Tuesday, August 01, 2006

smell any sulphur?

In the LA Times' coverage of the Mel Gibson crisis, one paragraph stands out:

Hollywood was largely founded by, and the studios are still chiefly run by, Jewish executives such as Pascal. Still, dozens of Jewish executives, producers and agents contacted Monday would not go beyond expressing their outrage in private. In typical Hollywood fashion, they refrained from publicly criticizing — and potentially alienating — a powerful star and director who could make them a lot of money.

The whole paragraph has a faint whiff of anti-Semitism. The first sentence establishes an equation between Hollywood and Jews. The second sentence moves on to the Jewish stereotype of proper external behavior masking deep internal rage. And it would almost have been unsurprising had the third sentence started, "In typical Jew fashion...".

One does not need to resort to racial stereotypes to explain the silence of the Hollywood community. It would be equally true to say that, "Hollywood executives who honor their fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders of their publicly traded companies are unwilling to publicly denounce Gibson -- a powerful star and director who could make a lot of money for those shareholders."

But while fiduciary responsibility is a sufficient explanation for the Hollywood community's silence, those of us who are not bound by fidiciary responsibility should speak out: Gibson's fiasco is a test for Christian America. Is it really the Jews' job to always stick up for themselves? The Evangelical leaders have welcomed Gibson as one of their own, so shouldn't they now warn their members about a toxic undercurrent in Gibson's thinking? Shouldn't the Catholic Church come out with a statement reminding the flock that Gibson's take on Catholicism is completely out of the mainstream, and, in fact, quite possibly hell-bound? If the public simply "voted with their wallets", it would be unnecessary to repudiate Gibson, because he would become a non-entity, rather like his father.

Of course, Gibson's insanity gives his art compelling force. I'm hoping that it tanks, but it is highly probable that, in a moment of weakness, I'll be grinning like an idiot, in the audience at an early screening of "Apocalypto".

This line of thought quickly leads to Tom Cruise: Isn't it odd that the two most bankable stars in Hollywood adhere to such wildly non-mainstream spiritual traditions? Is there something about six-sigma religiosity that makes a person more interesting to the camera? Does success make Hollywood people nuts, or does the camera respond to an implicit nuttiness lurking in their unfamous selves?

The key for the few times that I have bothered to be "photogenic" has been to pretend as though the camera were organic living tissue (I won't mention which bodily organ, it suffices to say that it is found in about 50.9% of all humans). So maybe the repeated applications of this sort of mind-trick has a cumulative deteriorating effect on sanity, and mental disintegration is as much a risk for the Hollywood acting class as black lung disease is for a coal miner.

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