Friday, July 23, 2010

Commodifying Mel Gibson's Dysfunction: Frank Rich, Shmuley Boteach, Christopher Hitchens


Everything is not for sale, but anything can be commodified.

Anything, no matter how despicable, can be lusted after, bought, and sold.

Toxic waste? Paging Tony Soprano, "waste management consultant."

Your worst heartbreak? Where would the patent-holders for Prozac be without it, or the makers of three-handkerchief, weepie films?

The Apocalypse? Undertakers, bunker diggers, FEMA.


Nature produces its own carrion-cravers: vultures, worms, maggots, e. coli, fungi, dung beetles, blowflies. They jealously hoard feces, rot, and death – just like New York Times columnist Frank Rich, Michael-Jackson-profiteer Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and atheist pontiff Christopher Hitchens, who all lust after exclusive possession of Mel Gibson's mad mind.


We've all seen so much horror: the planes flying into the World Trade Center, Britney Spears without underwear. Even a jaded modern ear is shocked by the Mel Gibson audio. Gibson verbally brutalizes Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his baby daughter, with blowtorch prose and the panting of a wolf who's just gulped down some hot flesh and pauses before the next jawful. He delivers the empowered abuser's classic coup-de-grace against his less powerful victim: "No one will believe you."


Some argue that discussion of celebrities' private lives is beneath contempt. Often, under the overt snobbery of that more-righteous-than-thou stance, lurks misogyny. These "soap opera" stories that make the front page – usually the private club of alpha males – often revolve around powerful public men's private treatment of women. Because the figures are larger than life, they take on this quality of myths: people use these narratives to talk about abstractions like "abuse" and "feminism." The conversation is worth hearing.


I sometimes teach women's studies classes. All the scholarly tomes in the world cannot educate me quite like reading the Mel Gibson discussion board at International Movie Database.


One poster fantasizes, graphically, repeatedly battering Oksana Grigorieva's private parts. She is identified as a "whore" and a "slut" more often than as a "lover" or a "mother." Many invoke her ethnicity. "These bloodsucking, conniving, Russian c---s," they begin. Many justify Gibson's violence: "She asked for it … She deserved it … When a woman does that, you have to beat her."


Women who object to Gibson are probably "dykes who need a shower and to shave their armpits" or "fat slobs who no man would want to touch."


All this is written by apparently educated, cultured posters in crystal clear prose; all this is supported by other comradely men, eager to slap the virtual back, buy the virtual beer, for a brother-in-arms. Against those bitches and c---s and whores. The gold diggers. The deservers of baseball bats to their temples. Them. Women.


Women who hear the Gibson audio, and hear men in public justifying it, learn their place in this man's world.

***

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is typified by a sense that one is superior to others, and can act accordingly, a lack of empathy with other people's feelings, a sense that one deserves special treatment, and anger when one's sense of being special is violated.


Either Mel Gibson suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or he was doing his very best imitation of it.


A terrorized lover and mother, her lover offering to take a baseball bat to her head, to bury her in a rose garden, telling her that she deserved to be hit so badly that he broke her teeth – while she was holding their baby: this is ugly and scary and heartbreaking.


Too many women – and men – have had to live with abuse like this, and in less enlightened, less financially comfortable times and places, had no place to go when hubbie or daddy or boss or mommy, for that matter, decided to act out the inner monster and feed on wife and kids and underlings.


Ugliness and tragedy: Gibson is a terrifically talented human being. I first saw him in Peter Weir's "The Year of Living Dangerously." There's no better film on the expat's life, and no better performance of that life than Gibson's in that film. One must mention how beautiful he was back then, with the kind of youth, talent and promise that could have gone anywhere. It didn't have to end up like this. Did it?


Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver "The Year of Living Dangerously"
source: LA Times link


Is this car wreck the result of cruel, blind fate? The conniving of capricious Olympians – he whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad? Was it genes? Was it sin? Was it the inevitable result, the ugly fruit, of his beautiful talent: fans defer; the star morphs into Caligula, coming to demand slavishness?


Ugliness. Agony. Who would want these products? This trash, this waste, these filthy, pus-soaked rags? Answer: Frank Rich, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and Christopher Hitchens. These three men, like vultures at a corpse, stamp and scream, hiss and insist: "This is mine, mine, all mine! And I glory in it! And I will possess it exclusively!"


In his New York Times column, Frank Rich works hard to convince his readers: Mel Gibson's terrorizing of his lover, their daughter and her son is intimately related to everything Rich has ever hated: George Bush, Pope John Paul II, Catholicism, St. Matthew's Gospel, Fox News, Karl Rove, William Donahue of the Catholic League, Bill O'Reilly, James Dobson, FCC indecency rules, and the Tea Party.


Mel Gibson threatened his girlfriend; aren't Catholics creepy?


Mel Gibson called his girlfriend a whore; aren't you glad Bush is gone and Obama is now president?


Mel Gibson ranted then panted. Death to the Tea Party!


