Not “Look how much better we are than these people.”
To me, the Passion is a movie with a message that’s so clearly out of step with the morality it pretends to endorse that it’s hard for me to accept it as art. It’s on a level with “Birth of a Nation” for me. Great technical achievement. But I can’t separate the message from the art.
All that said, I’m sad he’ll probably never get the go-ahead to follow up on Apocalypto, because, conversely, that’s one of my favorite movies. Flawed yes, but I really stand in awe of it as a pure expression of vision.
Anyhoo, thanks for the podcasts. Keep up the good work!
Please excuse the grammar in the first sentence or two. Eep.
You know it saddens me that he would never be allowed to do it because your talk of his position on Black & White characters interacting added to how visceral he makes action, makes me salivate at Mel Gibson doing a Superhero movie.
Superman would be the obvious one (although Superman isn’t as much as messiah figure as a prophet), however considering the people who created Superman that would NEVER happen but man that is a great movie in my mind.
Awesome, thought-provoking podcast guys!
This issues of author v. art have haunted me since my days of studying at DePaul. I studied Heidegger for a whole quarter before I found out he was a card-carrying Nazi. And I had given his work such attention! The prof had intentionally left this biographical bit out of our lessons. I was incensed! I have yet to reconcile the brilliant existentialist with the Nazi.
I am still confused about the relationship of the author with the art, so much so that I really try not to learn about the biographical details of our current filmmakers — especially the crap they call news today, ie, gossip.
I do not mean to defend Gibson here, only to say that I don’t want to know personal details about him. I doubt that what has been written about him is true. Perhaps the truth is even worse than written? Who knows? I don’t want to know. You’ll have to add a special “spoiler” warning for me when you talk about the filmmakers’ lives from now on.
But, I sure love Braveheart and The Man Without a Face. And, I just added Apocolypto to my queue. (Can’t do Passion of the Christ. I can barely contain myself on Easter Sunday.)
PS Tyler, I was totally with you on your take of who killed Jesus — us, h u m a n s. I’d give you a fist pump, but it seems wildly inappropriate in this case.
As much as I enjoyed your discussion of Mr. Gibson and his films, one thing troubled me, and that was the reference to Mr. Gibson, made at least twice (by David, I think) as a “despicable person.” Tyler, as a professed Christian, should have offered some gentle correction here. In the eyes of the Christian, Mel Gibson is not “despicable,” but his comments made while intoxicated by either alcohol or rage most certainly are. In other words, it is unfair to judge the sinner; rather, one should judge the sin.
Speaking of sin, just what is Mel Gibson’s sin? His active sins are the comments he made in moments when his monitors were down; his real sin is simply thinking those thoughts about Jews to begin with, so whether or not he ever gave voice to his beliefs, he would always be a “racist” of sorts, at least in his heart. But does that make him any worse than most of us? Show me a man or woman NOT named Mother Teresa who has truly surpassed judgment of others based on race, gender, religious beliefs, or even physical appearance, and I’ll show you a character in a very bad movie script. It is just not possible (to be fair, I am limiting my pool to Western culture, from where most of the judgement directed at Gibson has come). I would assert that we all have bigoted beliefs of sorts, and the greater one cries “Surely not I!” the bigger racist he is. I know I have them, though I wrestle with them very diligently, and I would wager that the two of you have moments where you put on your helmet of self-righteousness as well. We are human; it happens.
And let us flip the tables a minute. We all know from Mel’s careless comments what this professed Christian thinks of Jews; do we bother to care what Jews think of Christians? Granted, we never hear stories of them getting drunk and making asses of themselves, but since they are a significant power base in Hollywood, we can look no further than the way people of faith are depicted in a majority of Hollywood films, either as vapid, superstitious sheep or as Fred Phelpsian radical right wings. So we have a group of people who have expressed their personal feelings about Christians for many years, yet when a Christian gets drunk and returns the favor, he’s the “despicable” one.
I am not saying this to judge any one group of people over another, merely to show that we are all harsh, judgmental people, at least on the inside, and if Gibson is not allowed to atone for his sins, neither should anyone else.
Speaking of sin, this discussion of whether or not the Jews killed Jesus and whether or not Gibson indicts them in The Passion is rather pointless, in my opinion. The entire Christian faith is built on this belief that Christ willingly went to his death to take on the sins of mankind and be punished for them. If there was no crucifixion, there would be no salvation, so as far as I’m concerned, I don’t care if it was the Jews, the Romans, The Carpathians, or a bunch of talking horses from the future–Christ had to die for the sins of man, and somebody had to do the dirty work. I have met Jewish people in Los Angeles who have suggested that I, as a Christian, secretly hate them for being “Christ killers.” I say, “I don’t hate you, bro. I’m indebted to you.”
Finally, Tyler, I would like to offer my own understanding of the ending of The Passion, which gives us a mere 30 seconds of the Resurrection. I agree with you, during the film Christ seems like someone I do not recognize. I think that was Gibson’s intent. He does not come across as the Glorious Son of God but rather some putz being railroaded and tortured by a petty and corrupt system. His suffering is almost unbearable … but at the end, when he is risen, I am reminded by that moment that He had the power to stop his suffering at any moment, yet chose to endure it. It is kind of like the ending of The Long Goodbye, where we realize that Elliot Gould’s Marlowe, a bumbling wimp who suffers many ass-kickings throughout the film, is really a strong, capable detective who was merely playing weak so that others would let their guard down and lead him to the real perpetrator. As a Christian, watching Christ do the same thing, I realized, “He could have ended that suffering and destroyed everyone with a puff of his breath, but he let himself suffer … for me.” Heady stuff, which is why The Passion works, for me anyway.
Tyler here. Yeah, shortly after recording the episode, I felt like I had not done a good enough job communicating that, while I completely condemn Gibson’s words and actions, I don’t like to dismiss an entire person as “despicable” or “awful.” In fact, as I mention in the episode, my anger towards him often turns to pity. I think he is a deeply disturbed person. He is still accountable for his actions, though.
Incidentally, regarding the “I’m indebted to you,” I’d try to be careful with that thinking. If somebody accuses you of hating Jews “because they killed Jesus,” I think the attitude one should adopt should be that the Jews didn’t kill Jesus; people killed Jesus. Sinners killed Jesus. To merely turn around and say that you don’t hate the Jews for killing Jesus, but in fact feel indebted to them, still implies that you feel somewhere inside you that the Jews were solely responsible for Jesus’ death. I’m sure that’s not what you mean, but we should try to be careful with our tone. We may be trying to be conciliatory, but we may find ourselves being reconciled to the wrong idea, if we’re not careful.
Lastly, I’m in favor of any movie discussion that incorporates “The Long Goodbye.” What a wonderful, unusual film
Tyler, thanks as always for your insightful comments. And if I am being perfectly honest here, when I say “I’m indebted to you,” it is in no way trying to be concilatory. I admit I am being an asshole. The question of “who killed Jesus” is moot, and that is the point I was trying to make. But having lived in L.A. and worked in the industry, I have made Jewish acquaintances (that is all, since I later realized that they never really though of me as a “friend”) who have, in moments of intoxication, thrown the “All you Christians hate us because you think we’re Jesus killers, isn’t that right?” line in my face. Which is an assinine thing to say when you’re drunk, as any drunk will tell you (as a recovering alcoholic, my history is littered with assinine comments made while drunk). So I admit, my “I’m indebted to you” comeback is more of a “Fuck you, get over it” than anything else. If that makes sense.