And this just in: Mel Gibson is a flawed, sinful creature

The overload continues. I am now officially having trouble separating the good articles from the bad articles, in part because my own view of the film is quite complex.

This is turning into one of those media events where the words on the newspaper page tell you as much about the values of the writers as they do about the news.

Take, for example, a Christopher Kelly article — “Holier Than Mel” — which I read this morning in the Miami Herald. Kelly’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram review of the film can be readhere.

The primary goal is to say that Gibson is a terrible, dishonest, manipulative person, which may or may not be the case. I would think the people with the most information on that question are his wife, children and priest. However, they are not doing interviews on this topic.

But Kelly is one very angry film writer at the moment. Of Gibson, he proclaims:

This is a man who has spent a career taking the low road, while holding the Bible out in front of him — a modern-day Elmer Gantry recast as a $20-million-a-movie superstar. He tells people how to live and then does a pretty lousy job of setting his own example.

The hypocrisy comes in every direction, on screen and off. He became a superstar on the basis of the Lethal Weapon movies — a gruesome, relentless vengeance-is-mine series that isn’t exactly attuned to any Christian notions of “turning the other cheek.” He didn’t sound especially Christian, either, when he told The New Yorker, shortly after New York Times writer Frank Rich wrote a column raising questions about The Passion of the Christ, “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. . . . I want to kill his dog.” His half-baked apology to Diane Sawyer was a classic case of celebrity damage control; the real question — what kind of person thinks such things, much less speaks them aloud? — remains unaddressed.

Most of all, Gibson is found guilty of advocating — in a brash, cursing, Hollywood alpha-male kind of way — his own apparently conservative beliefs on issues of gender, sexuality and salvation.

The contents of these beliefs will not shock anyone who is familiar with the contents of pre-Vatican II Catholic faith.

But there is no doubt about it. This Gibson guy is out of touch with the values of mainstream Hollywood and newsrooms. One is also left with the impression that it is Gibson’s willingness to take the occassional conservative stand on moral and even sexual issues that is the crucial issue in this article. He has sinned against the Great Commission of the Sexual Revolution.

There is a great irony here. Gibson is on the record that “The Passion of the Christ” grew out of a period of great dispair and failure in his own life a dozen years ago, one clearly centering on his own moral failures.

Perhaps Gibson’s ultimate media sin is that he is trying to repent.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Rod Dreher

    There are some people — some of them in the church — who will only have a neutered, feminized Jesus.

    Mel Gibson is not one of them.

    I love him for that.

  • R. Wimer

    “He didn’t sound especially Christian, either, when he told The New Yorker, shortly after New York Times writer Frank Rich wrote a column raising questions about The Passion of the Christ, “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. . . . I want to kill his dog.” His half-baked apology to Diane Sawyer was a classic case of celebrity damage control;

    the real question — what kind of person thinks such things, much less speaks them aloud? — remains unaddressed.”

    in response to the “real question” — what kind of person thinks such things?”

    the answer is: … sinners …

    to say that one never thinks such thoughts is … um … self-righteous. we are the ones who would “cast the first stone”.


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