Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Drinking Yourself Anti-Semitic

The psychodrama involving Mel Gibson's admitted anti-Semitic and sexist outbursts during a DUI arrest is one of those few occasions wherein celebrity antics reveal something a bit deeper than the fatuousness of Celebrity Culture generally.

Gibson has owned up to what he said to arresting officers during the bust, including a plenary indictment of Jews for being "responsible for all the the wars in the world," and at least one nasty comment about a female officer on the scene. He's abjectly apologized and all. But his suggestion that his bigoted remarks were attributable to Demon Rum, and to a "struggle with alcoholism," are a bit strange, and represent an appeal to the Therapeutic Culture in which
no one is responsible for what they say or do Under the Influence of anything.

It's a well-established truism, based on millennia of human experience with hootch, that the kiss o' the hops tends to peel back inhibitions and expose the true feelings of inebriants. Some would even say that up to a point (and Gibson's blood-alcohol rating during the bust did not indicate black-out levels of drunkenness at all), inebriation tends to cultivate a certain clarity and honesty about Life in the Big Picture. So it's not at all clear to me how taking the cure for booze-o-holia is going to cure Gibson of atavistic attitudes towards Jews or women.

The whole issue, of course, stems from the well-founded concerns of Jews and Christians alike that Gibson's self-proclaimed cinematic masterpiece, The Passion of the Christ, played into anti-Semitic stereotypes of the relationship between Jesus Christ and his fellow Jews--the very sterotypes that fed many centuries of Christian persecution of Jews, culminating in the Holocaust.

It wouldn't surprise anyone if Gibson decided to interpret the rejection of The Passion of the Christ by mainstream Hollywood as motivated by Jewish hostility to the lurid associations reinforced by his film. But given the vast profits he made, and the pervasive influence he's had on the conservative Christians who flocked to the cineplexes to see the flick and held showings in their sanctuaries, he's hardly in a position to pose as a victim.

So: fine, let's all accept Gibson's apologies for what he said, and give him a chance to make amends. But it would be nice if ol' Mel would stop blaming John Barleycorn for his issues, and maybe admit his ongoing complicity in the most ancient and horrific of Christian heresies: anti-Semitism. It comes out of an entirely un-Christlike heart, not out of a bottle.
-- Posted at 5:39 PM | Link to this post | Email this post

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