Monday, December 12, 2005


Mad Mel Does it make a difference if Mel Gibson's father doesn't believe in the Holocaust?

There's a rumor circulating Hollywood that Mel Gibson's production company Icon Productions (even the name itself reeks of religious fanaticism) is interested in producing a made-for-television series based on Flory A. Van Beek's 1998 memoir "Flory: Survival in the Valley of Death," which recounts her experiences as a young Dutch Jew in Holland during World War II. Van Beek's book movingly recounts the days when she was saved by "righteous Gentiles" from the collective grip of the Nazis. Gibson was reportedly moved by the valiant efforts of the selfless Dutch Christians and wanted to show their generosity to the same audience that appreciates Desperate Housewives.

But should this back-handed acceptance of the Holocaust find favor in the eyes of the Jews offended by Passion of the Christ? I for one couldn't care less about Mel Gibson's career. It's pretty obvious that he doesn't care about the liberal or Jewish opinion either, so that means we're equally disinterested. And moreover, I think it's a common public perception that Mel's not acting as normal as he used to. Gibson's career is obviously different since he made a movie based on the Catholic's most inaccurate interpretation of the New Testament.

But anti-Semities come and go. I understand that. The one thing that's truly been bothering me in particular is how did Mel become a celebrity in the first place?

As it's been reported repeatedly, Gibson's father Hutton is a pretty vocal Holocaust denier and while the man is entitled to his opinion, it should be noted that fathers are generally the most influential persons in the formative years of our development. Freud sometimes suggested that the father is the influence in our personality development. So here's the real question: how did someone like Mel Gibson become a celebrity after being reared in the house of a perpetual curmudgeon and hatemonger? How did he slip through the cracks to become the heartthrob of Christian housewives every where?

Months back, Gibson was asked by journalist Peggy Noonan to go on the record accepting that the Holocaust happened:

Gibson: "I have friends and parents of friends who have numbers on their arms. The guy who taught me Spanish was a Holocaust survivor. He worked in a concentration camp in France. Yes, of course. Atrocities happened. War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps. Many people lost their lives. In the Ukraine, several million starved to death between 1932 and 1933. During the last century, 20 million people died in the Soviet Union."

To be honest, I would have rathered he denied the Holocaust. It would have felt less condescending and obnoxious. Coupling the horrible murders of six million Jews with the unfortunate Russian deaths from starvation of the last century is inappropriate. Both atrocities deserve their own focus and mixing the two is just a way to belittle the loss of European Jewry by playing the number game. It saddens me tremendously knowing someone like Gibson has infiltrated mainstream America. And truthfully, it was only a matter of time before his public persona matched his private one.

What's even more astonishing though is the rumor of this TV series. After all, a man with Gibson's values and religious reverence publicly disagreeing with his father? One of the ten holiest Commandments is honoring your mother and father. Well, then how can you produce something as inherently contradictory as a mini-series about the Holocaust? Somewhere Hutton is disappointed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Arye - along with, ido and i have been catching up on some old high school acquaintences. We're off to Israel on Aliyah on the 27th. Give me a call at my parents, if you want to touch base before then. Be well, M.

8:33 PM  

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