And then they run for the tall grass, and they hide behind reporters at the New York Times who run stories about how Mel Gibson is never going to work in this town again, all because — and, by the way, I even heard some snide comment from some guy. It might have been Andy Rooney. No, I don’t know who it was. “I don’t need to see this. I’ve read the book and I didn’t like it that much, either.” It’s this kind of tripe that’s out there.
Now, do you remember — and, my friends, take your — I’m just — I’m just — I’m not going to — I’m not going to soft-peddle a word here just for the sake… I’m going to hit you with what this art exhibit was called. If you have you children listening, be prepared to explain it to them or I’ll give you five seconds to turn your radio down. Five, four, three, two, one. Remember this great work of art by Andre Serrano called “Piss Christ”? Remember what it was? It was a crucifix in a jar of urine, and it got passed around to all the great museums of culture and modern art in America, and it was praised to the hilt, and we got great analyses of what it meant and how it represented the artists torment and how we should try to understand, ladies and gentlemen, this torment.
Remember this? Remember all of that? And how about Mapplethorpe and his photo? [Sniveling liberal voice] “Oh, we need to understand the bullwhip protruding from his, uh, orifice there. That means deep things.” I bet it did! And then, of course, the Virgin Mary exhibit, remember this? It’s a New York museum where elephant dung was part of the Virgin Mary exhibit at this museum and we were told, “It’s a free expression of art. We must all try to understand.” We were urged to be tolerant. We were told to put up with it. We were told to grow. We were told to understand. “Learn from these things, and respect the artist and what he was trying to say.”
Mel Gibson comes along, and he’s threatened. His father is brought into it. Mel Gibson is threatened here. He’s threatened there. He’s not supported by the very people whose story he’s telling. He’s not supported by the people in his industry who he has made gazillions of dollars for. He is virtually abandoned by everyone but the members of his audience. And the members of his audience have demonstrated just how numbersome — or how large a number they are, how powerful they are, and how present they are. All of these people who thought Mel Gibson was playing to a bunch of hicks, hayseeds.
I don’t know what they’re thought of, but I do know that they are considered to be not very large in number. There has to be in the deep, dark crevices of offices and homes in Hollywood today a whole bunch of people going, “What the hell is going on in this country? We’ve got to do something about it. Screw Gibson. All right, he’ll never work here again!” This guy has made these people millions of dollars. The guy has worked hard. He has worked with studios. He’s made some of the best, wholesome movies out there that scored big money, a lot of respect for the studios. He’s abandoned. Andre Serrano of Piss Christ, we are told we must embrace.
We are told we must embrace this jerk that did the elephant dung on the Virgin Mary art exhibit, and we are told we must embrace Mapplethorpe, and we are told we must embrace all of this depravity out there and learn to understand it, and those people who demand that we embrace it, demand that we get in touch with it, demand that we respect it, demand that we understand it, don’t have the guts to stand up and even expose themselves to what their chosen artists have denigrated. They don’t have the guts to stand up to it, don’t even have the guts to go see it, the movie.
They don’t have the guts to discuss it without labeling it something that it isn’t: anti-Semitism, violence-causing, whatever other, you know, spoiled-brat little criticisms — and I’ve seen them all. I’ve read some of the critics. Jamie Bernard in New York Daily News. I don’t know what got into her. “This is the most virtual anti-Semitic movie ever. This is the most violent movie ever.” Gosh, have you ever seen a ten-minute training film from Al-Qaeda? Have you seen a Palestinian blow himself up in Tel Aviv on a bus of Jews? Have you seen it happen in Jerusalem?
A movie? These are the people that are always telling us, “It’s only a movie.” Remember Last Temptation of Christ? We were supposed to embrace that, too. Last Temptation of Christ. “Oh, yeah, Christ had sex with Mary Magdalene.” We were supposed to accept that. “That’s the artist’s interpretation. Martin Scorseeeeeese! of Good Fellas and Casino, yes, and Raging Bull.” We’re supposed to accept his brilliant interpretation — and shut up! “Go see the movie! Shut up and learn it.” This is what really happened. “If we want to denigrate your savior, we we will do it. You shut the hell up, and you’ll go like it.” All right. Nobody went to see it.
It was a bomb, and, you know what? I saw some of the people from the Last Temptation of Christ being asked before the Passion of the Christ came out, “Ah, religious movies don’t go in where. It ain’t going to happen. I think Gibson’s bitten off more than he can chew, here.” I mean, the level of — it’s more than ignorance but there certainly is that. The level of ignorance that exists. I mean, we are told hatred, bigotry and ignorance is what leads us to oppose such things as gay marriage, right?
Could we not say that at least, that bigotry and ignorance has led Hollywood to totally underestimate, not understand, and ignore a market of as many as a hundred million people in this country if not more? I think we could. But somehow that doesn’t get called hatred or bigoted or ignorant because, no, it’s fashionable to make fun now. It’s fashionable to impugn and make fun of. But here we go in the midst of just the second day of all these experts who said this movie didn’t have a chance, slowly but surely knocking on the door and saying, “Can we get back in? I guess it isn’t as bad as what we thought it was going to be. Can we — can we get back in?” And you know what? Mel Gibson will accept them, because I’ve talked to him. He said, “The biggest challenge that human beings face it to love their enemies.” That’s what his belief is. “Love doesn’t mean anything if you don’t love your enemies as well.” He’ll let ’em back in because that’s who he is.