Private or Not, Mel's Rant Has Huge Consequences
By Zach Dionne Posted Jul 16th 2010 09:00AM
Pop-Ed: I listened to the first rant and cringed. I listened to the second one and never wanted to hear another thing about Mel Gibson again. Immediately vowed, in fact, from the heart, to never watch another Gibson flick, new or old.
I also spoke with three disenchanted New Yorkers who had some serious words for Mel -- click through for the video and to hear me out.
If it's ever made sense to go ahead and lump together a celebrity's personal life and their professional body of work, it's now. Mel Gibson's rant at ex-girlfriend and baby mama Oksana Grigorieva began as a private conversation, yes. But once everyone heard it, scanned the N-word-dropping headlines and the angry, hollered sex demands, it couldn't be unheard or unread. Gibson flashes ignorance and prejudice in 2006 in a drunk, anti-Semitic outburst, and as early as 1991, railing against homosexuals. Now he's shattered his image as hard as humanly possible. Mel is a madman, and there's no forgetting it.
One PopEater commenter wrote: "I just go to the movies. We would never go to the movies again if we stopped and looked at everything that everyone did. Drugs? Is that good? Cheating? Drunk driving? I would not act like Mel, but he makes some good films." That's like saying, "I wouldn't beat a woman, but I'm cool with Chris Brown 'cause he's got that song I like." C'mon.
And what about Whoopi? Yes, Ms. Goldberg, I understand Mel Gibson's casual use of the N-word does not, in your opinion, qualify him for the Racist Hall of Racism. But you skewed the situation drastically by pointing into one dim corner and saying, "Mel's not a racist! He's been to my house!" I fully acknowledge, per your second wrongheaded speech/diatribe against bloggers, that you didn't defend Mel. What you did do was ignore the rest of a brightly lit room bursting with your pal Mel's insensitivity and inhumanity. I won't waste words addressing Gibson's instances of misogyny or racism or anti-Semitism or violence when these tapes so strongly show Mel to simply be a vile, self-centered, despicable creature. Why go to such pains, Whoopi -- and dedicate not one but two segments on 'The View' -- to saying he's not a racist? The point is, he sucks!
Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly makes a spot-on assertion that regardless of how producers and audiences react to future Gibson projects, this star of many movies I will never watch again has shotgun-blasted himself in the foot when it comes to roles. "If he tries to play someone smiley and nice, it would look like a bad joke," Gleiberman writes. "But if he takes on the role of someone brutish and mean, a walking-tall cauldron of righteous payback -- in other words, a typical Mel Gibson character -- it will put the scandal of his domestic explosion front and center all over again." Ditto for directing -- how can Mel helm one of his patented gorefests like 'The Passion of The Christ' or 'Apocalypto' without drawing comparisons to how he, y'know, punched Oksana in the face and told her she deserved it?
It's tough to tell what Mel is flipping his lid over in these tapes. Maybe Oksana truly did "ruin his life" in some way. Maybe she tried to extort millions from him. But no matter who did what, Gibson's stance in the limelight gave millions a chance to see how to conduct oneself as a cool customer. Instead, they witnessed a lesson in boiling over to volcanic proportions and completely losing control.
After Chris Brown's abusive explosion on Rihanna, I subbed in 'Love in This Club' any time I considered listening to 'Forever.' Moving on to Mel, has he ever starred in or directed anything classic enough that a boycott is so heinous to imagine? When Hollywood has a bottom line to meet and coffers to fill with a proven star, rebuking Gibson's actions isn't guaranteed. Do what you can as an individual to say any person treating another person this way -- regardless of race, gender, status in society, and doors closed or open -- isn't any kind of acceptable. Watch '300' even if you think it pales next to 'Braveheart.' Put in your 'Die Hard' DVDs when 'Lethal Weapon' pops up on TV. Watch the Home Shopping Network instead of 'The Passion.' Just don't give Mel any more of your time, money, or respect.
Follow Zach Dionne on Twitter.
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