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Mel Gibson's Marriage on the Rocks


Christian
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I saw the news earlier today that Mel Gibson's wife has filed for divorce from her husband. I don't know all the details, but the article implied the couple had been separated for a while now.

So the guy made Passion of the Christ and was criticized by some, lauded by others. Then he got arrested for drunk driving, right? Then he appeared in those photos with female friends he met at a bar. Around that time, he made Apocalypto, which was hideous, although some folks here that it was alright. Now he's getting a divorce.

I said after seeing Apocalypto that this guy has some serious issues/problems. I get the feeling he's not dealing with those things. I hope he does.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Christian wrote:

: Then he got arrested for drunk driving, right? Then he appeared in those photos with female friends he met at a bar.

I believe the photos were taken on the same night as the drunk driving.

: Around that time, he made Apocalypto . . .

FWIW, the exact chronology of that period in his life appears to go something like this:

  • 2006 Jul 28 -- he's busted for drunk driving
  • 2006 Aug 1 -- he checks into a recovery program for alcohol abuse
  • 2006 Aug 17 -- he pleads no contest to DUI charges
  • 2006 Aug 26 -- he officially separates from his wife
  • 2006 Sep 16 -- his daughter marries Kenny Wayne Shepherd
  • 2006 Sep 26 -- he previews Apocalypto at Fantastic Fest (in anticipation of the film's December release)
So the separation "officially" began one month after the drunk-driving bust and three weeks before their daughter's wedding. And all while he was going through intense media scrutiny and the high-pressure experience of finishing a movie and putting it out there for everyone to see. I can't begin to imagine what that was like.

: I said after seeing Apocalypto that this guy has some serious issues/problems. I get the feeling he's not dealing with those things. I hope he does.

Well, as with most marital break-ups, I don't think we can point fingers in any particular direction. Yes, of course, Gibson has issues. But I don't think anyone here is in a position to say, e.g., that his wife left him because of the drunk-driving bust, or, conversely, that he got drunk that night because the marriage was falling apart. We just don't know.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I didn't intend to point the finger at him and say, "I know what's going on here," or point the finger at myself and say, "I was right!" because I never had all the facts, and never will. I didn't intend to point to cause-and-effect either. We don't know all of what's happened, and never will.

It's just that the news is part of a downward trend in the guy's life. It's worrisome. Plus, I figured some A&Fers would be better informed than I am about all this, and I wanted to hear from them. You've already provided a clearer timeline of the earlier events. (Was Gibson's separation big news? I don't remember ever hearing about it until today.)

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Christian wrote:

: It's just that the news is part of a downward trend in the guy's life. It's worrisome.

[ nod ]

: Was Gibson's separation big news? I don't remember ever hearing about it until today.

I don't believe the separation was ever made public prior to this. But I remembered that Gibson's daughter had gotten married shortly after the DUI incident, and I remembered that he had been in post-production on Apocalypto while all this was going on, so I got curious and figured I'd see where the separation fit into the exisiting chronology.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I don't want to dwell too much on Gibson's family itself, per se, but certain things that have been said or done by Gibson and his family make me wonder about the particular kind of Catholicism that he subscribes to.

The comment about his Episcopalian wife possibly not being saved is certainly up there, especially since Gibson, after explaining how unfair it would be if his wife did not go to heaven, went on to say something like: "But that's a statement from the chair. I go with it." Given that Gibson and his family have felt quite free to reject the last few Popes, exactly how tied are they to this "chair" in the first place? How do they separate one chair-related claim from another? What makes "no salvation outside the Church" such a hard-and-fast rule that even committed Protestants might go to hell, yet "so-and-so is the Pope and is entitled to sit upon this chair" can suddenly be ignored?

Similarly, I see at the IMDb that Gibson's son-in-law was previously married to someone else for a couple years BEFORE he married Gibson's daughter -- and yet Gibson's daughter married the guy in an all-Latin traditionalist ceremony held inside the church that Gibson built. Now, even moderately conservative Catholics would tend to take issue with divorce-and-remarriage, so wouldn't you expect a hardcore traditionalist Catholic sect to have an even BIGGER problem with it? Well, maybe, maybe not. And perhaps there are valid extenuating circumstances that none of us are privy to (or need to be privy to). But to this non-Catholic observer, it's a puzzlement.

