Sunday, July 30, 2006

In Vino Veritas

(Cross-posted at The American Street)

As a man not entirely unaccustomed to a snort or two, I have to admit to a twinge of sympathy for Mel Gibson. I've never been arrested for anything, I'm glad to say -- despite some deserving efforts on my part -- so I can't credibly speculate about the mental stresses one undergoes when John Law shines a flashlight in one's bleary eyes and intones, in that condescending way they have, "Do you know why I pulled you over, sir?" when one has an undisguisably self-evident snootful.

I imagine the stress is great indeed. Gibson's blood-alcohol level was 0.12%, as reported by (the legal limit in California, where Gibson was arrested Friday, is 0.08%). According to a handy online calculator provided by the University of Oklahoma Campus Police, a 180-pound man would have to drink seven imported beers over a period of two hours to achieve Gibson's Blood Alcohol Count (BAC). (Or six malt liquors, seven glasses of wine, seven Bloody Marys, five vodka gimlets, or four doubles on the rocks -- it's an instructive little toy.)

By his own admission, Gibson is a recovering alcoholic who fell off the wagon on Friday night. People with his condition are notoriously unable to hold their liquor -- I've known a few, and they're no fun at all to drink with -- or even just be around. They're liable to say and do things they will have to apologize for the next day.

Indeed, Gibson has apologized for raving -- on videotape, apparently -- that Jews "are responsible for all the wars in the world," and for demanding of the arresting deputy, "Are you a Jew?" In his apology he said that he had "said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable."

It is important to establish the context of Gibson's revolting babbling. has published the arresting deputy's report (PDF). It's poorly scanned and difficult to read, but the gist is clear enough. The topic of Judaism and its putative responsibility for world unrest was not brought up by the arresting deputy as he clapped the darbys on his collar; the subject was raised for discussion by Gibson himself. He was not responding to something said to him. He thunk it up all by himself.

No matter what your past history with it, it's highly unlikely that booze will make you raise a point, ex nihilo, as Gibson did, unless the idea was simmering just below the surface, waiting for its moment to appear. The distress of being arrested and publicly humiliated for drunken decisions seems to have been that moment.

My ineluctable conclusion is that Mel Gibson, despite his repeated protestations to the contrary, is a demonstrated anti-Semite. In nearly any other case this would simply be sad, an occasion to tut-tut urbanely about hating the sin and not the sinner. But for the author of The Passion of the Christ, all that effort put into convincing the MegaChurched that they were being bussed to theaters to watch a movie that was not conceived in the libel that the Jews killed Christ, has been destroyed beyond repair.

For this, I have no sympathy whatever.


Bobby Lightfoot said...

You think that's inexcusable try watching "The Man Without A Face".

fred wickham said...

Excellent enalysis. Suspicions confirmed.

The Viscount LaCarte said...

What a surprise...

I'm happy to say that he hasn't made one dime off of me since the release of that awful movie. I did see some clips of it from The God Who Wasn't There, and it looked like an excuse to get an "R" Rating for an NC-17 torture flick, blame the death of Christ on the Jews and make millions of dollars. People were dragging their kids off to see that horror, and these are the same people who want to ban the Harry Potter books.

Others have raised this point before me, but why don't they make a movie about Jesus's philosophy of being kind to the poor and loving one's neighbor, and about his contempt for the rich?

Thanks for this post Ned.

Kevin Wolf said...

Having followed the Passion "controversy" with some interest back when the movie came out (but without sufficient interest to see the damn thing), I'm with Al. There's no surprise in this.

We shall wait and see if Mr Gibson is shunned by that pocket of wealth known as the "Hollywood community," as he so richly deserves to be.

Mel's just an old zxkunt. (I ask, does anybody vet these word verification thingies?)

glue birl said...

As the following is quite an un-blue girlish thing to say, I will use "***" where certain letters should be.

Do you have any sympathy for his lack of judgment when he reportedly turned to the female police officer and said:

"What are you lookin' at, Sugar T***?"


Tom said...


Others have raised this point before me, but why don't they make a movie about Jesus's philosophy of being kind to the poor and loving one's neighbor, and about his contempt for the rich?

I don't think that a Jesus movie that runs counter to the beliefs and practices of the consumerist society in general, and to the beliefs and practices of megachurches that practice ever more ostentatious displays of their wealth (and who were largely responsible for driving the gross of Gibson's film through the roof) is likely to be made, or if it is, to be widely distributed and/or promoted. Put another way, maybe someone did make such a film, and no one ever knew about it.

