Mel Gibson needs to do what he says
The mea culpa approach works wonders, as Mel Gibson will likely ﬁnd after issuing a speciﬁc apology today (his full statement is at the BBC News site) for the anti-Semitic remarks made by him when arrested for driving under the inﬂuence (allegedly of tequila) last week.
It’s simple PR: denying something most know as fact will serve to alienate; admitting it defuses a situation. A cynic would say that it’s a shrewd move on the part of a money-motivated Hollywood actor, producer and director. A Gibson fan would say it is in line with his faith to admit a wrongdoing, and seek forgiveness sincerely. But either way, it will lessen the public fascination for his sexist and anti-Semitic statements.
I have said prejudiced things myself, though consciously I do not feel such prejudices and believe I have got over them. I admit that in the past, before I knew better, I made derogatory remarks about homosexuals—before ﬁguring out that prejudice against them was not unlike the racial prejudice I encountered in my life. To my knowledge, I haven’t blurted out anything inﬂammatory while squiffy. However, being the son of an alleged Holocaust denier, Gibson may well have been raised to see the ofﬁcial Jewish and Vatican positions on everything from the Holocaust to Jesus’ death as wrong, and these are deep-seated teachings that he may hold, but not consciously practise.
I am no Gibson apologist and concur with his statement that the remarks made were despicable. I hope some good comes from it, forcing others to examine their own views, and whether they, too, have deep-seated prejudices that can surface at the wrong times. If they are not in line with who we are (or who we say we are), we should seek to be rid of them from our system.
The daggers may be out for Mel now, but he has ducked controversy before in the wake of his The Passion of the Christ, and thanks to the mass media dropping the story because of his mea culpa, he will again.
Given that that is how things may pan out, the Jewish community may wish to see if Mr Gibson will be sincere about meeting with its leaders, and truly taking steps to learn about himself. But I think he needs to be.
This incident will remain a shadow on the Mel Gibson personal brand for some time. All brands are affected by existing images, and removing one that is so controversial—this, for some, goes beyond drug-taking—can take a long time. It can be sped up through visible action: that Gibson follow up just what he promised, and allow the Jewish community to publicize it, not his own press relations’ team.
As an aside, it is interesting to note that in many Australian reports, Gibson is now ‘Australian-raised’. Not long ago he was claimed as one of Australia’s own—much like how Hawaii-born Nicole Kidman is today. Posted by Jack Yan, 21:57
it's an unfortunate time for him to be slandering Jews considering all of the attention Israel is getting at the moment.
people as brnads are always going to be difficult to manage because they are just that, people. and thus subject to human behaviours. even though we sometimes hold them up to be something more than that.
Well written post and you make some good points. I have to say I'm surprised how many average citizens are ready to forgive him so soon. Usually a scandal like this takes days or weeks to finally blow over...if it ever does.
Hi Nicole: I think the guy has too many fans and has played a goodie for so long. It also helps that he played fallible heroes with whom regular Joes can identify. That colours him in people’s minds. In addition, while people are still ridiculing him, mea culpa works well in the media, and they lay off as a result (as they did with Russell Crowe and the telephone incident).
Normal people—people not in the public eye—do not have that to fall back on, hence we can get done for committing comparable crimes and saying comparable things. That is really their perk.
Markoos, this perhaps answers some of your thoughts, too, because the Mel Gibson brand, at least before Passion, was that of an Everyman. Since Passion was his directorial work and did not impact on the Lethal Weapon or Mad Max actor’s image, he has a bit of leeway and hence, people were more prepared to forgive him than, say, Michael Jackson, whose weirdo image became a hindrance.
I dont know if all of the Jewish Hollywood execs will be so quick to forgive. I know some of his projects have already been cancelled by the powers that be. I guess we will have to wait and see.
I think the dollar value of having ‘Mel Gibson’ on the banners may keep the guy fed for some time, and the sincerity of his meeting with Jewish leaders will go even further. Whether someone as big as Spielberg will be seen backing him could be a moot point for now: that might come later rather than sooner.
But Gibbo might come back bigger, like Martha Stewart did, or, for that matter, Kate Moss after she came out of rehab for coke. Even now the media interest seems to be waning.
Thank you Jack for this open statement. For beginners, I am usually both disgusted and fascinated with anything that creates hype like this Mel Gibson DUI statement has created. This one has however coincided with the events in Lebanon, and somehow, one can not miss it. It resonates in many of us in one way or another.
I am no fan of Gibson, that is to say that I will not go see a crappy movie so that I would be able to look at his face on the screen, but one has to hand it to the guy: he knows how to walk the tight rope of public communication. I do not think this will affect his personal brand adversely, on the contrary some people, like me, may develop a new kind of appreciation for another pretty face with a nice ass who is capable of uttering the most despicable drunkenness and then own up to it.
Mind you, I did choose my words carefully - something I do not do often enough when commenting - because for all the while I know that there are a few prejudices that I will keep, and that I am quite sexist. Having my prejudices is one thing, acting on them is something else. Yes, experience has marked me, like it has marked you, being discriminated or slurred on by the expression of another's prejudices because of one's ethnic grouping, gender or sexual orientation may all fall into the generic of discrimination, still the experience on the receiving end is quite unique and distinct, above all it is devastating to one's sense of worth if taken personally.
Kudos to Gibson and to you! We all belong to this club, called being human and blundering through life. We are not infallible.
# posted by Dannie Jost: 8/03/2006 12:27:00 PM
‘Having my prejudices is one thing, acting on them is something else.’ You are very right, Dannie—no one of us (with the exception of some of our enlightened Masters, I am sure) can claim to be prejudice-free.Post a Comment
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