In the late 1970s American politics and American cinema entered a prolonged period of right-wing backlash, spurred stealthily from Australia: in 1976 Rupert Murdoch purchased the New York Post, promoting a conservative political agenda in the country’s largest media market and pushing headline writing into today’s era of “Obama Beats Weiner.” Three years later, Mel Gibson appeared in the student-film-budgeted masterpiece Mad Max. Murdoch already had a publishing empire in Australia and the UK and seemed a likely actor in politics. Gibson was a B-movie actor, with no preceding reputation. That Murdoch would become a modern-day William Randolph Hearst seemed predictable, but Mel Gibson’s transformation into the raving id of the American psyche took the world by surprise; the culture is still recovering. Fittingly, Gibson’s story is reminiscent enough of Oedipus Rex that it leaves cinephiles with the desire to pluck out their eyes.
Mel Gibson’s Australian upbringing was prefaced by childhood in upstate New York, a family history defined by soaring achievement, emotional crack-ups, and paranoid rages. Gibson’s paternal grandmother was an opera contralto, Eva Mylott, born in New South Wales, so promising she was sent to Europe and America to perform. In New York she met a Long Island plumbing supplies salesman named John Gibson, got married, had two sons, fell in the bathtub, and died, a horrible irony considering her husband’s profession. She left a grief-stricken John to bring up their sons, two-year-old Hutton and infant Alexis, alone. After his wife’s death, John’s business went under, and he drank heavily. He died twelve years later. Alexis died less than ten years after that, and Hutton was left to make his life over again, also alone, God his only minder—a bitter reality he would take seriously for the rest of his life.
Hutton Gibson was brought up Catholic in the Chicago area between the World Wars. His religious identity would prove to be both the most constant and schismatic presence in his life. After completing high school at fifteen (third in his class) Hutton studied to become a priest, but he disagreed with the Seminary’s modernist inclinations and left to avoid serving as a missionary in Asia. He served in World War II; then, frustrated with traditional education—“Nobody’s ever going to get me in a classroom again,” he said—he became, over the next twenty-four years, an autodidact, a husband, a father of eleven kids.
In December 1964, Hutton Gibson, Mel Gibson’s father, by then a brakeman for the New York Central Railroad, fell on the job, sued his employer, and in 1968 he was awarded $145,000. To bolster this settlement, Hutton appeared on the original Jeopardy! and became that year’s grand champion. Days without work, coupled with fears that his oldest son might be drafted (cryptically he reasoned, “I saw what happened to my war—they just gave it away”), inspired Gibson to move his family to Australia, his mother’s home country. When the family arrived in Sydney, Hutton set himself up as a computer programmer, and the Gibsons began attending the local Catholic parish where they were jarred to encounter the reform liturgy in English. Trouble started when the kids were given a catechism titled “Shalom,” (“peace,” “hello,” and “goodbye” in Hebrew). Its appearance in his children’s religious instruction excited a latent conspiratorial anxiety in Hutton Gibson. After reading through the documents of Vatican II, Hutton’s mind would never be at peace again.
Vatican II states that the teachings of the Church are no longer considered to be the only words of God. This reform was, in part, an act of conciliation with other faiths. To Hutton Gibson, it was a surrender of the Church’s authority and a personal beytrayal. In revolt, the Gibsons joined a traditionalist Catholic congregation called the Latin Mass Society. Hutton wrote the group’s newsletter, but was later kicked out for the overzealousness of his anti-Papal sentiments. Never one to waste an experience, Hutton then published his own religious tracts, with titles such as “Is The Pope Catholic?” and “The Enemy Is Here,” the cover of which depicts the map of Italy as a boot kicking the island of Sicily, marked “Tradition,” with Rome the only labeled landmark. Both screeds declare Vatican II an apostasy and call every Pope since John XXIII a fraud.
