Monday, August 6, 2012

Mel Gibson, kicked again

You may have noticed that Mel Gibson's latest film went directly to DVD and video on demand. More likely, you didn't, which is my point: For the first time in more than 30 years, Gibson couldn't get a theatrical release for a movie in which he starred.

Early reviews for "Get the Gringo" were favorable: Gibson's apparently in "Payback" mode, as a career criminal who learns to survive in a Mexican prison with the help of a 10-year-old boy, then takes revenge on his enemies. (I haven't seen the film.) Yet no American distributor would touch it.

Gibson's anti-Semitic babble has made movie executives (many of whom are Jewish) justifiably irate. His problems with alcoholism and women, which I would guess to be related, have hurt his public image. Christians embraced him eight years ago when he directed "The Passion of the Christ," but that support has eroded over time. Thus, "Gringo" stayed in cinematic jail.

So here's my question: If Mel Gibson has made a hash of his personal life, can we separate the artist and his art?

Spiritual depth, personal decency and a benign outlook don't necessarily lead to good art: The world is full of pleasant composers, painters, writers and filmmakers who do second-rate work year after year. And monsters sometimes produce masterpieces, or we wouldn't be listening to the operas of Wagner or appreciating the paintings of Picasso.

Every audience member can vote with his feet: My dad, still disgusted by Jane Fonda's behavior during the Vietnam War, has never rented or attended one of her movies for 45 years. I have a friend now who feels the same way about Gibson; she hasn't seen anything he's made since "Signs." Both of them have missed some worthwhile motion pictures.

But a critic needs to distinguish between the worker and the work. Four years ago, Marion Cotillard made idiotic remarks about the "real" reason the World Trade Center was destroyed and doubted that astronauts walked on the moon. (She later took the WTC comments back.) Did she still deserve the Oscar for playing Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose"? Yes. Did she do a good job in "The Dark Knight Rises" this summer? Yes.

I have no idea whether "Get the Gringo" sizzles or stinks. But I'd have reviewed it with an open mind -- or so I hope -- if distribution companies hadn't decided to slap Gibson down.


Michael Richards said...

Good riddance to him. I can care less if his films ever see day outside of some Nazi training film.

Anonymous said...

It's always curious to me that we chose to apply a different litmus test to an athlete or entertainer than we do to the man/woman that would sit next to us in a cube at work.

If this were a guy named Bob in the accounting office of the CO, rather than a mega-millionaire entertainer, would we not expect that the first tirade gets him fired from the CO? A second or third or fourth gets around to enough employers that he's no longer employable in accounting?

This - in my simple estimation - is why these folks always follow a rant or rave w/ a trip to AA or NA. They have to have a plausible excuse for their behavior. In the case of Gibson ... he might have just used that cliche one too many times. And beyond that, he seems far from contrite - something Bob in accounting would have to be to get someone to take a chance on him.

I think it's silly to expect folks that turn off entire populations can keep doing their job of entertaining folks effectively, if it's John Rocker or Mel Gibson or Michael Richards.

Anonymous said...

As talented as he may be, Mel Gibson has made his own bed. Let him lie in it now. If he's now considered a pariah, he has no one to blame but himself.

Anonymous said...

Polanski rapes a 13 year old girl, yet all of Hollywood would fall all over themselves to work with him...Hollywood "values" never cease to surprise, eh?

Anonymous said...

Looks like a GOOD movie! I like Gibson and think he makes Great movies. Will definitely see this one.

Wiley Coyote said...

It's the old double standard.

The Hollywood crowd doesn't like his Catholic vitriol so they shun him and give passes to others.