Great wits are sure to drunken Jew-baiting near allied

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In Salon, Neal Gabler, the peppy and likable Bob Balaban of movie penseurs, takes a tour through the mind of Mel Gibson. The article contains some stuff that I'd have to say is just not true, such as Gabler's broad claim that "evangelical Christianity…has long had a tinge of racism and anti-Semitism." (You could just as easily say that the 100-year-old Azusa Street pentecostal mission, to name one example, was a rare if not unique island of anti-raciscm, and I'll let tireless Abe Foxman speak to the issue of evangelical philo-Semitism.) But it's all worth it for this peroration:

But as he yells he is unlikely to be marginalized as a bigot, despite the charge by one Hollywood publicist that Gibson had committed a "nuclear disaster," because bigotry in Bush America is just another salient in the battle against the left wing. In the end, Mel Gibson, who avoided the code words and spoke more plainly than his supporters, may not have died for our sins, but he did get drunk for them.

Now let us consider things we shouldn't consider. Maybe the horrendous beliefs and prejudices of creative types are part of what makes them interesting. Take a different perspective on the old Merchant of Venice handwringing discussion. Critics twist themselves into Gordian pretzels trying to prove Shakespeare's genius transcends the ugliness of the material, or that Shylock is actually the hero, or (best rationalization of all, courtesy of Harold Bloom), that Marlowe's The Jew of Malta was actually an ironic camp classic and that Shakespeare was a sucker who took Marlowe literally while ripping him off. But maybe it's just the opposite; maybe Old Swanny found something in picking on The Jews that really appealed to him, that fired his creativity. To take another example, would T.S. Eliot be as interesting a poet if he had decided not to communicate his Show-Me State disgust for The Jews, The Irish, and anybody else who wasn't "classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and anglo-catholic in religion"?

Laura Miller flirted with this idea in her wonderful appreciation of H.P. Lovecraft as an artist driven by the darkest of impulses. There are other examples: Ernest Hemingway has become a "problem" writer for entirely legitimate questions about his anti-Semitism and misogyny, but how interesting would The Sun Also Rises be if not for the weird combination of sympathy and loathing that went into creating Robert Cohn; why else would you read "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" if not for the full-bore girl-hating that motivates that story? (I say this knowing that Irish-Americans have suffered relatively little bigotry and I personally have suffered exactly zero parts per million of meaningful bigotry, so disagree away.)

As for the specific case of Mel Gibson, well… I'm not an auteurist—more of a death-of-the-auteurist. But I'm willing to credit Mad Mel with some creative input in all his projects, and I think I see a pattern developing. The Road Warrior gets plenty of juice, the precious juice, from the horror implicit in Wez' love for the Golden Youth. Braveheart as far as I can tell is an entire movie set up for just one payoff scene: the brilliant sequence where the king (the real hero of the movie) throws the gay boyfriend out the window. Mel's performance in the otherwise unremarkable What Women Want is interesting because he spends substantial portions of the movie accessing his inner tooty-fruity. I liked The Passion a lot, and I didn't notice the anti-Semitism even though I had been briefed. Believers tell me it's full of classical anti-Semitic imagery that I was too fat and happy to notice, and I'll confess I haven't kept up on classical anti-Semitic imagery since I let my subscription to Der Stürmer lapse (problem with their fulfillment department, don't ask). But I'm going not too far out on a limb to say that that film is worth watching not despite its racial, cultural, and homoerotic baggage but because of it. This thesis doesn't adequately explain Mel Gibson's greatest performance—his voice work in Chicken Run—but I think there's enough here to declare a trend.

So Mel Gibson's a horrible person. Who would want to live in a country where no artistes are horrible people?

NEXT: Dudley Do-Right

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  1. It is interesting that much of the greatest outrage about Gibson’s drunken rant is coming from the Left, which often seems a tad reluctant to harshly condemn such talk when it comes from Iran or the Arab world in pure, sober, official form. Perhaps a bit of compensation?

    And if only Gibson had thought to use the word “neocon” instead, many of the same people who want to tar and feather him now would be hailing him as a hero.

  2. Of course, if he had thought to use the word “neocon” and “government” instead of “Jews” and “Hollywood,” he would have been closer to right.

