Mel Gibson on Nate Parker controversy: "He was cleared of all that stuff. Unfair."

Mel Gibson

A moment I noticed from the annual Hollywood Reporter director's roundtable. (click HEREMel Gibson on the Nate Parker controversy:

“He was cleared of all that stuff,” says Gibson. “And it was years ago. You have to follow the system there. I think he’s innocent of all that stuff. The fact that he has to live with that stigma, and that it affects the art he does, is unfair."

I guess he sympathizes. He was, possibly still is, in the same position as Parker. There's always going to be that debate between separating the art from the artist. Is Gibson right? Technically, yes. Parker was cleared, but not without taunting the victim endlessly on a daily basis after the rape. Yes, that was the past and people change, but goddamit, I've read details of the case and if Parker got cleared of the rape, he still didn't help his case with the way he handled everything else following it. That's fact.

Also, the film just wasn't that good. The buzz at Sundance, where I saw it, was too over-the-top, with the crowd giving Parker a standing ovation even before the film had even screened. #Oscarssowhite was just starting and people wanted a film to ride towards the next Oscars. 

On 10.4.16 I wrote a mixed review of the film:

"Was the buzz and acclaim that the film received in January merited/justified? Of course not. Parker makes mistakes in his filmmaking and those mistake do end up costing him. Portraying Turner as Jesus-like figure doesn't help, nor does the fact that he fumblingly sets up his story in a lame almost skittish way. Also, the actual rebellion, the most interesting and exciting part of the film, only happens near the end. Bad decision. Parker isn't yet fit to carry such a heavy subject matter as a director, his amateurish mistakes are absurd and almost too naive to comprehend, but, of course, his mind and passion are in the right place and his movie relevant as ever, which is why so many were suckered into praising this film to the Gods just a couple of months ago."

"Parker means to make an "epic," but there is no "epic" feel to his film. It feels flat and devoid of any artfulness. It doesn't feel cinematic. One might wonder the potential of such a relevant and important story in the hands of an Ava DuVernay or Spike Lee. That would have made for a more fully fleshed out and reflective film than what Parker gives us."

"A film like this one is very important to bring to the forefront of the mainstream. Nat Turner's story is one of historical significance that has been shunned away and put aside for way too many years. At the end of the day it won't necessarily be the execution that matters with "The Birth of a Nation," but the fundamental significance behind it. It does not deserve rave reviews and awards, but what it does deserve is you attention."