For some people, even these musings might seem too gossip-y, because they still revolve in some sense around Gibson's family. And some might say that focusing on Gibson's religion rather than his family, per se, is no justification because religion itself is a private matter. But, I dunno, given that Gibson made his religion a big, big deal five years ago with that extremely controversial (and explicitly evangelistic!) top-grossing movie of his, you can hardly blame people like me for having our curiosity piqued.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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But, I dunno, given that Gibson made his religion a big, big deal five years ago with that extremely controversial (and explicitly evangelistic!) top-grossing movie of his, you can hardly blame people like me for having our curiosity piqued.
Not to wander too far off topic, especially into an area that was probably over-hashed five years ago, but "explicitly evangelistic"?

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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popechild wrote:

: Not to wander too far off topic, especially into an area that was probably over-hashed five years ago, but "explicitly evangelistic"?

As per our thread on The Passion, Gibson said, while promoting the film, "I hope the film has the power to evangelize."

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 year later...

Links to our threads on Apocalypto (2006) and The Beaver (2010?).

Gibson's done it again ... sort of. Except, this time, instead of making a public spectacle of himself by driving drunk and ranting at the cops who arrested him, it seems that his ex-girlfriend (or one of her associates) has leaked a formerly private phone call between him and her.

So ... first the PR disaster before the completion of Apocalypto ... and then the PR bumps in the road during his promotion of Edge of Darkness ... and now a possible PR disaster before the release of The Beaver ...

Seems to me that anyone who hires Mel for their films from here on will pretty much have to buy bad-PR insurance, if indeed such a thing exists. (And if it doesn't, they may have to make it just for Mel. Assuming anyone still wants to hire him after this.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Steven Zeitchik @ the Los Angeles Times says Gibson's career is over "for real, this time", thanks to the death of Gibson's longtime agent this week and the release today of an audio clip that seems to back up last week's assertions regarding Gibson's latest use of a racial epithet.

Meanwhile... oh, sigh, never mind. It's just too sad.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Christopher Hitchens:

Mel Gibson Isn't Just an Angry Narcissist

His tirades are the distilled violence, cruelty, and bigotry of right-wing Catholic ideology.

...

This is extraordinary. We live in a culture where the terms fascist and racist are thrown about, if anything, too easily and too frequently. Yet here is a man whose every word and deed is easily explicable once you know the single essential thing about him: He is a member of a fascist splinter group that believes it is the salvation of the Catholic Church.

I really have zero interest in contributing to media frenzy over Gibson and his rants. I refuse to listen to the tapes, and am as sick over the voyeuristic circus as I am over the reports of his behavior (which are pretty much impossible to avoid).

But I am interested in learning more about Gibson's particular religious beliefs, because that is very relevant to interpreting his art.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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But I am interested in learning more about Gibson's particular religious beliefs, because that is very relevant to interpreting his art.

In light of the Hitchens passage you quoted, do you think those beliefs are very relevant to his personal problems? Are you wanting to discuss Hitchens' interpretation of religion as it relates to Gibson's problems, or are you distancing yourself from that discussion by limiting the connection only to his art? I'm not trying to draw you into a discussion you don't want to have, just wondering if I missed the point of your post.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Frankly, I don't know much about Gibson's personal problems. I've heard he got caught on tape saying some particularly nasty things to his girlfriend. Okay. Tabloid stuff. I really don't want to know any more about what he did there.

But I am curious about the "splinter group," what they believe, and whether or not Gibson is, for lack of a better word, evangelical for that group. I'm interested because Gibson's films aren't troubling to me in retrospect - they've been troubling to me since long before The Passion of the Christ, and if learning about his beliefs helps me see more clearly what it is that has bothered me so much about the films (those he directed, and some of those he's chosen to star in), well, I'd appreciate that.

I'm always interested in the religious beliefs of artists.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Overstreet wrote:

: But I am curious about the "splinter group," what they believe, and whether or not Gibson is, for lack of a better word, evangelical for that group.

Didn't all that stuff get discussed back when The Passion came out, in one (or more) of the Passion-related threads?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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To what extent Mel embraces his father's views, and to what extent he has been warped by them even where he has sought to distance himself from them, is something of an open question.

Mel has indicated that he does believe that the Catholic Church went off the rails to one extent or another, that the Church "shouldn't have changed" ("Rad Trads" believe that the Catholic hierarchy has gone fatally off the rails, led by traitor popes who made abominable compromises with Modernist heresy).

