Make no mistake; Mel Gibson’s Best Director nomination for Hacksaw Ridge is the academy’s way of extending an olive branch embracing him back into the community after his fall from grace.
This is not unheard of. Celebrated figures often manage to clamour back into the limelight after a brief period of being cast out into the land of scandal and oftentimes they manage to entirely shake off the allegations attached to their personas.
Yet in the case of Mel Gibson, we are not dealing with allegations. We are not dealing with claims or any other form of uncertain defamation where his character is still in question. We have tapes. We have his abusive voice spitting out sexist, racist and downright violent vitriol. Through these recordings we have seen his mask slip to reveal the disgustingly bigoted interior. The academy’s decision to commend this person is unacceptable and simply allows him to forcibly glue back the mask onto his paunchy face.
These recordings aren’t buried deep at all. They can be found on the front page of the internet, Reddit, and on the even more ubiquitous YouTube. If you can’t bear to listen to the abhorrent poison spewing from his hateful little mouth, you can always read the transcript online.
The recordings depicting him ranting at pianist, Oksana Grigorieva, whom he had a child with, were posted on July 9, 2010. On the same day, Gibson was dropped by his agency, William Morris Endeavor. Civil rights activists stated that Gibson had shown patterns of racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism and called for a boycott of Gibson’s movies.
In March 2011, Mel Gibson agreed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge.
In April 2011, Gibson finally broke his silence about the incident in question. In an interview with Deadline.com, Gibson expressed gratitude to longtime friends Whoopi Goldberg and Jodie Foster, both of whom had spoken publicly in his defense. About the recordings, Gibson said,
“I’ve never treated anyone badly or in a discriminatory way based on their gender, race, religion or sexuality – period. I don’t blame some people for thinking that though, from the garbage they heard on those leaked tapes, which have been edited. You have to put it all in the proper context of being in an irrationally, heated discussion at the height of a breakdown, trying to get out of a really unhealthy relationship. It’s one terribly awful moment in time, said to one person, in the span of one day and doesn’t represent what I truly believe or how I’ve treated people my entire life.”
In the same interview, Gibson stated, “I was allowed to end the case and still maintain my innocence. It’s called a West Plea and it’s not something that prosecutors normally allow. But in my case, the prosecutors and the judge agreed that it was the right thing to do. I could have continued to fight this for years and it probably would have come out fine. But I ended it for my children and my family. This was going to be such a circus. You don’t drag other people in your life through this sewer needlessly, so I’ll take the hit and move on.”
For those of you who swallow the carefully crafted artifice of his PR team, answer me this. How can these sentences be taken out of context?
Mel: “And if you get raped by a pack of n*****s it’ll be your fault. Because you provoked it. You are provocatively dressed all the time with your fake boobs”
Mel: “shut the f**** up! You should just f****** smile”
Mel: “I will make your goddam life miserable”
Oksana: “you were hitting a woman with a child in her hands. What kind of a man is that? Hitting a woman when she’s holding a child in her hands? Breaking her teeth, twice, in the face, what kind of man is that?” to which Gibson responds, “You f****** deserved it”.
The fact that this crass, insipid human has been nominated for an Academy Award is truly horrifying. Gibson did not apologise or make amends which can only be described as an utter manipulation of the truth. This is particularly pertinent in our “post-truth” era where we have an openly misogynistic toad reigning the self defined “free world”.
Do not misunderstand me, I am all for art for art’s sake and have previously written an article for The Badger advocating this very notion. However, I feel that by nominating Gibson with the award for Best Director, the academy has inadvertently pardoned him.
The admittedly laudable film Hacksaw Ridge could have been commended through the nomination of a Best Motion Picture award. As it stands however, I can’t help but feel Gibson is being welcomed back into Hollywood’s good graces and I find the idea of a known racist being in the same room as the likes of Best Actress Nominee, Viola Davis absolutely despicable.