August 6, 2006

"I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from..."

Said Mel Gibson, in the process of apologizing and in the process of creating a mystery about where words that obviously came from his brain came from. But many Mel defenders are repeating the talking point that it's not true that in vino veritas. So let's ask the experts:
When asked where those vicious words came from, Dr. Kevin J. Corcoran, a psychology researcher who has studied the effects of alcohol on perception and judgment, replied, simply, “his mouth.”

Dr. Corcoran said comments do not spring from nothing; for example, Dr. Corcoran said, he himself would not make anti-Semitic statements under the influence of alcohol.

“I say other outrageous things when I’m drunk,” he said.

He added that Mr. Gibson “may not fully believe” his statements about Jews, “but they were waiting to be delivered,” once his inhibitions were lowered and he was subjected to the stress of being pulled over by the police....

[There is] a condition that researchers call the “alcohol myopia effect,” in which someone who has had too much to drink reacts to immediate cues without regard to consequences or the broader social context. G. Alan Marlatt, director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington, said that psychologists often focus on the difference between “traits and states.” Inebriation is a temporary state, but it might unleash one’s deeper and more permanent traits, he said.

ADDED: John points out a Flemish proverb: "What is said when drunk has been thought out beforehand." (Found on page 67 of one of our favorite books, W.H. Auden and Louis Kronenberger's "Aphorisms.")

MORE: I see there's a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder called "The Flemish Proverbs." Look closely. See if you can find Mel Gibson.

44 comments:

Danny said...

Oh sure, consult a doctor! Everyone knows that all doctors are Jews or Jew-sympathizers. That's lazy reporting right there and a classic example of the liberal media. Oh, and look at the last name of the reporter--Schwartz! Jews should not be allowed to write about themselves. This is absurd!

Dave said...

Freud.

Jennifer said...

I would put at least some stock in the comments of his close friends Jodie Foster and the (Jewish) Devlins who insist that he is not an anti-semite and that he is a scarily different person when drunk than when sober.

If you want third party observations, anyhow.

mkfreeberg said...

Actually, I was less sympathetic to Mel Gibson before I read this, than I am now that I have.

I wouldn't say anything about jews if/when drunk either, but I've had so much going on in my life and none of it has had anything to do with jewish people. Or the religious faiths different people have, for that matter. I would prattle on about the things that have been concerning me. From the subjects I chose to discuss, you could tell what had been bugging me, but you couldn't tell from what I was saying, what I actually thought.

As a representation of what's going on between the ears, drunken muttering is just a notch above talking in your sleep. The point I really want to make is, who, among us, has been thrust into the the various controversies about the jewish faith and antisemitism over the last three years, more than Mr. Gibson?

We're left with a rough indicator of what's been bugging him, and no reliable projection whatsoever of what he actually thinks about it. What sketching we have of his thoughts, dissipates in clarity with his rising drunkenness and disorganized emotional state. I don't know about you, but I have to be very drunk and disorganized to start calling lady cops "Sugartits."

Michael Farris said...

My best guess: His head has nothing against Jewish people, he knows Jews that he likes and respects. But, when he's drunk however, his nasty, anger-filled gut takes over. Being an actor he's an expert observer with an uncanny ability to choose words that hurt. His (as opposed to his father's) problem isn't anti-semitism as much as basic anger management. I suspect (with no evidence whatsoever!) that he drinks partly to try to vent the apparent huge amount of unresolved anger he's got going on.
That said, his inability to take clear responsibility for his alcohol fueled behavior does him no credit.

dearieme said...

I thought that "Sugartits" was his one redeeming merit.

Meade said...

Where's Mel?

There he is, at the bottom of the painting, trying to fill the pit after the calf has drowned. Keep digging, Mel.

Or is that him, just to the right, on all fours and his head in the sphere of evil? because, as the flemish proverb goes: To become rich and famous one must be malignant and servile.

Joan said...

his inability to take clear responsibility for his alcohol fueled behavior does him no credit.

