OVER THE PAST few weeks, Irish media has devoted much time and space to discussing the #MeToo movement. There have been countless columns, radio segments and television panels dedicated to exploring sexual harassment and ascertaining what it all mean for gender relations going forward. There has been a steady stream of resignations and remorseful statements, as well as a lot of time allotted to reflecting on who knew what when.
The whole experience has been cathartic and infuriating in equal measure. Cathartic in that it’s freeing to be able to collectively air these grievances and know that you might finally be listened to. Infuriating in that it has revealed that there are some people out there who still don’t really seem to get it and will sooner argue until the cows come home about why a hand on the knee isn’t that bad than listen to a woman.
On the surface, it seemed like progress was being made. Figures like Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK and Kevin Spacey were all sidelined after being the subjects of allegations of sexual misconduct. It seemed as though men were being held accountable for their actions at long last.
How jarring then to see Mel Gibson paraded around Ireland this week to grace the airwaves with barely a word said about his checkered past.
As I wrote in last week’s column, Gibson is currently promoting his role in the comedy sequel Daddy’s Home 2 in which he plays Mark Wahlberg’s father. As part of the film’s promotional tour, the actor was brought to Dublin this week alongside his co-stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and John Lithgow. The quartet were featured on Today FM’s Dermot and Dave, and recorded an interview with Ryan Tubridy for The Late Late Show.
The latter is set to air tonight. Yesterday RTÉ released a brief excerpt from the interview in which Tubridy questioned the four actors about the ongoing fallout from the sexual harassment allegations made against men in Hollywood. Mark Wahlberg was the first to address it and spoke about the decision to reshoot All The Money in the World, a film starring Kevin Spacey. Mel Gibson was then asked to weigh in and made the following statement.
Your heart goes out to the victims, of course, and I’m glad that they spoke up. And I think it’s unfortunate that they have to relive the whole thing in order to heal themselves. I think this is… and the rest of us are subjected to the problem. I think we really need to look at it. But it’s not just Hollywood. You don’t need to be in Hollywood to experience that kind of harassment.
A fine statement, sure, but doesn’t it ring a little hollow when the man saying it is known to have abused his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child? Isn’t it disingenuous to ask for this man’s perspective on sexual harassment without referencing his own history of terrorising women? Why is The Late Late Show playing ball with him?
Here are some facts about Mel Gibson.
In 2006, the actor made a series of anti-Semitic remarks after being arrested for driving under the influence. During a drunken tirade, he asserted that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” and demanded to know if an officer was Jewish. He also referred to a female sergeant as “sugar tits”.
In June 2010, Oksana Grigorieva filed a restraining order against Mel Gibson and alleged that he had punched her in the face more than once, leading to a concussion and broken teeth. Gibson later admitted to slapping her, but claimed he was merely trying to stop her from shaking their baby daughter.
The following month, tapes were leaked in which Mel Gibson could be heard shouting, “You look like a f*king pig in heat and if you get raped by a pack of ni**ers it will be your fault,” at Grigorieva. Furthermore, he called her a “whore” and a “c**t”. (Gibson had originally offered Grigorieva $15 million to keep those tapes under wraps, but the tapes were leaked anyway. Grigorieva denies leaking them.) It was also alleged that Gibson had threatened Grigorieva with a gun after she tried to flee their house.
In 2011, Gibson pleaded no contest to a count of misdemeanor battery. He was sentenced to three years probation, counselling and community service. That same year, the former couple struck a custody deal that saw her get $750,000 from the actor and a house to live in until their daughter turned 18.
Last year, however, it was ruled that Grigorieva was only entitled to $250,000 after she violated the terms of the original settlement by discussing the allegations during a 2013 appearance on The Howard Stern Show. Additionally, she had to move out of the house Gibson had provided for her, albeit in exchange for an increase in child support.
Gibson has already paid her one of the $250,000 installments, but since his ex spoke out about the allegations against him in the interview with Stern, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Gibson won’t have to pay her the remaining $500,000, the documents state.
For his part, Mel Gibson has characterised the incident recorded on tape as “one terribly awful moment in time, said to one person, in the span of one day”. He had his conviction expunged in 2014 after completing three years of probation and seven years later, he’s in Daddy’s Home 2, expressing his sympathy for victims of sexual harassment.
Gibson was justifiably sidelined for years. He was a pariah. Nobody wanted to work with him. And so he remained quiet, save for a handful of roles in films like The Beaver and The Expendables 3.
Last year, he set out to redeem himself and directed Hacksaw Ridge. It garnered positive reviews, had solid box office returns and earned six Oscar nominations, including one for Best Director. He now has roles lined up in a police brutality drama with Vince Vaughn as well as a period drama about the Oxford English Dictionary.
Oksana Grigorieva, meanwhile, suffered an enormous financial penalty for speaking out about her assault, was accused of shaking her baby and labeled “deceitful” by Gibson’s lawyers. Talk about a tale of two fortunes, eh?
So you can understand why I don’t care to hear Gibson’s thoughts on sexual harassment. Because peel back a few layers and there’s a raging misogynist lurking underneath. One who thought it was fine to say the following to a woman…
Shut the f**k up! You should just f**king smile, and blow me! ‘Cause I deserve it!
I’m threatening, I’ll put you in a f**king rose garden, you c**t. You understand that? ‘Cause I’m capable of it. You understand that?
Then leave, c**t, bitch, golddigger, c**t, whore. And that’s what you are.
But let’s not reckon with that. Let’s just ask him if he had fun shooting Daddy’s Home 2, eh?
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