Thursday, July 22, 2010

Miranda Devine, Mel Gibson, Hollywood Babylon, and fundamentalist true believers ...

Here at the pond we'd already contemplated the joys of Mel Gibson's extreme Catholicism, thanks to Christopher Hitchens' rant Mel Gibson Isn't Just an Angry Narcissist, His tirades are the distilled violence, cruelty, bigotry of right-wing Catholic ideology.

But of course we're always ready to go back for seconds, always ready to demand more gruel, and so when Miranda the Devine launches in to Raging bully's taunts unleash the hypocrites of Hollywood, we were, in Joe Orton's immortal phrase, standing by and ready to prick up our ears, even if Joe never got to write that play, and we're not sure of the benefits of a prick up our ears, though it's surely better and more fun than a hammer.

Devine's piece is, as we hoped, an exemplary example of how to deplore everything while maintaining a robust Catholic innocence about anything.

It's always handy to deplore the Internet for example, and the salacious reprinting of telephone conversations:

The mercilessness of the internet is on display like never before. As Radar Online continues its slow drip of segments of the recorded conversations while the custody battle over their infant daughter Lucia goes on in a Los Angeles court, you wonder how much worse they can get.

Of course the mercilessness of the Internet is nothing as compared to the mercilessness of the Devine, as she promptly shows off an example of Gibson's repartee in an argument:

''You f------ offend my f------ maleness, my masculinity, my being, my soul! … You have my child and she doesn't need a gold digging, f------ Russian c---, whore for a mother! If you get raped it's your fault, for starters. Showing off your fake tits! Like they're some special deal? How much did they cost, those fakers?''

Oh dear, I see we've just done a Devine, because in illustrating her merciless example of the merciless Internet, we've become part of the merciless process too.

But stay, help is at hand. You see, the Devine is willing and able to take her position in a domestic, by doling out opinions and views. Gibson is awful to hear, but her, which is to say Oksana Grigorieva's, cool entrapment is just as bad, he's a pathetic object of contempt and perhaps pity, but she is infuriatingly self-righteous and calculating. It's a war of the sexes, and she's unruffled and taunting ...

Will no one stand up for Mel, will no one ponder on the indignities thrust upon him by these revelations?

He has been terminally shunned by Hollywood, pilloried by celebrity media from The New York Times to Perez Hilton, dropped by his agency and basically hounded out of the US, with reports last week, since denied by his spokesman, that he plans to move back to Australia.

Damn it, I bet it's all the fault of the Intertubes, full to overflowing with common gossip:

In a world hungry for extreme reality, Mel's meltdown is right on cue, with much more promised by Radar Online. It is a cruel new world, where private pain, psychological frailty and domestic disputes become the entertainment fodder of millions.

But hang on, hang on, the Devine's piece is also published in this cruel new world, and so becomes the entertainment fodder of millions, trying her heart out to be a gossip monger delivering the clicks, just like the Daily Mail ... why she could deliver billions of hits if she had the necessary click power.

And hang on about the hanging on, back in the old days, the yellow press, the tabloids spent as much time as they could in the gutter, when thanks to the foibles of the Catholic church and other Christian moralisers, there was such a thing as at fault divorce, and private dicks stood outside windows with cameras that had flashbulbs ...

Ah those were the days, of motel assignations, and hushed tones and snickering and legal arrangements. So much more discrete, and yet strangely, somehow no less sordid ...

But back to the common gossip, recycling the latest bout of sordid marital mayhem, and perhaps attempting to come to terms with this brave new world, in which she plays such an exemplary re-cycling role:

But given the nature of digital media it would be difficult to conceive of a situation where such a tape could be suppressed, and maybe it shouldn't be.

Oh okay, let's not talk of censorship, let's now talk of other things. How can we redeem Mel Gibson, since after all, and let's not mention this in any sordid way, he is a Catholic and a man, even if his Catholicism is extreme, and his father weird. Perhaps juxtaposing him with Bob Hawke would be a good starting point:

After all, his downfall is a salutary tale for ageing Lotharios. The curse of the golddigger is as old as humanity, yet men keep falling for it. In a week in which Bob Hawke has boasted with impunity about his serial adultery in The Lodge as if it's something to be proud of, his grinning former mistress by his side, you can see the disintegration of Gibson after the breakdown of his 29-year marriage as a sign of adultery's less forgiving price.

