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.
Written accounts by the first spanish invaders included the description of mounds of body parts. Body parts were divided between the castes. High castes got the better choices.
Mels move shows little of the institutionalized cannibalism, the stratified class structure but does a nice job of detailing a crowd scene around a pyramid on feast day.
Apocalypto has less gratuitous violence than a typical slasher move and far less horror than most teenager movies.
Until the hero took his second spear to the shoulder we all considered it the best movie of the year.
I and mine will take your word for it and continue to avoid Gibson gorefests, mad slasher movies, and teenage-oriented horror flicks alike.
You missed nothing , it was embarrasing for him. Mel is a very talented guy, but he looks and acts like a train wreck. He kind of reminds me of his character in Lethal Weapon, on the crazy side, without the handsome and loveable!
Gibson had "Jaguar Paw" on with him. The actor is VERY suited for movies with subtitles, as he was pretty much inarticulate.
Gibson says the primary reason for a movie is entertainment.
He didn't know about the Holocaust Denial conference in Iran, because he doesn't watch TV.
He might make another Lethal Weapon movie.
His "unfortunate incident" has allowed him to grow as a person.
It's really early in Hollywood compared to New York.
His movie isn't as violent as "Braveheart."
He was not very charming, was jittery, and displayed no sense of humor.
To equate the freeing of 15 million from a barbaric dictator to the genocide of a peaceful society is the height of ignorance. Hope mel lost some of that money he made from the Passion.
Pray for W and Our Troops
He did seem to be holding back anger/hostility...but not very well, or convincingly.
..did nothing to recommend his movie, even if I was inclined to see it, which I'm not!
Because the human sacrifice scenes are a metaphor for the 6:00 am sale frenzy at Best Buy. ;)
After five hundred years of fighting moors in spain the spanish were masters of whatever they did.
That just about summed it up!
Get a grip. Mel, IN HIS OWN WORDS, has told you what HE thinks the movie is about, and Christianity isn't the point!
Actually, cultural leaders equating human sacrifice with self-defense and the imposition of law and order is grounds to be concerned about our future.
One more example of how hard drinking kills brain cells.
I've never seen Gibson so ... animated. His eyes were darting around the room, and he seemed to answer everything sarcastically. He seemed almost apoplectic.
When Steve Doocy (sp?) asked what Gibson thought about the ongoing anti-Jewish "conference" in Iran, Gibson feigned to know nothing about it, saying "I dont watch TV."
Maybe it was my perception, but Gibson seems to have lost his natural joviality since his DUI arrest where he was rightfully admonished by the general public for his a-holish comments about "Jews being the cause of nearly all wars," or whatever it was he said.
You nailed it. I gave a summary of the interview a few posts above yours.
I always wondered why Gibson made all those Lethal Weapon movies with the ultra left-wing extremist and kook, Danny Glover. Maybe things are as the author states -- that Gibson doesn't know right from wrong.
I think if one sees the movie and draws their own conclusions one may see it from my prespective which is this:
Many in the US on the left embrace a New Age belief that we should all get in touch with how the indians were back before Europe invaded the Americas.
Well, thanks to Mel he has shown everyone what this would mean.
And it's becomes clear to anyone viewing the movie what changed all of this sick behaviour at the every end.
Thanks Mel, I don't care what you say it means, I think once you see it it makes it's own statement very nicely.
Gibson is a flaming idiot. No better than Babs, Danny Glover, or any other hollywood dingbat.
At least with The Passion, there was a reason for the violence. IMO, the violence demonstrated just how much Jesus Christ endured for the sake of humanity. However, it was a very hard movie to watch and I had to turn away several times.
OTOH, blood and gore for its own sake... no thanks.
I went to see the Nativity instead. Very uplifting!
It was released on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which does not occur in the summer.
To be fair though, if Apocalypto is an accurate portrayal of the violence that went on back then, then it does not exist for it's own sake. It exists as a window to the past, to the history of how these people really were.
Now, you can choose to look through the window or walk right on by. Makes no difference which really. The fact remains however, that if it is an accurate portrayal, then it does not exist for it's own sake.
*4,000 unborn babies murdered every day
*embryos used for experiments, stored and frozen for future "use".
*Terri Schiavo tortured to death by dehydration
I guess people will see what they want to see.
Oh, come on! I have a feeling Shapiro has an alterior motive in his review.
What? he really has gone off it.
Try this, Mr. Gibson: "What's human sacrifice if not 43 million innocent unborn babies slaughtered and flushed down the toilet, efficiently enough that the women who bore them can get back to work before thier freaking lunch hours are over?"
Mel, totally missed your time. This was your chance. You're done. You blew it.
Did he really say that?
God help him.
You could say that about any civilization that gets reorganized out of existence by another civilization that impinges successfully on it, which is exactly what happened to the New World societies, which were ravaged by Old World diseases propagated in the Columbian Exchange (see, Secret Judgments of God, which discusses both the colonial and precolonial epidemics which attacked New World societies after first contact).
Gibson's Apocalypto is based in part on the boutique idea of the last decade, that (classical) Mayan civilization simply exhausted its resources and thus undermined its own abilities to organize people, competencies it tried to leverage by intensifying the organizational activities in order to try to meet the crisis. Postclassical Mayan cities are also thought to have been in crisis before the Spanish arrived, as witness the formation of the defensive League of Mayapan in the Yucatan, and perhaps for some of the same reasons, but the full story may not have been elucidated yet.
This exhaustion thesis is also being pushed concerning central Mexican civilization, and it is supported by forensic studies of excavated burials, which show deteriorating health among the people.
The collapse of the Mayan Classic cities occurred centuries before contact, and the Postclassical Mayan city of Tulum in the Yucatan, which Gibson's fictional city resembles sitewise, fell to revolt at least 50 years before the arrival of the Spanish (about the time of first contact, in other words).
The fate of the city depicted in Apocalypto turns, however, not on its afflictions, but on a "judgment of God" formed in secret and then delivered to the frightened Mayan warriors by a plague-stricken but inspirited girl, who pronounces an oracular doom on the city. The rest of the film is the unfoldment of her doomsday pronouncement of divine judgment, which is contrasted with the cynicism of the head chac officiating at the ceremonies and declaiming to the vast crowds below.
The bottom line is that the arrival of the Spanish in the New World was, in Gibson's opinion at least, as expressed through his film, the descent of the hand of God Himself on the civilizations of the New World and the fulfilment of His fatal judgment of their lurid perversions and brutalities. Noah's neighbors got the Flood, Lot's got the brimstone, and the Mayan kings and priests got the conquistadores.
My question: how come he didn't make a movie about the Navajo, or the Sioux? Why didn't he make a movie about the ancient Egyptians, or the Indus Valley civilizations? The Crusades? The Napoleonic Wars?
Why didn't he continue "The Passion" with the story of the Resurrection and the events in the Book of Acts?
I believe the answer lies in the fact that none of these could have included bloody human sacrifice, and I will leave it to the psychologists to determine why someone would dwell on such stuff.
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