Image Credit: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos; PRN/PR PhotosBy now, you’ve no doubt heard all about the dust-up over Mel Gibson‘s planned cameo being yanked from The Hangover 2. First it was announced that Gibson — whose career has been unquestionably challenged by tabloid headlines stemming from his nasty split from Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of his 1-year-old daughter, and the subsequent leak of irate and threatening phone messages he allegedly left her — ” target=”_blank”>would have a cameo in Todd Phillips’ comedy sequel. Then it was revealed that after objections from some members of the film’s cast and crew, Gibson had been dropped from the film. Now, the latest beat in the story is that Zach Galifianakis may have been one of the folks ticked off by the Gibson casting stunt (reps for both Gibson and Galifianakis declined comment). All of this is juicy stuff, no doubt.

But one question many are left asking is why it was okay for convicted rapist Mike Tyson to appear in the first Hangover, but not okay for Gibson to turn up in the sequel? Were Tyson’s crimes any more acceptable than the unsavory claims Gibson faces? Are professional athletes simply held to a different standard of conduct than Hollywood stars? Or was Gibson’s return simply too soon? In other words, is this just another case of the old Woody Allen Crimes and Misdemeanors maxim “Comedy is tragedy plus time”? Is there a double standard going on here?

When Tyson showed up in the first Hangover, it was 17 years after he’d been convicted of raping a beauty pageant contestant in 1992. He’d already served three years in jail. Tyson had even returned to the ring and been cheered on by forgiving Iron Mike fans despite the fact that he no longer had the physique or the will to box. When The Hangover came out, there was no public or critical outcry over Tyson’s acting in the film because, apparently, the public felt he had paid his dues. (Although I’m not sure enough dues can be paid for the crime he was convicted of.) Either way, we’d come to expect the worst from the man who once bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear, and he seemed to have been forgiven. So even if some folks couldn’t get behind the man personally, most people seemed willing to overlook Tyson’s transgressions in the context of the bachelor-party-gone-amok storyline. After all, hey, it’s just a joke!

Gibson, on the other hand, seems to be a case where the jury — if not literally — is still out. The whole sordid “leaked tapes” drama still feels too fresh to turn tragedy into ironic comedy. And even though Gibson hasn’t been charged with a crime, the perception today is that what he’s been accused of is beyond the pale. Who knows how moviegoers — or his future costars — will feel a few years down the road. But at this point in time, it appears that Gibson is serving some kind of sentence in Hollywood purgatory. One of Hollywood’s most bankable stars ever is seen as unemployable. How long will it last? How long should it last? Six months? A year? Until The Hangover 3? In the meantime, Liam Neeson is in talks to fill Gibson’s vacated role, but we’re sure a certain heavyweight champ in Vegas could keep his calendar open just in case…

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