What? Mel gave probably the best real apology I've heard from a celebrity since Hugh Grant admitted he was an idiot for being with that prostitute. He didn't deny what he is accused of doing, he didn't say "I'm sorry if you were offended." He admitted he did something bad and is trying to make amends. (Admittedly, my source for Mel news is the few blogs I read that have covered it, so maybe I missed something.)

Just out of curiosity, is there anything that he could do that would satisfy you?

Ann Althouse said...

"...is there anything that he could do that would satisfy you?"

Yeah: not be an anti-Semite. (But I agree with Joan that he's taken responsibility for having a problem. It's still a problem.)

Calling the woman "sugartits" is not the same kind of problem. Nothing significant was revealed about his mind. We assume men think things like this all the time but refrain from saying them. That it escapes when alcohol lowers inhibitions is perfectly ordinary.

Palladian said...

I've been waiting for this vile gay and Jew hating drunken mediocre actor/director to go away for years. Now's the time, Mel. Just go. Shut up, and disappear.

Brent said...

Without making excuses for the inexcusable things that Mel Givson said, it is still not proof, Ann, that alcohol loosens and exposes the real INTENT of someone's life.

The last sentence in your quote backs this up - "it MIGHT unleash one's deeper and more permanent traits."

MIGHT. Get it?

This is indicative of a major problem in slowing the advancement of a civil society - the assumption of 100% fact, when it is no such thing: not 100%. It needlessly seperates and categorizes people into belief groups. Example.

Ann, when you were a small girl (assuming you are over 30 years old), let's say that you had visited your family doctor for stomach pains. Your doctor diagnosed you with an ulcer - not completely uncommon among children back then. Your doctor then would have certainly not only prescribed some medicine (milk of magnesia, et al)for your ulcer, but he would also seek to have you and your parents determine what was causing "stress" in your life - so much stress that you developed an ulcer.

Now why would he do that? Because that was how they understood, treated, and - here is the holy, from the top-of-the-mountain word to everyone less educated than those of us with our to-be-worshipped medical degrees (see - it's on the wall!)- KNEW that stress was what caused ulcers.

Fine.

So what do they say about ulcers in todays' world - from Web MD:
"Until the mid-1980s, the conventional wisdom was that ulcers form as a result of stress, a genetic predisposition to excessive stomach acid secretion, and poor consumption habits (including overindulging in rich and fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco). It was believed that such influences contribute to a buildup of stomach acids that erode the protective lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus.

While excessive stomach acid secretion certainly plays a role in the development of ulcers, a relatively recent theory holds that bacterial infection is the primary cause of peptic ulcers. Indeed, research conducted since the mid-1980s has persuasively demonstrated that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is present in more than 90% of duodenal ulcers and approximately 80% of stomach ulcers."

Now - the story is not yet over. The point is that while this theory was being tested and first formulated in the early 80's, it wasn't until the mid-90's that thw obvious was acknowledged and treated correctly by most physicians. In other words, by the LATE 80's - it was pretty obvious that ulcers were "pylori" caused. BUT the majority of doctors in the United States not only did not treat this - THEY STILL TOLD PATIENTS THAT SOMETHING (stress)WAS TRUTH WHEN IT WAS NOT - you can trust me - i have a degree after my name.

That's the point - wrong doctors - bad, bad doctors. They mistreated people for years after evidence to the contrary - again back to the word "might" - was available.

So, before you think that I am anti- doctor or anti-education (I have a Masters myself), or that I was treated for ulcers (never had one - yet - maybe after this rant) just instead put me in the category of those that are impatient with people who back up their personal prejudices with the appeal to authority that turns out to be less than that.

Brent said...

Oh yes - forgot to rank

THREATS TO JEWS TODAY, IN ORDER OF DANGER:

1) Mel Gibson (because he influences SO MANY many people - you know the ones that are easily influencable - Bush voters and movie-goers and people that won't read the New York Times)

2) Republicans (that "More Republicans than Democrats Support Israel" poll in the LA Times last Friday was obviously a hoax)

3) Evangelicals - their enthusiastic and unwavering support for Israel and belief in Jews as still God's Chosen People is like, so threatening.

4) Anti-Semitic Europe (C'mon guys, you gotta try harder. Give me a "K" . . . )

5) Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah (losers).

