Mel Gibson: Roots of social venom revealed

These days, the most exciting projects come from Mountain View, the town that is home to Google. But here and there, the old guard sends up some new trick that resonates with panache. Piper Weiss writes for Shine, one of my favorite Yahoo projects.

This week, Piper looked back at People Magazine’s past lists of “Sexiest Men Alive”. She compiled her own subset. She calls it The Unsexiest Men Alive: A Look Back at Regrettable Choices.

Mel, during better times

Of course, Piper doesn’t really disagree with the original honor. What she is really claiming is less controversial. She is pointing out that these individuals – in her opinion – have disgraced themselves by their behavior sometime after they were crowned. And the more recent behavior is certainly not “sexy”.

At the top of her list is blue-eyed, sexy hunk of 1985, Mel Gibson. To say that he has disgraced himself is an understatement. We all know about his bouts with public drunkenness, racist rants, xenophobia, and abusive behavior toward the women in his life.

Perhaps more interesting than the troubled individual Mel has become are the roots of his antisocial venom. To wit, Piper’s July list of pranks and practical jokes proffered by Gibson on his leading ladies—films in which he was either the director or leading man.

An axiom states that media cannot make a fool of a man. The man makes a fool of himself. But when media reports are consistent, corroborated by many reputable sources, and outrageous, it is likely that the man has made a fool of himself.

Mel Gibson is a very talented actor and director. Unfortunately, he is also a pathetic xenophobe without self-respect, dignity or a conscience. Mel abuses alcohol and women, is excited by hurtful pranks and blames ethnic groups for what ails you. (If you disagree, read Piper’s history of Mel’s pranks – independently vetted and acknowledged by Gibson).

Apologists suggest that we separate the professional from his personal hijinks. C’mon! We’re not talking about a minor gaffe in social grace. And we’re not debating a victimless crime. I was ashamed and disgusted at the impeachment of Bill Clinton—a congressional witch hunt for behavior that was disgraceful, but ultimately private.

With the exception of an ill-conceived film on the crucifixion (not worth a link), Gibson has directed or starred in remarkable films, including Braveheart, The Patriot and Conspiracy Theory (a thriller, starring Julia Roberts. In a televised interview, she acknowledged that Gibson is the only person who scares her). His recent film, The Beaver, shows that he can still turn out respectable cinema.

Blue eyes turned crazy by 2000s

The fact that genius is often accom-panied by paranoia, xenophobia, anti-social behavior and outright madness is well documented. Van Gough, Ford, Disney, and Bobby Fischer come to mind. (To be fair, Ford and Disney were not mad, but like Gibson, they were virulent anti-Semites).

In the case of Gibson, a contemporary who excels in film, the schism places film lovers in an unfortunate position. Should you see The Beaver? How can you reconcile contributing to the delinquency of an adult who acts like an irresponsible juvenile? It’s not too different from participating in the slashing of your neighbor’s tires.

So Sayeth Ellery. Feel free to express a comment or share a different opinion.