From there it got worse. A central obsession of Hutton Gibson’s is the Vatican’s official rescinding of the accusation that the Jews killed Christ. Gibson has mocked John Paul II’s comment that “[The Jews] are . . . in a certain respect, our oldest brothers” by writing “Abel had an older brother too.” All through his statements is a thread of paranoid conspiracy, a Greatest Hits of Western Prejudice: Vatican II is “a Masonic Plot backed by Jews,” the hijacked planes on 9/11 were crashed by remote control, and the Holocaust was physically impossible: “Go and ask . . . the guy who operates the crematorium what it takes to get rid of a dead body,” Hutton has said. “It takes one liter of petrol and 20 minutes. Now, six million?” The elder Gibson’s devotion to the rules of his own crackpot world, in which the powerful are corrupt, mostly Jewish, and always arrayed against him personally, would be of absolutely no significance if his son had not tapped into these anxieties and dramatized them, publicly and on a grand scale.
The anatomy of the cinematic revenge narrative is as follows: a good person is dealt a terrible injustice (usually the loss of a loved one), which is compounded when the authorities fail to deal with the perpetrator in a way that satisfies the victim’s desire for retribution. When the perpetrator offends again, the protagonist takes the law into his own hands, finds his own justice, and sacrifices his civilized nature. This motivation can be found in movies stretching back to Griffith, but in the early 1970s it reemerged in movies designed to exploit their audience’s fears of a newly permissive and diverse society.
John Boorman, Don Seigel, and Michael Winner, among other directors, revived the form with Point Blank (1967), Dirty Harry (1971), and Death Wish (1974), though only the latter two are explicitly political. In Point Blank, Lee Marvin plays Walker, a thief who’d been double crossed by his partner (John Vernon) and his wife (Sharon Aker) during a heist, sending Walker to jail. Upon his release, Walker stalks around the urban dystopias of Los Angeles and San Francisco in relentless pursuit of his money, killing most in his path. In the end, though the nominal villains have been punished, Walker’s fate is left unresolved, and the film ends on an unpromising note.
Dirty Harry preserves Point Blank’s Bay Area location, but gives us a cop, Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood), in place of a robber and a political agenda in place of a motivation. Harry pursues “Scorpio” (Andy Robinson), a rampaging sniper based on the Zodiac Killer, with no regard for post-Warren Court police procedure. At the film’s conclusion, Harry throws his inspector’s badge into a lake, echoing Gary Cooper in High Noon, and implying that even if his goal is justice, Harry has acted beyond the moral limits of civilization and must be banished from it.
Death Wish merges its predecessors, diminishing the genre. Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) is a New York architect, a political liberal, and a combat novice. His wife is murdered and his daughter raped in his Upper West Side apartment. Resentfully, Kersey wanders the streets at night, attracting and killing thugs as if they were mosquitoes, until crime in New York drops dramatically. In the final scene, Kersey arrives in Chicago. Seeing a woman harassed by teenagers, he playfully mimes firing a gun with his index finger, then smiles at the camera. Kersey’s transformation is complete: his motives are clear, his methods and his politics reactionary and lunatic.
With few exceptions, Mel Gibson’s career has been devoted to the elaboration of the themes of these films. He has been honored for it in ways his predecessors never imagined possible. Lately Gibson has taken the role of embittered, vengeful victim beyond performance and into the real-life personification of the wronged man. Though the film industry has turned on him, as the industry of journalism is now turning on Murdoch, both men have gotten very rich stirring these emotions to define the national mood. Now their work threatens to eat them alive.
Mel Gibson’s first two movies to acquire American distribution were Mad Max and Tim (both 1979). The latter is an odd romance in which a twenty-year-old, developmentally disabled Australian handyman (Gibson) and an older, well-off American woman (Piper Laurie) fall in love. Its unexpected success hinted that Gibson could work as a romantic lead. Mad Max became an international phenomenon, grossing enough money to transcend its B-movie origins, and morphing into a money-making Hollywood franchise. The affection in which action-movie fans hold this film can’t be overstated: the cheap effects, punk rock fashions, the obsession with speed, follow a long line of similar movies (Vanishing Point, Death Race 2000), but the execution goes beyond such earlier efforts. No action film has surpassed it, certainly none with a lower budget.
