Posted on July 31, 2006 Posted by John Scalzi 32 Comments
What I’m thinking about a bunch of things:
* Mel Gibson’s Anti-Semitic Meltdown: See, this is why I don’t drink. Not that I harbor long-suppressed anti-semitic inclinations, or (perhaps more charitably) have a holocaust-denying anti-semite father who drilled his prejudices into me deep enough that they burst out when I’m stopped by the cops from driving down Highway 1 at 80mph with a bottle of tequila to keep me company. I mean to say that booze has a tendency to take one’s least nice qualities — the ones we have enough sense to keep stuffed into a hole — and let them out for a run, especially when booze is consumed in quantity. I have enough bad qualities that I barely keep beaten down as it is. Also, I’m not a big guy. The first time I’m a jerk while drunk, I’m going to get flattened.
Alcohol isn’t an excuse for Gibson’s Jew-baiting tirade, and I think drunk or not he’s going to have to well and truly answer for the outburst. People are rejecting Gibson’s apology as not nearly enough to make up for the tirade, and while I think he’s getting short-changed for the directness of the apology, I think the general consensus is also correct; the man’s going to spend some time in desert, and how long depends on him. I’m not going to front the idea that I think the man doesn’t harbor some anti-semitic prejudices, but I think would be tragic would be if Gibson, whose father, as noted, is a noted holocaust denier, had been generally struggling against that early-inculcated prejudice and had much of that progress wiped out, as far as the public is concerned, anyway, in a moment of drunken stupidity. Gibson can work his way back, but it’ll be a lot of work.
Aside from the anti-semitic thing, I wonder what possessed Gibson to go on his drunken drive in the first place. My understanding is that he’s struggled with alcohol for quite some time, and if that’s the case, it’s possible something stressed him out enough to hit the bottle. Again, not an excuse for doing and saying stupid and hateful things, but possibly an explanation.
* Call me crazy, but I think announcing that the FDA is re-considering letting the Plan B pill be sold to adults without a prescription a day before the nominee to lead the FDA gets grilled by the Senate is possibly the height of gross political cynicism. How will we know? We’ll know if Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach gets confirmed, and Plan B goes back in regulatory limbo, as I fully expect it to.
* Men are like dogs — they raise the pitch of their voices talking to men they intuit are socially superior to them. That’s the idea being presented here, anyway. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that one myself, since I have a somewhat naturally high-pitched speaking voice, and there’s not a lot of men I think are socially superior to me (equal? Sure. Better? Nah). On the other hand, maybe this explains why people always say they expect my voice to be lower, and possibly why I talk with a lower voice when dealing with annoying phone calls. Oddly, I sing baritone. I don’t know what that means.
* Speaking of men, I found this NYT story interesting: It’s about men who have decided that between not working, and working at a job they think is below them, some men will choose not to work. Max Weber must be twisting in his grave. I’m sympathetic to this impulse — I’ve been known to leave jobs when I didn’t like what I was being made to do — but I’m not sure I could do it myself. I would be very reluctant not to have an income of my own, unless Krissy was doing so well in her work that we could comfortably survive on her single income alone. And even then, I expect Krissy would be saying to me “you damn well better be writing some pay copy,” which of course I would be feverishly endeavoring to do. But in all seriousness, I can’t imagine not working at something if it came to the point where the income was needed, or not working started eating into what we had for retirement. Fortunately it’s theoretical at the moment.
See, this is why I don’t drink.
I don’t think ’twas the alkeyhaul what made him spout the anti-semitic stuff. As you accurately point out, I think it was simply a bit of liquid wrench that got the lid off his psyche. Look at the press around the PAssion and you see all sorts of stuff he says, not to mention what his Dear Ol’ Dad says. And alcohol isn”t to blame. I drink and no one knows I killed Swale. F*ck! Now they do.
