Skip to comments.Mel Gibson's Apocalyptic Stupidity
Posted on 12/13/2006 4:59:55 AM PST by UltraConservative
According to Mel Gibson, his new movie, "Apocalypto," is a metaphor for the death of American civilization. "The precursors to a civilization that's going under are the same, time and time again," Gibson explained at a film festival in Texas. "What's human sacrifice if not sending guys off to Iraq for no reason?"
Gibson's comparison between Mayan and American civilization is deeply offensive. To elucidate just how offensive the comparison is, I must review the film's portrayal of Mayan society. (Warning: There are spoilers. If you are intent on seeing this movie, read no further.)
"Apocalypto" portrays two societies within Mayan civilization. The first is a hunter-gatherer sort of Rousseau-ian society, wherein noble savages tell colorful stories, cherish their pregnant wives and play practical jokes involving eating raw tapir testicles. The second is the decadent Mayan city, where slave laborers covered in powder cough up blood as they pound rock; where throngs cheer wildly as power-mad priests engage in ritual human sacrifice, pulling still-beating hearts from chest cavities, beheading victims and tossing those heads down towering flights of stairs to a waiting crowd, which then sticks the heads on pikes; where the headless bodies are dumped in Holocaust-like mass graves, to rot in the sun.
The Mayan city society invades the Rousseau-ian hunter-gatherer society, brutally and graphically raping and murdering its way through village after village. Citizens of the hunter-gatherer society are kidnapped and used for ritual sacrifice, or for sport killing.
Gibson's point is this: Mayan civilization in decline had corrupted itself through brutality and barbarity. It sacrificed its own citizens on the altar of fear. The values that made Mayan civilization worth preserving -- the values embodied by the Rousseau-ian society -- were destroyed so that the fears of the population could be assuaged. In doing so, Mayan society made itself ripe for conquer by the Europeans.
Gibson likens Mayan civilization to American civilization. "We're all afraid," Gibson told Entertainment Weekly. "That's something I've been finding out more recently -- how racked by fear we are as a society." We are discarding our values, Gibson implies. We are engaging in Mayan barbarities in Iraq, sending our own citizens off to die on the altar of fear.
"Apocalypto" opens with a quotation from historian Will Durant: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it destroys itself from within." Durant is correct -- but the film's exposition of Durant is utterly wrong. If American (and Western) civilization falls, it will not be because our fears drove us to "Mayan barbarities," but because, like Gibson, we failed to distinguish good from evil.
Not all civilizations are created equal: Some deserve to fall because they are deeply corrupt from the outset. Mayan civilization, with its human sacrifice and primitivism, was never a beacon of liberty. The Rousseau-ian values Gibson sees were not what distinguished Mayan civilization. The strength of Mayan civilization was based solely on its power -- it was doomed to fail from the moment it encountered a society more powerful militaristically and economically than itself.
Western civilization has values worth protecting -- liberty and equality of opportunity -- and those values give it strength. Those values make us stronger than our enemies, unlike the Mayans. Equating all civilizations, as Gibson does, is what undermines Western values. There is a world of difference between using violence out of superstition and using violence to both ensure domestic security and free others from the oppression of a death cult that ritually beheads its citizens or dumps them in mass graves. It is moral barbarism of the highest order to equate the two, as Gibson does.
Critics have rightly focused on the stunning violence of Gibson's "Apocalypto." The movie is certainly one of the most violent ever filmed -- Gibson's camera lingers lovingly over each wound. But it is the violence Gibson does to morality that should worry us. It is that violence that contributes to the internal destruction of Western civilization. If Western civilization is doomed to failure, it will not be despite Mel Gibson's best efforts, it will be because of them.
Mr. Shapiro is a student at Harvard Law School. He is the author of "Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future" (Regnery, a Human Events sister company) and "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctinate America's Youth" Thomas Nelson).
I have better things to do with my money, thank you.
Mel goes from idiot to idiot, with brief excursions into normalcy.
A lot of people were telling me that this movie was a metaphor about the coming of Christianity, etc.
That isn't what Mel says, apparently.
one's values doesn't give strength, that takes might - muscle. being unified behind that muscle, adn willing to use it to defend and promote those values does.
History is replete with high value cultures that failed due to disunity, or unwillingness/inability to defend themselves.
one could also use this movie to show another POV: The barbaric (Radical islams) are unified behind their power and hate, while the western society isn't capable of defending itself against the horde of invaders...
He wants to get some Oscar nominations and satisfy Hollywood liberals by telling them what they love best: Bash President Bush.
Whoa...I just flipped over there after reading your post. If Gibson's going to do a 5am interview, he really oughta get up before 4:45...
A thoroughly unsatisfactory interview.
Watched Mel On Fox and Friends a few minutes ago. A very uncomfortable interview. Mel seemed to be holding back hostility. Probably toward Fox. If he did the interview to change opinions of him, it was a waste of time.
Do you believe he didn't know about the Holocaust Denial conference? I don't.
I don't believe that either. I think Mel is still in denial. Frankly , he wasn't too impressive.
Just not into Gibson's gorefest films, especially during the holidays.
That's another thing: why was this released at Christmas, and not during the summer?
Before anyone passes judgment on the film itself, you might go see it and decide for yourself. I know a handful of folks I consider to be very conservative Christians who have seen the movie and actually enjoyed it. One is a bit of a history buff when it comes to Mayan civilization.
Gibson's comments sound rather lame, yes. But as a film maker, he has come into his own. And as I also have an interest in Mayan culture, I will go see the movie as well.
And by the way - the "great" Mayan power was not brought down by a society that was more powerful. They were doomed by a long drought that eventually weakened them to not even a shadow of their former power. The Spanish only had to over throw small villages and "farms". No real opposition from the Mayan remnant.
I don't think that's his point at all.
The prime focus of Mel's loathing is Israel, not America. In his worldview it is Israel that is "capturing" innocent Americans and dragging them to Afghanistan and Iraq to be sacrificed on the altar of Zionism.
How is watching the movie any different?
it is the height of hypocrisy for Gibson to make a bloodthirsty film like this and then turn around and claim that its viewers are corrupt and degenerate because they actually watched it.
I don't care to have images of human sacrifice floating around in my brain.
"A thoroughly unsatisfactory interview."
Whew. Mrs Felis is carless today so I had to take her to work. I thought I would be missing something worth seeing. Apparently not...
Mel will succeed in getting their attention, but only for a short time. They're far ahead of us in figuring out that "Mel has issues", but they won't lift a finger to help him. By hollywood rules, his fifteen minutes are up.
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