Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mel Gibson Alert: Mel Gibson Reads My Blog

Mel Gibson wants to donate funds to help Costa Rica's indigenous population and is currently there working with President Oscar Arias to make it happen. He is so personally invested in Costa Rica that he also bought a house on its Pacific coast.

I find this action to be reassuring. He's taking the piles of money he made off of exploiting their history and using it to help them build a future. (gag...did I just write that?!?). I'm sure it's because he's read this post wherein I suggested he ought to try to the boost local economies of the places he exploits, kind of like the Survivor people do.

So, what can we learn from all this sincerity and reciprocity demonstrated by Gibson and Mayer? People can change, but only if faced with public humilation. Mayer couldn't possibly sing "Waiting for the World to Change" at an event that is literally trying to change the world. Gibson is doing pennance for the flack he caught for Apocalypto. In both cases, I believe that these guys were blithely engaging in a creative activity without intending to do damage, but they never seemed to stop, consider and ask themselves, "What kind of damage will this piece of artistic expression do?" They neglected Rule Number 1: Do no harm.

I may have seemed cavalier in the past over my particular distaste for Mel Gibson. I don't think I've adequately explained why I'm so against him, but I want you to know, it is not random. The reason I took him on is because, for the most part, the movies he's appeared in and directed since Lethal Weapon are misanthropic. He specializes in capturing physical pain on the screen to a ridiculous degree. To me, that communicates something, i.e. he likes seeing people in pain, therefore he must not like people very much. To revel in people's pain to the extent that Mel Gibson has done is sick and evil, in my opinion.

If I were to judge his movies objectively, I could say that they are expertly crafted, evocative, and convey the struggles of individual men during their time throughout history. But art is never viewed in a vaccum and all art has a price: the emotions it exacts at the viewing of it. I believe that artists have a responsibility for the consequences of their art, especially any damage done. What kind of artist depicts hundreds of anatomically correct death scenes? One with a real contempt for humanity, I say, and that harms us all.


  1. I don't think Gibson hates humanity -- I think he hates himself -- and this and other problems cause him suffering. His films are a coping mechanism, as he once said he is drawn to stories about "penitential hardship."

    What makes the violence in his films unusual is that the audience identifies with the characters enduring the suffering rather than the characters inflicting the suffering.

  2. Not sure I agree with your conclusions on what an artists is, or is not, responsible for, but, I'm glad you are making positive progress.

    All will know the power of your blog soon.

  3. Perhaps, he hates himself, anonymous. But I stand by the idea that he has contempt for humanity based on the fact that he inflicts his "coping mechanism" on the rest of us.

    And identifying with those enduring suffering in the movies is hardly unusual. What about Amistad? And Gone With The Wind? Rarely do movies cause audience members to identify with those inflicting the suffering. I'm not against depicting human suffering; I'm against the sheer volume of human suffering Mel Gibson has given us.

    Phil, I'd be interested to know what your misgivings are about my conclusions. Please tell me more...

  4. Movies that cause us to identify with those inflicting pain:

    Quentin Tarentino Films
    Dirty Harry Movies
    Horror films


  5. Thank you for blaming everything on Mel Gibson.

  6. You went with the slant? Really? Are you sure?

  7. Everything I do, I do for you, Grant Miller...

    And the slant? I'm just trying it on to see if I like it. I haven't committed to it yet.

  8. Mel Gibson would have committed to the slant right away. That's what makes him Mel Gibson.

  9. Alot of movies, and tv, ask us to identify with those inflicting the pain. Virtually every action movie (Die Hard, Raiders of the Lost Ark) or gangster film (Good fellas, The Sopranos) and Superhero movies (Spiderman, Superman) and comedies (A Fish Called Wanda, Raising Arizona) and fantasy/SciFi (Harry Potter, The Lord of The Rings, Star Wars) Even children's cartoons. (Sleeping Beauty, The Incredibles, Shrek) The list is long...

    You have two on your list of favorite movies if you add Casablanca to Prisoner.

    The damage done by an artists work is very difficult to quantify and at what point do you start assigning responsibility?

    I know folks who won't let their kids see the Harry Potter movies. Not because of the violence but because of the 'false idol' quality to the world in which he lives. Personally, I enjoy them. So who's opinion on the damage done by these films is more valid?

  10. Well, Skyler's Dad, Mel Gibson is NOT my role model...so I'll maintain my wishy-washy stance.

  11. Good point, Phil.

    When I said they should accept responsibility for their art, I mean it in a kind of karmic/universal/cosmic way. There is already so much real violence, what can be gained by adding more? What's worse, is what is lost by innudating the atmoshphere with gratuitous violence, such as innocence and regard for life. I think gratuitous violence tears civilization apart and I'm against that.

    I admit, there's no real way to assign responsibility to artists without violating free speech. But I think that artist should consider the impact of their work before they unleash it into the world.

    My problem is purely a values issue. I'm choosing to stand against violence for violence's sake. And art for art's sake, while we're at it.

  12. Yes, I tend to feel an artist work reflects a culture, and an artist as successful as Mel Gibson is repeating a successful formula, and that's what is a problem.

    What his success says about us, rather than what his movies do to us.

    Like, who is committing the greater damage to society? George Bush for the Iraq war? Or the filmmaker, let's say it ends up being Mel, who recreates it 20 years from now in all it's bloody gore?

  13. An artist's work can influence culture as well. It's a two-way street.

    Dare we mix art and politics? Surely, nothing Mel Gibson has done is as unconscionable as what W has done.

  14. I just can't help but escalate these things.

    I think you and I could proceed politely.

    Yes, art does influence us, I hope it continues too.

  15. We are polite, aren't we? And I'm cool with escalators...

    If Mel Gibson does a movie about this Iraq war, I will sit outside his Costa Rican house,Cindy Sheehan-style until he volunteers to give up his SAG card. Let's let Ken Burns handle this one.

  16. You've seen the Passion Of The Jew. the South Park bit they did on him, right?

  17. I can't stand that John Mayer song simply because I think it contains some of the worst lyrics ever. Not that they were poorly written, but the fact that John Mayer seems to be advocating sitting on your ass and not taking any responsibility for bringing change about. Geez. Lame ass.

  18. I think the problem with Mel Gibson is that he takes on projects that are beyond his level of intelligence. He's a good actor and he can be very funny and charming, but he's not a great director. People only revere him as a director because of their fondness for him as an actor. The Hollywood crowd sees him as a cash cow and they kiss his ass because they figure there might be something in it for them. It's sad, really.

  19. I'm not saying that actors aren't smart, but on a movie set, the director really should be the smartest person in the room.

  20. Or should I say the smartest person on the sound stage. You know what I mean.

  21. If I WERE still reading this blog, I may comment on all this. And I would be something along the lines of "I agree with Elizabeth that the greater crime is that his mediocre movies are greenlit for name recognition and guaranteed box office. I have seen movies with violence far beyond compare. At times I have even sought them out. But you won't catch me near a Mel Gibson joint."

  22. To go off on a John Mayer tangent, I've never really thought about the sentiment expressed in "Waiting..." because I change the station every time it comes on, but I like the points you guys make. I'm really sad that he's touring with Ben Folds and Ben is OPENING! Ben is so much more talented with many GREAT songs, and yet the insipid but popular Mr. Mayer gets top billing. Sad.

    Due to this, I will be staying home when they play my town. I've seen Ben six times already and I have no interest in John Mayer.

  23. "I love humanity! I'ts PEOPLE I can't stand!!"


    *I* hate humanity, but you don't see ME makin' movies like dat, do ya? NOOOO! I just RENT 'em!!