So far the writers of blogging.la have taken the high road and avoided chiming on the Mel Gibson controversy.
I’m kidding – as far as I know, we have no mandated high road. As a matter of fact, I doubt that many other writers here will agree with me on this. (and since I bet most readers are sick of this story’s oversatuation, I’ll save most of it for after the jump).
In short, I think the public flogging of Mel Gibson, particularly the calls to ostracize him from Hollywood, needs to stop, for a few different reasons.
To begin, agent Ari Emmanuel and columnist Arianna Huffington make the allegation that because of what he said while drunk, Mel’s exposed what “is really in his heart”. I didn’t know Emmanuel and Huffington were either cardiologists or proponents of the thought police.
In fact, the arresting officer in the case, Deputy James Mee puts Gibsons anti-Semitic slurs into perspective, in spite of being both Jewish and on the receiving end:
“That stuff is booze talking,” the deputy said in an interview outside his home. “There’s two things that booze does. It amplifies your basic personality. If you are a laid-back kind of person, just an easy going kind of person, booze is going to amplify that and you’ll be just sitting around going how it’s a wonderful day.
“But, if you are high-strung person, it’s going to amplify that and all the bad things are going to come out.”
Gibson deserves a lashing no doubt, but he’s a powerful filmmaker who could very well emerge from this wreck with an important story to tell. While others seem to think that this event should keep him from producing a miniseries about the Holocaust, I think that he was planning on tackling such a story indicates a compassion and willingness to perhaps confront some of his prejudices instilled by his father, well known as a Holocaust denier. Pure speculation on my part, but if people can assume that he’s an anti-semite based on some drunken words, I can make my assessment based on his deliberate actions.
The LAists Tony Pierce believes that “Mel’s toast”, but I think a commenter on one of his posts makes a better point:
It seems that Mel has the misfortune of choosing the wrong race to be racists against. It’s also an industry which has in the past 30 years had approximately 100,000 Arab villains and zero non-animated Arab heroes.
This is in many ways neither here nor there, but shouldn’t we condemn prejudice across the board, and not make it more or less acceptable depending on who’s on the receiving end? With that in mind, can’t anyone take a step back for a moment and remember the kneejerk reactions people had towards Muslims or anyone who they thought looked or sounded Middle Eastern after 9/11? Now add a few drinks at Moonshadows and a quarter bottle of tequila to the mix.
We also have a entertainment industry that gleefully uses some artists past criminal and gang affiliations as marketing tools and continues to employ convicted child molestors. Yet of all these things, Ari Emmanuel decides to call for an industrywide boycott of Mel Gibson saying rotten things while under the influence.
My views also echo those of The Gate’s W. Andrew Powell:
I personally think that Mel’s biggest mistake was the drunk driving, something that could have actually killed someone, rather than comments he made that I’m not sure he seriously meant. His mistake is still monumental, and the comments are wrong no matter what state he was in, but I have a hard time taking them seriously in the face of so many real issues out there today that are far more threatening, and obviously, far more legitimate.
I know my view is a bit simplistic, but Gibsons drunken rant isn’t hurting anyone besides himself. And what good will “this lesson” do? Will it teach Mel to love the Jews? Will it teach anyone about tolerance? Certainly, it may make Mel think twice before falling off the wagon again.
The real lesson would be learned by engaging Gibson to explain why he made such ridiculous comments, which may, in turn, help with a national dialogue as to why many of us have our own inner prejudices.