By Tom Quiner
Hollywood has forgiven many flawed men.
Roman Polanksi, who had sex with a minor, comes immediately to mind.
Woody Allen, who is credibly accused of molesting his child, saw his film win an Academy Award this year.
Robert Downey Jr. was a drug addict who came clean.
Mel Gibson is a different story. Mr. Gibson is an alcoholic who cheated on his wife and made anti-semitic remarks when he was drunk.
He recanted and he repented, and still Hollywood ostracizes him. Mr. Downey, who understands what it means to be forgiven for offenses caused when judgement is impaired by drugs and booze, says the time has come to let bygones be bygones when it comes to the brilliant Mel Gibson:
“I humbly ask that you join me, unless you are completely without sin, and in which case you picked the wrong industry, in forgiving my friend his trespasses and offering him the same clean slate that you have me and allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame.”
But Hollywood seems to be intractable. The issue isn’t Gibson’s transgressions as much as it’s his defining film, “The Passion of the Christ” that is the root cause of Hollywood’s hard heart towards Gibson.
It’s been a decade since it came out. It still challenges, moves, and angers us. Writing in the Catholic magazine, First Things, William Doino Jr. identifies the problem with “The Passion” from the perspective of our pop culture, who accused the film of being anti-semitic:
“Throughout the film, Christ’s struggle against evil—and by extension, humanity’s struggle against sin and temptation—is represented by the recurring appearance of Satan. Thus Gibson makes clear that the major conflict going on in the film is supernatural, transcending any earthly agendas among Romans, Jews, and the followers of Jesus. At the outset of the film, Isaiah 53 is referenced as Gibson reminds us of our shared responsibility for Christ’s suffering:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Mr. Doino points out the impact this movie had on the lives of people who saw it:
“The massive responsibility that we all share for the sufferings and death of Christ is communicated throughout the film, and this is why many remain in a hushed, remorseful silence at the film’s end. That the film reduced prejudice among those who saw it, and transformed many lives —including criminals who came forth to confess unsolved crimes—is a testament to its value.
The film continues to arouse controversy, however, because of its uncompromising message: One cannot be indifferent to Jesus. Belief in him as the Son of God, the true Messiah, and the Redeemer of mankind requires a fundamental yes or no. That decision must be freely made, of course—and Catholic teaching affirms that non-believers of good will and conscience can certainly be saved , through the special graces of Christ. But the universal importance of the question cannot be minimized. That is the movie’s lasting value, and continuing challenge.”
Gibson didn’t compromise when making this film. Hollywood tried to block it, they refused to fund it, and they attacked Gibson personally, even before his drunken transgressions occurred.
Hollywood embraces a different religion than Christianity. Call it Secular Humanism, Atheism, or more likely, Neo Paganism.
Gibsons lack of compromise in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ is unforgivable in Hollywood.