Monday, July 12, 2010

The Passion of the Mel (and Mary)

The movie Tim was on cable a few weeks back. It's based on Colleen McCullough's touching novel about a mentally challenged man's affair with an older woman. I love McCullough's more famous work, THE THORN BIRDS, but TIM is a gentler, more nuanced book. The movie adaptation succeeds because the acting is so spot-on--Mel Gibson, in his first film role, portrays Tim's disability in such a natural, unaffected way the audience feels compelled to protect him.

I wish I still felt that way about Mel. If you haven't heard it yet and have the interest, laineygossip has an audio of Mel's verbally abusive conversation with his girlfriend/baby mama Oksana. It's absolutely brutal--the man speaking is a racist, misogynistic bully. The insults flow from his mouth with such ease there is little question this wasn't the first time he's levelled that kind of abuse on someone close to him.

It's hard to reconcile that man with the artist who directed Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, but then, I think the man Mel was then is buried deep under a mountain of empty liquor bottles, if he even still exists at all. The first thing that struck me about the audio was how much he sounded like X, a person I once knew (now deceased) who drank and drank and drank and then spewed venom. Against his family and remaining friends, trying to destroy them with his words. Against himself, who he ended up destroying with whiskey.

People often say getting drunk is no excuse for bad behavior, and only unleashes what was already inside. I agree there is no excuse for violence and brutality, but I do think alcohol erodes not only the stomach lining but the personality as well, rubbing away the good until the alcoholic covers the bare spots with rage and hatred. And there is a difference between someone having a few too many at the office Christmas party and saying something obnoxious to the boss and the slow deterioration of brain and heart and soul that comes with long-term alcoholism. Those personality changes are often severe and irreversible if the drinking doesn't stop.

Coincidentally, I read LIT this weekend, the newest memoir by Mary Karr (author of THE LIAR'S CLUB--great book.). In beautifully poetic language she discusses the ugliest time of her life--her drinking years. It was horrible to read about a wasted, out-of-control mother screaming at her toddler son in the supermarket, a near fatal accident while driving drunk, the constant vomiting and trembling of the DTs. I worried for her, my anxiety slightly assuaged when I turned to the back cover to see a nicely made-up, healthy looking Mary. Whew, I thought, she got through it OK.

I wish the same for Mel Gibson.


  1. I doubt anyone could say this better than you just did.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly. My mother is an alcoholic and it has eaten her from the inside out. She used to be beautiful, she used to be smart. Now she's a rage-filled woman with paper thin skin and mug shots. Very well said and if you don't have an alcoholic in your family - very astute observation as well!

  3. Ugh, that was TERRIBLE. I can't believe that! I used to love Mel, too.

    What an angry, hurtful person he's become....

  4. 一個人就像一個分數,他的實際才能是分子,他對自己的評價是分母。分母越大,則分數的價值越小。..................................................