Who Is The Real Mel Gibson?

Is he a happy-go-lucky, merry prankster?  A longtime on-screen charmer?  A daring filmmaker?  A generous friend?  A loving father of eight?  Or is he a vicious, mysogynistic abuser?  A racist demagogue?  An ultraconservative hatemonger?
Human beings are complex entities and the troubled Mel Gibson is no exception.  Thanks to recently revealed allegations, however, it’s hard to determine who the real guy is anymore.
In April this year, Gibson broke up with his Russian girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, his first public relationship since his divorce.  They have a baby daughter who’s not yet a year old.  (Gibson also has seven kids from his only marriage which lasted 30 years.)  Two months after they split, TMZ.com reported that Grigorieva had made secret recordings of the couple’s arguments.  While the audio of those tapes have not been released in any form (as of this writing, at least, because they’ve been ordered sealed by a judge), alleged quotes have popped up again and again in subsequent reports by TMZ and RadarOnline.  Both sites say they’ve confirmed the tapes as legitimate.
The revelations are gruesome.  Reportedly, Gibson insults Grigorieva by calling her a “cunt” and a “whore”.  He ridicules her physical appearance (“You look like a fucking pig in heat…”) and welcomes the idea of her being gangraped by black men (“…and if you get raped by a pack of niggers it will be your fault.”).  He threatens to burn her house down but not before receiving oral sex (“I am going to come and burn the fucking house down…but you will blow me first.”).  He mentions what he plans to do with an unnamed staffer (“I will report her to the fucking people that take fucking money from the wetbacks.”).  In perhaps the most unsettling moment noted publicly thus far, he seems to acknowledge striking the mother of his youngest daughter (“…you fucking deserved it.”) and may have threatened her with a piece.
Despite being a widely popular movie star since Mad Max, there has always been two images of Mel Gibson.  The talented and charming actor who can do comedy, action, romance and drama.  And the alcoholic jerk who hates women, minorities, liberals and homosexuals.  Now, there’s a strong possibility he’s also a woman beater.  (A domestic violence investigation has been ordered.)  All of this begs the inevitable question:  Who is the real Mel Gibson?
It should be noted that Grigorieva and Gibson are bitterly fighting over custody of their baby daughter and the tapes she made of their verbal wars will play a major role in the resolution of this matter.  It’s her bargaining chip, essentially.  (Gibson and his attorneys, naturally, disagree.)  Whether the court will confirm what two gossip websites already believe to be real remains to be seen.  What also remains to be seen is the veracity of another woman’s claims about Gibson’s off-screen behaviour.
A Polish porn star named Violet Kowel claims she’s had an on-again/off-again sexual relationship with him since 2007 when he was still married.  Two years after their initial tryst, she alleges he called her to hook up again while Grigorieva was carrying his child.  She’s also claiming that Gibson was tempermental and made unspecified threats against her when she wouldn’t see him.  The National Enquirer who broke the alleged affair story claim that Kowel has passed a lie detector test. 
Some four years after his embarrassing drunk driving arrest and almost two decades since he publicly made disparaging remarks about gays and women, Gibson apparently hasn’t changed at all.  You can blame his nutty Holocaust denying father, his longterm battle with the bottle (which dates back to his early teens), his blind devotion to old school Catholicism (pre-Vatican II) or chalk it all up to the pressures of fame.  Regardless of any of that, a confused picture emerges.
On the one hand, you have this good-humoured, charismatic movie star who privately donates to charity, has helped raise healthy, well-adjusted, scandal-free children, is loyal to his friends (particularly fellow addicts in desperate need of help), publicly supported Fahrenheit 9/11 despite being a staunch conservative and has long enjoyed playing funny practical jokes on his flattered co-stars.  On the other, you have this mercurial bigot who doesn’t believe that men and women are equal, has an appalling view of feminists and may or may not have a violent streak.  No matter how you slice it, it’s all so sad and puzzling.  For all his goodness, Mel Gibson can’t escape his most abhorrent qualities.  And no matter how many times he apologizes, no matter how many rehab stints he undertakes, no matter what he does, he can’t shed his darkness for good.  Considering all the good he has done for others in his life, it’s heartbreaking.
As I write this, I can’t help but think of his new baby and how awful it must be for her to be in the middle of such a nasty court proceeding.  The only good thing about it is the fact that she is far too young to know what’s really going on.  She is blissfully unaffected by the torment.  But when she grows up, inevitably curious about her famous father, what will she make of his contradictory nature?  Will he even be around long enough to try to make sense to her who he really is?
If he succeeds with his explanation, I’d like one, too.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, July 9, 2010
6:37 p.m. 
Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 6:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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