Mel has gone bat-poop crazy, and that makes it hard to talk about his racism. I think he and Michael Jackson are clear examples of what happen when you get enough money that no one can tell you “no” any more. Mel’s dad was/is supposedly horribly racist, and as Mel has deteriorated, he is falling out of the same tree.
It makes me sad that I defended Gibson over Passion, although I think the defense is still valid. I don’t think Passion was racist per se; Passion suffered from cliche. The bad Jews were stereotypical bad guys; all the Chief Priest needs to do is twirl his mustache Snidely Whiplash style. Gibson deflects too much blame off of the Romans, probably a side-effect of him using Roman Catholic sources for filler in the storyline.
For Passion, there are “good Jews” and “bad Jews”, but mostly as the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. The original material doesn’t leave a lot of room to improvise (and when Gibson does, I as a Protestant typically disagree with what he did). Passion is no more racist than a movie about collaborators and non-collaborators in the same ethnic group. (Almost did a Godwin’s Law invocation there…)
The fundamental problem with a call of Christian Scripture racism is that the Gospels are a class-warfare story that, when translated into English, uses a lot of language used by anti-Semetics now. Yes, they criticize the “Jews”. The Gospel writers were primarily poor Galileans, and the powers that be were rich Judeans. It was like Red State – Blue State meets the Hatfields and McCoys. When Jesus or the other speakers attack “the Jews”, they’re doing not “racially”, since they’re Jewish too. They’re attacking an oppressive overclass of a different area, and their audience knows it. You can’t reconcile the obvious identification with their own ethnic group otherwise.
(In case that sounds terribly Marxist, it probably is. As much as it pains this libertarian/conservative Christian Packrat, a lot of Jesus’ sayings aren’t very comfortable. They aren’t supposed to be.)
To get back on topic, I think there’s something about “art” that rots people’s brains. You can argue whether it was just to re-sentence Polanski, for example. However, people like Whoopi Goldberg made light of his original offense: drugging and raping a 13 year old.
Stone, Goldberg, Gibson, they all suffer a universal problem: they aren’t all that smart, but people depending on their money have told them that they’re brilliant. Without a court jester or an Uncle Moneybags saying no, they head off into the wild blue yonder naturally.