Will Mel Gibson's rant hurt him in Hollywood?
”To be anti-Semitic is a sin…. To be anti-Semitic is to be un-Christian, and I’m not.”
?MEL GIBSON TO DIANE SAWYER, FEBRUARY 16, 2004
”F—ing Jews….The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”
?MEL GIBSON TO DEPUTY JAMES MEE, JULY 28, 2006
The car was tearing down the Pacific Coast Highway when Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy James Mee pulled it over. As Mee approached the vehicle, he would learn three things: The car was a Lexus. The man inside appeared to be intoxicated. And he happened to be one of the biggest movie stars in the world.
As most of the planet knows by now, Mel Gibson was arrested that Friday night and put in a holding cell in the Malibu/Lost Hills police station after registering a blood-alcohol level of .12 percent. (California’s legal limit is .08.) Mee’s arrest report was first published on TMZ.com and is a simple document — eight pages, printed in tidy block handwriting — that promises to do incalculable damage to Gibson’s career. According to Mee, after the director of The Passion of the Christ was told he wouldn’t be let off with a warning, Gibson unraveled. He threatened the arresting officer, yelling that he ”owns Malibu” and ”I’m going to f— you!” He went on the anti-Semitic tirade reproduced above. And as a cherry on this particularly poisonous sundae, he reportedly called a female police officer ”sugar tits” on the way into jail.
It was a bizarre and vile meltdown for one of the few people left on this planet who can successfully open a movie — and a PR disaster far worse than the one faced by Tom Cruise. (In Hollywood, wacko is one thing, racist another.) Gibson blamed his behavior on alcohol addiction and issued a statement on Aug. 1 saying, ”There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said….” But by then, the situation had reached crisis proportions. Ari Emanuel, founder of the Endeavor Talent Agency, led the charge. ”Now we know the truth,” he blogged on The Huffington Post on the evening of July 30. ”And no amount of publicist-approved contrition can paper it over. People in the entertainment community…need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson.” The next day, Barbara Walters was on The View echoing that sentiment, saying simply, ”I don’t think I want to see any more Mel Gibson movies.” The crowd applauded lustily in response.
Gibson has been tainted by the oily mark of hatred, and to many industry observers, it’s not a shock. Rumors that Gibson was an anti-Semite have circulated for years — his father was the subject of a damaging New York Times Magazine profile in 2003 in which he revealed himself to be a Holocaust denier. And those who were offended by The Passion of the Christ when it was released in 2004 haven’t forgotten the controversy. But the most troubling news for the 50-year-old director is that, aside from some fundamentalist leaders, even people who loved The Passion seem deeply dismayed. ”Like many millions of others, I lost a great deal of respect for Mel Gibson yesterday,” wrote conservative Christian blogger Sean Gleeson. ”If I lost more than most, it’s because I had more than most…. I do admire his immediate and candid apology, and I do forgive him. I urge the country to forgive him…and put him in prison.”