Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ace Responds on Mel Gibson

Ace read my post on Mel Gibson and Ross Douthat's defense of The Passion and asks:
SunComprehendingGlass quotes conservative film critic Russ Douthat standing for the proposition that of course considerations of the artist as a human being should be disregarded in an evaluation of his work.

Really? Always? Even when said beliefs directly implicate aesthetic choices he made in his works? Even when a plausible case can be made that his more noxious beliefs actually affected what he put up on the screen?

Making this more explicit: I, and other conservatives, dismissed arguable instances of unnecessary antisemitism, or at least instances of gratuitously sticking it to the Jews, in The Passion because we assumed there was no ant-Jew animus behind those aesthetic choices.

Now that Gibson is revealed to, in fact, have at least some degree of anti-Jew animus, doesn't that undermine the assumption that our defense was based upon?

I don't find this as easy an answer as Mr. Douthat. Which is not to say I disagree with him. I said I couldn't answer it myself; doesn't mean I'll insist that no one else can offer an answer.

Let me answer Ace: if the something, not just a movie, reveals the truth of a situation does that mean we should disregard the person speaking that truth?

If Gibson's movie showed the religious leaders engineering Jesus' death does it make the actuality of it less true? Douthat makes the point that Gibson emphasises the Jewishness of Jesus in his movie. I would respond not only does Gibson do that but he makes the Romans as cruel as the Jews. I think that you would have to look at the whole balance of the picture to argue if the picture is anti-Semetic. I think that Mr. Douthat and I would both agree that the balance is not anti-Semetic.

So in other words my defense of The Passion is not based on the the character of the director but whether the movie was itself evenhanded in apportioning blame while not curbing the facts found in the Bible. (No, I am not going into the "is the Bible factually accurate" arguement right now. The New Testament meets all historical document authenticity tests.)

1 comment:

WhidbeyIslander said...

I think that one moment in the movie Passion effectively answers many questions about the film's anti-semitism. It is the moment where the Roman soldier is driving the nails through Jesus' hands.

The hands driving the nails are Mel Gibson's. In that image he takes all responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus away from the Jews, away from the Romans, and places it directly on his own (and by extension, all humanity's) shoulders.

Is Mel Gibson an anti-semite? Really? Truly? I cannot answer that question because I cannot read the content of Mr. Gibson's heart with the omniscience accorded many others.

The reports of his vile behavior do color my perceptions of his work. I'll have a hard time disassociating his behavior every time I see one of his movies. (Nice going, Mel!)