Ned: I don't buy Mel's explanation either. As someone who is, um, shall we say, well-acquainted with "problem drinkers", I can testify that alcohol never puts anything into anyone that isn't already there, it just lets it out. However... I wonder how easy it is for someone who grew up as the son of Hutton Gibson, a Sedevacantist, Holocaust denier, and all-around nutjob, to really purge themselves of that poison. I grew up in an extended family that includes both progressive and regressive elements; although I'd like to consider myself a progressive, I understand the temptation to blame it all on the [scapegoats du jour]. How much more difficult it must be for someone who was steeped in uninterrupted dad-rants to purge that bile, even if they know objectively that they're wrong. Henry Rollins wrote a primal scream of a song titled "Just Like You" about his horror at finding out how much he'd grown up to be like the abusive father that he rejected. Or, to quote a more genteel source, namely Rogers and Hammerstein:

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught

Which is not to excuse Gibson's anti-Semitic rants at all, just to suggest that, even if he's genuinely rejected those beliefs, that getting rid of them completely may not be as easy as shrugging off an old coat.

"riiotts" is the secret word, but I can't think of anything remotely funny to work it into.

Matt said...

No sympathy here, either, though I do appreciate your note about the tolerance levels of former alcoholics -- I've read several comments from people saying that he couldn't have been very drunk with that BAC reading.

Blue Girl raises an important point -- but I find Gibson's sexism no less surprising than his anti-semitism. One odd fallout of this ordeal is that "sugar tits" is sure to take up a permanent place in the irony-laden pop-culture lexicon.

When you get down to it, Gibson really should have ended career after Mad Max. What little love I have for him in my heart derives entirely from that film.

glue birl said...

"sugar tits" is sure to take up a permanent place in the irony-laden pop-culture lexicon.

I'm sorry I'm not being very serious over this serious issue.

But, that just cracks. me. up.

Ok. I'm going to go try to put my serious hat on. If I'm able, I'll return.

If not, just picture me laughing all day.

Neddie said...

Whatchoo lookin' at, Marzipan-thighs?

Take a picture, it'll last longer, Godiva-chocolate-elbows!

Outta my face, Linzer-torte-lips!

Bite me, blueberry-muffin-that-nameless-yet-incredibly-erotic-area-below -the-bellybutton-but-above-the-naughty-bits-that-just-begs-to-be-kissed!

The possibilities are as limitless as the female body is lovely.

Sometimes I feel like a complete swjiot

The Viscount LaCarte said...

Sounds like we got a new nick for BG...

glue birl said...

Bite me, blueberry-muffin-that-nameless-yet-incredibly-erotic-area-below -the-bellybutton-but-above-the-naughty-bits-that-just-begs-to-be-kissed!

Ok. That one might be a tongue twister (no pun intended) after six malt liquors, seven glasses of wine, seven Bloody Marys, five vodka gimlets, or four doubles on the rocks.

Maybe Mel should write *that* drunken dialogue into a scene in his next movie. He's *played* a good drunk in the past, right?

You know, I would think you'd be *a lot* drunker after seven glasses of wine vs. seven imported beers. Just my opinion.

Al, no emailing about that behind my back!


fgfdsg said...

He's been a twat for years, which is why I've never seen his movies, including any of the 'Mad Max' or 'Lethal Weapon' ones.

According to Mel, I'm damned to eternal hell for a 'lifestyle choice', yet 'alcoholism' is a 'disease' he 'suffers' from, thereby absolving him of any responsibility.

Neddie said...

I would think you'd be *a lot* drunker after seven glasses of wine vs. seven imported beers.

I had my doubts about that Drunk-o-Meter toy from the OSU cops, but at least it gave some kind of objective metric to hang a paragraph on.

After five vodka gimlets I'd be absolutely Witty and Charming Part II, while seven imported beers is, well, borderline Benevolent leaning Clairvoyant.

Not to mention needing to pee real bad.

(I'm talking about this: scroll down to the bottom.)

blue girl said...

I remember that post. I myself love it when you get to #5. Cuz you're all...We're having so much fun! Who needs to eat FOOD! Who wants to take the time to do something like *that*! How boring!

Maybe it's not so much that people need a designated driver, but someone who knows that when you hit #5, it's definitely time to order some food and a water with lemon. In a pretty glass, of course.

Neddie said...

Just caught Rob Corddry's "This Week in God" segment on tonight's "Daily Show."



fgfdsg said...

Actually, "Sugar Tits" is a fairly common expression among your clueless old cockie types down under. Guess it never crossed your side of the pond.

Tom said...

The Daily Gut's Gibson Guide to adressing a female police officer.