The Mel Gibson effect

Given the outpouring of accusations aimed at powerful figures in the entertainment industry for serial sexual assaults, many are hoping for a brighter future wherein such occurrences are treated as the crimes they are. Instead it appears to all but the victims, these events are forgotten, forgiven, or swept under rugs already bulging.

During the same historic moment of comeuppance for Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, etc, etc , Mel Gibson’s comeback continues with the release of “Big Daddy 2” and it really seems many of us remain unaware of, or have forgotten why we haven’t seen Mel on our screens quite so much in recent years, and why it’s problematic that we now do.

During the promotion for the film, Mel’s being invited to give his take on the slew of allegations aimed at his contemporaries (in more ways than one), leading Mel to say

“things got shaken up a little bit and there is a lot of light being thrown into places where there were shadows and that is kind of healthy. It’s painful, but I think pain is a precursor to change.”

In the spirit of shining light on shadows, may I present a brief history of Mel Gibson’s own criminal past, and treatment of women, minorities, and anyone not named Mel Gibson.

As far back as 1984, Mel told the press,

“Feminist, for Christ’s sake. … What does it mean? It’s a term invented by some woman who got jilted.”

A decade later, he threw out a wider net.

“Men and women are … not equal,” he said. “I had a female business partner once. Didn’t work. … She was a c**t.”

In 1991 the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) accused Gibson of homophobia after a December 1991 interview in the Spanish newspaper El País.

When the interviewer asked if Gibson was concerned his audience may think he was gay, Mel replied,

“Do I sound like a homosexual? Do I talk like them? Do I move like them? They take it up the ass.” Gibson then took it upon himself to point at his posterior and said: “This is only for taking a shit.”

When Mel was told he had offended the gay community and asked to apologise, Mel replied

“I’m not apologizing to anyone. I’ll apologise when hell freezes over. They can fuck off. ”

In 1999 when asked about these and other homophobic comments, Mel said,

“I shouldn’t have said it, but I was tickling a bit of vodka during that interview, and the quote came back to bite me on the ass.”

Spoilers: A pattern of laying responsibility on factors beyond Mel’s control is going to become apparent.

2003 saw Mel threaten to eviscerate New York Times columnist Frank Rich for critiquing The Passion of the Christ. Mel told the press,

“I want to kill him. I want his intestines on a stick. … I want to kill his dog.”

On July 28, 2006, Mel was stopped by Los Angeles Police for driving over 80 miles-per-hour in a 45 miles-per-hour zone. An open bottle of tequila was found in the car and Mel’s blood-alcohol level was 0.12, exceeding California’s legal limit of 0.08.

According to the arrest report, Gibson exploded into an angry tirade when the arresting officer would not allow him to continue driving.

“Fucking Jews… the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?”

Mel asked of Sheriff’s Deputy, James Mee. During his arrest Mel turned his attention to the female arresting officer saying

“What do you think you’re looking at, sugar tits?”

This event triggered the dissolution of Mel’s 30 year marriage with Robyn Gibson.

Only once the arrest report was leaked did Mel issue two apologies through his publicist, while Sheriff’s Deputy Mee was accused of leaking the police report, and he was eventually fired in 2012.

In a latter interview , Mel excused himself.

“It was an unfortunate incident. I was loaded and angry and arrested. I was recorded illegally by an unscrupulous police officer who was never prosecuted for that crime. And then it was made public by him for profit, and by members of – we’ll call it the press. So, not fair. I guess as who I am, I’m not allowed to have a nervous breakdown, ever.”

Later still Mel told Stephen Colbert

“It’s a pity that one has to be defined with a label from, you know, having a nervous breakdown in the back of a police car from a bunch of double tequilas,” he said to Stephen Colbert, “but that’s what it is.”

2010 saw Mel’s partner and the mother of his seven-month-old daughter, Oskana Grigorieva file a restraining order keep him away from her and their child; accusing Mel of breaking her front teeth with a blow that glanced off her jaw and grazed the chin of their infant daughter, whom she was holding at the time.

Audio tapes were leaked in which Mel can be heard gaslighting, mocking, threatening and abusing Oskana Grigorieva, saying she deserved a “bat to the side of the head,” that if he wanted he could plant her “in a … rose garden,” and that “I am going to come and burn the f*cking house down … but you will blow me first.”

Chastising her for wearing provocative clothing, Mel says,

“You look like a f*king pig in heat and if you get raped by a pack of ni**ers it will be your fault.”

Mel also called her a “whore” and a “c**t”.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department launched a domestic violence investigation against Gibson, which was dropped when Gibson plead no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge.

In April 2011 Mel publicly addressed the incident, saying,

“I’ve never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality – period. I don’t blame some people for thinking that though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited. You have to put it all in the proper context of being in an irrationally, heated discussion at the height of a breakdown, trying to get out of a really unhealthy relationship. It’s one terribly awful moment in time, said to one person, in the span of one day and doesn’t represent what I truly believe or how I’ve treated people my entire life.”

In an interview with Deadline. when the tapes was raised, Gibson looked at the ceiling, shook his head and sighed.

“Who anticipates being recorded? Who anticipates that? Who could anticipate such a personal betrayal?”

In August 2011, Mel settled with Grigorieva and she was awarded $750,000, joint legal custody and a house in Sherman Oaks, California until their three-year-old daughter Lucia turns 18.

The agreement provided for Mel that, should Grigorieva take legal action against him, the financial settlement becomes compromised.

Mel had agreed to pay Grigorieva in three installments—$250,000 after the releases were signed, another $250,000 by September 2013 and a final installment by September 2016.

Following Oskana Grigorievaex speaking out on the Howard Stern show, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Gibson won’t have to pay her the remaining $500,000.

So why don’t woman speak out?

Six years later, we have Mel Gibson on our televisions, our cinema screens, on billboards, posters and social media.

We have to hear Mel Gibson telling us his “heart goes out to the victims” and that he is “glad that they spoke up.”

The same Mel who actively sought to cover up his crimes, who does not apologise, does not accept responsibility, and seeks to forever be considered the victim of events outside of his control, whether they be alcohol, mental health, the press, or the existence of recording devices.

It’s easy to discount Mel’s own sincerity, but surely we have to question an industry and media that believe Mel deserves a second, third, fourth chance, in spite of the above.

If this is Hollywood’s idea of consequence, is it any wonder things have reached the point we are only now becoming aware of, or that perpetrators act as if they can do what they like?

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