Reprinted from last year. On Mel Gibson:
"First, I'm a not interested in attacking someone for saying anything in public that others find disturbing. I'd rather have those things out in the open than mumbled under the breath. Also, not all reactionaries are hypocrites and I'm more offended by hypocrisy than faith. The sensitivities it may be necessary to appease in a democracy are not the same as those necessary to art. I'm really not sure, for example, if there's even been a work of art produced in the Catholic world that can be seen as philosophically democratic in nature.
It's undoubtedly a perverse film. A.O. Scott refers to this, without going very far, in his Times review. Mary Gordon in today's paper calls the it "a perversion of the meaning of the event and its context." This is a theological question that doesn't interest me. Edward Rothstein does better in describing Gibson's sensibility as medieval and compares the film unfavorably to the philosophical modernism of the St Matthew Passion.
In such a perverse age, I find it annoying when liberals refuse to take account of the complex forms and meaning of violence. To say that it is destructive of the self, is to deny that many forms of pleasure act in such a way. Orgasm, as Belle will tell you, is a moment -at least- when the world vanishes. But liberalism acts as a critique not only of violence but of ecstasy. I'm not going to defend sado-masochism, since that's the subject here, but neither am I going to ignore its power. I live in New York. Large cities are interesting places.
Rothstein, as a conservative and a man willing to give pleasure its due, is able to critique Gibson's film not by means of cheap moralism -and at this point in time, is there any other sort?- but on the grounds of formal logic, and of the meaning of that logic. Any political critique, if it is to carry weight, has to be made in such a way."
I saw the film and liked it.
Gibson is a tortured man. I don't hate him, but I might hate his father. Some of you might undestand the difference.