Derve said...

"Calling the woman "sugartits" is not the same kind of problem. We assume men think things like this all the time but refrain from saying them."


Grown men?
I think you are revealing something here about yourself and the type of men you know to write this. That might be a Hollywood fiction that men think like this of all women, just performing their jobs.

I find the argument, advanced by Troy and the bartender in the previous thread who have experience with drunks, to be more persuasive than the Flemish saying on page seventeen. If the arresting officer had been black, I suspect it would be a different slur.

Not excusing Mel, but actions speak louder than words. OJ actually killed a Jew, did Mel? Why so quick to forgive OJ, who never admitted or apologized, or even Woody, whose life and values surely affect his art, as well as his family?

Is anti-Semitism somehow a bigger social sin in certain circles than sexism or black/white racism? Why?

Michael Farris said...

"Just out of curiosity, is there anything that he could do that would satisfy you?"

Yeah, take responsibility. The 'apologies' I've seen are too full of weasel words. There was one quote where he said something to the effect of "I acted like a person who was out of control". I would have preferred "I was out of control". and instead of "I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from..." I'd prefer "I want to understand why I said those vicious words".

AlaskaJack said...

How does one become an "expert" in such matters? I can think of only one way: the researcher carefully probes his own mind, writes down every hidden and private thought that has ever crossed his mind, and then repeatedly gets real drunk with his buddies who record everything he says. To run the experiment correctly, the drunken episodes should occur two or three times a week for at least a year.

If it should turn out our researcher harbored some real nasty private thoughts about his ex-wife and the judge who ruled against him in the fight over who gets what property after the divorce or about a colleague who wrote a critical review of his most recent book and he gives forceful expresssion to these thoughts during a drunken tirade, then we can conlcude that he truly believes the content of his earlier private thoughts and that he should be held repsonsible for them.

P. Froward said...

Derve,

You may have a point about sexism, but you're wrong about white racism directed against blacks. Public figures in this country who make racist comments never live it down[1]. Very few people object to that (nor should they in my view). Gibson's getting more support than he would if he'd used the Dreaded N-Word in anger. Is he getting less support than Larry Summers got? Good question. But Larry Summers wasn't vomiting raw bigotry, either.


[1] Prominent Democrats excepted, naturally.

Derve said...

"but you're wrong about white racism directed against blacks."

Not wrong. I said "black/white racism" (white/black).
Elvis Costello, Jesse Jackson? People move on.


"Gibson's getting more support than he would if he'd used the Dreaded N-Word in anger."

You think so? I think the apology would have been accepted, and his words viewed as just drunken slurs against an arresting officer. Remember Lethal Weapon? Danny Glover?

Maxine Weiss said...

How does Dr. Corcoran know what he, himself, would say under the influence of liquer?

How can someone 100% guarantee with perfect certainty what they would or would not do, drunk?

Dr. Corcoran is attempting to accurately predict human behavior when drunk. Yet, nobody, even the best psychiatrists has ever been able to accurately predict human behavior, and that's when sober.

Drunk men tell no tales, apparently.

I'm just baffled as to how some people feel that you must be drunk to get at the 100% perfect honesty....

.....and those who are stone cold sober are always liars!

Wow, who knew?

Peace, Maxine

Derve said...

Remember the good old days,
when folks used to just get drunk and screw? I blame political correctness...

PatCA said...

Brent,
I agree with you. This is so overkill on Mad Mel, it's like the NYT is overcompensating for its failure to analyze the motives of, say, anti-Semites like this fellow.

P. Froward said...

Maxine,

...some people feel that you must be drunk to get at the 100% perfect honesty....

.....and those who are stone cold sober are always liars!


You mean they were sober when they said that, right?


Derve,

Jimmy the Greek.

Freeman Hunt said...

No, a regular person does not yell anti-Semitic obscenities at people while drunk. But a regular person usually doesn't have a parent who's an anti-Semite either.

Just because he has the slur scripts, doesn't mean he believes them or that they came from his own thoughts.

Elizabeth said...

