Mel Gibson And The Christianist Right

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"Mel Gibson might be my favorite feminist. If he's not number one on my list, he's pretty close, in competition with Pope John Paul II. As you probably suspect, I don't have in mind the usual definition of "feminism." I can guarantee you there'll be no fawning Ms. magazine cover story on Gibson (or JPII). But give me a few minutes to fawn a little," - Kathryn Jean-Lopez, in 2003, after being given a sneak preview of the pornographic sadist snuff movie called "The Passion Of The Christ."

Now to the transcript of a man who abandoned his wife and kids and then assaulted his girlfriend:

MG: You're a c--- and a whore! That's what you are and you have just proved it. You got out of here in record time.

OG: Because I'm saving my life and my daughter's life. That's what I'm doing. I don't give a damn about my music. And I don't give a damn about you spending another penny. I'm saving her life. You almost killed us, did you forget?

MG: The last three years have been a fucking gravy train for you.

OG: You were hitting a woman with a child in her hands. You! What kind of a man is that, hitting a woman when she's holding a child in her hands? Breaking her teeth, twice, in the face. What kind of man is that?

MG: Oooh, you're all angry now! You know what, you fucking deserved it.

I agree that much of this is unseemly to be aired in public, but grotesque? When the woman involved is clearly fearful for her safety? Gibson, in the passage above, is clearly threatening violence against his girlfriend and admits in this passage to a previous brutal assault, saying that a woman "fucking deserved" to have her face punched in and teeth broken. When you listen to the audio, his voice operates as a kind of lethal weapon, a vocal expression of brute violence. It's terrifying. Jonah Goldberg, perhaps sensing vulnerability as an editor at a magazine that championed Gibson as a religious genius and a, yes, feminist, pivots:

I'm much less inclined to buy this conventional wisdom that [Gibson]'s a mainstream conservative of some kind. I know he's a committed old school Catholic, or so he says. I know he made a film about Jesus that was very warmly received by many conservatives and criticized by many others. But I've seen interviews with him where he could be a commenter on Daily Kos.

Yes, the man who viewed John Paul II as too liberal is actually a lefty. But what we see in this dialogue is deeply revealing, it seems to me, about Gibson's mindset and the fundamentalist psyche that is undergirding politics and culture the world over.

He is a deeply disturbed man whose "spirituality" is wrapped up in extreme violence and fascist imagery. What motivates him is clearly power - heterosexual white male power - imposed on others by raw violence or the threat of violence. He is a fascist in temperament - which is why racism and anti-Semitism and murderous hatred of gay people come naturally to him. And this is how he sees himself as a Christian.

Will we read any revisions to the encomiums to his disgusting attack on the Christianity of the Gospels in "The Passion", his depiction of Jesus as a human being killed dozens of times by hook-nosed Jews as a literal expiation for the sins of humanity? Will the right wing now revisit its elevation of this deranged thug as a Christian exemplar? Will Lopez actually revise her view of a man who wishes that the mother of his child be "raped by a pack of niggers", who uses the c-word liberally, who punches a woman in the face ... as a feminist worth revering along with that protector of thousands of child-rapists, John Paul II? Or will we read more posts, like Goldberg's, suggesting that Gibson is actually a creature of the hard left?

Or will, at some point, the cognitive dissonance actually break? What, one wonders, would it take? What event, what fact, what data could ever undermine the mad certainty of these perverse fanatics?

(Photo: Pastor Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelical Christians (C) defends Mel Gibson 's intentions in the making of the film 'The Passion of The Christ,' comparing it to a Michelangelo masterpiece, while Rabbi Abraham Cooper (L) and Rabbi Marvin Hier (R) listen during a press conference at the Museum of Tolerance, in Los Angeles, 24 February 2004. The Christian and Jewish leaders met to discuss their views of the film, which was released the following day. By Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.)

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