  3. Throw out the racist and anti-Semitic jokes in standup, and all you’re left with is Gallagher and women whining about their bad dates.

    As to this outburst turning Gibson into a Hollywood pariah, I doubt that anything can kill a major celebrity’s career nowadays. If Woody Allen can still be acclaimed after shacking up with his adopted daughter, if R. Kelly can still show his face after sleeping with 14-year olds and if Michael Jackson can still claim thousands of adulating fans-Gibson will still be standing when this blows over. Then again, the three examples I mentioned didn’t fuck with the Jews-and we know who controls Hollywood.

    Kidding 🙂 See what I meant about anti-Semitic humour!

  4. Deus: Actually Jackson did record a song with some anti-Semitic lyrics.

  5. I ahve to agree with the chicken run statement.

  6. H.L. Mencken said something similar along these lines – that being an asshole was part and parcel to creativity (And Twain said something like he wouldn’t ever trust a man who lacked any redeeming petty vices).

    I think a watered down version of this conjecture is more accurate: horrendous beliefs and/or behavior often go along with creativity but are not necessary for it. Look at C.S. Lewis, C.K. Chesterton, J.R. Tolkien or the movie directors Scorsese or Spielburg.

  7. That you liked “The passion” makes me question your taste and Catholic sensiblities. Forget the anti-Semitism, Gibson’s take on the Passion is Christ as action figure. It’s a disgusting a denigration of the central figure of Chritianity.

  8. As Camus said, “A weak heal makes no man an Achiles.” You assholes out there shouldn’t be tempted to imagine that you’re creative geniuses just because you’re assholes.

  9. So Mel Gibson’s a horrible person. Who would want to live in a country where no artistes are horrible people?

    No, I wouldn’t want to live in a world in which “artistes” are people more horrible than anyone else, and get away with it, just because they are artists. If someone’s a genius, great. If they are an asshole, fine. Lots of people are assholes, and they bear the consequences socially. I’ll even go so far as to say that some of my best friends are assholes. But it pisses me off that there is this myth that justifies it with “but they are an artist,” and idiots buy it.

  10. I remember posing the Anti-Semite question to a high school teacher who was walking us through The Merchant Of Venice. His theory, that it was a case of Shakespeare giving the people what they wanted, is as plausible as any I’ve ever heard.

  11. Jews as a vibrant, existing faith community were always an afront to Christian self-understanding. Christians saw themselves as the new Israel. The sense of incongruity has outlasted Cristianity as a vibrant faith community and has found fertile ground in tortured imaginations of losers everywhere who desperately need an explanation of their lot that doesn’t involve confronting reality. For all his success, Gibson probably feels like a loser.

  12. If Woody Allen can still be acclaimed after shacking up with his adopted daughter…?

    Actually, she was his girlfriend’s adopted daughter. But your point is taken.

  13. Gibson’s take on the Passion is Christ as action figure. It’s a disgusting a denigration of the central figure of Chritianity.

    That’s the point, Uri. In his suffering and death he is an action figure, not some high-minded untouchable visionary; he is an object of scorn and ridicule, to be cursed, spat upon, beaten, and bled to death. That its central figure was so utterly violated, that the omnipotent ruler of the universe allowed himself to be treated worse than a pile of dog shit, far from being offensive to Christian sensibilities, should be at the very heart of them.

    And yes, I know that the God-talk doesn’t have traction with most of the folks here, but I couldn’t let that go.

  14. “You assholes out there shouldn’t be tempted to imagine that you’re creative geniuses just because you’re assholes.”

    You should be looking in the mirror when you say that, Bob.

  15. I saw this quote over on yahoo sports from a Dan Wetzel article about how the U.S. national basketball team needed to stop trying to be a kind of team they weren’t. Thought I’d share.

