By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
WHERE IS THE HOLLYWOOD OUTRAGE? Where is the industrywide condemnation? No, I’m not talking about Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic slurs. I’m talking about the Lionsgate scandal. Its ads for its slasher flick opening this weekend set a new low by boasting — yes, boasting — about how this movie is way more disgusting than anything the studio has previously brought to the big screen. “People are concerned that the amount of blood and gore in horror films goes too far,” the deep-voiced announcer intones, barely heard above the barrage of shrieks and moans. “On August 4, the studio that brought you Saw and Hostel goes over the edge. The Descent, rated R.”
Instead, the movie biz is consumed by the scandal of a dwarfish über-Catholic bigot with a fondness for blonde fans. Why, I haven’t witnessed so many power players this quick to kick a confessed alcoholic when he’s down and out. A guy who relapsed and drove near 90 miles an hour because he felt suicidal and wanted to wrap himself around a telephone pole (or so one of his intimates spun it to me), and who, when a Sheriff’s deputy put an end to his death wish, said venomous stuff he’s copped to and apologized for, since, well, never.
Hop on the bandwagon, Hollywood. The queue to put your name to your demonstrations of heartfelt sanctimoniousness forms here. You may even get a prominent Los Angeles Times columnist to declare you his hero. Oh, there’s just one thing before you sign up to speak out: Just make sure you’re not a fucking hypocrite. Don’t malign Mel if you, too, have had a booze or drug (or double) addiction and were ever sorry for things you said under the influence. Don’t give Gibson grief if you or your company were trying to sign him as a client or do business with his company even after you declared his The Passion of the Christ symptomatic of anti-Semitic spirit, and then thought better of it when the pic made gobs of global money and it became clear you needed his genius to tap into that lucrative spirituality market heretofore ignored by Hollywood. Don’t hot-button him if you or your company ever did business with avowed anti-Semites or boycotters of Israel. Don’t trash Gibson if your own house is even a little bit stinky.
Yes, I’m sickened by what Mel said about Jews, and not just because I’m Jewish. No one explained why better than the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s dean and founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, when he told me in an interview this week from Israel, where he was handing out funds for aid and shelter to Israelis, including Israeli Arabs: “Look, the issue with Mel Gibson is very simple. Mel Gibson is driving under intoxication. There are no Jews in sight. He can blame his car, he can blame his liquor, and he can blame the sheriff. But he can’t blame any Jews, because there are none around. That’s precisely who he blames. Yet that’s the problem. That shows he has a problem with Jews. And there’s an old Yiddish saying, which loses a lot in translation, ‘What someone drunk has on his tongue comes from his conscience when he is not drunk.’ ”
BUT GIBSON WAS A SPECIAL CASE in Hollywood’s eyes. Oh, not because of envy of his $850 million net worth, or his Oscars, or his successful production company that is free from the dictatorial financing, producing and distributing of those monopolies known as studios and that is as close to being a studio, complete with film library, as any actor/director/producer hyphenate enjoys. Rather, after Mel’s DUI arrest and the Internet seepage of his anti-Semitic barrage, Industry power players speaking anonymously began condemning Gibson as “the apple that doesn’t fall far from the tree,” the spitting image of his father, Hutton Gibson, a famous anti-Semite and Holocaust denier.
As the days progressed and the scandal unfolded, Hollywood VIPs became emboldened with their “j’accuse” finger-pointing. Yes, those who put their names out there should be applauded. But let’s get past their bravery and look at their bullshit. Some declared that Gibson’s transgressions were so awful he should be shunned by show biz, he and his company blacklisted, his projects dropped or declared off-limits. Which is why I must ask, Who among Hollywood isn’t flawed? Haven’t this industry’s constant calls for artistic freedom also meant separating talent’s failure as human beings from their success as creators of art? And why are Gibson’s anti-Semitic drunken statements more horrific than all the other host of sins that Hollywood denizens commit on an almost daily basis?
Sex and drug scandals, misogyny toward women, intolerance toward gays, prejudice against racial and ethnic groups other than Jews, celebration of violence, abuse of underlings, and on and on: All are part and parcel of the business of entertainment, where pricks get ahead precisely because of their abominable behavior. This is a town that has no notion of personal responsibility, much less corporate responsibility.