Mad Max follows the revenge fantasy formula precisely. The story is of a good cop, Max Rockatansky (Gibson), fighting homosexual barbarian gangs in the post-apocalyptic Outback. When Max’s wife and infant son are murdered, Max hunts down and kills his enemies, using his car as a weapon. Max’s ultimate revenge against the sniveling Johnny “The Boy” (Tim Burns) is one of the very few non-vehicular homicides in the film, and it is almost a duplicate of the final scene in Dirty Harry, only instead of throwing his badge away, Max drives aimlessly into the desert, becoming a Harry Callahan of the wasteland, once a family man, now a loner, vindicated but beyond the bounds of civilization.
After Mad Max and its sequel Mad Max II: The Road Warrior (1981) came a pair of well-received films made with Australian director Peter Weir. Gallipoli (1981) and The Year Of Living Dangerously (1982) are both gritty historical dramas, serious films. Each contains enough action for Gibson to capitalize on the momentum of Mad Max, but, crucially, each also allowed him to play a romantic lead, proving that he could appeal to a female audience—something that did not come as naturally to Lee Marvin or Charles Bronson.
Lethal Weapon (1987) showcased both sides of Gibson’s persona and was itself a synthesis of three distinct narrative formulas so well established by the time it was produced that they could be parodied without losing the action audience. Joel Silver, the film’s producer; Shane Black, his screenwriter; and director Richard Donner took the storytelling philosophy of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer—triumphalist struggles, modeled on Saturday Night Fever and the Rocky films—and combined it with the revenge fantasy plot outlined above, adding an element of romantic comedy that distinguished Lethal Weapon from its contemporaries.
The conventions of the rom-com include a cute meeting of the two romantic partners (in Lethal Weapon, Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh mistakes Gibson’s Martin Riggs for an armed perp and, in attempting to take him down, ends up being taken down by his new partner instead), followed by a period of mutual acrimony that is tolerated for the sake of a shared mission (here, a murder case). The couple’s pursuit of a common goal forces the antagonists to put aside their antipathy, and in doing so they find a basis for intimacy that brings them closer than they’d thought possible. This is externalized during the family dinner scene at Murtaugh’s house in which his daughter, Riane (Traci Wolfe), falls in love with Riggs, her attraction being an echo of the affection that Murtaugh feels for Riggs himself. The later crisis of Riane’s abduction unites them further, putting the safety of the family at stake and finally clarifying Murtaugh’s resolution to postpone retirement and Riggs’s decision to forego his own planned suicide. Each has thrown over their destructive paramours (age and despair) in favor of a productive and healthy love for each other.
Lethal Weapon made Mel Gibson a bona fide Hollywood movie star—a macho lead capable of projecting vulnerability. He would repeat this act often: if pushed, he will fight back, especially when his family is at stake, and, like Max Rockatansky, he will wander in the desert.
The third phase of Mel Gibson’s career is his auteur phase. It is here that he reached his greatest critical and commercial success and slowly revealed his obsessions. His first feature, The Man Without A Face (1993), came and went quietly, but its subject matter takes on new interest in light of later events. The homosexual dimension of the source material is diminished in the movie. When asked about his decision to ignore it, Gibson replied that he was interested in being “more positive” with the film, and admitted that he had never read the book before he got the script. That was a mistake he would not make again.
His follow-up, Braveheart (1995), became one of the most celebrated films of the 1990s. In retrospect, this seems amazing. It is hard to think of another Best Picture Oscar winner that has dated so quickly or been cast in such a sharp new relief by subsequent events in the life of its creator. The familiar revenge fantasy tropes return in the retelling of the life of 13th-century Scottish patriot William Wallace. We move from the murder of his wife, Murron, through his torture and death at the hands of Edward I, to the final battle at the field of Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce, Wallace’s betrayer in life, leads his troops against Edward’s, winning Scotland’s freedom, redeeming himself, and consecrating the memory of Wallace.
The film is beautiful to look at, the battles scenes have a campy verve more reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian than Henry V, and its commitment to overwrought emotionality keeps it from dragging over its three-hour running time. Beneath the epic posturing, references to the Gibsons’ personal animus glare. These might be overlooked as esoteric obsessions if they did not also reveal the prejudices of the culture that celebrated this movie.
