An interview with Mel Gibson on a local Chicago station has been getting more than the usual amount of play. It seems reporter Dean Richards of WGN popped a question into a fluffy Mel Gibson movie plug session that made the action hero uncomfortable.
When Richards asked Gibson how he thinks the public perceives him now — a vague, awkward reference to the star’s 2006 drunk driving arrest and anti-Semitic rant — Gibson said “That’s almost four years ago, dude. I mean, I’ve moved on. I guess you haven’t.” When Richards pushed a little, Gibson uttered a cuss word related to the human posterior. (He later said he was referring to his publicist.)
Richards’ question was as rhetorical as it was awkward. Contrary to his assertion while promoting “Passion of the Christ” that he would be frozen out of Hollywood for daring to offend Jews, Mel’s still a hot commodity. After he finished raking in a cool half-billion from “Passion,” he still got to make the stinker “Apocalypto,” and now he’s once again back to his roots with the formulaic action/suspense drama “Edge of Darkness.”
I can see Mel’s point that he has moved on after apologizing for saying Jews are responsible for the wars in the world, and if he hasn’t done anything offensive since it should be let go. The trouble is, his name is still tossed around by late night comedians and others as an anti-Semitism poster boy, probably because he unconvincingly tried to pass of his biases as solely the result of over-imbibing. Clearly he still has some brand rebuilding to do.
A movie plug spot probably wasn’t the best forum. But it would be intriguing to see a seasoned interviewer like Larry King or Barbara Walters probe Gibson — as a service to the consumers who spend money on his movies — on how he really feels about the Jews (there is no known chemical link between alcohol and anti-Semitism). It would also be interesting to ask Mel about being such a devout Christian that he dared no alter an iota of how he views the Crucifixion, but not so devout to be above adulterously fathering a child out of wedlock.
That interview would probably be much more interesting to watch than “Edge of Darkness.”
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The New Jersey Jewish Standard is taking an online poll on whether readers will boycott Gibson’s movie. I’ll check the results later. Meanwhile, you can leave your opinion below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.