Gibson and Richards Stories Reveal Media Hypocrisy
2006-12-09 0:00

By Michael Goodspeed |

It would be wonderful if we lived in a culture devoid of illogic and hypocrisy, where ignorance and emotional reactivity were not traits conditioned by media and handed down from one increasingly diminished generation to another. In such a culture, the populace would be well-informed and powerfully independent, nearly impervious to propaganda, and unafraid to speak the truth as they believe it in their hearts. But this is not the culture we live in. Not by a damn long country mile.

One of the greatest impediments to a truth-driven culture is "political correctness." Let me be very clear in my complaints about pc's influences. I am not one of those phonies who tears down the straw man of "pc thuggery" in order to justify a personal prejudice. It's not "politically incorrect" to be racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or anti-semtic; it is inhuman and pathologically stupid. As a human being, my own humanity is irredeemably reduced if I choose to view another as anything less than intrinsically equal. This is the paradigm I live in, and it is dramatically contrary to the "politically correct"
paradigm of 21st century America, as defined by popular media.

The evidence of this is everywhere. We all witnessed the overblown hysteria resulting from the respective "racist" and "anti-semitic"
rants of Michael Richards and Mel Gibson. The boundaries for any "discussion" of these absurd fiascoes were immediately set by pc media.
In the Richards case, inanity has turned to insanity, with some talk of the men at whom Richards spewed racial epithets pursuing LITIGATION against the comedian. (Imagine if every person who had been called a name in a bar or comedy club filed a LAWSUIT against their antagonizers.} Few seem to recognize the most obvious explanation for Richards' onstage obscenities: He is, was, and always has been an overachieved comedic actor with no real talent for the art of stand-up.
His routine was bombing badly, and in desperation, like so many of his comedic predecessors, he tried to be shocking when he couldn't be funny. (This phenomena could be witnessed quite painfully among many early female comics, who presumably felt obliged to be outrageously

Richards' comments were indeed disgusting, but it must be remembered that countless black comedians have essentially made careers out of seriously racist and sexist stand-up routines. The difference is, when Dave Chapelle or Chris Rock utter the "n" word and/or hurl insults at whites, Asians, or women, it is not viewed as an "issue" by anyone in popular media. Is this not a double-standard? Is this not hypocrisy?

In my opinion, coverage of the Gibson case has been even more distorted and overblown, undoubtedly due to pre-existing accusations, based on Gibson's film The Passion, of anti-semitism against the actor/director.
The Gibson-directed movie "Apocalypto" opens today, and it does not take a psychic to know that the vast majority of film reviews will focus largely on Gibson's DUI-related comments.

Consider critic Shawn Levy's review in today's Oregonian newspaper. In four of his article's nine paragraphs, Levy rages over Gibson's "despicable heart and mind." Levy introduces his piece with the following assertion: "Let's get it out of the way: Mel Gibson has some hateful thoughts in his head, and some of them slipped into the script of 'The Passion of the Christ,' and quite a few more of them splashed out when he was arrested for drunken driving this summer."

What I find strange about this review is that Levy repeatedly states that Gibson's personal beliefs are not his (Levy's) focus. He begins the second paragraph with the statement: "But the purpose here is not to review the soul of Mel Gibson. It is to review 'Apocalypto,' a film he has directed."

But by the third paragraph, Levy contiues to belabor the point. He
writes: "For the record, then, Mel Gibson is to be stayed away from, even for purposes of study. He is to be shunned. A committee should be formed to boycott him. But the job here is to forget about Mel Gibson and focus on 'Apocalypto.'"

It is only in the fourth paragraph that Levy finally begins to discuss the film he is reviewing. In concluding his piece, Levy again picks up his proverbial hammer and drops it on Gibson's head with a backhanded
compliment: "It's possible for a despicable heart and mind to make great art." (For the record, Levy did give Apocalypto a generally favorable review, rating it a B on a scale of A to F, and stated that anyone who avoids the film on an a priori basis will "miss something").

I've been reading Levy's reviews for years, and don't recall him ever offering such a melodramatic personal indictment of any Hollywood figure, for any reason. I don't recall Levy ever referring to Spike Lee's "despicable heart and mind," even though Lee is an overt racist who once said that Charlton Heston deserves to be shot. Nor do I recall Levy stating that Roman Polanski should be "shunned," or that "a committee should be formed to boycott him," even though Polanski plead guilty to sex with a minor and fled the country in disgrace.

Following Mr. Levy's reasoning, Mel Gibson is so grotesque that a large portion of any "review" of his films must be devoted to personally denigrating him. My problem with Levy's comments -- and with the overall coverage of the Richards and Gibson fiascoes -- is that the outrage is unbalanced, unequal, and hypocritical. Media only express outrage over "hate speech" that is directed to very selective groups of people, based on the current cultural climate. Furthermore, the pc obsession with forbidden speech has led to the very backward perception that harmful words are just as bad as harmful actions. In Levy's belabored indictment of Gibson, he barely mentions what landed Gibson in trouble in the first place: The man was DRIVING DRUNK and endangering the lives of innocent people! If one is going to view Gibson as "despicable," it should be for that reason, and not for any slurred, spittle-laced profanity that spewed from his mouth while he was bombed out of his mind.

I don't view politically correct media members like Shawn Levy as promoting ideals of tolerance and equality. I view them as hypocrites who only get outraged over "hate speech" directed at the WRONG people.
Yes, Mel Gibson may be an anti-semite, and Michael Richards may be a racist. In my book, that would make them stupid and hateful. But if these men are to be condemned, then so must every other public figure who has made a cruel comment directed at ANYONE'S race, ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation. This simply doesn't happen.

Intrinsic equality is not just a beautiful notion, it is the key principle on which our country was founded. But the "politically correct" climate is not in line with this principle at all. This is a climate where indefensible laws against "hate crimes" and "hate speech"
are passed -- laws that deem acts of slander, libel, and physical violence more "hateful" when motivated by prejudice against selective groups of people. It is a climate where the hatred of some is condemned, while the hatred of others is accepted or ignored. It's a climate where human beings are not taught to love everyone equally, but to hate whomever is being villified in the politically correct popular media.

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