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Friday, April 20, 2012

"Who wants to eat?": Mel Gibson and the weird world of Catholic conspiracy theory

"Who wants to eat?! Who the fuck wants to eat?! Go have something to eat! Hurrrrraaaaayyyyyy!"

It's viral. It's frightening. It's hilarious. It's a big fat post-it note marked "OVER" attached to Mel Gibson's career.

Of course (as one commenter pointed out), Mel was simply repeating the words Australian mothers traditionally use to inform their children that dinner is ready.

Say what you will about Joe Eszterhas, previously best-known for writing Showgirls, the best worst movie ever (with the possible exception of Troll II). This guy really knows how to get his vengeance. (He will, of course, insist that he was not achieving revenge but merely doing his solemn duty.) Eszty details Mel's affection for conspiracy theory of the Mondo-Catlick variety:
You told me that the mothers of the last three Popes of the Catholic church were Jewish, and you said there was a Jewish/Masonic conspiracy to destroy the Catholic church -- its final architect Pope John Paul the Great, whom you called "the anti-Christ." On another occasion, you referred to John Paul as "the devil" -- this Pope, one of my personal heroes, who was universally acclaimed for apologizing to Jews for a long-standing and historical tradition of Catholic anti-semitism.

You said that Vatican II, which stripped Catholic liturgy of anti-semitic prayers, "destroyed the church" and you said that Pope Paul VI wore an ephod, the symbol of Jewish high priesthood, once worn by Caiphas, the high priest at the time Jesus was crucified. You said that a "liberal Jewish conspiracy" was responsible for the death of Pope John Paul I, Albino Luciani, a conspiracy which your father, Hutton, told me was completed when a cardinal sat on the Pope's face and suffocated him.
What Eszty may not understand is that Gibson's odd notions are exactly what you would expect from a sedevacantist. I've discussed this schismatic movement in a previous post. The sedevacantist mindset derives from various 19th century sources, most of which are discussed in Umberto Eco's brilliant The Prague Cemetery.

One source is the conspiratorial ouvre of Leo Taxil, the god of pranksters, whose hoax books still seem real to sedevacantists. I honor Taxil's spirit every April 1.

Another major source is the now-forgotten Roger Gougenot des Mousseaux, the man who pretty much invented modern day conspiracism. Any time you hear someone like Alex Jones or Mel Gibson prattling on about secret societies, occultism, and the horrible machinations of the, the international bankers, you are hearing Roger's ghost.

Another source is Melanie Calvat, the fourteen year-old girl who saw the Virgin Mary at La Salette in 1844. Although wretchedly poor, she turned out to be quite intelligent -- a voracious reader who became fluent in five languages. She also became very emotionally unbalanced, in a Gibson-y sort of way -- especially after 1858, when she expanded her recollections of what the BVM told her. Melanie, who had been kicked out of several religious orders, discovered that it was possible to earn a living by spewing apocalyptic nonsense about conspiracies against the church and within the church. The "devil inside" motif is what appealed to the public's imagination: Every time a clerical higher-up talked about liberalization, the Melanists (as her followers styled themselves) felt confirmed in their paranoia.

A lot of what Mel believes traces back to Melanie in one way or another.

(So what happened in 1858? In that year, the Catholic world switched its attention to a younger, prettier visionary. Melanie had to compete. She may not have been as photogenic, but she sure knew how to serve up paranoia by the bucketful. We are still living with her legacy.)

In the end, I feel sorry for Mel Gibson, who knows full well that he has a rage problem. Although he always gave the impression of being on the edge, he never dived headlong over the edge (at least, not in any public way) until he met Ms. Wrong. I can sympathize. Most of the rotten mistakes I've made in life occurred because I listened to the Downstairs Cannon instead of the Upstairs Cannon.

Four years ago, Eszterhas wrote that that Mel Gibson displayed the mentality of Adolf Hitler. So why did Gibson hire the guy? Why did Gibson go on an anti-Semitic tirade in front of a man known to be extremely sensitive about anti-Semitism? The psychology on display here is easy to figure out: Unconsciously, Gibson wanted Joe Eszterhas to do what he has done. That letter is the very reason why Joe was brought on board; the covert recording provides the orgasm of humiliation. Now Gibson has a real life platform to play out his favorite role, screaming in agony as his guts unwind in public. The man was born for this.

Eszty describes Gibson screaming profanities at God: "Answer me, God! Why did you turn your back on me? Fuck you! Fuck you!" All religious people must feel that way. If they say otherwise, they're lying.

(Please excuse the light postings over the next week; I'm under the deadline gun. People get angry if you don't meet deadlines. Just ask Mel Gibson.)
For a house guest to make a tape recording behind his host's back and then publish the recording is unacceptable.
That's true, Jotman. Most of the time. If you truly feel endangered, thought, it's always acceptable to record.

And if a business relationship is going south due to one party's aberrant behavior -- well. It's good to have documentation, because otherwise it's all "He said, she said."
or just not to stay in his house if he feels in danger, but I guess then they have to pay
The project seems to have been one of appease then confuse.

How you evangelize Jews by glamorizing the Maccabees, I'm not sure.

Gibson was probably under the sway also of Father Denis Fahey, who though critical of Judaism and Jews read the Bible erroneously as predicting a future conversion of a mass of them.

I suggest Christians adopt full Preterism, which correctly reads all ancient like references as having been fulfilled in the past.

Gibson would have been served better using his creativity in helping Palestinians explain the cruelty of the Zionist theft.

Herzl in fact asked the extant Pope for sanction of his project and the Pope refused, saying the land was already inhabited. And that if successful in vanquishing the Palestinians, a Jewish state would only harden Jews against conversion to Christianity, the apparent goal of Gibson.

As for the conspiracy accusations, the record for the Pope's in question ancestry (non-Jewish) is pretty clear, unless you posit a crypto-Judaism secret practise
thru the centuries unbeknownst to their neighbors and friends...and to the local synagogues with which no membership was recorded or can be ascertained.

But not all sedevacantists dabble in what might be called hyperconspiracy to establish their case, Joe.
Yes, some, many, establish their sedevacantist credentials by outlining deviation (in their view)from traditional doctrine only.
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