Mel Gibson
Credit: Michael Caulfield/OG/Getty Images

Image Credit: Michael Caulfield/OG/Getty ImagesIn Mel Gibson’s film Apocalypto, audiences watched as characters were beheaded, sliced open, and violently beaten to death. Yet, I would rather watch that graphic 2006 flick a dozen times with my eyelids taped open than listen to one of the three (so far) recordings in which Mel Gibson purportedly rants against ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. (In the first, he purportedly uses the n-word; in the second, he allegedly threatens to kill Grigorieva; and in the third, he reportedly uses a racial epithet when discussing the couple’s nanny.)

I am not avoiding these clips out of support for Gibson, but because there’s something so inherently disgusting about the tapes — the way the actor all-too-easily drops racial slurs and shows no shame about violence towards women — that immediately triggers a resistant response in my brain. I understand why folks like EW’s Owen Gleiberman are mesmerized by the recordings and Gibson’s self-delusion. But unlike other private celebrity conversations gone public (Alec Baldwin’s voicemail to his daughter, Christian Bale’s on-set rant), this one seems so ultimately unforgivable, vile, and downright scary that I’m not sure I could listen and then just go about my day after peeking inside such a dysfunctional — and dangerous — relationship. This is one private conversation that I don’t want to be a part of, even if I feel it’s necessary for us all to be aware of it.

I imagine I’m not the only one — who else can’t bear to listen?

Also: Owen Gleiberman: Mel Gibson and the tale of the tape