Given the tradition of Anglo-American males’ centrally enforced domination of all cultural, commercial, financial, and professional institutions in the US, it may seem odd to realize that the English are perhaps the most despised ethnic group in the country’s history—even among their own local descendants. To contemplate Englishness in America is to conjure up the historical memory of the nation’s first enemy—the imperialist yoke, which had to be cut loose for the West to be tamed and the country transformed into bravery’s home/freedom’s land. “Englishness” represents all things that Americans resent about Europe generally: its ruthless colonialism, its ethnic prejudice, its cultural pretense. The benefits of America’s wariness of European traditions are substantial: without it, there would be no Declaration of Independence or Constitution, no establishment clause. Even so, this progressive, democratic impulse has been overlaid with a reactionary counter-force: a tendency toward extreme regional sectarianism, anti-intellectualism, and the paranoid fear of unseen interests (“elites”) beyond the influence of ordinary (“real”) Americans. Those elites, those effete, pampered, aristocratic tax-thieves that infest the deep folds of the American imagination, are in some essential sense the English to us all.
Bravheart’s Englishmen, Edward I (Patrick McGoohan), and his son Edward, Prince of Wales (Peter Hanly), embody their clichés so thoroughly that it’s embarrassing to watch. The King plots obsessively to expand his Scottish territory and frets over the looming succession of his son, a whimpering, lisping homosexual, who is so easily manipulated by his lover, Phillip (Stephen Billington), that the King is forced to defenestrate him for the sake of the nation. Edward I’s heavy-handed administration leads directly to the deaths of William Wallace’s father and brother and forces Wallace and Murron (Catherine McCormack) to marry in secret to avoid Murron’s submission to primae noctis—a custom by which brides are required to have sex with their local feudal lord the night before their marriage.
The obvious attraction of Princess Isabella of France (Sophie Marceau) to Wallace, coupled with her contempt for the husband who has abandoned her sexually, moves her to reveal her father-in-law’s plans. Edward I will negotiate peace terms with the Scots, distracting Wallace’s army long enough to invade Scotland, regardless of Wallace’s response, setting up the film’s penultimate battle sequence. Thus, Scotland’s integrity is guaranteed by the sexual charisma of its ancient defender against the remote authority of scheming faggots. Gibson, to the best of my knowledge, has never been asked whether this nuance made the story of William Wallace more positive, but it surely made it more palatable to an audience that takes its cultural stereotypes for granted.
This theme would be developed, though not exactly refined, in The Patriot (2000), in which Gibson plays a farmer reluctantly called to help throw off the shackles of British colonial rule; Gibson’s fictional character, Benjamin Martin, personally humiliates Tom Wilkinson’s absurdly re-imagined General Cornwallis. Indeed, Gibson’s next work as director carried this much further. The Passion of The Christ (2004) has been so thoroughly dissected that even writing the title invites dread. The controversy that accompanied its production, distribution, and release now seems moot: the film is patently and obviously anti-Semitic. No fair-minded person could dispute it. The rotten teeth, hooked noses, and cynical plotting that define virtually every Jewish character in it are obvious slanders. Picking apart the apologia the film received from Jewish supporters like Rabbi Daniel Lapin and film critic-conservative commentator Michael Medved is a tedious a task to contemplate only seven years after the film’s release.
Assuming that a plot summary is unnecessary, I’ll stick to the most damning and revealing moment in the drama—the moment when Caiaphas (Mattia Sbragia), the Jewish high priest who plots the murder of Jesus (Jim Caviezel), claims outright that “[h]is blood is on us and on our children!” The quote is a paraphrase of Matthew 27: 24-25, and it’s a line unambiguous and brazen in its hatred. Like the moment the person you’re arguing with about politics finally tells you you’re ugly, it’s a moment to savor. Sadly, audiences unfamiliar with Aramaic did not get the opportunity to do that. Though the words are spoken, Gibson deleted the subtitles from the film’s US release after the Anti-Defamation League, among others, issued public complaints.
Gibson’s excuse for including the line at all was predictable, defensive, and prickly: “It’s one little passage, and I believe it, but I don’t and never have believed it refers to Jews, and implicates them in any sort of curse. It’s directed at all of us, all men who were there, and all that came after. His blood is on us, and that’s what Jesus wanted. But I finally had to admit that one of the reasons I felt strongly about keeping it, aside from the fact it’s true, is that I didn’t want to let someone else dictate what could or couldn’t be said.” Leaving aside the annoying and untrue implication that free speech is at stake in this decision, this may be the most sincere defense that Mel Gibson has offered for The Passion of the Christ. It is also the most misunderstood.
