Because it couldn't have possibly come at a worse time for his son's career - or divorce proceedings. Despite what some gossip columnists have reported, it appears that Mel's wife Robyn (whom Mel charmingly declared was hell-bound because she was raised Anglican) is no rush to reconcile with the troubled former screen idol. I'm sure she can think of countless ways to spend all of Mel's millions, and her lawyers are downright priapic with the prospect of playing Oksana's tapes in court.
And now dear old dad threw a pot of kerosene on the bonfire of Mel's vanity- and life and career and finances. But something tells me that the timing is by no means accidental.
Hutton's pronouncements are shocking if you're unfamiliar with the fascistic fringe of the old Right, which unfortunately is responsible for a lot of the memes and tropes out there in Conspiracyland. There's a movement within paleoconservative circles to rehabilitate people like Gibson, hence the Cesspool appearance. They have a lot to gloss over, including a murderous intolerance for Protestants, mainstream Catholics and pretty much everyone else outside their very small circles. Christopher Hitchens has been a Gibson gadfly for years now and does a pretty good job illuminating Hutton's weltanschauuang in Slate:
I have some of old man Gibson's books on my shelf, including his self-published classics Is the Pope Catholic? and The Enemy Is Still Here!, which essentially accuse the current papacy of doing the work of the Antichrist. My favorite sample of his prose style is the following: "Our 'civilization' tolerates open sodomy and condones murder of the unborn, but shrinks in horror from burning incorrigible heretics—essentially a charitable act."Hutton did the same routine before The Passion of the Christ was released, but in that case it probably helped. The controversy over antisemitism helped make that movie a blockbuster, just as the controversy over The Last Temptation of Christ made that movie an arthouse smash. In both cases the controversy galvanized audiences and made them feel they were making a bold political statement simply by seeing a film. Of course, Passion was also released during the apex of the Religious Right's revival under Bush's patronage.
But I have a funny theory about Passion- the real object of Mel's rage is not the Jews, but Jesus himself.
It's very revealing to me that Mel chose to film himself driving a nail in Jesus's wrist. It's just as revealing as the intensity of the relentless, mind-numbing brutality that Mel inflicts on his ostensible savior. It seems to be as if a very old score is being settled, all the more brutal because of its subconscious nature.
After all, Mel was the the Sexiest Man Alive, and could have spent his free time running around boozing and whoring with the second, third and fourth sexiest men alive, not sitting there moping in some gloomy, schismatic church, hating himself for his primal urges. He could have gone and chased after harlots when he was in his prime, and not in his alarmingly rapid decline.
Every night he wasn't sharing his bed with a Cindy Crawford or a Madonna or a Claudia Schiffer was all because of Jesus. Every party he missed, every drink he never drank was all because of Jesus. All of that pain and rage we see Jesus on the receiving end of in Passion -- well, call me crazy but I think it was a long time coming.
And just look at Mel's behavior over the past few years - we're talking Corey Haim/Dana Plato kind of meltdown stuff here. I'm not seeing much saving going on as a result of his film. His taste in women has run pretty damn spicy as well. I mean, I'm sure this Oksana girl is very nice and all, but she looks more like a gangster's moll than a Maryknoll.
What's more, I very much doubt that growing up with a guy like Hutton as your father made for a lot of smiles and sunshine. I wouldn't be surprised if that belt didn't come off at the slightest possible infraction. Growing up in a neighborhood with a lot of people raised in the pre-Vatican II church, I got to know the mentality.
Hell, it wasn't just Catholics. My mother had a habit of ascribing every stubbed toe or pitfall to God punishing me ("oh, you fell down the stairs- that's God punishing you for not taking out the trash"), but she never burned with the white-hot religious rage that Hutton Gibson does. That's Torquemada, burn-the-midwives, drown-the-kittens kind of stuff that he's nursing. The stuff that even Opus Dei fanatics think is a little over the top.
Would I be at all surprised if Hutton didn't decide to stick the Longinus spear in Mel's side in order to punish his transgressions? Would I be at all surprised if he burns with jealousy over Mel's onetime superstardom? Hardly.
Either way, Hutton- you sure done fixed Mel's wagon. I'm sure Ari Emmanuel savored every second of your Cesspool slot and burned CDs of it for every producer, manager and agent in Tinseltown. If Mel's career was dying before, now it's well and planted.
In a strange way Mel's whole story reminds me of an episode of Millennium from the first season, Sacrament. In it Frank Black's sister-in-law is kidnapped during her daughter's baptism by a recently paroled psychopath. But Frank gets flashes of the psychopath's mental torment, in which he believes he's being tortured by demons.
It turns out that the psycho's father is the demon, and that he has his troubled son kidnap women for his father to torture to death. In the end, the psycho is arrested but Frank realizes who the real demon is.
I can't help but think of it whenever I read about Mel and his dad. Mel gets all of the grief but is he in fact a tormented soul? What's the real source of all of this rage and self-destructiveness? Is this the classic case of the sins of the father being visited on the son?
I'm certainly not losing any sleep over Mel's troubles, but I can't help but wonder. I think Hitchens pretty well nailed what Mel grew up having his head filled with. And of course, all of Europe once had its head filled with it before the Renaissance.