    “The square peg philosophy seemed illogical, like turning Mike Tyson into a jabber, Peyton Manning into an option quarterback, Mel Gibson into an inter-faith minister. “

  16. To make ammends, Mel needs to tighten the celice a little more and bring out the discipline for use public.

    (I feel *somebody* needed to bring in Opus Dei self-flaggelation references 🙂

  17. Well, Jesse Jackson weathered through his “Hymie Town” remarks…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/frenzy/jackson.htm

  18. Re: the Allen-Farrow non-marriage:

    Farrow and Allen never married, but they adopted two children together: Dylan Farrow (who changed her name to Eliza and is now known as Malone) and Moses Farrow (now known as Misha); and had one biological child, Satchel Farrow (now known as Ronan Seamus Farrow). Allen did not adopt any of Farrow’s other biological and adopted children, including Soon-Yi Farrow Previn (now known as Soon-Yi Previn).

    Allen and Farrow separated in 1992 after Farrow discovered nude photographs Allen had taken of Previn, and Allen admitted to a relationship with Previn.

    During a subsequent protracted legal battle, Farrow accused Allen of sexually abusing their seven-year-old adopted daughter Malone. The case never went to trial and Allen was never indicted. (From Wikipedia.)

    Arguably, Allen and Farrow, both twice-divorced when they took up with each other, developed a workaround that allowed them the cultural equivalent of a marriage, while attempting to avoid the legal obligations of an actual state-approved marriage contract. This was a vain hope, as the result of their break-up was a brutal custody battle over their children, both biological and adopted.

    That Soon-Yi wasn’t legally Allen’s child is possibly the only thing that kept him from a spell in the klink. Having a “romance” with the sister-by-adoption of your biological son is pretty damned creepy behavior. The relationship was revealed when Ms. Prevein was of age, but when did it start? Yuk factor infinity. I don’t think I could sit through Manhattan again, knowing all this Woody background.

    If I was looking for an unbiased commentator on the Gibson Meltdown, I’d look elsewhere than Gabler, a dedicated lefty on the payroll of the USC Annenberg/Norman Lear Center. Maybe he’s not grinding his own axe, but that’s not the way I’d bet.

    Kevin

  19. I just wanna point out that the biker gang in the original Mad Max was way more creepily homoerotic than the one in The Road Warrior. Go back and look again at the way the Toecutter dominates Bubba Zanetti (with his pretty Rob Halford-like bleached-blond hair).

  20. This is a scattershot case of stupidity. People have weak minds, so they are not happy staying in their own heads, they feel this overwhelming compulsion to dig into someone’s else’s.

    “ooohhh.. Mel was drunk! So he was expressing how HE REALLY FEELS!!”

    So the fuck what? He’s a typical idiot guy. He gets drunk with a bunch of like-minded idiot guys, and rants about the joos (who doesn’t?). Then, like a typical idiot guy (who is also drunk), he can’t get off the subject even when he’s outside his circle. Stupid jock drunk. All guys reading this know what I’m talking about.

    It would be a great day when people can simply shake their head and be mildly amused by the rantings of a moron.

    All said, “Road Warrior” is definitely in the top-five best Guy movies ever made. That’s a fact. It’s the “Beaches” in the world of real men.

  21. “Dear Dr Birnbaum, after carefully listening to the rantings of both Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise, I feel that it is in my best interests to discontinue therapy. I must base my life on the teachings of these great thinkers, and they tell me not to trust the Psychiatrists and the Jews, of which you are both. Don’t worry, I still trust my president, ever since Britney told me to.”

    and MNG, “Road Warrior” is a good movie, but “Waterworld” did the same thing, while on the ocean.

  22. Excellent post, Tim.

    I couldn’t agree more. Kipling and Baraka come to mind immediately.

  23. But Bush, in fomenting the culture wars and polarizing the country rather than uniting it as a way of solidifying his base, has given license to hate-mongers under the cover this time of an impending cultural Armageddon

    Typical Salon blathering. The rest of the article’s not worth spending the time on.

    Tim, you wrote a far better summary of the situation. Why link to such junk?

  24. Just curious: how was the King the real hero of Braveheart?

  25. Yay, Chicken Run!

    “We’re either going to die as free chickens, or die trying!”

    “Hooray!”

    “Er, are there any other choices?”

  26. Evangelical Christianity may be tinged with anti-Semitism, but what does that have to do with Gibson who is a Catholic? Last I saw evangelicals were anti-Catholic as much as anything.

