Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rehabilitating Clunkers and Duds

The world has produced some astoundingly ghastly human beings and events, particularly within recent memory. And yet, many of these people and events are being rehabilitated and reassessed. The rehab is due to the lucky happenstance that other people and newer events have proved to be worse. Idi Amin’s murderous and corrupt rule of Uganda from 1971 through 1978 didn’t look nearly as bad when compared with Saddam Hussein’s murderous and corrupt rule of Iraq from 1980 through 2001. When Jeffrey Dahmer’s disgusting acts of dismemberment and cannibalism between 1989 ad 1991 came to light, Ted Bundy’s serial murders between 1974-1978 didn’t seem so repellent. At least Bundy didn’t eat his victims. The art world was scandalized by Jackson Pollack’s drips and splashes in the 40’s and 50’s. But his paintings look benign and acceptable when compared with Andres Serrano’s 1999 “Piss Christ” that consisted of a crucifix submerged in a tank of Serrano’s urine. When Anderson and Ulvaeus cobbled together the pop music of Sweden’s Abba with a silly story and opened on Broadway in 2001, it was called featherweight, kitchy, shamelessly manipulative and critics said it seemed to be written by a committee. But now that Twyla Tharp has done the same thing with Bob Dylan’s tunes in “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and it’s getting bashed and battered in reviews, critics are saying “Mamma Mia” looks brilliant when compared with Tharp's effort. The luckiest man alive is Mel Gibson. Michael Richard’s tirade using racial slurs while doing his standup routine at West Hollywood’s Laugh Factory last week has people looking at Mel Gibson’s tirade using racial slurs last July and saying, “At least Gibson is a productive member of society.” Apparently even Gibson doesn’t find his hateful words about Jews as offensive as Richard’s hateful words about blacks. Gibson said, “Just hearing the word n----r is hurtful to millions of Americans…why use the word n—-r?” And thus Gibson neatly took himself off the hook. Now that George Herbert Walker Bush is in the public eye again, not only because of his involvement with the folks in the Iraq Study Group, but because he is vociferously defending his idiot ne’er-do-well son the president, GHWB’s term as 41st president looks, if not stellar, at least half-way decent when compared with his son's presidency. Who could make George W. Bush look good? There actually is someone. The guy William Bennett wants to propose as a Republican candidate for president: Rick Santorum.


Barry Schwartz said...

I don't know, Santorum wouldn't be as able to fake his way to popularity or make others believe that black was white.

As for Mel Gibson vs. Michael Richards, it's no contest: Mel Gibson isn't a productive member of 'society', he's become more like a latter-day Leni Riefenstahl, who barely missed his opportunity to misdescribe the Holocaust in film; just look at the direction in which Gibson has been heading and assume he had been able to continue. Oy! We would be better off if he simply stopped working and went away, whereas with Michael Richards there isn't much reason to fear what he might do in the future. I mean, big fucking deal what happens in a comedy club somewhere; what's he going to do, make a series of racist, sexist, antidentitic 'Seinfeld the Movie's?

Joseph said...

I think you've been unfair to Serrano. If not for the title, most people would think Piss Christ was a haunting work. And Serrano has made clear that his intention was not degrade, although most people lack the imagination to see the incarnation as an immersion in the filth of materiality.

I was not a fan of "Passion of the Christ," although perhaps I should give it another chance. Mel Gibson is, however, a fine director, and I hear excellent things about Apocalypto. One stupid drunken comment does not justify a comparison to a woman who slept with Hitler. (Well, Leni always denied it, but lots of people say she did.)

I take Gibson's apology at face value. And Michael Richard's apology. They said they were sorry and there the matters should end. Do we need to be Christians to believe in redemption? The real problems in this world are caused by the people who NEVER apologize.