I doubt that anyone is surprised at Mel Gibson’s behavior at this point, but I always find career implosion to be a fascinating thing. Remember when he was a huge star (Lethal Weapon, Mad Max, et al)? Then he slowly morphed into this out of control uber-bigot. I first took notice of it when he wrote about New York Times writer Frank Rich, “I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick…. I want to kill his dog” in response to Rich’s suggestion that the film the Passion of the Christ could fuel anti-Semitism. I think my reaction was something like whoa! this guy is unhinged on wheels. That pretty much sealed it for me but his DUI arrest put the last nail in the coffin when he told the arresting officer, James Mee that the “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
Fast forward to last week when he was caught on tape excoriating his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva for a variety of matters including telling her “that she deserved to be raped for wearing tight and provocative clothes”. Wow, that’s a sensitive thing to say to someone you love.
That got me thinking. So I’d like to think that I’ve never personally uttered anything as offensive as that, but I certainly can not say that I’ve never said something extremely hurtful to someone that I care about. Why do we do this? The reality is that just like “Mad Mel”, we also experience something akin to a temporary insanity at these moments. The Talmudic Sages tell us that someone who gets angry is like they served idols. Why? Because we have given over our power (in this case of self control) to another entity called “Anger”, and we allow him to be in control of us for a while.
Most of us would be much more careful with our tone and choice of words if we knew that our interlocutor was recording our conversation and would soon post it online. Truthfully, for those of us who believe that no word or deed goes unnoticed, Mel’s situation should serve as a powerful reminder of what the Mishna cautions us “know what is above you-an eye that sees, an ear that hears and all of your actions are inscribed in a book”. What do you think?