Just because he has the slur scripts, doesn't mean he believes them or that they came from his own thoughts.

Freeman points to a pretty good place for him to start processing; he should look to his father as a source.

the Rising Jurist said...

See if you can find Mel Gibson.

He's the one in the foreground, digging a giant hole.

AirAlan said...

Gibson is a street fighter. When he was arrested by a Jewish American deputy he went straight for the jugular, the words he thought would hurt the most. If he'd been arrested by a Mexican American deputy he'd have called him "bean-breath" and asked why he's out arresting movie stars when he could be in the sack with his fat wife, getting her pregnant for the 27th time. If the cop had been Arab American, Gibson would have called him a banana nosed camel jockey.

This is not to say Gibson has no residual animus for people like Abe Foxman who claimed the "Passion of the Christ" was anti-Semetic because the gospels it used as source material were anti-Semitic themselves.

Al Maviva said...

John points out a Flemish proverb: "What is said when drunk has been thought out beforehand.

Yeah, that's brilliant stuff. But Flemish bike racing wisdom - and the Flemish have been some of the great bike racers in the history of the sport - includes these gems:

"Don't shower before you race. Your legs will fill up with water."

and

"Never eat melted cheese. It has more calories than unmelted cheese."

I'm not sure I'd be citing the Big Book of Belgian Wisdom in arguments. Except as against Belgian bicycle racers.

Michael Farris said...

"Gibson is a street fighter. When he was arrested by a Jewish American deputy he went straight for the jugular, the words he thought would hurt the most."

That may be so. If it is, then he needs to take responsibility for the damage done (and I don't mean toward the deputy who probably didn't care very much).

Atticus said...

What makes me uneasy about stuff like this--and hate crimes in general--is that we are trying to hold someone accountable for what they are THINKING. Thought crimes. Although Mel said this stuff out loud, the shock seems to be not that he said it but that he might actually think it. Does he live his life according to his drunken rants or according to more acceptable attitudes? Seems to me that if a bigot-at-heart does not live as a bigot, he's got admirable self control.

knoxgirl said...

If he'd been arrested by a Mexican American deputy he'd have called him "bean-breath" and asked why he's out arresting movie stars when he could be in the sack with his fat wife, getting her pregnant for the 27th time. If the cop had been Arab American, Gibson would have called him a banana nosed camel jockey...

I'm not sure I sunderstand what you mean, could you provide EVEN MORE examples, please?

Ann Althouse said...

Atticus: "What makes me uneasy about stuff like this--and hate crimes in general--is that we are trying to hold someone accountable for what they are THINKING. Thought crimes."

But I haven't been writing about whether something should be a crime or not. I'm talking about an artist and how we understand his work. His thoughts are supremely relevant here and it would be repressive of our thoughts to have to exclude what we know.

Atticus said...

You're right, of course. You aren't talking about crimes and of course we should take Mel's rantings into consideration when we watch one of his movies.

I get the feeling that some people do see his rantings as something as bad as a crime. And that bothers me. Sorry I can't provide any links to examples--hard to link to conversations heard over the cubicle walls--but I'd bet that you already know the conversations I mean. Larry Sommers got much the same treatment--outrage that he might THINK something unthinkable about women.

Ken Begg said...

I agree with Freeman Hunt. Can a person be raised by racist parents, grow up and utterly reject all those views, and yet years later find those same thoughts pouring forth from their own mouths under the effects of stress and intoxicants? I believe so, yes.

What Gibson said is utterly despicable. He has said as much. The real question is, was he truly as disgusted and humiliated at his utterances when he sobered up as he said, or is it all an act?

For Gibson's own sake, I hope it's the former. Still, in a town that continues to employ and honor folks like Roman Polanski, Victor Salva and John Landis, among so many others, I think Gibson's outburst should be viewed as the small beer it appears to be, until there is evidence to indicate some larger issue.

The MinuteMan said...

I dispute this analysis of the Times expert (although for other reasons I am not interested in defending Mel Gibson).

Look, Mel Gibson was raving at a *Jewish* cop - did you really think he would try to anger the guy by hitting him him with Irish jokes, or mocking his redneck heritage?

