The recording of Mel Gibson berating his ex-girlfriend almost makes dumping celebrities’ laundry on the Web seem like a necessary idea. Plus, Nicole LaPorte on Gibson’s downfall.
“You should just f---- smile and blow me!” The Mel Gibson phone rant at his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva released by RadarOnline.com is a high watermark in celebrity outing.
If this tape is allowable in court it may happily be just the evidence needed to land him in jail for domestic abuse. This is no “he said, she said” argument now, it’s Mel, clear as a bell, admitting he hit Oksana “while she was holding a child in her hands” because she “f---- deserved it.”
It’s a payday for Oksana who, like every woman in a battle for child custody with a powerful man, finds herself painted as a lying opportunist. Most of the rancor coming Mel’s way so far has been about his racist comments. But his vile misogyny is more unsettling still. It’s as if a curtain has been raised on the window of every house where a frightened woman is living in fear of a man who has all the financial cards. It’s hard not to summon the images of beautiful, dead Nicole Brown Simpson and remember her fear of O.J. and how it ended with the night of terror on South Bundy Drive in Brentwood.
Eavesdropping on the whole exchange makes it hard not to summon the images of beautiful, dead Nicole Brown Simpson and remember her fear of O.J.
Los Angeles top feminist lawyer Gloria Allred blames Gibson’s unchecked awfulness on classic Hollywood enablement. After his grotesque anti-Semitic outburst in 2006, when a Jewish cop apprehended him in Malibu for drunk driving, Gibson’s career cratered following condemnation from the powerful Endeavor agent Ari Emanuel and a passel of Hollywood A-listers. (The fact that his career endures suggests that maybe there are not enough powerful Jews in Hollywood.) After a time his own powerful and adored agent Ed Limato—who, unluckily for Mel, just died—continued to procure him work, snagging him a part abandoned by Robert De Niro in Edge of Darkness, which made a respectable $80 million. Mel’s rich enough anyway to keep bankrolling himself until his stubbornly loyal audience finally rejects him. Later this year, Summit Entertainment may release the truly frightful-sounding The Beaver, directed by Jodie Foster and starring Gibson as a down-in-the-dumps divorcé who has a sustaining relationship with a gloved puppet. Perhaps this one at last will do him in at the box office.
• Rebecca Dana Conservatives and Evangelicals Ditch Mel, Too• Nicole LaPorte— Mel Gibson: Classic Batterer• More Mel Gibson Coverage From The Daily BeastThe leaked call is also a cautionary tale for every celebrity groupie who dreams of landing a Hollywood heartthrob. It's an index of the life in store that the row we hear between Mel and Oksana is not about anything real, but about breast implants (or, in Gibson parlance, "fake tits," that make her look like "a Vegas whore.") Oksana’s forlorn defense is that she doesn’t “sashay around,” as Gibson accuses, but rather “stays in the house most of the time." So much for the Us Weekly magazine version of a red-carpet life on the arm of the handsome movie star. Most of that life, in truth, is just as it sounds here. Fake tits and waiting around to satisfy the on-demand appetite of a matinee idol—in this case, the sanctimonious DeMille wannabe with the Jesus biopic—who writes the checks. But neither Mel or Oksana were ready for this closeup.
We live in a culture of destructive transparency. Text messages leaked. Phone calls taped. Pictures uploaded in real time, and sound bites exploding on unsuspecting careers. But there's an upside to our leaky, sneaky world. Vile, fraudulent bullies like Mel Gibson or free-range sex addicts like Tiger Woods can be exposed at last to the censure—and ridicule—they deserve. As Allred put it, “The Internet is very aggressive but it’s good in a way for women. Silence always favors the wrongdoer.”
Tina Brown is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast. She is the author of the 2007 New York Times bestseller The Diana Chronicles. Brown is the former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Talk magazines and host of CNBC's Topic A with Tina Brown.