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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Mel Gibson: What About Catholicism (The Lethal Weapon)?

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Mel Gibson, the world’s most infamous traditional Catholic and one of the biggest stars of the late twentieth century, is in the news again. However, this time, Mel is not in trouble for impolite comments made while under the influence of tequila or for any other “memeable” crime against political correctness.

The highly decorated Australian-American actor-director has come under a hail fire of screeching from the Hollywood left because he appears to, once again, after nearly two decades of exile, have been handed the keys to tinsel town.

As Variety Magazine reports, Warner Brothers pictures, one of Hollywood’s most famous and oldest studios, has chosen Mel Gibson to direct a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch.

The response of the “wine box,” “cat lady,” or “SSRI” left has been nothing short of apoplectic.

In fact, the language used in most of the Tweets by the “glitterati” of Hollywood’s finest cat ladies and beta males is so vile that your author will forego linking to them.

However, while the contemporary perception of Mel Gibson is that of Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde combination of a talented artist and a generally nice guy mixed with a short-tempered, Road Warrior maniac, we may forget that Mel was not always a pariah.  

Indeed, there was a time when Mel Gibson was one of the most influential men in Hollywood, and one of the most recognizable and adored celebrities in the entire world.

Yet, behind the story of Mel Gibson’s rise and fall is the story of a sincere Catholic who made the most dangerous mistake someone in Hollywood could make: creating a successful, epoch-forming Christian film.

But before there was The Passion of the Christ, there was William Wallace.

braveheart

In March of the Year of Our Lord 1996, at the peak of the years that have now become known as the “last American decade,” Mel Colmcille Gerard Gibson was on top of the world. Having graced the silver screen in the 80s as a tough guy cum heart throb in blockbuster movies such as Tequila Sunrise (1988), Air America (1990), and, of course, the Lethal Weapon and Mad Max franchises, Mel was crowned king of Hollywood at the 68th Academy Awards.

Braveheart, one of Gibson’s most iconic films, in which Mel both starred as the title character and as the director, earned the American-Australian celebrity best picture, best director, and best cinematography, among other accolades for his riveting and passionate story of the great William Wallace’s shaggy-haired resistance to English tyranny.

An instant classic that appealed to many throughout the West who felt increasingly under the pressure of growing governments and economic institutions of the Blair-Clinton era that were threatening the way of life of small communities, Braveheart became more than a movie: it became a final rallying cry for freedom before the nightmare “hell world” of post 9/11 police-state globalism and forced degeneracy was unleased in the twenty-first century.  

In fact, Braveheart was so powerful that some even claim that Gibson’s film inspired the Scottish Independence movement.

Riding high on his success, Gibson riffed on Braveheart’s patriotic themes again in The Patriot (2000) and We Were Soldiers (2002) and acted in a host of commercially successful films that only further endeared the kind, funny, and handsome actor to the people of the world handling the growing pains of the nascent War on Terror and the raging culture wars of the Bush Era.

It seemed that Gibson, with an enormous fortune and tremendous political clout, could simply set his career on cruise and make the sort of films he really wanted to make, heedless of their commercial viability.

It is at this point in their career that actors and/or directors do one of three things:

1. Escape from the degeneracy and dog-eat-dog environment of Hollywood and collect royalties while living on a California vineyard like Francis Ford Coppola.
2. Continue to make a hodgepodge of excellent and mediocre films like Martin Scorsese.
3. Go completely insane and only peak one’s nose out of retirement to collect some checks like Marlon Brando.

Mel Gibson decided to take “Option 4” and make a profoundly Catholic meditation on the Passion and Death or Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Image result for passion of the christ

Rumors for what became known as The Passion of the Christ began to circulate in Hollywood, and many, as Gibson himself admitted, thought the actor-director had gone mad. The movie would be scripted in the ancient languages of the time, Latin and Aramaic, which was crazy enough, but what made Hollywood execs most fearful at the time was the film’s inspiration: the writings of Blessed Anne Katherine Emmerich, a nineteenth century German mystic whose prophesies of a corruption of the Church were an inspiration to traditionalist Catholics like Mel himself who were weary of what had become of the Church after Vatican II.

Moreover, Mel Gibson had been known as a political conservative and traditional Catholic up until this point, but his Catholicism had been repeatedly compromised in his films, which often contained risqué images and ultra-violent scenes.

The fact that Gibson’s faith would inform a movie about the life of Christ, thus making it a truly Catholic film, caused the flood gates of money that would normally pour out for Mel Gibson to dry up, and, therefore, Mel was forced to finance the film himself.

But ever the hothead Australian “dingo,” Mel was asking for trouble in the lead up to the film as The Passion came under attack. Instead of cowering before the gods of political correctness, however, Mel hit back, calling The New York Times and The LA Times, who had critiqued his work, “anti-Christian” publications in a 2003 New Yorker interview.

Willing to risk his wealth and career for the movie, Mel threw everything he had into the film, and it paid off financially as The Passion became a box office smash success, eventually earning almost 612 Million dollars worldwide.

However, while an aesthetic and financial triumph, The Passion triggered critics who were used to stewing in the anti-Christian rot that Hollywood normally belches forth.

Catch Dr. Russell's regular column in The Remnant's print edition. 
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When The Passion of Christ was released, it met with a flurry of negative reviews that ridiculed the film, Gibson himself, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, and even mocked Blessed Anne Katherine Emmerich whose visions Gibson utilized for the film.

These negative reviews revealed a lot more about movie critics, the media, and the entire entertainment industry in general. Many of these people, if not most of these people, despise Christianity and Our Lord Jesus Christ and were outraged that a Catholic had dared to make a truly Catholic film.