    As far as the incident goes, anyone who has ever been drunk knows that drinking doesn’t cause you to lie or say things you don’t believe. Drinking causes you to loose your inhibitions and judgment and say things that you do believe but in a way which your normal inhibitions would prevent you from saying. For example, sober you might think the waitress has beautiful breasts and quietly glance at them when she comes by the table. Drunk, you come right out and tell her what gorgeous tits she has as you stair down her shirt. Gibson was drunk and said exactly what he really thinks in a vulgar way. As a lifetime souse who has on many occasions said and done things I probability should not have, I feel I speak with some authority on this. The truth is out. Unless it turns out that he is seriously mentally ill and without his medication, for him to claim to be anything but an anti-Semite is just ridiculous.

  27. Dan T.,

    Seriously? How was he NOT the real hero??

  28. MNG is right, I mean, if I were held to all of the things I’ve said while drunk as “how I really feel” it would be presumed that I think the “damned wop-dagos don’t know how to cook” and that we should “totally go down to Jogger’s* and find some bimbosluts to do hardstyle”. Neither of these is actually the case, I love Italian food and I never liked Jogger’s at all.

    *Think of every meat-market bar you’ve ever been too all rolled up into one with kareoke and sketchy, middle-aged townies.

  29. “Just curious: how was the King the real hero of Braveheart?”

    I guess if you really hate the Scots he was. Or if you are just a smart-ass hipster trying to say somthing besides the obvious, he would be as well.

  30. Dan T.,

    Seriously? How was he NOT the real hero??

    I thought he was the oppressive villian and William Wallace was the hero. Granted, I haven’t seen the film since it first came out.

  31. Been TO not TOO, me know speeel gud.

  32. So he?s on a binge for hours, gets pulled over, mouths off to the cops, gets arrested and booked, and his mug shot picture still looks better than I did on my wedding day.

    There ain?t no justice!!

  33. Waterworld equates to The Road Warrior? Ah, no.

    As for Shakespeare, how anti-semitic could he have been? There weren’t more than a handful of Jews in England at the time. Now I’ll grant that there must’ve been some generic negative feelings for the Jews in Elizabethan England (after all, the ban hadn’t been lifted yet), but it would’ve been more like a vague, mythology-based bias than an actual prejudice. I don’t know if that makes a huge difference, but it seems something worth noting.

  34. Donohue and others were hitting the news channels last night promoting the idea that this whole brouhaha comes down to one thing – anti-Catholicism. That’s right, the jews are “piling on”! He said he was sorry! Why can’t you Jooooosss give him break!

    After all, taking offense is so much more unforgivable than being offensive, wha?

    I’ve known for years that Gibson is an A-hole. I wouldn’t give him the time of day in person, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying some of his movies for what they are – pure violence, with a thin veneer of a plot just to move the film along until the next blood-splatter fest.

  35. Waterworld equates to The Road Warrior? Ah, no.

    No, not equates. One takes place on land, the other on the comparatively more challenging ocean.

    Waterworld is simply better.

  36. Qbryzan,

    It’s certainly damper. And more Costneresque. Oh, and I must acknowledge its greater length and heightened implausibility (we could melt all the ice on the planet and not even come close to “Waterworld”). Furthermore, it cost much, much, much more to make.

  37. And don’t forget the dearth of crimi…Australians.

  38. Q:

    “Waterworld is simply better.”!?!

    Just walk away. You can put a stop to all this.
    Just walk away, and I will spare your life.

  39. Having a “romance” with the sister-by-adoption of your biological son is pretty damned creepy behavior.

    The real loss was that this broke him up with Mia. As the post indicates, I think art is all that matters, and the Wood Man never had a better run of movies than he did during the Mia period.

    Tim, you wrote a far better summary of the situation. Why link to such junk?

    Well, I thought the last line in the quoted passage was pretty damn funny.

    Just curious: how was the King the real hero of Braveheart?