Strange, I don't recall Hazel Hawke leading with a tape, or their civilised divorce proceedings, celebrated in Patricia Edgar's Hazel Hawke written out in biased history, becoming a sordid media orgy, and while you might think dragging in Hawke and Blanche has three fifths of fuck all to do with Gibson, since we could drag in millions of people who've got a divorce involving a third party, and the only link here is celebrity, we can see where the comparison to Hawke is heading.

The tapes show Gibson in those moments of realisation that the girl of his dreams, who made him feel young and vibrant and lusty again, was a piece of work. He was ripped off. He gave up his most valuable asset for her, his marriage to Robyn, the source of his strength and the sole protector of his reputation.

Oh it's all the fault of the young woman, tempting him and leading him astray and doing him down, and nothing to do with his patriarchal assumptions. Put her in a burka!

Oh dear, I can see the duck moving, I can see the ripples on the pond, I can see that the legs must be flapping, but all the same, the Hawke thing isn't working. Perhaps it's time for another salacious quote?

There are moments in the phone call when the penny drops for Mel: "I spent more than $5 million on you! … You're f------ gouging me. You! Used me … You f------ used me … I know absolutely that you do not love me … I left my wife because we had no spiritual common ground. You and I have none! Zero! You won't even f------ try. You don't care. You don't care … You insult me with every look, (garbled) every f------ heartbeat you selfish harpy … I need a woman! Not a f------ little girl … I need someone who treats me like a man, like a human being. With kindness. The last three years have been a f------ gravy train for you … you're a liar, you're dishonest, and you're f----- up … I just need a nice woman to look after my beautiful daughter."

Well there you are in one. I left my wife because we had no spiritual common ground. You and I none! Zero! You won't even fucking try. You don't care. You don't care ...

At last it becomes clear. A deluded Gibson thinks his wife is going to hell, and expects his new partner to embrace his Catholic fundamentalism, in the way Nicole Kidman was supposed to line up at the altar of Scientology for Tom Cruise. As Hitchens noted, within the context of Gibson's condemnation of his long suffering wife to hell, unable to join him in paradise, her condemnation "a pronouncement from the chair."

Gibson has now traded in this long-suffering lady—hopelessly rupturing his sacred marriage vows—for another, younger one, who, to phrase it delicately, was almost certainly not picked for her salient Catholic virtues. In doing this, he must have had a consciousness, however dim, of having endangered his immortal soul. Not only that, but also of having parted with a sensational quantity of worldly goods by way of a divorce settlement. And after all that, the new girl won't do as he says; won't defer; won't assume the desired position at a single snap of his fingers. A true gauleiter feels entitled to a bit more by way of luxurious subservience. No wonder, then, that Gibson walks around with neon lights behind his staring eyes, flashing the slogan "Contents Under Pressure."

But do you think the Devine would pause to wonder for just a moment about the role Catholic fundamentalism has played in this whole sordid affair? No, no, hang on, there's plenty more Hawkes out there, so let's talk about them:

While Gibson's language and physical violence - if true - are indefensible, nevertheless there is deep hypocrisy at work in the reaction to the tapes.

Yes indeed. What about Roman Polanski?

His vile language and racist slurs deserve the strongest censure. But how are they worse than Roman Polanski's drugging and anally raping a 13-year-old girl that has been proven in a court of law and for which he has escaped punishment for 30 years while being feted around the world and sheltered by European arts lovers? Why is it OK for Whoopi Goldberg to defend Polanski but it's not OK for her to say she knows Gibson, and he's not a racist?

Wow. Talk about a confection. Polanski, anal rape, drugs, European arts lovers, Whoopi Golberg and racism. How's that for deflection, what we used to know in the old days as a kind of aluminum chaff designed as a counter measure against radar by military aircraft. Drop enough of it, and no one will know what's going on, or what you might stand for.

Thinking Polanski isn't enough? That you still feel you need more angle to sink the eight ball? How about Alec Baldwin?

Is Mel's rant worse than Alec Baldwin's taped menace of his 14-year-old daughter Ireland who he threatened and called a ''little pig''? Baldwin had barely time for contrition before he was being showered with awards.

Yes, yes, but what about Miranda the Devine's creed of personal responsibility? Of Mel fessing up and shouldering the blame and admitting he done wrong and showing a little contrition? Instead of racking up any number of such incidents? Sheesh, I can see you've clearly forgotten about Charlie Sheen:

What about Charlie Sheen's domestic violence? Or any number of cover-ups of child abuse and domestic violence in Hollywood?

Yes yes, indeed, what about Fatty Arbuckle and what about the sad case of Frances Farmer and what about all the other matters detailed in Kenneth Anger's original and sequel in his two books about Hollywood Babylon. Never mind the accuracy, bathe in the Thelemite sensationalism.

