Travels with Mel

Now that I
have been in Scotland for a bit I have begun to notice the great shadow
the infamous creator of Braveheart still casts over this hilly
northern country. If you venture into any bargain store in Edinburgh
or Glasgow you will find many bric-a-bracs aimed at spend-happy tourists. These items range from the relatively funny "kilt beach towel" to
the aggravating "William Wallace doll." Now, there’s nothing
wrong with the historical figure of William Wallace. The man heroically
stood against the English in order to defend Scottish independence,
and this I can respect. And I really can’t judge the people
who are making money from the dolls themselves; far be it for me to
begrudge anybody the right to strike gold by abusing national symbols.

No, the William
Wallace doll is an abomination because it is just a little version of
that big schmuck, Mel Gibson. It is a vivid rendering, capturing
accurately even the most Jew-hating contours of the man’s face (from
an era before the expert ironist decided to grow a strange Abrahamic
beard). I know Braveheart is one of the most profitable
things that has happened to Scotland since whisky became the local manna,
but when you hold a lil’ Mel in your hands you do not want to fight
for your freedom, you just feel sorry for all the civilizations Mel
Gibson has ripped off and made a mockery of (e.g. Scots, Mayans, ancient
Israelites, and counting).

I could forgive
this if it were a phenomenon confined to shops that sell inflatable
heart-shaped mattresses and "I’m not as think as you drunk I am"
t-shirts, but unfortunately Mel Gibson has managed to worm his way into
actual history. I went to the city of Stirling one day, and visited
the National William Wallace Monument, a great 19th-century
century-built landmark perched loftily on a lovely, green hilltop.
After making my way down from the summit, I encountered something that
morphed my good feeling into outright disgust. By the foot of
the hill stood a big stone statue of Mel Gibson, mace in hand, screaming
triumphantly. It seemed like stone-Mel knew he was ruining my
time in Stirling and that there lied his ultimate victory over me. The word "FREEDOM" carved into the rock mockingly reminded me of
how very trapped I was in the Mel-universe.

Next to the
statue there was a plaque with the story behind the work written on
it. Some poor guy carved the thing because when he was down in
the dumps (slowly dying from some horrible disease), he watched Braveheart,
and the movie had been able to fill him with national pride and confidence. I thought it was strange how the one thing that made this sculptor so
hopeful in his final days was the source of so much unpleasantness for
me. Why couldn’t the guy have seen The Mary Tyler Moore Show
on his deathbed and carved a statue of its namesake, like the one that
dazzles in the streets of the fine city of Minneapolis, Minnesota?
I guess some people just aren’t lucky enough to get Nick at Nite.