For my money, if you want to push someone's buttons (and your judgment is utterly impaired) you go with a relevant sterotype whether you believe it or not.

Just to *illustrate* - anyone with any experience in drunken arguments would know this, but obviously a cloistered ivy-tower academic babe could not be expected to.

*TO BE CLEAR* - Is it only a coincidence that I settled on "ivy towered academic babe" here at Ms. Althouses's site? Or was that somewhow specific to the audience? Why couldn't Gibson have been doing the same thing?

*FURETHER CLARITY* - Some of my best friends are cloistered academic babes.

Anyway, I happen to think this Times article is absurd, but that does not mean Gibson is in the clear.

Tom Maguire

Ann Althouse said...

People are making some good arguments. (The expression is "ivory tower" not "ivy towered," though.) Mel's biggest problem may be that his jackassery resonates with the appearance of anti-Semitism in "The Passion" and his family's history of anti-Semitism. Freeman came up with the best argument: that the family planted the material that got released by alcohol, and it was just in his head and not something he actually believes. Still, I stand by my original point. He's devastated his own reputation and the meaning of his artistic work. He'll have to spend the rest of his life just trying to get back what he had before he drove off from Moonshadows.

"Look, Mel Gibson was raving at a *Jewish* cop - did you really think he would try to anger the guy by hitting him him with Irish jokes, or mocking his redneck heritage?"

I was married to a Jewish man for a long time, and I went through a divorce with him and various hard times after the divorce. You can imagine all the arguments and stressful times that must have taken place. You can assume drinks were consumed even to excess on many occasions. Yet I can assure you, I never even approached a single occasion when I even began to toss in an anti-Semitic remark.

Meade said...

And something tells me he never once called you "Sugar T..." oh... never mind.

Ken Begg said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ken Begg said...

"Yet I can assure you, I never even approached a single occasion when I even began to toss in an anti-Semitic remark."

Look, this isn't an exact analogue, but...

When I was 18 I joined the Navy Reserves. Before then, I *never* swore. We just didn't in my house.

After a few months of boot camp, I returned home swearing on a dime. Pretty much every sentence. People who knew me were amazed.

After several years of intense effort, I stopped swearing again. The difference being that under stress (I don't drink, but I assume it would be the same if I were drunk), those words come instantly rolling out again, unbidden. I'm forty-three now, and still fighting a habit I picked up twenty-five years ago.

(I will say that for all my swearing at one time in my life, I never picked up racial stuff, and thus I never employ it now.)

Maybe your parents didn't use anti-Semitic language, and maybe you weren't particularly exposed to it at any point. (Conversely, you may just be more civilized than most.)
Gibson was, though, and stuff your parents say gets stored away in your brain whether you reject it or not.

However, I'm willing to advance Gibson the benefit of the doubt until I see more evidence of actual anti-Semitism on his part, and that doesn't include filming the story of Christ and thus inevitably showing some Jewish individuals going some bad things. You can make a movie about the Nazis and not have it be an attack on all Germans, after all.

Maxine Weiss said...

I'm not sure how his being an artist has any relevance.

Someone's art (what comes out on the canvas) could be completely different than his actual thoughts.

To think one thing, but say another......and that's sober...

I can only imagine when you are drunk.....whether what is conveyed verbally matches up with the specific thoughts....

Thoughts always equal the actual spoken words....do they?

We know that words and actions are completely inconsistent.

So wouldn't it stand to reason that words and thoughts are too? And, especially when drunk ??? !!!

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

"What is said when drunk has been thought out beforehand."---Proverbs

...Then I guess Ted Kennedy's episode at Chappaquidik (sp?) was no accident. I always thought that was premeditated.

Come to think of it, going by that Proverb, there are no crimes of passion!

No such thing as an 'Excited utterance' !

Everything is planned in advance.

Peace, Maxine

The MinuteMan said...

The expression is "ivory tower" not "ivy towered," though

Groan. I really did know that, but I am now going to climb a tall ivy-covered tower and hurl myself off it.

I never even approached a single occasion when I even began to toss in an anti-Semitic remark.

