There’s war in the Mideast. Terrorism has hit Seattle. But people over the world are talking about Mel Gibson’s weekend outburst during a drunk-driving arrest in Malibu.
Gibson reportedly shouted at arresting officers: “All the wars in the world are caused by Jews,” and then asked the officer, “You a Jew?”
Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television and publisher of Movieguide, said while Gibson’s behavior is shocking, his apology should be taken to heart. “Mel’s behavior was shocking. However, he was very quick to repent and ask for forgiveness. No one is infallible.”
While some of Gibson’s fans still doubt the legitimacy of the story in the entertainment press, many movie-goers have crossed him off of their list. Some agents in the film industry, such as Ari Emanuel, are even asking for a boycott against working with Gibson, as Hollywood debates whether his career is over due to the shameful anti-Semitic remarks he is accused of making.
Emanuel issued a statement saying, “At a time of escalating tensions in the world, the entertainment industry cannot idly stand by and allow Mel Gibson to get away with such tragically inflammatory statements.” He continued, “People in the entertainment community, whether Jew or Gentile, need to demonstrate that they understand how much is at stake in this by professionally shunning Mel Gibson and refusing to work with him, even if it means a sacrifice to their bottom line.”
Rabbi Marvin Heir, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, asked ABC to re-evaluate plans for a mini-series Gibson is filming about two lovers who are trapped in the Holocaust. Heir said having the actor star in a film about the Holocaust would be “embarrassing.”
In his statement released Saturday, Gibson attributed his anti-Semitic outburst to a drinking problem that has plagued him for many years.
“I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse,” he said. “I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health.”
“The charitable view is that Gibson didn’t really mean the things he said and he was just drunk,” said John Gibson of Fox News. “If that is the defense from the Gibson camp, the next step is a prominent rehab clinic and a nice long stay.”
This is not the first time Mel Gibson has been in trouble with the law for drinking and driving. He is reported to have pled guilty to a DUI conviction in 1984. While in Toronto filming “Mrs. Soffel,” he ran a red light and struck a car, incurring a $240 fine.
Michael Levine, an agent who has represented Michael Jackson and Charlton Heston, said, “It’s a nuclear disaster for him. I don’t see how he can restore himself.”
In his statement, Gibson said, “I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything said, and I apologize to anyone who I have offended.”
Several groups are outraged that Gibson did not specifically mention Jews in his statement. Instead, he made an effort to patch things up with deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Bonnie Erbe of Scripps News said, “Thanks for the apology, Mel. But on behalf of my people, most if not all of us don’t accept. Yes, your words, deeds and thoughts were ‘despicable.’ But we all know in vino, veritas. Drunken tirades are filled with truths that sobriety gives bigots the control and presence of mind to mask.”
Baehr takes the most charitable point of view: “We are all fallen and we all need forgiveness. Mel is certainly no exception.”