Monday, August 07, 2006

Nobody Puts Mel Gibson In A Corner.

I have a strange feeling that Mel Gibson will get away with his bizarre drunken behavior and his equally insane anti-Semitic remarks. Both he and his PR posse are doing everything right, and he's clearly studied the Hugh Grant Campaign of Shame '95. Here are a few reasons why Gibson may soon be back in the good graces of Hollywood:

Celebrity Support: Several members of the entertainment industry have publicly declared themselves pro-Mel, including Jodie Foster and Patrick Swayze (taking time away from his busy schedule). The guy who recently appeared in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights might not have much influence, but Jodie Foster does. With the exception of Ellen DeGeneres (and Oprah Winfrey, whenever she decides to come out), Jodie Foster is the most likeable power lesbian out there. Even I was impressed that he got the very private Foster to make a statement to the media on his behalf. That fact that he's staying out of the limelight and letting others speak up for him is incredibly wise.

Taking Advantage of the Media Circus: I don't know about you "reading" types, but I've seen the same photos of a drunk Mel Gibson so many times that they've pretty much lost their effect. Since the entertainment shows have very little footage/photos to work with, they keep showing the same stuff day after day, which weakens the image's power. Tom Cruise fell out of favor with the public because there were far too many photos of him in creepy embraces with Katie Holmes and too many sound bites that revealed his lunacy. The overall tone of the news stories has also gotten a bit melodramatic; see the following clip of Jon Stewart mocking the coverage.

The Second Apology: After releasing a vague statement apologizing for his drunkenness which failed to acknowledge his use of anti-Semitic comments, Mel Gibson issued a second statement that addressed both his alcoholism and the claims that he was an anti-Semite. This apology was nothing short of brilliant. In a few short paragraphs, he manages to profusely beg the forgiveness of the Jewish community, invite said community to help him reform, take responsibility as a public figure, and play the alcoholism-as-a-disease card (I agree that alcoholism is a disease, but he was still playing the card for his own devices). Gibson is making gains on Hitler for the distinction of greatest anti-Semitic rhetorical mastermind. His father would be proud.

The only wrong turn that Mel Gibson has taken concerns his method of recovery. He has chosen to undergo outpatient rehab instead of staying in a recovery facility. If Kate Moss has taught us nothing, it's that you need to dramatically withdraw from a media scandal and re-emerge, healed, in order to win the public over once again.

If Mel Gibson is going to salvage his career, he needs to get more backing from his famous friends. I would suggest that he get a screw-up mentor of sorts, along the lines of Robert Downey Jr., someone who has hit bottom and regained their fame. His "Campaign of Shame" should probably be less public than Hugh Grant's, however. A single taped interview with a Diane Sawyer type would do just fine; perhaps a "very special" Oprah. Nothing over the top, though. Hugh Grant worked the late night circuit because of the nature of his offense; he could joke about it. Mel Gibson should remain as solemn and apologetic as possible.

Keep in mind that I think Mel Gibson is Tom-Cruise-level messed up, and his comments are inexcusable. We've all said some dumb things while drunk, but nothing along those lines. For my money, I'm a little tired of over-40 Hollywood males acting insane. Where are the philandering 20-something partyboys when you need them? On a related note, Comedy Central will be reairing "The Passion of the Jew," a South Park episode that, in addition to portraying Gibson as a crazy masochist, proves just how sharp those writers are. Perhaps Jewish leaders should make Mel Gibson watch that episode as his penance.