One of the big stories buzzing around in the MSM and blogosphere the last couple of days has been that of actor/director Mel Gibson who, according to TMZ.com, was arrested Friday on suspicion of drunk driving. In the process of his arrest, it’s been alleged that Mr. Gibson made some incredibly disparaging remarks towards two law enforcement officers, and some eye-opening -shall we say less than charitable – remarks about Jews. Via TMZ.com:
TMZ has learned that Mel Gibson went on a rampage when he was arrested Friday on suspicion of drunk driving, hurling religious epithets. TMZ has also learned that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department had the initial report doctored to keep the real story under wraps.
What was allegedly said during Gibson’s arrest?
TMZ has four pages of the original report prepared by the arresting officer in the case, L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy James Mee. According to the report, Gibson became agitated after he was stopped on Pacific Coast Highway and told he was to be detained for drunk driving Friday morning in Malibu. The actor began swearing uncontrollably. Gibson repeatedly said, “My life is f****d.” Law enforcement sources say the deputy, worried that Gibson might become violent, told the actor that he was supposed to cuff him but would not, as long as Gibson cooperated. As the two stood next to the hood of the patrol car, the deputy asked Gibson to get inside. Deputy Mee then walked over to the passenger door and opened it. The report says Gibson then said, “I’m not going to get in your car,” and bolted to his car. The deputy quickly subdued Gibson, cuffed him and put him inside the patrol car.
TMZ has learned that Deputy Mee audiotaped the entire exchange between himself and Gibson, from the time of the traffic stop to the time Gibson was put in the patrol car, and that the tape fully corroborates the written report.
Once inside the car, a source directly connected with the case says Gibson began banging himself against the seat. The report says Gibson told the deputy, “You mother f****r. I’m going to f*** you.” The report also says “Gibson almost continually [sic] threatened me saying he ‘owns Malibu’ and will spend all of his money to ‘get even’ with me.”
The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: “F*****g Jews… The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson then asked the deputy, “Are you a Jew?”
The deputy became alarmed as Gibson’s tirade escalated, and called ahead for a sergeant to meet them when they arrived at the station. When they arrived, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?”
A law enforcement source says Gibson then noticed another female sergeant and yelled, “What do you think you’re looking at, sugar tits?”
We’re told Gibson took two blood alcohol tests, which were videotaped, and continued saying how “f****d” he was and how he was going to “f***” Deputy Mee.
Gibson has apologized in general for the remarks, but did not confirm or deny what he was alleged to have said about Jews.
Why does any of this matter? It probably would barely register on the news meter had it been just about any actor other than Mel Gibson, but Gibson stirred up a firestorm of controversy in the Jewish community over his film The Passion of the Christ (2004), which Jews felt was an unfair Biblical portrayal of them and blatantly anti-Semitic. No doubt what fueled such speculation about this movie even prior to its release was the fact that Gibson’s father was and is a Holocaust denier. Before the movie was released, Mr. Gibson repeatedly denied in so many words that he was ‘cut from the same cloth’ as his father on that front yet at the same time refused to publicly condemn his father’s remarks.
I, like many who went to see The POTC and sat numb at the end of it with tears streaming down my face, defended Gibson from charges that the disputed parts of The POTC meant he was a bonafide anti-Semite.* The fact that he wouldn’t condemn his father’s comments, I thought at the time, was merely an indication that he felt it was a personal family matter best dealt with by talking to his father directly and privately. I felt confident that if the Reverend Billy Graham could comfortably endorse The POTC, that it in no way should be considered an anti-Semitic film.
I still don’t think it was an anti-Semitic film, but I do now believe that Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite and as a result of the disgraceful comments he is alleged to have made during his arrest, those who argued that Gibson was following in the footsteps of his father when production of The POTC started now have one more reason to believe that he specifically set out to target Jews with the film. Not only that, but any fence-sitting Christian who was moved by the movie may now be having second thoughts about what they saw. True, Gibson didn’t set out to change the world with his movie, but he isn’t stupid and knew – as a deeply religious man – the impact a movie of that magnitude could and eventually did have on believers and non-believers alike. In fact, he banked on it – in more ways than one.
Even if Gibson hadn’t directed The POTC, knowing his feelings about Jews now will make it difficult – if not impossible – for fans (former?) of the star to sit through past Gibson films like the Lethal Weapon series, Mad Max, What Women Want, The Patriot, Braveheart, etc. There are certain things Hollywood actors/singers can say that reasonable people, in turn, can disagree with and move on from, while continuing to enjoy that artist’s work. But once that actor or singer crosses a certain line, it’s hard for them to recapture the glory they once had as a Hollywood celeb. Just ask Gibson’s Lethal Weapon co-star Danny ‘I support Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez‘ Glover, who lost a deal to be the spokesman for MCI because his bizarre statements of support for dictators like Castro, what it feels like to watch your star fade after you show your true colors.
I suspect that after this, Hollywood will not – nor will those who defended Gibson from charges of anti-Semitism over The POTC – want to have much, if anything, to do with whatever Gibson touches in the future.
This is, sadly, his defining moment.
Update: MSN News has confirmed that the police report did indeed initially contain all of what Gibson said – including the anti-Semitic remarks.
*Note: I didn’t write about The POTC here at the blog, but defended it on a political message board I frequent.