The War on Mel Gibson
by Gary North
by Gary North
Over the last four weeks, I have written a book, The War on Mel
Gibson. I have decided to give it away this weekend, but only this
weekend. I will pull it off the Web on Tuesday. In short, "Download
now, or forever hold your peace." Until Tuesday, you can download it
here by clicking on the title:
The War on Mel Gibson
Save the book to your hard drive by using the floppy disk icon on Acrobat
Reader. Alternatively, right-click on the link, and click Save Target
As... Name it: Gibson. (This way is also good if you have trouble
downloading the book: a blank screen.)
THE CULTURE WAR
I argue in my book that the media's war on The Passion of the Christ
has been systematic and increasingly frantic. It is part of the overall
culture war that is being waged by the Left on America specifically and the
West generally. The chief theoretician of this war was the Italian
Communist, Antonio Gramsci, who died in 1937. I go into this background in
my book. Gramsci understood eighty years ago: Christianity is the enemy of
Communist revolution. He wrote in 1921:
What remains to be done?
Nothing other than to destroy the present form of civilization. In this
field, 'to destroy' does not mean the same as in the economic field. It
does not mean to deprive humanity of the material products that it needs to
subsist and develop. It means to destroy spiritual hierarchies, prejudices,
idols and ossified traditions.
Conservatives and libertarians have fought an amazingly successful
counter-attack over the last three decades in the area of economic theory.
Socialists have been routed, both intellectually and politically. The
Soviet Union went belly-up. In the battle of ideas, we have scored victory
In the culture war, however, we have been beaten again and again. On
every front, we are surrounded by the enemy: in literature, television, and
especially the movies.
Now, in a stunning reversal, Mel Gibson has handed us a victory so
overwhelming that the Establishment media are in shock. They mounted a
full-scale battle against Gibson, beginning almost as soon as he announced
his plan to produce the movie. The Left unloaded on him with everything it
had. The attempt failed. So far, the failure is in the $300 million range,
and it is not yet Easter weekend. The movie has not yet opened in Europe,
Latin America, and South Korea.
Like the guerilla officer he played in The
Patriot, Mel Gibson caught the enemy with its collective pants down
– which, for this particular enemy, is a familiar condition. He did this
with the most appropriate weapon at his or anyone's disposal: the story of
the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
He aimed his weapon at the belly of the beast. He hit dead center. The
beast hardly knows what hit it, let alone what to do about it. It is
screaming. Gibson is accused of anti-Semitism. His movie has repeatedly
been called pornographic because of its violence. Mexico's humanist
government has rated the movie X – no children allowed. There is fear –
gut-wrenching fear – in the Establishment. I say it's good for them. They
Gibson sent the media into apoplexy as soon as he revealed his plans for
The Passion. Major newspapers began doing hatchet movie reviews
before Gibson even began shooting the picture. Someone stole a copy of the
script and released it to selective reviewers.
Tremendous pressure was placed on Gibson to change the movie. Right up
until opening day, Hollywood moguls said they would never work with him
again. (They changed their tune when the movie took in $117 million in five
Why? Why did Hollywood walk away from what instantly became a
blockbuster? For the same reason that the studios continue to lose hundreds
of millions of dollars producing films that attack religion and morality: its
intense hostility to Christianity and the value system it teaches.
The financial success of the movie has sent them a message: there are
millions of ticket-buying patrons who do not share Hollywood's values, and
who are willing to put their money where their values are. So was Gibson.
This is the only reason the viewers are in a position to send Hollywood and
the New York Times a message. Gibson put at risk tens of millions of
dollars of his own money to fund this project. He is now a very rich man.
He is going to be much richer by the time the movie goes to DVD. And then
the "annuity" begins. This movie will be rented for the rest of
his life, in many languages.
AN ICEBERG OF DISCONTENT
We should recognize The Passion for what it is: an experiment
that has revealed the tip of a very large iceberg of discontent. Hollywood
did not want to acknowledge that this iceberg was there. Prior to the
movie's release, a supposed expert in Hollywood, one Michael Levine, told
the Washington Times: "This film has all the makings of a [box
office] bomb." Thank you, Mr. Levine, for your insight. You opened the
window on the inner workings of Hollywood's movie-makers. Unlike their
forebears in the 1930s and 1940s, they don't know what the audience wants.
Mel Gibson's victory has sounded an alarm bell: the powers that be can
be transformed into the powers that were. The powers that be have heard the
alarm. The question is: Have their victims also heard it?
The Sanhedrin had the Romans seal Jesus' tomb because they knew that
Jesus had prophesied His resurrection in three days. The Sanhedrin feared
that the disciples would steal the body and claim His resurrection. But
they completely misjudged the disciples, who had all fled. It was the women
who discovered the open tomb, not the disciples. The disciples were the
last to know about their deliverance from bondage. Their rulers saw the
great reversal coming before they did. This has not changed. But it should.
Gibson has touched a nerve. In full public view, he challenged the
cultural powers that be. He beat them to a pulp in full public view.
Whether he can do it again is now of major concern to Hollywood and the
The conservative public was given an opportunity to test its own
strength of numbers. This is the first time in my lifetime that any
artistically first-rate movie has challenged the Establishment's view of
Christianity. This is the most important counter-offensive that we have
seen in the culture war.
In Europe, the spiritual erosion process is almost complete. But the
inheritor will not be Communism. Unless there is a great reversal, the
inheritor will be Islam.
WHY A FREE BOOK?
My book was rejected by a major Christian publishing house. The editor
says it is too negative. It is not 50-50 optimism and pessimism, he said.
Quite true; if you want a happy-face book for the culturally uninformed,
this is not the book. It must be rewritten, he said. Not likely, I said.
Hence, this offer. I would rather get the "original, uncut
version" out to the hard corps.
The significance of Gibson's effort is that this is the first major
cultural watershed: a counter-offensive to the mass media. This is a war.
Christians who spend their money in Christian book stores (women, ages 45
to 75) have been engaged in this war at the family level, but not the
mass-media level. I was unable to write a happy-face, "Jesus loves
Hollywood, and has a wonderful plan for its life" book. I had to write
The truth of the culture war is that we have been losing it on all sides
in the public arena. There is no way to paint a happy face on this loss. We
must begin where we are: in the corner. The first step is to understand our
enemies and why they have been successful.
I think there is an army of Christians out there who are sick to death –
no, sick to life – of what this era's cultural masters have shoved down
their throats. I am convinced that we have seen a turning point. I wrote my
book accordingly. It is no happy face cheer-me-up. It is a call to a war in
which we are in very late stages.
Mel Gibson has become very rich betting because of the existence of an
audience that was ready to see the truth. I think this is also true of the
Christian book-buying public. But the editor was not persuaded.
Download the book. Read it. Draw your own conclusion. But I warn you: I
name names, quote verbatim, and take no prisoners. If that's your kind of
weekend reading, download the book.
Who knows? Maybe the publisher will reconsider. I can think of some
Hollywood chief executives who would like to reconsider optioning the
distribution rights to The Passion of the Christ. Unlike them, the
publisher still has time.
If, after reading the book, you think the publisher should reconsider, I
would deeply appreciate it if you would spend 37 cents to send him a note
recommending the book. I provide details on the title page. You're not in
any way obligated to do this, of course. But I need a little help from my
[Warning: if too many of you
try to download it at once, the site may go into overload mode. The book
really is there, even if the site gives you a 404 error message. Try later.
Economics defines scarcity as follows: "At zero price, there is more
demand than supply." This law applies to bandwidth.]
March 27, 2004
Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money.
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