Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Crocodile tears at the Mouse House

What good luck for ABC that it was able to cancel Mel Gibson’s Holocaust mini-series in a way that would lead us to believe the network was punishing the foul-mouthed bigot for his alcohol-fueled, anti-Semitic fit.

But the truth, as reported by Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, is that the Disney-owned television network simply capitalized on the serendipity of the moment to formally nuke an already-dead project. “Given that it has been nearly two years and we have yet to see a first draft of a script, we've decided to no longer pursue this project,” the network told the trade mag.

Fulminating Mel came in for criticism for perceived anti-Semitic overtones in his “Passion of the Christ.” The ABC project was supposed to refurbish his reputation by sympathetically portraying the story of a Jewish woman protected from the Nazis by the gentile gent who loves her.

If Disney really wants to send the world a message about common decency – and spare itself the embarrassment of cleaning up after another of Mel’s smelly messes – it also will take this opportunity to walk away from its plans to distribute the next cinematic Mel-apropism, “Apocalypto.”

The preposterously titled movie, which is scheduled for release later this year, has all the makings of another political kafuffle, as its trailer seems to blame the Mayans for being conquered by the Spanish. “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within,” blares the trailer, quoting historian Will Durant’s appropriate assessment of the fall of the Roman Empire.

But the Mayans, as compellingly demonstrated by Jared Diamond and countless other authorities, fell to the Spanish through no failing of their own. Far from succumbing to corruption or political disorganization, the Mayans literally were overwhelmed by the horses, guns, germs and utter ruthlessness of the Europeans bent on stealing the wealth of the New World for themselves.

In the spirit of civic responsibility and good corporate citizenship, the Mouse House ought to cheese this incipient insult before it leads to greater injury.