Mel Gibson’s traditionalism seems to be feeding his demons

Mel Gibson and his (former) girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva in January (Photo: PA)

Newspapers routinely refer to any Roman Catholic in the news as “a devout Catholic”. They would not say that of Mel Gibson at the moment, however. Mad Mel is again in hot water for racism. This time it is not the Jews; it is (allegedly) the blacks (or n—–s as he allegedly calls them). He has also, according to reports, hit his (former) girlfriend, the Russian singer Oksana Grigorieva, and called her an expletive-deleted “pig in heat”.

Just like a juiced up Irish-Australian-American, eh? But it seems he was not tight. Whatever the case, a recording was made of Gibson’s alleged outburst and then leaked. Ms Grigorieva and Gibson were already engaged in a bitter custody battle for their nine-month-old daughter, and now Gibson faces domestic abuse charges.

You don’t have to be a doctor to know that Mel is a man in the grip of galloping paranoia and sexual insecurity. He is a puritan who now regrets having departed from the straight and narrow, and is blaming his ex-girlfriend for his fall. He is like a lot of us, in other words. He is also a serious Catholic, however, and has sound liturgical instincts. Unfortunately, he cleaves to a paranoid traditionalism that seems to feed his demons (or at any rate does not destroy them). Maybe he should return to the mainstream, hand his Holy Family Church outside Malibu to some traditionalist group in communion with Rome. All he has to do is place an ad in the Catholic Herald…

The only defence of Gibson I have seen in the past week comes from the likeable Hugo Rifkind. Alas, Hugo plays it safe. In the current issue of the Spectator he deplores Gibson’s racism (as who does not?) but says he will not apologise for remaining passionately keen on Gibson’s movies. “I just wouldn’t have him in the house,” he says.

Me, I’d have Gibson in the house any day, but would not want to watch any of his films again. He’s a poor, often embarrassing actor, and a cheesy director. No exceptions? Well, the first Mad Max wasn’t bad and I think that there is still something to be said for the beautiful, sensational and sometimes horrid The Passion, though I am not sure I would want to see it again.

Then, too, the first five minutes of the little-known Conspiracy Theory are genius. The rest is rubbish, but in those first five minutes Gibson gives a hilarious performance as a paranoid taxi driver. Go here.

“Someone’s got to lift the festering scab that is the Vatican” is a very good line. What is especially droll about this scene is that Gibson himself almost certainly believed some of the rubbish spouted by his character. Heck, even I believe that George Bush Sr was a 33rd degree Freemason.