I was a big Mel Gibson fan for a long time. Ever since seeing Road Warrior when I was 15. Gibson had “it,” that unmistakable presence that the great ones have.
Gibson reminded me of Steve McQueen. And that is a good thing to be reminded of. Mel was the real deal. Leading man good lucks, action star credibility, and he could act. Sure, he made some junk (see Lethal Weapon 1-4) but they all do. Then, he gave us Braveheart and it was good. Playing Scottish folk hero William Wallace, Gibson starred and directed a masterpiece. If Mel Gibson would have choked on an olive and died shortly after Braveheart, he would be revered as a saint today.
But Mel had other plans. Including a big roll of the dice with The Passion of Christ. For years Gibson, a devout Catholic, had wanted to bring the story of Jesus’ last days to the screen, and for years the major studios had balked. So Mel put up a pile of his own money and produced it himself, and it paid off in Biblical proportions. Estimates of Gibson’s wealth hover in the $900 million neighborhood, and that is a good neighborhood.
Whether religious or not, you had to respect Gibson, to take a chance on something he believed in, to put his money where his mouth is, that is rare in this day and age.
We learned more good stuff about Mel. He had been married to the same woman for decades, they had seven kids. You never saw the Gibsons in the tabloids. The family went to church every Sunday. In fact, Mel was so into it that he personally financed the building of a church in Malibu in which Catholic Mass would still be given in Latin. Old school, no nonsense, check your dreadlocks at the door.
Then, the DUI: Mel drunk and belligerent, asking the arresting officer if he is a “Jew,” ranting angrily that “Jews start all the wars in the world.” Oy vey!
Say it ain’t so Mel! But it was so. More came out. Turns out Mel’s father, whom he revered, claimed the Holocaust never happened. Mel himself said he doubts the 6 million figure of Jews killed by the Nazis. As if to suggest that 6 million is an atrocity, but say, 4 million is not that big a deal.
The dust settled, revealing a complex man; at once hugely talented and inspired, yet, at the same time, bigoted and an angry drunk. In fairness, most of us have some pretty ugly stuff in us, if you poke around enough. Even after the arrest and the disturbing revelations about Mel’s beliefs, many of his fans were able to forgive, if not forget, as evidenced by the success of his first post DUI film Apocalypto.
Then his wife of 28 years filed for divorce. Turns out they have been estranged since the DUI. She probably told him “Quit the booze or I’m outa’ here,” and we now know the rest.
Today that “Jews start all the wars in the world,” stuff must seem like a bad idea. Especially while Mel is shopping for a divorce lawyer in Hollywood. Jews may or may not start all the wars in the world but they definitely finish all the sizeable divorce settlements in Los Angeles.
Now we find that Mel’s 39 year old Russian “Singer” girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva is pregnant, in her second trimester, with his child. Meaning that Mel “Devout Catholic” Gibson was guilty of adultery, divorce, lying, cheating, saying really creepy stuff and being a general douchebag.
This situation, in a nutshell, defines the inherent flaw of the self righteously religious. They are all about their religion unless, you know, it gets inconvenient. Mel Gibson feels free to use his faith as a bludgeon, but when it actually comes to living it, not so much. He is sort of like the 9/11 hijackers who went to a strip joint the night before the attack. They planned to die for their beliefs the next
day, but hey, lets not be “fanatical” about it.
Will Mel Gibson’s reputation ever fully recover? No. He suffers from the Michael Jackson effect. When too many disturbing tidbits pile up the old fans fade away, while new fans are scared off by the odd stench the tarnished star emits.
But hey, we’ll always have Braveheart.
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