    He’s the only wit in the movie. He’s the better strategist, having (I forget the details) worked out some brilliant scheme involving landing forces on several coasts to trap the Scots. He’s a tragic figure because his one ambition-to see his line carried on-is being mocked in front of his face by the pansy son. He looks cool, with a great old-hardass face, and he has a cool nickname. He’s an unsentimental realist. He’s got the burden of command and is struggling to suppress a bunch of rambunctious natives who hate his guts-thereby making him the movie’s de facto American. On the other hand, you have Mel and a bunch of Central Casting Scots and lovable lugs, whose regular-guy antics are totally sappy and unconvincing. I say that makes the Longshanks the star of the film.

  40. “He looks cool, with a great old-hardass face,”

    Could not have said it better myself. Better outfits, better hair, better voice.

  41. “He’s the only wit in the movie. He’s the better strategist, having (I forget the details) worked out some brilliant scheme involving landing forces on several coasts to trap the Scots. He’s a tragic figure because his one ambition?to see his line carried on?is being mocked in front of his face by the pansy son. He looks cool, with a great old-hardass face, and he has a cool nickname. He’s an unsentimental realist. He’s got the burden of command and is struggling to suppress a bunch of rambunctious natives who hate his guts?thereby making him the movie’s de facto American. On the other hand, you have Mel and a bunch of Central Casting Scots and lovable lugs, whose regular-guy antics are totally sappy and unconvincing. I say that makes the Longshanks the star of the film.”

    Wow maybe he is the hero of the movie.

  42. When two movies are nearly identical, the winner is the movie starring Dennis Hopper.

    c’mon, it’s not rocket science.

  43. Tim, I so agree that Woody would have been much wiser to resist the lure of not-quite-incest and stick with Mia. But the pervy heart wants what the pervy heart wants.

    As for Longshanks, he’s a great antagonist, but no hero. He’s still a Scottish boogeyman. The songs tell the story.

    O Flower of Scotland,
    When will we see
    Your like again,
    That fought and died for,
    Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
    And stood against him,
    Proud Edward’s Army,
    And sent him homeward,
    Tae think again.

    The Hills are bare now,
    And Autumn leaves
    lie thick and still,
    O’er land that is lost now,
    Which those so dearly held,
    That stood against him,
    Proud Edward’s Army,
    And sent him homeward,
    Tae think again.

    Those days are past now,
    And in the past
    they must remain,
    But we can still rise now,
    And be the nation again,
    That stood against him,
    Proud Edward’s Army,
    And sent him homeward,
    Tae think again.

    0 Flower of Scotland,
    When will we see
    your like again,
    That fought and died for,
    Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
    And stood against him,
    Proud Edward’s Army,
    And sent him homeward,
    Tae think again.
    – Roy Williamson

    There’s also Burns’

    Now’s the day, and now’s the hour:
    See the front o’ battle lour,
    See approach proud Edward’s power –
    Chains and slaverie!

    Eddie is a 14th century Lord Vader, man!

    Kevin

  44. Tim,

    I had a girlfriend a few years ago who went to private school in NYC with Sun Yea Previn when they were in junior high. She knew her and the Woody Mia family pretty well. To hear her tell it, SunYea hated Mia Farrow and thought Woody was creepy (go figure). This was when SunYea was like 12 or 13. Anyway, my girlfriend thought Sun Yea was a pretty manipulative and vindictive person even at that age. Her theory on the whole thing was that Sun Yea seduced Woody Allen in order to get back at Mia by stealing her husband.

  45. “He’s the only wit in the movie.”

    Zat ees nut true!

    Englishmen don’t know vhat a tongue is for.

  46. He’s the only wit in the movie. He’s the better strategist, having (I forget the details) worked out some brilliant scheme involving landing forces on several coasts to trap the Scots. He’s a tragic figure because his one ambition?to see his line carried on?is being mocked in front of his face by the pansy son. He looks cool, with a great old-hardass face, and he has a cool nickname. He’s an unsentimental realist. He’s got the burden of command and is struggling to suppress a bunch of rambunctious natives who hate his guts?thereby making him the movie’s de facto American. On the other hand, you have Mel and a bunch of Central Casting Scots and lovable lugs, whose regular-guy antics are totally sappy and unconvincing. I say that makes the Longshanks the star of the film.

    But in what movie is the villian not cooler and more interesting than the hero?

