To Boycott or Not to Boycott . . .
Michael Slezak at PopWatch asks an interesting question. If, from the rantings Mel Gibson made during his arrest for DWI this weekend, he is indeed an anti-Semite (and I'd have to agree that, on at least some level, he surely must be), would that deter you from seeing his movies? Without having to really think about it, I knew my answer. Most definitely.
See, I've never understood the notion behind avoiding or condemning an artist's work because of their abhorrent political views. The famous test case is, of course, Wagner, who was an infamous and raging anti-Semite. And yet he was, just as undebatedly, a remarkably brilliant composer. Now, truth be told, I don't listen to any Wagner, but not out of any political reasons--he's just one in a long line of classical composers I haven't yet sampled. But I'd like to. Now, as much as this weekend's events make it pretty clear that Gibson harbors some really awful sentiments towards Jews, I still think that he probably falls pretty far below Wagner on the official anti-Semite scale. But the discomforting hate that came out of his mouth that night is still pretty hard to sweep away. But I think he's a severely underrated actor and director who has contributed quite nicely to the art of film. Am I now to dismiss those contributions because of how he is as a person? I don't think so.
Slezak brings up another, related but separate point, that by buying a ticket to Apocalypto this winter is to, on some real, tangible level, support Gibson. I suppose. And yet I find it exceedingly hard to get worked up about the couple of bucks he'll see out of my ten. After all -- this is a very rich man. Is it unethical to support in this financial way a man whose views are repellent to you personally? I can't deny that there is a line there. And yet I find myself being OK with crossing it for a $10 ticket. As for the films I already own, there is no compulsion there. So, I will continue to admire Gibson the artist--even as I begin to regretfully understand that Gibson the man might be, on the whole, a poor human being.