Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt recently described Mel Gibson as a "cinematic sadist." In Gibson's current "Apocalypto," hearts are ripped from chests, heads are severed, and one gets a better understanding why Gibson made "Passion of the Christ" and why he wanted to do a mini-series about the Holocaust.
"The Passion" satisfied a combination of Gibson's passions: his passion for the Gospels (or at least Nun Anne Catherine Emmerich's version of them), and his passion for sadism. The sadism contained in cinematic history's bloodiest, goriest, most sadistic portrayal of the crucifixion was at least as big a motivating factor as any religious fervor. After all, the film was brought to us by a man who slaughters baby cows at his farm "to relax." How much do you want to bet that his favorite part of "Braveheart" was the disembowelment scene?
As Gibson, who has drawn "parallels between the Mayan sacrifices of 600 years ago and the Bush Administration war policies of today," according to the Toronto Star, moves from hero of the Right to hero of the Left (which will forgive his religiosity and reassert that the Right doesn't have a monopoly on god), and as the ingredients of modern leftism reveal themselves in Gibson: anti-war and anti-Jew (which in Gibson's language are synonymous anyway), Gibson has expressed interest in doing a Holocaust project.
This is no dichotomy. His interest in the Holocaust which he'd wanted to do as an ABC mini-series before ABC canceled does not exist despite his admitted Jewish problem, but because of it.
With the ABC cancellation, look for a gory self-financed movie at some point instead. The subject has obvious appeal for Gibson. Think of the endless possibilities a time and place that was a no-holds-barred free-for-all killing spree of six million souls. Gibson will be a kid in a candy store. Imagine it: a million and one ways to kill man, woman and infant human experimentation, disembowelment, whimsical point-blank executions, bodies piled on bodies, gas chambers, ovens, the smell of burning flesh, and the slow sawing off of heads by Hitler's Croatian satellite state, whose enthusiastic foot soldiers also removed eyes and organs. Mel, are you salivating yet?
Which means that, amid all the endless commentary written, broadcast and blogged at the time of the release of "The Passion of the Christ," the only ones who actually nailed it were Trey Parker and Matt Stone in their "South Park" cartoon. That's a sad commentary in itself.
In their myopic defense of the welcome triumph for religion that was "The Passion," not one conservative pundit or writer allowed for the nuance that the "South Park" episode did and generally, South Park isn't one for nuance. Parker and Stone brilliantly handled the dichotomy between the positive force that the film had on audiences, and the troubled man who brought it to them.
Audiences leaving the South Park movie theater say things like:
"Makes you want to change your life, huh?"
"I had no idea how horrible Jesus' death was. Let's be good Christians from now on."
"It has reaffirmed our faith in Christ."
But Kenny and Stan think the movie "sucked," and they take a bus from Colorado to California to ask Mel Gibson for their money back directly. When they tell the bus driver their plan, he says, "You didn't like 'The Passion'? But it shows how Christ suffered for you. Mel Gibson is a very spiritual man."
The boys arrive at Gibson's house, and Gibson answers the door in his underwear, saying, "You can torture me all you want, I still won't tell you [where I keep the money]." He starts playing a banjo.
"Dude, this guy is freaking crazy!" one of the boys remarks.
"How dare you call me crazy! This means war." Gibson gets into his "Patriot" gear and starts shooting off a gun and making Indian noises and doing somersaults, then recites lines from "Mad Max."
"Mel Gibson is f -ing crazy, Dude!"
Next, Gibson emerges in full drag, singing "Boom-chick-a-boom." Then in a clown suit: "When you're a clown, nobody takes you seriously..." Then he chases the boys in a Road Warrior truck all the way back to South Park, where a crowd gathers and Gibson spreads his feces on a door and says, "I'll bet you'll all want to torture me now!"
"That's Mel Gibson?" remarks a townsperson. "He's not quite as eloquent as I pictured."
"He's coo-coo, Dude. He's absolutely out of his mind," one of the boys says.
"You'd all love to torture me, wouldn't you?" continues Gibson. "OK, fine, see what you can fit in there, I can take it."
When the boys finally get him to focus enough to have a conversation, Gibson says, "You can't say my movie sucked. Or else you're saying that Christianity sucks."
"No, Dude if you want to be Christian, that's cool," Stan explains, "but you should follow what Jesus taught instead of how he got killed. Focusing on how he got killed is what people did in the Dark Ages, and it ends up with really bad results."
Kyle offers the bottom line on Gibson: "Oh Dude, I feel so much better about being Jewish now that I see Mel Gibson is just a big wacko douche."
Two years later the rest of the country is catching on: Mel Gibson is a psycho. You can see it in his wild eyes and his shifty body language during interviews, and in his usually excellent movies. If he didn't have the cinema, this would be a very dangerous man.
Gibson considers "Apocalypto" a commentary on our times, saying "What's human sacrifice if it's not sending some guys off to Iraq for no damn reason, you know?" the Toronto Star reported. "Like all societies, you get…the use of fear to manipulate the masses."
Gibson is correct that the film is a commentary for our times, but for the wrong reasons. What makes it parallel is that it depicts a bloodlust from centuries ago amid a real reemergence of an ancient sadism that has begun to dominate the globe once again in the 21st century. If historically ignorant, impatient buffoons like Gibson succeed in undermining Western resolve to pulverize the sadists, then the Islamo-Mayan way of life will become our way of life, and Gibson will finally get the off-screen bloodfest he craves.