While on the promotional tour for his new film, Daddy's Home 2 (co-starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, and John Lithgow), Mel Gibson spoke out about the sexual assault and harassment allegations coming out of Hollywood. And folks on social media are not having it. According to the Guardian, Gibson opined that the Weinstein accusations and subsequent allegations against countless other Hollywood heavyweights, while "painful," would ultimately be a "precursor to change." (For Weinstein's part, he has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex.)
"Things got shaken up a little bit and there is a lot of light being thrown into places where there were shadows and that is kind of healthy," Gibson said.
Taken at face-value, the sentiment behind Gibson's statement seems relatively harmless. The problem people are having, however, is not so much what he said, but why Gibson — who, in recent years, has been at the center of several allegations of racism and misogyny himself — felt like he was in a position to say anything at all.
To refresh your memory, in 2006, while being pulled over for driving under the influence in Malibu, California (a charge for which he was convicted; although that conviction was later expunged), a police transcript recorded Gibson unleashing a slew of antisemitic statements upon the Jewish arresting officer. After the incident went public, Gibson made a widespread apology tour, announcing his intention to seek counsel from Jewish leaders to help him "discern the appropriate path for healing," and reportedly committed himself to an "ongoing recovery program" for battling alcoholism, as CNN reported.
Despite the scandal, Gibson was cast as the star of 2010's Edge of Darkness (his first lead role since Signs in 2002), and seemed headed towards a comeback. Then in 2011, less than six months after the film's debut, Gibson was back in the headlines when he was recorded making racist and misogynistic threats towards his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Oksana Grigorieva. In response to the taped recording, he told Deadline in 2011, "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.” He was also accused of committing domestic violence against Grigorieva, for which he later pleaded no contest in a "West plea," which, according to CNN, allowed him to "enter a no contest plea without admitting guilt."
And yet again, scandals be damned, Gibson's career — while perhaps somewhat stalled temporarily — ultimately recovered. In 2016, the Academy Awards gave Gibson a Best Director nomination for his work on Hacksaw Ridge. So, not only did his career recover, but he came back, bigger than ever and with the support of many of his Hollywood peers. According to Kevin Lincoln at Vulture, the answer for why he was able to come back "stems from Gibson’s unwavering support within Hollywood’s power structures."
But the times they are a-changing, which is why, now, as Hollywood has finally begun to turn its back against those accused of morally reprehensible behavior, people still have a bitter taste in their mouth about seeing Gibson on the big screen. So, when he decided to speak out about the allegations coming out of Hollywood during his Daddy's Home 2 promo tour, the collective internet basically said, "pot-kettle-black."
Even though Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry are finally starting to take steps in the right direction towards holding people in power accountable for their actions, what happens to stars like Gibson, who seemingly got a free pass before the recent day of reckoning arrived? Will people still flock to see his films? Probably. Will ticket sales suffer? Probably not. At least not enough to make an impact on Gibson or anyone else who has managed to fly under the radar in the eyes of the industry before now. So, until their day comes, at least people are out there making a much-needed ruckus.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.