I'm talking to the world now. Hey world, remember Dancing With Smurfs? You saw it under a different title. Everybody and their cousin, if the cash cow numbers are any indication, saw it once, twice, thrice. But let me tell you, world, you haven't seen Avatar, the biggest box office smash of all time, not yet, you really haven't. You haven't seen it until you've watched Mel Gibson's magnum opus, Apocalypto.
I know. I know what's going through your mind. You're thinking: Mel Gibson?!? Give us a break, right? He's fallen out of favor, kaput; he's yesterday's news, out to pasture, a has-been.
His last film is Apocalypto. His most recent film. Mel Gibson isn't dead, he could make more. Nice title, catchy but instantly forgettable, sounding more like a cornball superdude in spandex than a film of any significance. You didn't see it. I know I didn't. From the Oscar-award winning director of Braveheart. Also, let's not forget, the star of four Lethal Weapon movies. Think about that. There were four chapters in the Lethal Weapon saga. How did that happen? But if that were all, he would still be our darling Mel. People found it in their hearts to forgive him that mullet.
Lately it hasn't been so easy to appreciate the guy, bad hair or not. He's on the record saying awful things. A few years ago he drunkenly spewed some racist bile. That was almost forgotten when a couple months back it came out that he said some awful things. Again. Mel Gibson has a problem with his words. Hateful words. He said them on the record. And that's not the worst thing.
There are allegations that he struck his girlfriend, that he not only hit her but did it while she was holding their infant child. Vile. Does Mel Gibson do anything halfway? He's not content to be a bad man; he has to be a monster.
An alleged monster. We don't know what really happened until the man himself comes clean, either by his own volition or in a court of law.
His ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorievna recorded him on the sly and we can question the dubious nature of what would make someone do that, but there it is: the entire world has heard just how ugly Mel Gibson can sound in real life. It is bad. Regardless of the circumstances, it is very bad. He comes across an ugly son of a gun and I can't blame people for hating and dismissing the jerk.
It wasn't always like this.
I'd never heard of Grigorievna before the recent mess, but Mel Gibson has been in the public eye for decades. It wasn't until the last few years that he exhibited his dark side. It might have always been there, but I am willing to give him the benefit of doubt.
What he said is too horrible to repeat, and I'm not excusing the man. He needs forgiveness, of that there's no doubt. The illusion of celebrity, especially in our Age of Instant News, is that we know anything of substance about people in the spotlight, when in truth they are hidden behind glamors like the rest of us albeit on a much larger scale. Mr Gibson is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Whoever he is behind the persona, that is the man who needs forgiveness. I don't care if he makes another movie, but he should be confronted with what he has done and an accounting made. Since it has been aired out in public, we should know what to believe and if he truly is the monster he appears to be.
Anyhow. We've strayed far from dancing smurfs, haven't we?
Let's get back on track.
When Avatar hit the big screen, it went off in popular consciousness like a bomb. Consider the size of screens these days and that's about what it takes to make any kind of impression at the movies anymore: the spectacle has to be leviathan. Avatar delivers that kind of spectacle and people continue to see it in droves, but it is standing on some big shoulders, like Dances With Wolves, which hordes of folk loved and won Best Picture that year, and Apocalypto, recognized in significantly smaller numbers as a work of importance.
A soldier on an alien world learns to love their culture and ultimately turns against his own kind to defend them. The choice is not a hard one: humans are greedy scum while the innocent, spiritual, and respectful of all others race of Nav'i just want to live in their tree in peace. He's going to choose to stay human; yeah, right.
Which is my beef with Avatar: it is exactly what you expect it to be. Apocalypto is not, but it tells a similar tale...
Wow, this post is running like horses over the hills, so I'll stop here and see you again soon for the second of three parts in a series. Be good.