Well , you're Ann Althouse and he's Mel Gibson - apparently he engages in homphobic rants as well. Russell Crowe, just to pick an another Aussie, throws telephones at people.

Or look at sports - people talk trash all the time (and we still don't know just what was said to Zidane in the World Cup final, but it must have been red-hot.)

Anyway, I have been advised that the arresting officer looks conventionally Anglo-Saxon, so my theory may not hold any water at all in the specific instamnce. As a rebuttal to the Times' general notion, however, I stand by it - so much so that I think the writer's mother wears Army boots.

Tom Maguire

Atticus said...

Ken Begg:
"The real question is, was he truly as disgusted and humiliated at his utterances when he sobered up as he said, or is it all an act?"

Is that really the "real question"? I guess I don't really care what Mel Gibson thinks in his secret heart. If he is smart enough and polite enough to keep it hidden...isn't that what he's supposed to do? Sheesh--I don't WANT to know what everyone is really thinking. Come to think of it, maybe this is a good time for me to watch What Women Want...

Xrlq said...

This Corcoran guy may fashion himself as an "expert," but to the extent his own observations about himself tell us a friggin' thing about Mel Gibson, they show exactly the opposite of what he was trying to prove. "I say other outrageous things when I'm drunk" is an admission of Gibson's central point: "When my brain is severely impaired by alcohol, the drunk version of me is liable to end up thinking and saying things that the sober version of me, with a properly functioning brain, would neither think nor say.

Brent said...

Ann,
Do you REALLY want to relive the discussion of whether or not "The Passion of the Christ" was anti-semitic or not? The whole discussion about Gibson's outburst can take place without that. You seem to come from the assumption that the movie was anti-semitic even before Mel said his stupid remarks.
If that's the case, then Bring It On . . . the deck is stacked in the favor of those who say it's not.

Let's start here:
1) The Motion Picture "The Passion of the Christ" did not inspire even ONE incident of anti-semitism around the world after its release. This is even acknowledged by the ADL and Abraham Foxman, hardly a close friend of Mel Gibson.
2) I met Mel Gibson during his "take it to the Evangelicals" pre-release tour - at Azusa Pacific University. That's right - I'm biased. But I also point out that my comments on your blog regarding his arrest have always condemned what he said that night. I am not starstruck, however, as my current vocation puts me in touch with a multitude of Hollywood celebrities. Mel seemed to be what everyone else that knew him said he was - hyperactive, yet thoughtful. The questions regarding anti-semitism were asked of him in a small group discussion prior to a full auditorium showing of a not-yet-final cut of the film. Believe me, I've been with anti-semites in the film industry that always squirm a little when it gets close to the bone. Either Mel's a VERY good actor (I think he's fair to good)or he's a decent though flawed person. He had no trouble answering the questions and seemed to be seeking to form his answers in a direct, not canned response (a lot of "uh's" and "wells").
3) He used Michael Medved, a conservative talk-show host, and Orthodox Jew, as his check on the script regarding anti-semitism. Medved fully defends the finished film as not being anti-semitic. While Medved is not the final word on Jewish perspectives on film, I can easily round up as many Jews that feel the same way as you can that feel the film is anti-semitic.

But really - can't we just discuss the stupid comments of a man and whether or not they reflect his true feelings? His comments are not proof that his film(s)were anti-semitic, anymore than Tom Cruise's rants about Brooke Shields and her drug relief for post-partum depression mean the films he produced were "anti-psychiatry".

Well, maybe "Rainman".

Meade said...

Brent: I think perhaps you (and other Mel-defenders) doth protest too much. Ann doesn't come from the assumption that the movie was anti-semitic. Read her post again -- she comes from the correct assumption that the movie appears anti-semitic. That's because it does appear anti-semitic to many viewers... which is why Mel engaged in "a small group discussion prior to a full auditorium showing of a not-yet-final cut of the film," also commonly known as a "focus group," correct? In Mel's business appearance is everything and last week, when he got liquored up, he apparently blew his cool and showed something of himself that even he cringes to look at and now all of his work, including Passion, will be looked at differently and with more scrutiny. As it should be.