    And saying he’s the “star” of the film is not the same as being the “hero”…

  47. Tim, Tim, Tim. Working for a libertarian magazine and not finding William Wallace, a real life proto-proto-libertarian (very proto, but still), to be the star/hero is surprising, nay, shocking. In fact, since we’re talking about the wildly inaccurate movie, as opposed to the actual history, Wallace was even more an exemplar of freedom. Not that I am at all suggesting that McGoohan didn’t steal the film in classic antagonist fashion–he did, in spades.

    Your analysis of Edward I is also found wanting. Why? You left out his coolest feature–he was played by Patrick McGoohan. Tr?s cool. I eschew all awards and will send my Tahitian (sorry, honey, I meant half-Columbian) love slave to accept any that I might win; HOWEVER, the lack of an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor or even a friggin’ nomination for McGoohan’s outstanding performance was and is an obscenity. Spacey did a nice job in The Usual Suspects and deserved the nomination, but McGoohan was transcendental. Incidentally, McKellen got screwed that year, too, for his portrayal of another English king. What does the Academy have against English kings, anyway? Branagh got the lukewarm shoulder for his excellent Henry V (Nice Job for a Foreign Film? doesn’t count).

    As for Waterworld, it isn’t identical to The Road Warrior, so the Hopper Tie-Breaking Rule? simply does not apply.

  48. It is interesting that much of the greatest outrage about Gibson’s drunken rant is coming from the Left, which often seems a tad reluctant to harshly condemn such talk when it comes from Iran or the Arab world in pure, sober, official form. Perhaps a bit of compensation?

    that’s because Arab cultures are foreign and exotic, and like all things foreign and exotic, we are not to judge or interfere. They are to be left alone in their pristine, pure state.

  49. So the fuck what? He’s a typical idiot guy. He gets drunk with a bunch of like-minded idiot guys, and rants about the joos (who doesn’t?).

    I dunno, Mr. Nice Guy, most of the people I know don’t. In fact, we don’t know much about the ‘joos’ to begin with. I’m, not trying to make myself out to be some pristine spokesman for the anti-defamation league (you oughtta hear me rant about Muslims everytime a car explodes) but believe it or not, there are some people in this world, and in this country who don’t spend anytime thinking or handwringing over the Jews. In fact, we don’t spend much time thinking about race or ethnicity either. This, I suspect is difficult to imagine for most northeasterners– (Is northeastern a race?) many of whom I know do spend a lot of time considering these things. Why, I know people who were born in the East who can recognize someone Jewish on the street by facial features. How the fuck does anyone do that? It’s just foreign to me.

    for instance, I often don’t ‘get’ the white characters in Spike Lee movies. They all go eventually into thirty minute hyphenated rants about every race/ethnicity on the planet. Good lord, take up video games and forget about what color someone is.

  50. Working for a libertarian magazine and not finding William Wallace, a real life proto-proto-libertarian (very proto, but still)

    A medieval history professor friend of mine lists Lionheart as one of his least-favorite movies because of all the deprogramming he has to do to his students so they can understand the true facts of, as he roughly put it, “A Scottish noble, dammit, who didn’t give a damn about freedom, but wanted to stop the English from oppressing his serfs so he could oppress them himself.”

  51. “A Scottish noble, dammit, who didn’t give a damn about freedom, but wanted to stop the English from oppressing his serfs so he could oppress them himself.”

    Hmmm… sounds like the Democrats fighting the Republican agenda, to me.

  52. Wallace opposed the Bruce’s claim to the throne, too. Minor difference between history and reality. Oh, and Edward III was born a number of years after Wallace died. And there are about 80 other major errors. Not sure what Randall Wallace was thinking. Then again, he butchered The Man in the Iron Mask, too, and that was fiction.

  53. Wallace opposed the Bruce’s claim to the throne, too. Minor difference between history and reality. Oh, and Edward III was born a number of years after Wallace died. And there are about 80 other major errors. Not sure what Randall Wallace was thinking. Then again, he butchered The Man in the Iron Mask, too, and that was fiction.

  54. Best comment on this whole mess I’ve seen lately is from the sign to local Austin restaurant El Arroyo:

    Mel Gibson, meet Judge Goldstein.

  55. john derbyshire had it right. what is a man other than the veneer of civilization and manners he chooses to wear over his animal interior?