You get the (nauseating) idea.


Boteach's AOL News article leads with Gibson's acceptance of Catholic ex cathedra – "from the chair" – dogma of "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" – no salvation outside the church. Because, you know, everyone who accepts Catholic dogma calls his girlfriend a c--- and threatens to hit her in the head with a baseball bat. Tsk tsk tsk. These primitive Catholics.


Boteach goes on. The Gospel of Matthew. Bad. Daily mass attendance. An ominous omen. But Rabbi Boteach is here to offer absolution: "What Gibson must do is immediately issue an unscripted, public apology for his reprehensible statements about Jews and blacks."


Really. I'm not kidding. Boteach's article actually says that. A man threatens to kill a woman who is neither Jewish nor black, and the only way he can regain America's good graces is to deliver an apology to a rabbi for his wrongs to Jews and blacks. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach epitomizes the commodification of, the jealous, all-consuming lust for, someone else's pain.


Christopher Hitchens demonstrates this insatiable greed, as well. One need read no further than the first sentence of his commentary. Gibson mistreats his girlfriend? What do you expect of the Catholic who made a film about Jesus' death and resurrection – a "bloody myth"? Hitchens' main idea: Everything you need to understand about Gibson you can find out by identifying him as a Catholic. Hitchen's supportive evidence: Well, didn't those Catholics support Hitler? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just ask the priests imprisoned in Dachau.

***

Roman Polanski is a brilliant filmmaker. The world would be a lesser place without Polanski's talent, showcased in masterpieces like "The Pianist."


Roman Polanski is a confessed child rapist. And a Jew. And a Holocaust survivor.


What would Frank Rich, Shmuley Boteach, and Christopher Hitchens make of any anti-Semite who tried to piggyback those disparate features of Polanski's biography into one seamless identity? Into cause and effect? What would Rabbi Shmuley say about an article that ostensibly addressed Polanski's status as a child rapist and fugitive from justice, but that began with a discussion of Talmudic doctrine, in the way that Boteach's article about Gibson's abuse of Grigorieva begins with a discussion of Catholic dogma?


Any columnist who so much as attempted such a heinous trick would be pilloried and permanently marginalized. Rightfully so.


That won't happen to Rich, Boteach, or Hitchens. Because of the Christophobic double standard dominant in academia and mainstream journalism that we accept as we accept the air we breathe.

***
In September, 2009, MacKenzie Phillips alleged that her father, Papa John Phillips, of the 1960s singing group the Mamas and the Papas, drugged her, raped her, and then carried on a ten year affair with her. At one point she aborted a child, fearing it might be his. Dad – granddad – paid for the abortion.


Did New York Times and other big-name columnists rush to attribute Phillips' drugging, raping and impregnation of his own daughter to his "Free Love," "If it feels good, do it," Hippie lifestyle? If so, I missed it.


***


Christophobic Leftists and atheists hold as dogma that Christianity is responsible for misogyny. I've heard many a professor say as much within earshot of other professors, in settings where I was the only one to protest (not to my own benefit when it comes to hiring and firing.)


They have airbrushed out of history Stokley Carmichael's apt assessment and dictate: "The position of women in the movement is prone." They refuse to acknowledge that one of the most infamous crimes against women in history, the mass rapes committed by the Red Army, was supervised and approved by an atheist communist, Joseph Stalin.

They've never heard of Rodney Stark, and his assessment that Christianity so elevated women's status that they, women, were responsible for Christianity's rise. Or "Bare Branches," a book on female infanticide, that reports that when explorers first arrived in Australia, which had been isolated for at least 50,000 years, they found a culture so hostile to females that for every one hundred and fifty males, there were one hundred females. Leftist feminists have been blind, deaf and dumb when it comes to gender apartheid in the Muslim world. After all, only Christians, especially Catholics, do bad things to women.


Rich, Boteach, and Hitchens may or may not be that ideologically driven. Maybe it isn't about ideology to them. Maybe it's just about what it looks like: hate.


Oksana Grigorieva has been violated at least twice. Once by Mel Gibson, and then again by Rich, Boteach, and Hitchens, who, like vultures at a corpse, rush to grab this mess of pain as theirs, theirs, and theirs alone, and then to exploit it to make the world an even more hateful place.

***

My thoughts (and I still stand by them) on "The Passion of the Christ."

2 comments:

  1. The posters on those IMDB boards are trolls they do anything to be controversial. They probably hate Mel just as much as Oksana hates him.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A certain percentage are trolls. Many are thoughtful, intelligent people.

    I've learned more about film from imdb boards than from scholarly books on film -- serious comment.

    There are posters who passionately love this or that film or director or genre and who devote themselves to really thoughtful, enlightening comments.

    the easiest way to find these experts is to read the boards devoted to older classics. The traffic is not as heavy and trolls don't get the feedback they crave.

    Visit the "All About Eve" board for example. I learned a lot from that board.

    ReplyDelete

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