Thursday, July 22, 2010

Really, Really Mad Max

As we consider the wreckage that was once Mel Gibson's career, it occurs to us that we never really liked the guy's movies.

That's not quite fair. Tequila Sunrise is one of our favorite noir pictures, combining all the elements -- tough guys with questionable morals, betrayal by a friend and a girl worth the risk. But apart from that, we've never seen many of his movies. Skimming over the IMDB filmography, we were surprised to discover that we've barely seen any of them: Mad Max, a few Lethal Weapons, What Women Want. Oh, and one of those Twilight Zone knockoffs that helped put the coffin-nail in M. Night Shyamalan's career. It was a lousy movie, although it would have been better if he'd worn his clerical collar all the way through, instead of just at the end. We automatically give a thumbs-up to pictures about guys in clerical collars fighting extraterrestrial invaders.

Which reminds us that religion and politics, not to mention sex, have often played a significant role in Gibson's image. We avoided The Passion of the Christ, not because of the various controversies that accompanied its release, but we'd already read the book. In the background for many years has been Gibson's close association with an obscure schismatic church body, which the press insists on identifying as "Catholic." As we've said before, these sedvacantist crazies are about as Catholic as Pat Robertson. He thought Bill Clinton was taking orders from a secret paymaster. And then there's the drunken anti-semitic rant.

Anyway, it's over now. The series of phone calls leaked to the press (click here for a rundown) has pretty much doomed Gibson as a public figure. Using the most vulgar language imaginable, he abuses his girlfriend verbally -- and also, it appears, physically. Oh, and endangers their child. People don't like that. When Scott Fitzgerald said that there are no second acts in American lives, he was utterly and completely mistaken. America, the land of self-reinvention, is all about second and third acts. Any person, having achieved even a modest level of fame -- or infamy -- has almost unlimited access to further fame in the future. Almost unlimited, because beyond a certain point, the public simply decides to hate you. And, like Fatty Arbuckle before him, Gibson has hit that point.

Now, let's take a grain of salt. Remember that these tapes were leaked in the middle of (redundancy alert!) an ugly custody battle. And remember that there is some speculation that they have been altered. We do not doubt that there is skullduggery going on here, and that somebody desires to make Gibson look especially terrible and the girlfriend look unrealistically good. But the thing is that they've succeeded. Even if the tapes have been altered, he said some baaaadd things. We don't know what will happen in court, but we are pretty certain that, in the court of public opinion, Gibson has been tried and found icky. He may make a few more movies, but they will fail. He may even find a niche, marketing some product to religious extremists who don't consider anti-semitism or spousal abuse to be necessarily contrary to their faith. But so far as the big spotlight goes, he is toast.

And yet, here's the real joke, on all of us: He's still mind-numbingly rich. Even if his separated wife and vengeful girlfriend wind up with most of the bank account, the guy will still die with more money than we can imagine. Nice guys may or may not finish last, but sons-of-bitches often do seem to finish first.


PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

I had to laugh when I read that Mel Gibson's movies are not so high on your list. When my oldest (now a pastor, so you decide if this scarred her) was confirmed, my husband and I took her to see Dances with Wolves as a gift. Whoa! Violence and sex... not what we expected. Yes, the violence was "realistic" given the topic, yet it was about 10 years worth of violence packed into 2 hours. And I also saw the one about Scotland...also lots of violence.

Of course, that brings up the question of what/when violence is appropriate in a movie on an historic topic. This can be argued both ways. If it is too realistic, maybe it is more historical. But movies are "entertainment" so how can a lot of violence be entertainment unless one is warped to begin with.

So I got turned of to Mel's movies because I got the impression that he loved the violence. And I don't see violence as entertaining.

Pastor Joelle said...

I liked that movie where he could read women's minds.

One of the many problems with the Passion of Christ was demonstrated to me by what a member said "Oh when I saw the movie and realized how much he suffered, I knew he had to be the Son of God because a normal person could not withstand all that pain" Okay so much for the Incarndation. Jesus was just another superhero like Braveheart!

Oh and Signs was a really good movie

Father said...

Um, but, PS -- wasn't Dances With Wolves a Kevin Costner picture? But Gibson made his early million on Mad Max I-III and Lethal Weapon I-googolplex, so your point about violence remains.

And Joelle, ask yourself: did you "really* like Signs? Or did you, like me, just *want* to like Signs? I wanted to like it so badly that I told myself I had, until I finally thought it through and realized that I'd hated it. (Of course, in the movie's defense, I read and watch a lot of science fiction, which means I have some of that Comics-Guy-from-The-Simpsons snobbery going).

BTW, I've heard that Year of Living Dangerously was pretty good, but I've never seen it.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

You are right of course. Yes, and imagine sitting next to a 9th grader during the sex scenes.

Was the Scotland one with Mel or Kevin? Too slow internet to look it up.

Pastor Joelle said...

You know I just don't think that hard about movies. I'm a sucker for widow/widower stories what can I say? And yes, Kevin Kostner was in Dances with Wolves. Speaking of which my son said Avatar was just Dance with Wolves in blue. But not as good.