    As the post indicates, I think art is all that matters, and the Wood Man never had a better run of movies than he did during the Mia period.

    you are kidding, i hope. play it again sam, take the money and run, bananas, annie hall…

  56. . . .Love and Death. Any movie about Russia during the Napoleonic Era with black drill instructors, VD plays, dialogues with Death, village idiot conventions, and, of course, fields of wheat works for me.

    Hannah and Her Sisters, Radio Days, and Zelig were the best Mia movies, off the top of my head. Good flicks, but not Bananas or Sleeper, let alone the other classics.

  57. Pro,

    Dont’ forget the Purple Rose of Cairo which is a very underrated film. Bannanas is really funny, especially the scene at the end where Howard Cosell does the play by play and post game interviews of Allen’s wedding night. I sort of consider Woody Allen to be kind of the Stevie Wonder of film making. Both of their careers ask the same question; does a decade or so of awfulness at the end of their careers eclipse the decade or more of brilliance that started them?

  58. how could i leave off sleeper? brilliant. the howard cosell joke alone was worth the price of admission. sorry and thanks pl.

  59. Both of their careers ask the same question; does a decade or so of awfulness at the end of their careers eclipse the decade or more of brilliance that started them?

    No, it doesn’t. They both had long periods of brilliance before they began to fade. Creativity is hard, and it’s even harder to sustain over the long term. Although I think Stevie Wonder is more or less retired, Woody Allen still has flashes of his old self. Unfortunately, those flashes haven’t constituted a whole movie for a while, but that’s okay. He’s obviously flipped out a bit, anyway, which is the cooler way to burn out. Though manifested in disturbing ways in his case, I hasten to add.

  60. Her theory on the whole thing was that Sun Yea seduced Woody Allen in order to get back at Mia by stealing her husband.

    Ooh. Thanks for the dirt, John! I guess I could see that.

    And I too prefer the Annie Keaton era (70s, basically) to ’80s-Mia Woody. (His “earlier, funnier” films.)

  61. Is Waterworld better than Road Warrior?

    Is Waterworld even worthy to clean the Johnny-on-the-Spots of Road Warrior?

    Hell no!

    What the fuck is the matter with you? I oughta come over there and slap your head right out of your ass!

    (I say this without true rancor.)

  62. Is Waterworld better than Road Warrior?

    Is Waterworld even worthy to clean the Johnny-on-the-Spots of Road Warrior?

    Hell no!

    What the fuck is the matter with you? I oughta come over there and slap your head right out of your ass!

    (I say this without true rancor. But damn.)

  63. On the question of whether artistry and assholery are somehow inextricably linked …

    I had some thoughts once along this topic. Background: John W. Campbell, the editor of the science fiction magazine Analog (AKA Astounding), once wrote an essay in which he posited that humanity has so far evolved through three stereotped phases of culture. The essay was titled “Tribesman, Barbarian and Citizen.”

    Campbell allowed that not all human cultures evolve through these phases at the same rate. (When the Romans reached the level of Citizens, their Germanic neighbors were still Barbarians, or maybe Tribesman.)

    He also allowed that, though the USA is a Citizen culture, we may have some Barbarian throwbacks among us.

    Campbell’s essay inspired a possible book-length project I’m mulling over, and I’ll post an exceprt from my notes for same:
    ———————————
    Barbarian
    Highly individualistic [won’t/can’t readily submit to authority like Tribesman or Citizen]

    Campbell notes that Barbarians are warlike, but fails to note that the Barbarian culture also tends to be very gifted in the arts and literature — especially the bardic arts — poetry, story-telling. Examples: the Celts, Norsemen . . . and rap artists? Rockers?

    Perhaps in the modern age, successful creative people often act Barbaric simply because they feel their success and presumed importance exempts them from the rules that apply to “ordinary people.” (But how many times do you hear about the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or even the most arrogant politician, trashing a hotel room?)

    Or maybe the Barbarian culture tends to produce more than its share of bards because creativity, innovation, risk-taking, individualism and nonconformity are all of one piece. Maybe the performing arts are a form of boasting, which seems to be a hallmark of Barbarian culture.

