A Mel Gibson geiger-counter reading from Houston critic Joe Leydon, who wrote his morning to say his wife “just returned from a morning visit to the health club for a half-hour or so on the treadmill. The club isn’t exactly upscale, but it’s in a nice neighborhood — actually, a very nice neighborhood — and many of the folks who live around there are Jewish. (No, I’m not stereotyping: The very large Jewish Community Center is nearby, and the supermarkets have well-stocked kosher sections — something you don’t see nearly so often in other areas here in Houston. And, no kidding, the area is officially known as Meyerland.)
“Anyway, while at the health club she overheard some heated conversations by a few of the other members. Specifically, a group of middle-aged men and women who were talking about Mel Gibson. Mind you, when I say ‘heated’ I don’t mean they were arguing. I mean one or two were loudly griping, and the others were more or less nodding in agreement. Here is an almost verbatim quote from the dialogue: ‘Did you hear what that Mel Gibson did? First he made that Passion of the Christ, and now this. He’s never going to get another penny of my money again.’ Mrs. L. — whose mother, by the way, was Jewish — was more than a little surprised by the vehemence of the remarks. And even though she herself never saw Passion of the Christ – she’s a practicing Catholic, but was turned off by advance reports of blood and gore – she’s now tempted to view the film on video.
“This may be such an isolated incident that it doesn’t even begin to qualify as anecdotal evidence. And then again, maybe not. Either way, I’d be interested in seeing if there’s any kind of significant spike in Passion DVD rentals and purchases during the next few days. And I’m even more interesting in finding out: Have we only just begun to see the fallout from Mel’s misbehavior?”