March 17, 2004: “Far be it for me to step in the large pile of turds that Mel Gibson has left behind”

Far be it for me to step in the large pile of turds that Mel Gibson has left behind with his deft marketing of his deity-inspired rendering of Christian mythology. As Joseph Epstein replied when I queried him about his intentions to weigh in, it would require him to see the movie, which he was loath to do. Joe added that in the neighborhood guys like Gibson were called "jageoffs." Also, least my headroom further resemble the habitats I have occupied in my adult life—a perpetual fine arts grad student motif with some black Italian leather mixed in—I have demurred for the same reasons and one further. I am not interested in Christian theology or any theology.

I am interested in anti-Semitism though.

There's more, the super heated public commentary, punditry, and demagoguery that The Passion of Christ has created—so (too) much noise and nuisance that I have had to set aside reading the new LOA Studs Lonigan and do some thinking and conversing on this whole sorry stink pool. There have been some really provocative and exciting ripostes to the, uh, the heightened cultural noise level surrounding "Twelve Hours," and in reading Christopher Hitchens (2 versions), David Denby, Chris Lehmman, William Safire, Peter Aspden (Financial Times) many of whom have quoted other commentators such as Elaine Pagels and Leon Weiseliter, I am reminded of an interesting little book that Verso put out, After Diana, a collection of essays on the late British royal. Again Gore Vidal's heir apparent, Hitchens contributes a, shall we say, unsympathetic view of the immortal Di. I forget the who the other contributors were—what I am trying to say is that there is an interesting pamphlet or broadside in the air to be plucked as a useful marker of this, as the smart people say, cultural moment.

It's not fun or comforting, of course, to hear that yet another misguided Christian has conspired to present a historical vignette with the Jews portrayed as unter menschen or rodent-like apparitions, not to mention a phrase that can only be bleated or brayed, "The Jews killed Christ." And on top of all this hoo hah, magic Christian, Mel Gibson, threatened to kill Frank Rich's dog (Does Frank Rich have a dog? Has anyone taken this seriously? Did I imagine this surreal twist)…

The one thing in all this that has me really fascinated is the news that cartoonist/illustrator Will Eisner is working on a graphic novel response to that most infamous cartoon of a lie, The Protocols of Zion. Given the marketing principle's dominion in all aspects of society and culture, the campaign to put the word out on that effort will be very interesting to follow. So will the movie's.

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