It’s been over a decade since Mel Gibson was arrested in Malibu, California for a DUI. While being arrested, he shouted at the officer, “f*****g Jews… the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Jew?”
After accusations of anti-Semitism were hurled at him for mega-blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ,” this one moment badly damaged the career of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. A few years later, in July 2010, leaked tapes of a fight between Gibson and then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva further demonstrated both his rage and bigotry. Since then, Mel Gibson had become a pariah, with many who once worked with him saying that he was blacklisted from Hollywood.
Now, Gibson is attempting a comeback.
Producers, agents, and actors want to work with him again. His upcoming World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge” has even earned some Oscar buzz. But of course, Gibson’s “comeback” comes with a lot of baggage, so his return to the public eye has been bumpy.
Gibson recently sat down with Variety, and when his past anti-Semitic comments were brought up, his answer was head-scratching.
“It was an unfortunate incident,” Gibson said. “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.”
Gibson added that he doesn’t understand why, after 10 years, “it’s any kind of issue” and that he’s “never discriminated against anyone.” He echoed similar sentiments recently to Stephen Colbert on “The Late Show.”
“It’s a moment in time,” Gibson told 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, but that’s what it is…That moment in time shouldn’t define the rest of my life.”
This does not look like a man who’s learned his lesson, but rather someone who is angry about the fact that he has to apologise. As a Jew, I can’t find myself forgiving Mel Gibson or buying his comeback.
Gibson has apologised in the past. Shortly after the rant, Gibson offered a lengthy apology to the Anti-Defamation League and did a surreal interview with Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America” where he partially blamed his rant on Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon. It’s up to you to decide how sincere he actually is, but suddenly saying that perpetuating a bigoted, age-old conspiracy theory was just the alcohol’s fault seems to completely void his entire mea culpa.
Gibson’s attempt to regain relevance, perpetuated by a lot of the media pushing the comeback narrative, could not come at a worse time. The 2016 presidential election is less than a week away. All sorts of bigotry have seeped their way into the American mainstream.
At one point, I viewed anti-Semitism as something distant. I looked at it either as something in the past, or something that existed outside the United States. The past few years have seen Jews flee Europe and a recent U.N. resolution that denied Jewish historical connection to the holy site the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Now, take a look at America in 2016. InfoWars host Alex Jones referred to an all-powerful “Jewish mafia” on his show. This summer, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, tweeted an image that was taken from a white supremacist message board. Age-old conspiracies are starting to slip out of the mouths of people with influence. David Duke, an unapologetic Holocaust denier, is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana. Anti-Semitism is even showing up on college campuses across the country.
This all carries many of the same connotations as Gibson’s drunken rant from 2006, showing that even one apology won’t make this kind of rhetoric go away.
When asked about it publicly, Gibson is never truly able to justify his hateful words, because he can’t. I would like to see this supposed changed side of Mel Gibson, but this is not the right year to act like your horrible past comments do not exist. This is a better time than any to confront them and use your platform (of which Gibson has a big one), to explain why they are wrong.
I’m not trying to say that you should never watch a Mel Gibson movie again. You can see “Hacksaw Ridge.” Go back and watch “Braveheart” or even “Chicken Run.” This isn’t about the artist but rather about the public figure. Everybody’s connection with movies is very personal, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to watch “Lethal Weapon” without hearing, “Are you a Jew?”
Allison Hope Weiner at Deadline, who was also a close friend of Gibson’s, offered a passionate plea to forgive the man for his sins in 2014. This was a part of her plea:
“Gibson has quietly donated millions to charitable Jewish causes, in keeping with one of the highest forms of Tzedakah in the Jewish faith, giving when the recipient doesn’t know your identity.”
Yes, Tzedakah is a moral obligation for all Jews. But without a photo-op (they are important sometimes), it’s hard to rely on Gibson’s tainted word, which ten years will never quite heal.
But really, you have to look no further than the very first “Heartbreak Ridge” trailer, which didn’t even include Gibson’s name, to see that this “comeback” is as uncomfortable as it is forced.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.