News Thoughts

Some more thoughts on the Mel Gibson affair

Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic meltdown is one of the biggest showbiz stories in recent times and a lot has already been written. Here are some interesting perspectives from the last week on the story that is still consuming Hollywood.

Nikki Finke writes in the LA Weekly about the hypocrisy lying beneath a lot of the current finger wagging

Where is the Hollywood outrage? Where is the industry wide condemnation? No, I’m not talking about Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic slurs. I’m talking about the Lionsgate scandal. Its ads for its slasher flick opening this weekend set a new low by boasting — yes, boasting — about how this movie is way more disgusting than anything the studio has previously brought to the big screen. “People are concerned that the amount of blood and gore in horror films goes too far,” the deep-voiced announcer intones, barely heard above the barrage of shrieks and moans. “On August 4, the studio that brought you Saw and Hostel goes over the edge. The Descent, rated R.”

Instead, the movie biz is consumed by the scandal of a dwarfish über-Catholic bigot with a fondness for blonde fans. Why, I haven’t witnessed so many power players this quick to kick a confessed alcoholic when he’s down and out. A guy who relapsed and drove near 90 miles an hour because he felt suicidal and wanted to wrap himself around a telephone pole (or so one of his intimates spun it to me), and who, when a Sheriff’s deputy put an end to his death wish, said venomous stuff he’s copped to and apologized for, since, well, never. 

Over at Slate, Kim Masters discusses the Disney executive who appears willing to forgive and forget his outburst:

Are we really surprised at Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic outburst last week? After his wink-wink Holocaust denials in the past? Probably not. The question is whether Hollywood will continue to countenance him. Disney is set to release his next movie; Oren Aviv, the new head of the Disney film studio, says he is prepared to forgive and forget. 

Sandy Cohen of the AP raises concerns about Gibson’s choice of rehab:

A lot is riding on Mel Gibson’s recovery from alcoholism: his health, his image, his reputation and his chance to repair relations with the Jewish community. But unlike other celebrity alcoholics, Gibson is not checking into a treatment facility. Instead, his publicist says the actor is participating in an outpatient “program of recovery,” declining to provide specifics.

And Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post thinks this incident is a watershed for Hollywood:

So is Mel Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic spew really headline news — or is it just another celebrity DUI? Another high-profile addition to The Smoking Gun’s mug shot gallery (Nick and Glen, meet your new buddy Mel)? Monologue fodder for Leno, Letterman, Conan, and Kimmel? Nothing but a tempest in a tequila bottle? 

Maybe that would be the case if these were ordinary times. But, with extremists gaining power and garnering sympathy all across the world, there is nothing ordinary about these times. And that is why this could prove to be a seminal moment in our cultural history. Particularly in the cultural history of Hollywood.

…the town’s power players need to step up and publicly condemn Gibson’s vile comments (in effect, saying in public what they are already saying in private conversations I and many others have had). I mean, it shouldn’t be so hard to publicly denounce someone — even an Oscar-winner — for being a raging anti-Semite.

Where does Gibson go from here? Apocalypto will struggle to do doing any serious business given that it is now tainted by this scandal. People may be curious because of the unusual subject matter (its set during the end of the Mayan civilization 600 years ago) but it doesn’t have the built in audience recognition that The Passion of the Christ did and Gibson is really the only person who could have promoted as it has no stars.

I cannot imagine that he will do any publicity for it unless it is a ‘Mel Apology’ tour but even that seems highly unlikely. Probably the best thing Gibson could do at this point is make a documentary exploring the history of anti-Semitism that analyses why he came to spout such offensive views himself (I have a feeling his father Hutton may have been an influence) and then donate any proceeds to Holocaust charities.