Burnsy filled in for me on Friday while I was busy volunteering at the legless cat shelter, and since he did such a good job on his guide to Happy Madison, I suppose I can forgive him for not mentioning that Mel Gibson is developing a movie about Judah Maccabee, the Jewish hero of Chanukah, to be written by Powder/Showgirls screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. Working title: “One of the Good Ones.”
This story reminded someone at The Atlantic of a book he was writing (as so often happens). It turns out, Jeffrey Goldberg heard about Gibson’s interest in turning the Maccabee story into a film a few years ago. He related the story to fellow Atlantic writer Christopher Hitchens, who told Goldberg, “You must go to Los Angeles and stop him.” Goldberg did as he was instructed, because Christopher Hitchens is like a cross between Yoda and William Wallace to Atlantic writers. Clearly, Goldberg was unsuccessful in his mission (probably because Mel Gibson can recognize Jews at a thousand paces and becomes immediately suspicious), but he did get Gibson to open up on a variety of topics, including Sugartits-gate. Here’s what Gibson told Goldberg about that:
I asked him why it happened, and he answered me directly: “I was loaded, and some stupid sh*t can come out of your mouth when you’re loaded.”
But from what dark corner of his soul did this terrible accusation — that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world — emanate? He said, “That day they were marching into Lebanon. It was one of those things. It was on the news.”
The “they” in question is the Israel Defense Forces. I found this answer to be proof, of course, of Gibson’s anti-Semitic tendencies. Most drunk people, when stopped by the police, don’t launch into tirades against Jews.
Clearly you’ve never met my Uncle Steve.
Which brings us to Goldberg’s next question, why a film about Judah Maccabee?
He was obviously preoccupied with the putative sins of Jewish people, which raised the obvious question, why would he seek to make a film about one of the great Jewish heroes of history? Money, he said, was not a motivator.
You know, like it probably would be for some people…
“If you’re looking to make money out of this, forget it,” he said, citing the costs of staging period spectaculars. “Even Braveheart didn’t make much money.”
His interest stemmed, he said, from the simple fact that the Book of Maccabees (I and II, he said) are “ripping good reads.”
“I just read it when I was teenager, and it’s amazing. It’s almost like” — here, he grabbed my digital recorder, held it to his mouth, and spoke in a portentous movie-announcer voice — “They profaned his Temple. They killed his father. They… all kinds of stuff. In the face of great odds for something he believed in” — here he switched out of movie-announcer voice — “Oh, my God, the odds they faced. The armies they faced had elephants! How cinematic is this! Even Judah’s dad — what’s his name? Mattathias? — you kind of get this guy who more or less is trying to avoid the whole thing, but he just gets to a place where had enough, and he just snapped!”
In other words, Judah Maccabee, his father, and his brothers, are like the heroes of every Mel Gibson movie.
I’m not going to lie, I would watch the hell out of a Jewish Braveheart wrecking elephants with big spikes. (Oooh, maybe a stake with nine branches, like a Menorah!). Also, could we make the bad guys English again? That just seems to work.
I mentioned to Gibson the Hitchens critique of Judah Maccabee. Hitchens argues, in essence, “No Judah, no Jesus,” that Judaism at the time (2,100 years ago or so) would simply have been swamped by assimilationist forces, and would have disappeared before the birth of Jesus. And if Jesus had not been born into a traditional Jewish household… well, you can figure out the rest.
“I can see where Hitchens is coming from, but he’s pretty puny in his thoughts, because he left out one vital ingredient,” Gibson said, “and that is that God can do what he damn well pleases! No matter what the Greeks did! And you know, he doesn’t bring that into consideration. I think he thinks that way because he might be an atheist. He’s an atheist, right?”
He is? I knew it. Typical atheist. The only people more Godless and evil than the atheists are the J- …uh, LOOK OVER THERE! (*jumps out window*)
However, I would be remiss not to include our extended discussion on circumcision. One of the more brutish aspects of the Hannukah story was the decision by the Maccabees to forcibly circumcise assimilated Jews. Some Jews, who had acquiesced to assimilation before the revolt, had even attempted to “rebuild” their foreskins. In other words, the penis plays a more central role in the Hannukah story than you were told in Hebrew School.
Bro, if you were trying to convince the world that this Judah Maccabee movie was a bad idea, you’re doing a terrible job of it.
JG: The interesting thing about Judah Maccabee is that he sweeps down from the hills and he takes boys, the children of hellenized Jews, boys who aren’t circumcised, and he circumcises them.
MG: Yeah, I didn’t even remember all the moves he took.
JG: That’s the one that always stuck in my mind.
MG: Hey, I was circumcised. That was more like just a medical procedure. It wasn’t for religious purposes. Cleanliness or something.
JG: Oh, yeah?
MG: I don’t know what it was for. And one of the doctors made a wallet out of it.
JG: You rub it and it turns into a suitcase, right?
MG: Yes. Hey, did you know they use foreskins for replacing eyelids?
JG: No they don’t.
MG: Yeah, they do.
JG: Come on, really?
MG: You tend to look a bit cock-eyed, though.
JG: I can’t believe I just walked into that one. [The Atlantic]
It’s like he just had that cock pun chambered in case of an emergency! And he wasn’t even the one who brought up the circumcisions! See, this is why I can’t quit Mel Gibson. He’s Hollywood’s inappropriate uncle.