* Men are like dogs — they raise the pitch of their voices talking to men they intuit are socially superior to them. We are sooo like dogs in soo many ways. Pee with one leg up, bark at cars, have sex with anything upright aand pretty and… maybe that’s me. I just raise my voice around perceiveed superiors bvecause I get nervous. Does my typing seem higher pitched?
men who have decided that between not working, and working at a job they think is below them, some men will choose not to work.
I definitely did this when younger. But now, with a kid, I gets my ass working tired or not, regardless of whther it is below me. I once called in ssick on my last day of work for a job at a vvideo store because I was hungover. And then I also worked in a grocery stacking milk becuase I desprately needed the work. Go figure.
Now I gotta go teach a yoga class.
Re Gibson, I think you’re being too charitable. On the Holocaust, he’s pretty much taken the standard line from the “moderate” holocaust denier’s playbook” Sure, some Jews died, but not that many, and they weren’t that special.
Gibson’s answer when asked (by a very sympathetic interviewer) to confirm that he believes the Holocaust happened was: “War is horrible. The Second World War killed tens of millions of people. Some of them were Jews in concentration camps.”
And when asked about his father, he said “my father has never told me a lie.” Of course the guy wasn’t going to cut down his own father, but there’s plenty of more equivocal things he could have said. (e.g. “My father’s a great guy. He’s got some beliefs that are a little out there, but he’s my dad, and I love him.”) But instead he said that a man who is loud and clear about his anti-Jewish beliefs had never told him a lie.
I think this is a case of: “In vino veritas.”
On the pitch note, I’d point out that someone socially superior to you is not necessarily your better. For example: If you’re smart, you’re going to treat a cop who just pulled you over as your social superior. You may consider yourself to be an equal or better person, but at that point, socially he’s superior to you.
John – I’m not sure I read the same article (I don’t have a NY Times subscription) but I think part of the article’s point was that, EVEN THOUGH these men were draining down savings, they were reluctant to get a job.
It’s something I don’t understand, although again, several of the men cited were in their mid-to-late 50s, suggesting a semi-voluntary early retirement.
In my field (IT) I have interviewed a few men in this age with massively dated job skills who have been out of work for a long time.
Not to defend Gibson, but speaking as someone who had the holocaust drilled into him during my early years in Hebrew school, I feel the need to point out that there are many misconceptions. For one, sixteen million died in the concentration camps, not six. Six million were Jews, the rest were blacks, gays, handicapped, elderly, etc. Basically, anyone who wasn’t blond-haired, blue-eyed & healthy. That Hitler was a barrel of laughs, huh?
What was noteworthy about the six million Jews is that this represented such a large percentage of the Jews as a whole. As it’s been said many times, “Not all the victims were Jews, but all the Jews were victims.”
In today’s world of professional activists, anyone who doesn’t say the above exactly perfectly gets accused (as I well might here) of denying or downplaying the holocaust by the ADL or some such group.
As for Gibson, the litmus test here seems very simple: the man’s got money. Lots and lots of money. If he’s truly sorry he offended millions of people, I’d very much like to see him make a sizable donation to a synoguague or a holocaust museum. Or, if he wants to score some professional points, he can donate to Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, which documents the stories of the survivors so future generations can learn from them.
I don’t usually advocate spending other people’s money, but here’s a great opportunity for him to save some face and help some people all at the same time.
I always assumed 6′, 195-205.
Ha! Five foot seven and change (I usually round up to 5’8″ on forms) and about 160 pounds, plus or minus five pounds.
Also, I’ve nearly been fired from a teaching position I had when I said “More Russians than Jews died in WWII” as my boss was walking by my classroom.
Even when I showed him the figures (about 20 million Russians died in WWII), he tried to hold the line. It actually went like this:
“OK… so 20 million Russians died… how many of them were Jews?”
“It’s safe to say a bit less than 6 million. That leaves at least 14 million Greek orthodox/aetheist Russian deaths, hence the statement.”
“It’s still wrong. Emphasize Jewish suffering.”
“You want me to willingly lie to the kids??”
