Mel Gibson's drunken, anti-Semitic rant in the back of police car was big news when it took place in 2006, a decade and a half ago.
His life continued in a tailspin after: He and his wife divorced, a subsequent relationship came unglued amid battery accusations, there was a child custody battle — and of course, Hollywood shunned him.
Gibson, of course, apologized for his words and has been putting his life back together over the succeeding years. In addition, he reportedly educated himself about the Holocaust and quietly conducted related endeavors, such as his philanthropic work to help Holocaust survivors in eight countries through the Survivor Mitzvah Project.
And lately things have been looking up in Hollywood, as Gibson reportedly was named the director of "Lethal Weapon 5."
But that was too much for one fellow actor to take.
So much so that Joshua Malina — who's been in "The West Wing" and other productions — penned an essay last week for the Atlantic bluntly titled, "Cancel Mel Gibson" with an accompanying question, "Why is Hollywood still hiring this raging anti-Semite?"
In short, Malina — who is Jewish — is offended that Hollywood is giving Gibson second chances despite what he said 15 years ago.
"Gibson is a well-known Jew-hater (anti-Semite is too mild). His prejudices are well documented," Malina writes. "So my question is, what does a guy have to do these days to get put on Hollywood’s no-fly list? I’m a character actor. I tend to take the jobs that come my way. But—and this hurts to write—you couldn’t pay me enough to work with Mel Gibson."
He goes on to acknowledge that while Gibson is "talented," "many horrible people produce wonderful art. Put me down as an ardent fan of Roald Dahl, Pablo Picasso, and Edith Wharton; can’t get enough of what they’re selling. But these three had the good taste to die. That makes it a lot easier to enjoy their output. Gibson lives. And Tinseltown need not employ him further."
Malina also brings up Gibson saluting former President Donald Trump at a UFC match over the summer — and goes back in time again, reminding us of purported anti-Semitism in Gibson's 2004 blockbuster, "The Passion of the Christ," and a recorded racial slur in 2010 as a way of bolstering his argument.
"How did this guy become such a hot ticket again?" Malina asks. "Is it just that memories of his hate speech have faded, while Hollywood’s recollection of his box-office pull remains?"
How did observers respond?
Comments on Malina's essay in a Yahoo Entertainment piece about it were decidedly in Gibson's corner and accused Malina of sour grapes and rehashing old news:
- "How about we cancel people who get offended by everything?" one commenter asked. "You're welcome to your view, but I think most of us are getting sick of these people telling as what we can and cannot watch, say, do, or think."
- "Surprised that the Atlantic ran this article," another commenter said, adding that "it is old news, and the case made by Malina sounds more like censorship and authoritarianism."
- "How much more time is the cancel culture going to make Mel stand in the corner? I thought he atoned for his drunken slurs," another commenter noted. "Everybody deserves a second chance. Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone. Now let the man make some more movies like the other ones I liked."
- "I hope someone digs around in this guy's past to find something he can be cancelled for," another commenter quipped.
- "Glass houses," another commenter stated. "I say cancel the people who don't know how to forgive."
'Unless you are completely without sin'
In the spirit of digging up old news, way back in 2011, actor Robert Downey Jr. chided a star-studded audience on Gibson's behalf during a speech for an award that Downey specifically had Gibson present to him.
"I humbly ask that you join me, unless you are completely without sin — in which case you picked the wrong f***ing industry — in forgiving my friend his trespasses, offering him the same clean slate that you have me, and allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame," Downey said in regard to Gibson.
Before those pointed words, Downey revealed to listeners how Gibson had helped him — previous to Gibson's own downfall:
When I couldn't get sober, he told me not to give up hope, and he urged me to find my faith. It didn't have to be his or anyone else's as long as it was rooted in forgiveness. And I couldn't get hired, so he cast me in a lead of a movie that was actually developed for him. And he kept a roof over my head, and he kept food on the table. And most importantly he said that if I accepted responsibility for my wrongdoings, and if I embraced that part of my soul that was ugly — "hugging the cactus," he calls it — he said that if I hugged the cactus long enough I would become a man of some humility and that my life would take on a new meaning, and I did, and it worked. All he asked in return was that someday I'd help the next guy in some small way. It's reasonable to assume that at the time he didn't imagine that the next guy would be him or that someday was tonight!
Downey added to the crowd that Gibson had "hugged the cactus long enough!"
Robert Downey Jr asks forgiveness for Mel Gibson youtu.be