What's the actual Devine point?

As long as you share the Hollywood establishment's progressive politics you will be forgiven anything.

Bugger me dead, as Joe Orton might have said if he'd lived in the antipodes. So that's it. A truly asinine and silly, no downright stupid, hillbilly assertion about progressive politics. Go tell that to Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

Yet that's as full frontal as the Devine can get about all this. It's somehow all to do with the Hollywood establishment's progressive politics. And now the pin up boy for the Catholics is going through his very own passion:

But not ''Octomel'', who for so long represented an impossible ideal for Hollywood with all its temptations, money and focus on the superficial, that it was possible to be happily married with seven children, to remain a devout Catholic, albeit with some kooky beliefs.

Kooky beliefs? For those who refused our offer of bonus steak knives and a chance to catch up with dad Hutton Gibson, here they are again.

You see, you can't have it both ways, you can't claim Gibson as a devout Catholic, and an exemplary happily married man when he's gone off the rails so comprehensively and so publicly, such is the lot of film stars out there selling their shows. Unless of course you're the Devine, still yearning for the good old days:

He made The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto, panned by the inner sanctum, but both movies were so successful he earned enough to survive without the support of Hollywood's cultural tsars. His refusal to conform was a threat to their comfortable assumptions, power and influence, their progressive politics and amorality, their sense of invulnerability and entitlement.

Yes he made a lot of moola from a theological snuff movie, and from film so violent I only got past the first reel by discreet use of the fast forward button. These are perhaps two of the most perverted, warped, blood and violence and SM infested movies made in recent times ... Sure fire hits with wearers of cilices and those who think a good purgative caning or whipping, preferably with a cat of nine tails, is a sure fire way to a spiritual cleansing. And nothing wrong with that, if you have Percy Grainger tendencies.

But to position this up against progressive politics and amorality is surely to position yourself deep in cloud cuckoo land.

Welcome to the world of Miranda the Devine.

Now he has fallen prey to a gold-digger and seemingly lost his mind, there is no sympathy, just a gleeful savaging of the corpse. Gibson's bipolar disorder and alcoholism are on full display in his rants, but the only person who cares to defend him is the wife he betrayed, who provided a statement to court that he never physically abused her.

Which tells you something about the enduring salvation benefits for men, at least, of marriage, and probably a lot more about the saintliness of Robyn Gibson.

Actually the whole piece tells me a helluva lot more about the weirdness of being Miranda the Devine.

But if marriage is so good for men, and if marrying young gold diggers is such a problem for them, why not allow good men to marry other good men, and live long and happy lives?

As for the saintliness of Robyn Gibson, sadly, the Devine misses the salient point. She's going to hell, to burn in hellfire for entire eternity, or so Mel believes. What sort of vision is Mel offering his ex-wife? Well we've run it before, but we'll run it again, as Thomas Keneally explains the notion of hell in a retreat in Fred Schepisi's seminal The Devil's Playground:

Without exception, death will come to each and everyone of us. The clod of earth will rattle on each of our coffins. The body we pamper will become a city of corruption, a horror under the earth, our own mothers could not bear to look upon it. If we are saved, our bodies will rise again free and glorious when Christ comes, but if we lose our battle with temptation, we know what our agony will be. For ever more we shall be awash in the burning rivers of the dead, for ever more the stench of hell, of the rotting flesh of the damned, will fill our nostrils, for ever more our ears will resound with the screams of the tormented, for ever more our pain will be like the pain of a man tied down, unable to move, while one fiery worm eats at his vitals. The man screams for unconsciousness, but there is no unconsciousness in hell. The worm eats and eats and its work will never finish, but continues for ever more. And what does that for ever more mean?

Imagine a sphere of metal vast as the sun. Imagine that once every ten thousand years a sparrow should visit it and brush it with its wings. When that ball had been worn to nothing, we would still be in hell, we would still be the howling damned who do not see God's face.

Well it might help explain what goes down in the Passion and Apocalypto, but it clearly doesn't help a relationship if someone's sitting in the kitchen with a beer propheysing your life in the after life.

Such is the power of delusionary folk tales to ruin people's lives. That's what you learn about the enduring salvation preached by fundamentalist religionistas who forget their humanity in their quest for an after life, or as we like to think of it here at the pond, pie in the sky by and by ...

(Below: and in keeping with the mood, a couple of Reni's deeply homoerotic Catholic images).

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