“It’s not lying… it’s a shifting of focus.”
“I’ll teach it my way, Boss… try to fire me for it.”
I worked there until I got preggs with Melissa, and he never monitored my classroom again.
As a former boys basketball coach who can usually judge height expertly even from a distance, I’m shocked. It must be that you usually appear in photos opposite Athena, and it’s screwed my radar up.
You should see me next to Krissy. She’s 5′ 10″.
There was enough in the Passion (blood libel, etc.) that made me deeply suspicious of Gibson. I agree with the commentator above – in vino veritas. I think Gibson said the minimum he could say to keep working in Hollywood before, and now we are seeing (again) what he truly believes.
Of course, he has enough money he can afford to do his own thing, but he won’t be getting any more movies from Disney unless he cleans up his image. He will repair it, to some degree, and some people will always see him as an anti-semite, and others will buy the lie for their own personal or professional reasons.
I do drink alcohol, and I’ve drunk to excess. I’ve even been in verbal and physical fights while drunk. But I never said anything that didn’t at least have a seed of truth inside me. i.e. ‘You never ever listen to me!’ is really, ‘sometimes, I feel like you don’t listen to what I have to say.’ Drunks exaggerate, but they rarely make things up out of whole cloth. After all, they’re drunk.
So Gibson the man is very different from the cop I liked in Lethal Weapon – which makes it more difficult than it should be, because the cop was never a rabid anti-semite. But that just goes to show how good an actor he is…
I can’t wait for tonight’s Daily Show; only a couple of weeks ago Stewart mentioned (while talking to an interviewee, I think) that Gibson, despite his rep (before this weekend) had been a pleasure to work with when they were doing the intro segment for the Oscars. Which will, of course, not save him tonight…
Hopefully, it will be a learning experience for him. Antisemitism is a pretty darn common trait – even among many so-called liberals. On the other hand, few people change their fundamental assumptions about the world after they reach 40 years of age, so I won’t hold my breath….
John, a good voice teacher could probably help you discover your inner tenor. I thought I was a baritone too, but now I sing full voice up to a high A, even a bit higher when I’m really warmed up….it’s all technique.
I can sing tenor notes without too much problem, actually, but my tone is better in the baritone range. I’m fun at karaoke.
Nice Weber ref. Your “Self, Culture, and Society” prof would be proud.
On L’Affaire Gibson, I will note that it’s probably just another case of ‘whiskey don’t make liars, it just makes fools’. As long as you don’t have horrible beliefs that you keep quiet while sober and can be trusted not to drive, drinking to excess risks nothing worse than cirrhosis and hangovers. If you can’t meet that standard, it’s best to avoid it.
Even when I showed him the figures (about 20 million Russians died in WWII), he tried to hold the line.
People need to revisit the staggering slaughter of World War II from time to time.
According to Wikipedia, 10 million Soviet citizens died, although in my opinion, those numbers are low. The Soviets weren’t good at keeping track of numbers, and they had an interest in hiding their real losses from the west. Recent information dug out of the Kremlin has Russian losses much higher than that.
Of the 10 million civilians (and I’ve seen recent numbers pushing that toward 20 million), about 1 million were Jews. Overall, Wikipedia has 5.7 million Jews among 62.5 million overall, so about 1 in 10 people killed during WWII were killed simply because they were Jewish.
Even as conservative as those numbers are, they are staggering.
As a Friend of Bill I can understand some of the comments made by people that want to believe that Mel Gibson is Anti-Semitic, BUT has anyone who is concerned with the world affairs and possible is worried that the current conflict in the MidEast could escalate into something that would effect not only the world but to ones family as well. Could it be that the Hazabellah (sp)not being in the well known in the news where the Jews are could have caused this outburst of worry from Mel?
Given the family history, it seems doubtful Mel’s outburst is related directly to the recent spate of troubles in the Middle East.
Me, I dig doing a capella harmonies….
