Organizers of the 2023 Mardi Gras parade have dropped their invitation for Mel Gibson to be the parade’s Grand Marshal after they received sharp criticism from a coalition of Jewish and interfaith groups.
The Krewe of Endymion, which runs the largest Mardis Gras parade in New Orleans, Louisiana, initially named the “The Passion of the Christ” filmmaker the co-grand marshal in early January.
But after receiving what he described as “threats that cause us great concern,” Dan Kelly, president of the Krewe of Endymion, told a local CBS affiliate the decision was made to drop Gibson from their plans.
“The Krewe of Endymion has received significant feedback about our grand marshal announcement yesterday evening. Some of this commentary included threats that cause us great concern," Kelly told WWL-TV in New Orleans. “In the best interest of the safety of our riders, special guests and everyone that welcomes us on the streets, Mel Gibson will not ride as a Co-Grand Marshal for our 2023 parade.”
Kelly did not provide any additional details as to the nature of the threats.
In response to the announcement, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, the Greater New Orleans Clergy Council, and the Jewish Community Relations Council issued a statement supporting the decision after being “appalled” by Gibson’s initial selection.
The statement read in part: “Mel Gibson has a long history of making antisemitic, racist and misogynistic slurs. While the actor has made half-hearted attempts to apologize for his remarks over the years, there is still a great deal of pain associated with his name and deep wounds in the Jewish community from those controversies, which may never heal.
“Given his history of fueling antisemitism and other forms of hate, we find his choice as Grand Marshal of Endymion was completely insulting and shortsighted. “
The announcement was also met with derision from other outlets, including The Jewish Chronicle’s Dominic Green, who wrote, “... It’s mystifying why a fervent Catholic and penitent alcoholic like Gibson would have accepted the role at all.”
Green — who called Gibson’s 2004 film “religious porn, and an invitation to hate Jews” — also wrote, “The good news is that Gibson will not be offending the Jews of New Orleans. The bad news is that he can now concentrate on offending the Jews everywhere else.”
In an email to NOLA.com, Kelly pledged to “do better in the future” and continue to review the group’s process on selecting grand marshals.
“Endymion’s process for selection ... while internal, will be reviewed going forward, so as to create a more thorough discussion of potential candidates,” he told the outlet.
With a production budget of roughly $30 million, “The Passion of the Christ" was a massive blockbuster success upon its release in 2004, netting a staggering $612 million at the box office worldwide, making it the highest grossing faith-based film in history.
It was also the highest-grossing R-rated film ever in North America, grossing $370.8 million. "The Passion of the Christ" received three Oscar nominations at the 77th Academy Awards but was awarded none.
The Academy Award-winning director nearly lost his career in Hollywood after an anti-Semitic rant in 2006 that alleged Jews were to blame for “all the wars in the world” on the heels of his success with “Passion.”
He later issued an apology which read in part: "I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said.”
"I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse,” he added.
Gibson is rumored to be working on a sequel, “The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection,” slated for 2024.
Jim Cavaziel, who is expected to return in his portrayal of Jesus, said in 2020 once it’s released, the sequel is “going to be the biggest film in world history.”
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.