They were content with subtle reference to prayer and the sacraments in Braveheart and We Were Soldiers, and they simply loved Mel when he would appear nude on screen or act out a “love scene,” but The Passion of the Christ was a bridge too far.

The Passion of the Christ proved it was possible to make a powerful and successful Hollywood film. It proved that a movie didn’t have to be anti-Christian to be successful. It further proved that the center of power in Hollywood could be seized by Christian artists and that the American culture industry could be redeemed. Like Braveheart, Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ became a culture shaping phenomenon, revitalizing the Catholic Church in the wake of the 2002 Boston Spotlight Scandal. There were even stories of people converting as a result of the film.

Mel Gibson had made a movie that threatened the very core of Hollywood.

He had to be punished, humiliated, and ultimately destroyed.

With a drinking habit and a tendency to run his mouth, all Hollywood had to do was wait for Mel to slip up.

And slip up Mel Gibson did.

The fall of Mel Gibson came quickly after The Passion. In the process of being arrested for drunk driving in July of 2006, Gibson foolishly blurted out, “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”

Gibson was arrested, and someone in the Malibu sheriff’s department “mysteriously” leaked some of the arrest documents to the press, which crowed triumphant when they got the dirt on Mel.  

After being released, Mel publically apologized both to his Jewish friends and to the wider Jewish community. His friends knew that he was not a hateful person, but that didn’t matter. The media had exactly what they wanted.

The reports in the press from the time of the arrest are extremely interesting, for they all but admit that Mel was a good man who happened to say bad things when drunk, but, invariably, Gibson’s comments seemed to vindicate the media’s hatred of The Passion, proving that not only Mel’s movie, but all traditional Catholicism was a hateful and bigoted movement that should be eclipsed by the new, hip, and tolerant Vatican II Church.

But there was more to the story.

As has often been remarked during the Weinstein saga, no one in Hollywood gets in trouble unless someone wants that person to get in trouble. The city of Los Angeles and the state of California and its law enforcement are very compliant to the movie industry.

It was clear that Mel had made some people mad with The Passion, and they were merely waiting for him to slip up, yes, but perhaps there is more to the story.

The deputy who accosted Gibson, James Mee, was later fired by the Malibu sheriff’s department for selling copies of the police report of Mel Gibson’s arrest to the grotesque tabloid TMZ.

The million dollar question is: was Deputy Mee casing Mel for TMZ, or did the Malibu deputy see a golden moment when Mel let loose his drunken rant?

Mee (and the Los Angeles Times) argue that the deputy was pursuing Mel out of concern for the actor’s safety, but the very fact that Mee had to defend himself against the accusation that he was casing Gibson for some reason is itself worth considering.

Mee was later reinstated and won his court battle with the sheriff’s department, but his role in the take down of Mel Gibson is still open to question.

Nonetheless, the media were not finished with Mel.

Gibson, although having lost his wife and mother of seven of his children to divorce after the Malibu incident, obviously had not learned to keep his mouth shut.

TMZ struck Gibson again in 2010 by “confirming” an edited recording of Mel Gibson fighting with his (now former) girlfriend and mother of his eighth child, Oksana Grigorieva, originally published by the celebrity gossip site RadarOnline.

The Grigorieva tape, which appeared to contain more ethnic slurs from Gibson, seemed like the end of the line for Gibson’s career.

Mel Gibson largely faded from sight, appearing groggy and chastened in the occasional interview or public appearance in which his misdeeds were consistently paraded before him, and he was repeatedly forced to apologize.

But then Mel bounced back, sneaking his way into minor roles in feature films and lead roles in B-grade films such as Get the Gringo (2012), but the home run for Gibson was 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge in which Mel returned to the winning formula of films like Braveheart and We Were Soldiers, telling the story of conscientious objector and Seventh Day Adventist, Desmond Doss, a hero of World War II’s Pacific Theatre.

Hacksaw Ridge was a financial and critical triumph, being nominated for best picture and best director at the Academy Awards.

Mel was back; he had snuck his way back into the limelight and overcame the Furies of political correctness, proving that they could be beat, and no matter how far someone could fall, he was never finished if the will to fight remained.

But what about Mel’s faith? Is he still Catholic?

The short answers is “yes”—as far as we can tell.

Although facing scrutiny for his dating and illegitimate children, Mel still continues to donate to his traditionalist chapel in Los Angeles known as the “Church of the Holy Family.”

It is even rumored that Mel Gibson’s father “annulled” Mel and Robyn’s marriage when the younger Gibson was considering marrying Grigorieva.

Finally, it is further rumored that Mel has refused to marry his current mistress, Rosalind Ross, because he wants to continue to receive the sacraments in the Church.

Mel is stuck in a strange limbo of being the most visible representative of traditionalist Catholicism in the world today while at the same time being a deeply flawed man.

On one level, Mel Gibson is by no means a model for Catholic men. Since being divorced from his wife of almost thirty years, Mel has fathered two children out of wedlock from two different women. Mel thus resembled the swaggering, womanizing 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, someone who can exert amazing acts of strength and poise but become completely dominated by sins of the flesh.

But unlike Trump, who was raised Presbyterian, Mel Gibson was raised a strict traditionalist Catholic and should know better.

But also like Trump, Mel is a winner. No other celebrity has been able to challenge the Hollywood establishment and bounce back from dead like Mel Gibson has.

However, Mel has not been able to slay the demon of lust, and, despite his public triumph, is still weighed down by his personal demons.

Mel, if you are reading this, know that, whether you like it or not, you are one of the most visible faces of traditional Catholicism, and your mistakes and triumphs reflect on all of us.

In this, the darkest hour in the Church’s history, and when the flames of Christendom are going out, we need leaders of authentic strength and authentic courage, but we also need leaders of purity and humility to lead us in a new and holy cultural crusade.

 

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