When asked about his father’s beliefs during the promotional riot that accompanied the film’s release, Gibson responded that his father had “taught me my faith, and I believe what he taught me. The man never lied to me in his life.” When asked about the divergence between his religious beliefs and those of his non-Catholic wife (and mother of seven of his children), Robyn Moore, Gibson responded more fatalistically: “There is no salvation for those outside the Church. . . . I believe it. Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She’s a much better person than I am. Honestly. She’s . . . Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it’s just not fair if she doesn’t make it. . . . But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.” From this statement it is simple enough to conclude that when Gibson says that Caphaias’s blood curse is “true” he is in fact accusing everyone from the Jews to the Episcopalians (with their implicit shades of Englishness), to the atheists to the Roman Catholic Church which nearly destroyed his father’s faith, uprooted his own allegiance, and pushed his family into social isolation.
In his mind we are all responsible for Christ’s death, but some (presumably including himself and his father) are less responsible than the rest of us—this is not his opinion, it “is a pronouncement from the chair.” On that basis it is possible to guess that when he denies his own anti-Semitism, what he is actually saying is that his dislike for the Jews is not personal but doctrinal. Mitigated as it is by a more general pre-Vatican II chauvinism, this is a distinction without a difference. Fittingly, given the persecution complexes of Gibson’s protagonists, the personal and religious traumas that sent Hutton Gibson on his vengeful holy crusade may finally prove to be most profitable to celebrity character-assassination sites like TMZ and Radaronline.
The release of The Passion of the Christ bound an entirely new audience of observant Christians to Mel Gibson’s work. Their devotion, and their propensity for buying tickets in bulk, propelled the film into the ranks of the most profitable independent films ever made. But its success set the backdrop for Gibson’s personal and professional self-destruction and was a precursor provocation for a mobilized and insane American right wing.
On July 28, 2006, Gibson was pulled over for speeding in Malibu, California, then given a breathalyzer test that measured his blood-alcohol level at .12 (the legal limit is .08). Gibson was arrested and responded with the first of his public meltdowns. The content of Gibson’s rant and its cultural effects (the now widespread use of the term “sugar tits”) are less interesting than the way they serve as a kind of plot point in the public story. Here was a newly anointed Christian spokesman, whom many evangelicals had spent a lot of time defending, acting in a way that supported the worst accusations against him.
The reaction in Hollywood ranged from panicked damage control (Jeff Berg, Chairman of ICM, Gibson’s agency at the time) to hypocritical condemnation (super-agent and former ICM burglar Ari Emmanuel) before the event dissolved into a predictable, if unsuccessful, apology tour. What is fascinating in retrospect is the tone Gibson adopted for this version of apology. He issued a public statement, the first and last paragraphs of which read as follows:
There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.
This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. It’s about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad.
The beginning is boilerplate that could have been (and almost certainly was) drafted by a publicist; the final paragraph, with its oblique reference to The Passion of the Christ and its critics, followed by the neutral observation that words can hurt, then ending with the lament that it is the world (as opposed to a single person within it) that has gone mad, imply that larger forces are responsible for this personal act. That kind of language is rarely used in celebrity PR rehabilitation, but it is exactly the kind of statement that political campaigns use to disown responsibility for outrageous behavior while still keeping the base motivated. And it is this recasting of those who support and those who revile him as agents of good and evil that has split Mel Gibson’s cultural identity into national zeitgeist.
