Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Man with Two Faces

Mel Gibson when he was a Scot. Little did we
know he was advertising for the blue states.

STAR POWER. This is interesting:

Film star and director Mel Gibson has launched a scathing attack on US President George W Bush, comparing his leadership to the barbaric rulers of the Mayan civilisation in his new film Apocalypto.

The epic, due for release later this year, captures the decline of the Maya kingdom and the slaughter of thousands of inhabitants as human sacrifices in a bid to save the nation from collapsing.

Gibson reveals he used present day American politics as an inspiration, claiming the government callously plays on the nation's insecurities to maintain power.

He tells British film magazine Hotdog, "The fear-mongering we depict in the film reminds me of President Bush and his guys".

It's hard to know what's going on here. InstaPunk isn't here, but he would have some kind of answer, definitive and clearly argued even if it were wrong. Unfortunately, we have to respond as best we can, which is to suggest a list of possible explanations for Bush-bashing by a man who produced and/or starred in Braveheart, The Patriot, and We Were Soldiers, all of which films make it clear that there are wars which do need to be fought and enemies who do need to be opposed:

He made so much money with The Passion that he is now rich enough to empathize with 3rd World hatred and envy.

He's had so many kids -- two dozen? -- that he's got father's brainrot: none of my sons should die for their country.

He's tired of being snubbed by Sharon Stone, Susan Sarandon, Madonna, and Barbra Streisand at Hollywood parties.

He's spent too much time hanging around with his old Lethal Weapon co-star Danny Glover, who hates the U.S. as much as Harry Belafonte does.

He does still believe in just wars, but who in his right mind could believe that it's just to fight back against Christian-hating muslims who murder their wives for getting raped and slaughter thousands of civilian women and children for no reason whatsoever in hopes of deflowering 21 virgins in the afterlife?

He has an irrational soft spot for Saddam Hussein, who reminds him of the character he played in Payback.

After making Bird on a Wire, he got close to Goldie Hawn's daughter Kate Hudson, who rehabilitated his political sensibility to the point that he now understands George W. Bush is responsible for everything wrong in the world.

Of course, there's another more disturbing possibility, which is that Mel Gibson really is the anti-semite critics of The Passion said he was. We don't like this one because InstaPunk defended him from this charge. But unless you're a liberal Democrat who is a priori committed to the idea that every use of American military force is a crime, it's very difficult to justify the assertion that an American president is "fear-mongering" when he seeks to protect Americans from avowed, ruthlessly savage enemies -- unless you happen to agree with those enemies that the world's problems could all be corrected by driving the Jews into the sea.

As we said, we don't like this explanation. InstaPunk is a Scot, and he has told us many times that the two peoples on this earth who are the most alike are Scots and Jews -- both have overachieved in terms of their contributions to civilization relative to their population, both are tribal and argumentative but reluctantly fair in their social organizations, both have a history of fighting wars against long odds, and both are reviled for being unattractive in their financial dealings. (In fairness to InstaPunk, we should note his asterisk to the last point, which is that the lavishly admired Quakers are far more unattractive when it comes to money matters than either Scots or Jews, but the only people who know this are the ones who have done business with Quakers -- they tend to suffer in embarrassed silence.) It's sad indeed that we must now concede the possibility Mel Gibson is as crazy as Matt Stone and Trey Parker represented him in South Park.

The larger lesson is that movie stars are not political savants. They are people who spend inordinate percentages of their lives envisioning how they look to still and motion picture cameras. You probably couldn't say that about Locke, Washington, or Lincoln.

It's too bad about Braveheart, though. Sad to think that all those fine speeches are nothing but the roar of the greasepaint. So be it.

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