He also seems to be what is often called a Feeneyite, i.e., he believes that only members of the Catholic Church (or of their splinter group?) can be saved. I seem to recall Mel describing his wife as a saint, or someone who deserves salvation much more than he does, yet adding that as an Episcopalian she's automatically disqualified. That kind of outlook has got to mess with your head. I thought his attempts to deal with his drunken meltdown a few years ago looked a lot more like a quick PR patch (the celebrity recovery thing in three easy steps) than real contrition. I'm just guessing, but I wouldn't be surprised if Mel has, or has had, no real hope for his own salvation.

Rad Trads tend to be conspiracy theorists who believe in vast Jewish and Freemason conspiracies controlling everything, including the Catholic hierarchy. Racism, antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and flat-Earth-level science denial are common characteristics as well.

All of that said, it's worth noting that Gibson has also shown signs of not following the old man's views all the way. He wants to be loyal to his father, and is clearly at least partly in his father's camp on some points. He has also probably been deeply influenced by the elder Gibson's outlook and sensibilities even in places where he wishesto distance himself from them.

Still, he is not entirely his father's son. Depending on how one defines terms like racist, I wonder whether it might not be more accurate to say that his soul has been, as it were, marinated in racism than that he actually is a racist. By some definitions that's a distinction without a difference, but I would argue there's a meaningful difference there.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Well put, SDG. To this I would add that Mel Gibson's films -- especially the ones he has directed -- are PROFOUNDLY about father-son relationships, including the idealization of good fathers, the difficulty of repudiating evil fathers and the necessity, sometimes, of filling paternal voids with surrogate fathers.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Terry Mattingly calls for better journalism on Mel Gibson.

Gibson was very, very messed up in the years before he got his act together and made “Braveheart” and “The Passion of the Christ.” He was, well, a loud and stupid drunk who almost wrecked his family and his marriage. Then he got on the wagon and started going to confession — daily, he said — for quite some time. The wild behavior went away, as best anyone could tell.

Then he started drinking and raving and skirt-chasing, once again. At what point in that process did Gibson stop practicing his faith?

It is very hard to do solid reporting about events inside a confessional and inside the sacrament called marriage. At this point, I simply hope that journalists stop speculating and get back to looking at the timeline of this troubled man’s life. Clearly the man knows that he is a master sinner. Perhaps the only valid question that can be asked is why he stopped repenting.

P.S. It goes without saying that the goal is to focus comments on the actual journalistic coverage of this controversial man and his on again, off again, faith — as opposed to ranting about Gibson’s rants.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Hugo Rifkind:

How dull life would be, if we were only allowed to enjoy the creative labours of those of whom we morally approved. Most pop stars and footballers are pretty dubious, sexually speaking, but we’re allowed to be fans of theirs. Nobody says Polanski doesn’t make good films, just because he’s a nonce. Damn it, no, I refuse to feel ashamed. I remain passionately keen on the work of Mel Gibson. I just wouldn’t have him in the house. Ghastly man.

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Terry Mattingly calls for better journalism on Mel Gibson.

Gibson was very, very messed up in the years before he got his act together and made “Braveheart” and “The Passion of the Christ.” He was, well, a loud and stupid drunk who almost wrecked his family and his marriage. Then he got on the wagon and started going to confession — daily, he said — for quite some time. The wild behavior went away, as best anyone could tell.

Then he started drinking and raving and skirt-chasing, once again. At what point in that process did Gibson stop practicing his faith?

It is very hard to do solid reporting about events inside a confessional and inside the sacrament called marriage. At this point, I simply hope that journalists stop speculating and get back to looking at the timeline of this troubled man’s life. Clearly the man knows that he is a master sinner. Perhaps the only valid question that can be asked is why he stopped repenting.

P.S. It goes without saying that the goal is to focus comments on the actual journalistic coverage of this controversial man and his on again, off again, faith — as opposed to ranting about Gibson’s rants.

I think that might just be the best piece on Gibson that I've seen yet.

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Yeah, I've very familiar with Hitchens. He's almost always worth reading, even if I often disagree. David Brooks wrote this about him recently.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Just coincidentally stumbled across this

by Michael Parkinson from at least before September 2007. In it he talks about his axe murdering alter ego Bjorn who he's managed to bury in the garden. Watching it is a profoundly odd experience given the revelations of the last month.

Matt

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MattPage wrote:

: Just coincidentally stumbled across this

by Michael Parkinson from at least before September 2007.

A quick Google of "mel gibson parkinson" turns up this BBC press release from March 2002, and a quick check of Gibson's IMDb page indicates that this was probably his only appearance on Parkinson's show.

So this would have been around the release of We Were Soldiers -- a few months before Signs, and a couple years before The Passion of the Christ.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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