I don’t know…call me simplistic, but I am getting fed up with folks misbehaving, then blaming it on “the devil,” or in this case alcohol. I have some first hand experience with someone being abusive, then assuming, “I’m sorry” will simply fix it. I am all for forgiveness, and some have told me that I am compassionate to a fault, but I don’t think always forgetting situations such as what Mr. Gibson just found himself in is the right way to go, for anyone involved. Forgetting his slights in the past apparently haven’t been much help, in fact one might make a strong case for enabling by way of forgiving. If alcohol is the only way he can be honest in life…well that’s a whole other thing he needs to work on, and the forgiveness he really needs isn’t the publics, it’s his own.
Well, obviously it’s the Jews’ fault that I have a high pitched voice and I have to take a job that’s beneath me. Kidding! Wait, sorry. Drunk!
I doubt this will hurt Mel all that much as clearly, he’s off doing his own thing. It’s not like the movie going public is clamoring for Lethal Weapon 5 where Riggs and Murtaugh investigate a corrupt Medicare Part D Prescription ring.
Get it? Ring? You know, because of the Part D doughnut hole payment thingie? Is this thing on?
“According to Wikipedia,”
You lost me right there. :-)
I stand corrected.
Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and makes you more likely to act the way you prefer to act. If you’re typically an obnoxious jerk, you become an even bigger jerk when drunk. And if you’re typically a liar, you’re not going to suddenly start telling everyone the truth – at best your lies will not be as convincing. Since most people aren’t really compulsive liars, booze may cause them to say things they wouldn’t normally admit – not because they don’t believe them but because they know the hell they will catch if they say them out loud.
Alcohol isn’t so much a truth serum as it is a personality megaphone. That’s what in vino veritas really means…
Alcohol isn’t so much a truth serum as it is a personality megaphone.
For casual drinkers this is probably true. Hard core alcoholics, on the other hand, will experience a personality shift over a long period of time. Some people become very mean drunks, and this is not just a megaphone effect.
Gibson shows why we shouldn’t idolize actors simply for being stars. We really shouldn’t do that for athletes, either, but I guess we expect something for our money.
And a complete apology should include a sincere acknowledgement of the infraction, an offer of atonement, and a vow to never do it again.
I’m a bore-a-tone too. I wish I was a bass. I’m always asked to speak and sing in a lower voice, since most of the parts I get are authority figures.
As for the working bit – when I came to MN years ago I got some great advice from an old-timer. He said Minnesotans had the highest work productivity because of our long cold winters. During winter there are only two things to do – work and make babies – and after you have six kids you HAVE to work.
There is a certain truth to that, but now that my sprog are finally leaving the nest I can re-evaluate how much money I really need and what I want to do to get it. So far my motto has been “never turn down a gig” but I’m not sure I’ll continue that.
Hey – what is the worst or most unusual thing anyone has done for money?
Mine was getting my, umm, wedding tackle examined by 30 or so med students. Since it included multiple hernia exams (“Turn your head and cough”) I got about $350. for a couple hours work.
Is it just me, or is Mel Gibson looking eerily like Saddam Hussein in that photo?
Now that you mention it, he does have a resemblance to Hussein. The facial hair and especially the, ummmm, intense eyes do it.
So when they make the Iraqi War movies, we know who they call to play Saddam’s part, huh?
You can take our lives but you can never take my WMDs (cuz I don’t got any).
Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it?
It’s the higher-voiced men, in my experience, that women have an easier time hearing, especially against background noise.
I find lower pitches get lost in the crowd or even in the empty air between his mouth and my ear. And if he ends his sentences in a sort of “and you know the rest of this sentence doesn’t really matter, shrug,” mumble, it gets much worse.
But, y’know, whatever, I mean it’s not like ymumble rmumble cmumble help the tone of ymumblemumble vmumble yeah?
I actually had Krissy pegged at about 5’9″- 5’10”, which helps explain my 6′ guess on you. Once you can trust Athena with the camera, I’m sure this will all work itself out.