Like almost every American male celebrity who saw their star crash thanks to a combination of substance abuse, racial abuse, and physical abuse; Mel Gibson is making a comeback, baby!
Gibson spent about a decade in the Hollywood penalty box after his 2006 drunken tirade at an LA Sheriff’s Department deputy who had the temerity to pull him over for drunk driving. Already seen as something of a paleo-conservative whose gory mythologizing of the Crucifixion got him labeled as an anti-Semite, Gibson immolated his career by slurring at the arresting officer “Fucking Jews… the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?”
But a decade later, much of this seems to be forgiven. Gibson already directed an Oscar-nominated Vietnam bio, “Hacksaw Ridge.” He’s also got a couple of films in the hopper as an actor, including one that he sued to have barred from release and another where he’ll play a disgraced Santa Claus who gets a hit taken out on him by a 12-year-old.
Today, news broke of another step on Gibson’s comeback trail, with a film tentatively titled “Rothchild.” I can’t do the summary of this justice, so I’ll just quote from Deadline’s story about it:
Stan & Ollie director Jon S. Baird is on board to direct the feature, […] whose title puns on the wealthy Rothschild group, [and] charts how charismatic outcast Becket Rothchild (LaBeouf) plots his way back into his family’s riches, setting himself on a collision course with patriarch Whitelaw Rothchild (Gibson). On the way, he must infiltrate the weird and twisted lives of his super-rich kin including frat boys, hipster artists and reality TV stars.”
Believe it or not, the Hollywood Reporter’s write-up makes it sound even worse.
There are precisely nine Rothchild family members who stand between him and his fortune, including Whitelaw (Gibson), his sinister grandfather. How hard could it be for them each to meet with an “accident”?
The “wealthy Rothschild group” (I don’t even know what that means) is apparently supposed to refer to the Rothschild banking family. You know, the ones who supposedly control 80% of the world’s wealth, pull the strings on a dark cabal that enslaves children and assassinates presidents, and has funded both sides of every war for the last three hundreds years.
Now where have I heard that last one before? Was it Infowars? Some QAnon tweet thread? No, it was Mel Gibson: “Fucking Jews… the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
So yes, an avowed anti-Semite is going to star in a movie that parodies the family that most exemplifies worldwide hatred of Jews.
The producers of the film seem like they kind of understand how bad of an idea this is, playing up the dark comedic aspects of the script with hyperbolic praise like calling it “a satirical and thrilling ride” and “The divide between the super rich and the rest of the world is an ever growing one, and it’s both fun and fascinating to delve into its inner bowels along with our hero trying to scramble to the top and claim his piece.”
That’s fine, and there might be an enjoyable film to make out of the slow decline of a massively wealthy banking clan. The problem is that conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites don’t see the wealth of the Rothschild family as “fun and fascinating.” They see it as a plague that’s kept good Christians down in the slime for centuries, while the Rothschilds pile up mansion and art. Antisemitism is the coal that fuels the right wing fringe, and historically, nobody has provided more coal for that fire than the Rothschilds. Rothschild conspiracy theories have existed since the family first rose to prominence in Bavaria in the 1700’s, and they’ve only mutated more and more, latched on to by Imperial Russia, Nazi Germany, and modern radical Islam. People have been murdered because of it, villages sacked because of it. It’s not an edgy trope to be subverted, it’s hardcore, violent hatred.
Even now, with the family’s wealth and power vastly defused, they’re still blamed for “running the world,” having a death grip on every central bank in the world, and even changing the weather on their whims. They’re called the progenitors of Hitler and a Satanic cult that hunts humans for sport. They were blamed for the Notre Dame cathedral fire and 9/11. They’re put at the center of a “Vatican-Reptilian alliance” while being called secret Jesuits and fake Jews under the control of an even wealthier family called “Payseur.” It goes on and on and on.
It doesn’t matter that the movie is satirical, because conspiracy theorists don’t traffic in nuance or subtlety. And honestly, it’s not even that satircal. The “sinister grandfather” stuff is right out of a thousand memes casting family scion Jacob Rothschild as some kind of Mr. Burns-esque decrepit rich kingmaker.
But even if that’s not the intent, it won’t matter to the fever swamps of right wing anti-Semites who populate fringe social media and YouTube. They will see Mel Gibson making a movie that “tells the truth about the Rothschilds,” and they’ll jump all over it. Because generations of conspiracy grifters, from street corner shouters to sophisticated YouTubers, have told them that the Rothschilds are to blame for all their problems. And now a big Hollywood star will be on their side.
There’s nothing that guarantees this movie will ever be made, of course. And Gibson is no stranger to projects getting cancelled from underneath him. Remember when he was set to produce and direct a movie about Jewish heroes the Maccabees, until someone came to their damn senses?
But even the fact that it’s gotten past the point of a low-level executive not being fired for even suggesting that a guy who drunkenly blamed Jews for “starting all wars” is now going to be in a movie tweaking the family who is *actually * blamed for “starting all wars” is troubling.
Whether “Rothchild” (they left out the “s” so it’s totally different!) is produced or not, the damage will have been done. This is a blindly moronic decision made by people who either don’t get it, or do get it and don’t care.
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