The crazy fringe element of the right wing gained enough prominence to politicize even the raising of the nation’s debt limit. Most of the winning freshmen candidates (as well as three most visible losing candidates, Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell) were all Tea Party nominees and each of them ran on a reactionary anti-federalist pledge to “shrink the size of government” and clung to very narrow (or, in the case of O’Donnell, counter-factual) readings of the Constitution to back up their cases. That each was expressly mistrustful of intellectuals and non-committal on the President’s birthplace during the campaign went without saying. News reporting on the wave of Republican victories centered on the party’s base, but obscured an intra-party bifurcation motivated less by the usual moderate vs. far-right rhetorical clichés (though those were certainly present) than by the hyperbolic anxiety attack collectively known as the Tea Party movement. The electoral losses of the absurd Senate candidates reflects the limits of the far right’s hold on the political imagination, but the impressive victories of the Republican House freshmen mirrors the extent to which the country has drifted into a paranoid mind-state that thrives on the repetition of the revenge fantasy narrative.
Mel Gibson and Rupert Murdoch coincide again here, having both built their careers in America by stoking the paranoid mentality of their audience. Talk to the average Fox News viewer and you’re likely to find someone who believes that they have been dealt a terrible injustice, rightly understood to be related to the collapse of the financial markets, but never tied to the deregulation policies that began during the Reagan administration. This bitterness is compounded by a sense of vulnerability fostered by physical isolation from the power centers on the Coasts, which historical memory perceives to be full of effete, pampered, tax-thieving elites who have no regard for the suffering in the rest of the country. While it’s absurd to blame the excesses of a political movement on the persistence of a generic movie plot, if you excite this anxiety enough, you have the perfect canvas on which to allude to the President’s complexion and his foreign-sounding name, and to suggest that he is working to take something away from “real” Americans. Viewed this way, it is a very short distance from Sharron Angle’s insane advocacy of “Second Amendment remedies” to William Wallace’s climactic battle cry “They may take our lives, but they will never take our FREEDOM!” All that’s missing is a character passionate enough to slap on the white-and-blue war paint and ride full gallop into oblivion. The audience is ready for the third act, though gratification may be delayed—Mel Gibson and Rupert Murdoch have both entered their baroque phase.
A month after his arrest, Gibson and his wife separated, divorcing in 2009. In January 2010, Edge Of Darkness, about a Boston-area police officer’s (Gibson’s) quest to solve the murder of his activist daughter, targeted by a weapons manufacturer, was released and flopped. It would have disappeared completely from memory if the promotional interviews Gibson did in support of it had not exposed his resentments again. When KTLA-TV’s Sam Reuben broached the subject of Gibson’s arrest, Gibson snapped on camera, asking the Jewish Reuben “Do you have a dog in this fight?” In the same week the microphone caught him calling another reporter an “asshole” via remote feed. In July it was reported that Radaronline possessed telephone-audio recordings of Gibson abusing his former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva. When the recordings were released, they proved even more damning than anyone could have imagined: on them a drunk, hysterical Gibson accuses Grigorieva of being a gold digger, tells her she deserves to be gang-raped, and says that he’s capable of putting her in a “fucking rose garden.” He blurts out later that he and his wife had no “spiritual connection,” but that Grigorieva has no soul at all.
Reaction was swift: William Morris Endeavor Agency (Ari Emmanuel’s new home) dropped him, and the commercial failure of The Beaver (2011), a film in which Gibson played a depressed toy company executive in the midst of an emotional breakdown, followed. The Beaver was produced for $21 million and has so far grossed only $970,816, roughly the inflation-adjusted budget of the original Mad Max. The only positive reversal came with critical assessment of Gibson’s performance, which was so positive that, had the film succeeded, he might have been in a position to re-make himself as a paternal character actor along the lines of Michael Caine or Sean Connery. At the moment, Mel Gibson’s fate, like Walker’s, Paul Kersey’s, Harry Callahan’s, or Max Rockatansky’s, is unresolved.
Mel Gibson and Rupert Murdoch are united again at the end of their careers, each brought down by the exposure of private messages—Gibson as target, Murdoch as spy. As of this writing, Murdoch’s British tabloid the News Of The World has folded after its senior administration admitted to tapping the phone of a thirteen-year-old murder victim, thus interfering with a police investigation. Several News Corp. executives have resigned, arrests have been made, American indictments are expected to follow, and, if they do, the sun may yet set on the Murdoch Empire. Given the vindictive nature of the Murdoch papers and the phenomenal influence of Murdoch’s money on politics in the UK, we can all enjoy the irony that, at last, Britain has lost a portion of its right-wing press, but it has not lost its FREEDOM!