What happens when our gods fall?

Last year, when a large portion of the global film community came out in support of Roman Polanski, I went through a really surreal process of realizing that many of my idols are human…and not just human, but, well, asshats. In January, I added Johnny Depp to that list, realizing, bitterly, that if I was going to quit watching the movies of everyone who supported Polanski, it was likely I’d never go to the theater again. And, actually, come to think of it, I really haven’t seen many films in the last 7 months.

And now…now we have the problem of Mel Gibson. His anti-Semitic flavor of cray-cray began to emerge years ago, especially around the 2004 release of The Passion of the Christ, but as Hollywood often does to its gods, his darker qualities were glossed over, and he continued to get work. Sure, not a whole lot of work, and his star was definitely on the decline, but there was a sort of tacit agreement to let him keep doing his thing. It’s common, especially for the industry’s men. (Look at Charlie Sheen, whose Two and a Half Men keeps chugging along.) However, with the release of tapes where Gibson is heard threatening Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his child, in the most disgusting, racist, misogynistic ways…the veil has been lifted, the blind eye forced to see. Gibson has reportedly been dropped by his representation, William Morris Endeavor, and the industry is shuffling to distance themselves from his public fall from grace.

For me, personally, it’s not that I have a huge attachment to Mel Gibson, but he was just so damn popular when I was growing up; he’s a huge part of the ’80s/’90s cultural landscape. I remember watching The Road Warrior whenever it came on TV, and enjoying the popcorn shoot-’em-up-ness of the Lethal Weapon franchise. One of my favorite series of books, The President’s Daughter, by Ellen Emerson White, features the teen heroine, Meghan, sighing over the hotness of Mel Gibson. She talks about seeing Gallipolli and The Year of Living Dangerously, and I’m pretty sure there’s a point where she speaks of wanting him to come and carry her away to the frozen tundra. I can’t think of that sentiment now without thinking, “Oh, Meg, you know not what you say!”

Mel Gibson knows exactly what he’s been saying…and I can only hope that the Hollywood machine will no longer remain tight-lipped, and will finally speak out against him.

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