    [Is this comparison even fair? Are rockers and rappers and such really prone to anti-social behavior? Or is that just bad press and stereotypes? Or is it because they tend to become famous and influential at such a young and immature age? Or is trashing hotel rooms really the only way they can use power against the organizations that mistreat them without jeopardizing their relationship with their fans (which a refusal to play a show, for example, would do.) Delete preceding paragraph? Sounds more stupid and ill-reasoned every time I read it.]

    [Late addition: More recently, I’ve been listening to some rap. Many of them do sound like Barbarians, so maybe keep this after all.]

    (end of notes)

  64. A medieval history professor friend of mine lists Lionheart as one of his least-favorite movies because of all the deprogramming he has to do to his students so they can understand the true facts of, as he roughly put it, “A Scottish noble, dammit, who didn’t give a damn about freedom, but wanted to stop the English from oppressing his serfs so he could oppress them himself.”

    Comment by: Eric the .5b at August 2, 2006 01:39 P

    Wow, I now know another reason Jean-Claude van Damme is evil, his Lionheart is messing up with people’s history lessons!
    Will that silly Belgian never learn…

  65. Obviously he meant Dragonheart. That film was definitely not 100% historically accurate. With Sean Connery as the Scottish noble dragon.

  66. Paul: Me too. I have never gotten the whole Jew-obsession thing. I never heard anything about Jews as I was growing up. Granted, about black people and Mexicans, that’s another story, butno one ever said anything about Jewish people.

    And about the habit of of Woody and Mia’s kids renaming themselves: have you ever noticed that kids from normal (i.e., functional, non-drug taking, non-rock star, non-Hollywood, non-daddy ran off with my stepsister) families don’t rename themselves? And what’s more, if they tried, their families wouldn’t let them? I would have loved to “go by” a different name when I was in high school – mom and dad would’ve laughed at me and called me by my given name pointedly loudly and often in public.

  67. Paul: Me too. I have never gotten the whole Jew-obsession thing. I never heard anything about Jews as I was growing up. Granted, about black people and Mexicans, that’s another story, butno one ever said anything about Jewish people.

    And about the habit of of Woody and Mia’s kids renaming themselves: have you ever noticed that kids from normal (i.e., functional, non-drug taking, non-rock star, non-Hollywood, non-daddy ran off with my stepsister) families don’t rename themselves? And what’s more, if they tried, their families wouldn’t let them? I would have loved to “go by” a different name when I was in high school – mom and dad would’ve laughed at me and called me by my given name pointedly loudly and often in public.

  68. Stevo D.: I think of rock stars trashing hotel rooms as more adolescent behavior than an expression of any overall level of culture.

    Interestingly, Campbell himself was an example of the artistry/assholery connection. He could be a jerk with wacky opinions, but wrote some damn good science fiction in his day, and then ushered in the Golden Age of science fiction while editing Astounding, and also gave a huge boost to modern fantasy editing Unknown.

  69. For the record, William Wallace was a commoner, not a noble, though he was knighted and became Marshall of Scotland.

    As for the Allen/Farrow kids’ multiple monikers, it might be a good idea to follow the Indiana Jones rule: Never name a kid something that you could also name the dog. 🙂

    Kevin

  70. Stubby, I know a number of people who have legally changed their names. Sure, some of them had fucked up families, but let’s face it: everyone’s family is fucked up in some way. A rose is a rose is a rose. Why NOT change your name if you don’t like the one you have?

    As to the whole Waterworld vs. Road Warrior issue, it is my contention that anyone who actually saw Waterworld and claimed to like it is bald-faced liar. Not even the great Dennis Hopper could salvage a movie that pointless. For perspective, consider that Speed was afflicted with both Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bollock and somehow Hopper managed to make the movie watchable (although I personally was rooting for the bus to explode). The fact that Hopper could not rescue Waterworld only proves that Reeves and Bollock combined are still not as bad as Kevin Costner.

  71. “As to the whole Waterworld vs. Road Warrior issue, it is my contention that anyone who actually saw Waterworld and claimed to like it is bald-faced liar. ”

    I saw it for the first time after taking 2 hits of acids. I liked it until I saw it the second time – sober.

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