Mount Mel erupts again

first_imgThe incident is not the first time Gibson’s temper has landed him in hot water. Last summer, Gibson screamed sexist and anti-Semitic insults at police after he was arrested for drunk driving in Malibu. That confrontation came after the blockbuster success of Gibson’s controversial film “The Passion of the Christ.” Last year, when Walt Disney distributed “Apocalypto,” handlers were careful to craft a Gibson image of tolerance. ABC’s “Prime Time” broadcast an hourlong special detailing Gibson’s new-found sobriety as well as his use of Mayan actors and extensive research for the film. But Thursday’s incident again put Gibson on the defensive. Officials from California State University, Northridge, say it came about 20 minutes into a question-and-answer session designed to focus on moviemaking. Gibson had calmly answered several students’ questions about the film when Estrada, an assistant professor of Central American Studies, took the microphone. Estrada said she challenged Gibson’s depictions of bloodthirsty Mayans engaging in sacrificial ceremonies. “I stated a very valid academic question,” Estrada said. “He argues he studies Mayan culture and the representations he provides are authentic. I asked him who his sources were.” Estrada said Gibson used profanity in his response, although CSUN spokesman John Chandler disagreed. “He didn’t respond with a profanity,” Chandler said. “He responded by answering the question.” Estrada said she then handed the microphone to a man described by Guajan as a Mayan community leader, who began reading a lengthy statement in Spanish. After grousing from some in the audience, officials cut off the microphone. “People in the audience began to get restless,” Chandler said. “At one point, a member of the staff said … `Ask a question, or leave.”‘ But Gibson told university officials to turn the microphone back on and Estrada then began to translate. The statement denounced the film as a distortion of Mayan history. Officials said that when it became clear Estrada would not be asking questions related to filmmaking or the film, they called security to escort her out. Guajan said about half the audience applauded when the pair was escorted out by an armed security guard. It was then that Gibson, his face red, uttered the expletive. And then he fired a parting shot: “Make your own movie!” “He was feeling frustrated; there was no other intellectual discussion,” said John Schultheiss, chairman of the department of Cinema and Television Art, which organized the session. “That was his way of summing up: `Gosh, if you aren’t happy with the way an idea is presented to you, then you should present it yourself.”‘ [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I was shocked about his response. I thought he would be more civilized and it would be educational.” Estrada, a scholar of Mayan literature, said Friday that she will seek an apology. “I am demanding an apology not just for myself but also the Central American Studies Program, to the university, and to, most importantly, the Mayan community and members of the Mayan community,” Estrada said. Gibson’s publicist, however, said the actor doesn’t need to apologize because he was more than gracious in answering Estrada’s questions before finally becoming frustrated. “This was just a reaction to someone being disruptive and rude,” said Alan Nierob, Gibson’s publicist. “He went on and completed the session and said it was successful. It’s unfortunate it was tarnished with a momentary confrontation.” NORTHRIDGE – Actor-director Mel Gibson found himself at the center of controversy again Friday, the day after he cursed a Cal State Northridge professor who accused him of racially stereotyping Mayans in his latest film, “Apocalypto.” The expletive came after a late-night CSUN screening of the movie when assistant professor Alicia Estrada questioned Gibson’s sources for the graphically violent film and translated a lengthy declaration denouncing it. Several of those in attendance said Gibson’s outburst came as Estrada was being escorted from the room after a five-minute exchange in front of the audience of 130 mostly film students. “He told her to `F— off, lady,”‘ said CSUN student Josue Guajan, 22, of Van Nuys, a native Guatamalan who is half Mayan. last_img