Idol Chatter

This morning, the first installment of Mel Gibson’s two-part interview on Good Morning America aired, hyped as the first time we would hear the Hollywood star’s own account of the events of July 28, 2006. On that night, an intoxicated Gibson, who has battled alcoholism for decades, was arrested for drunk driving, unleashing a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks in the process.

Gibson will address the anti-Semitism (including his remark that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”) in more detail tomorrow. But this morning’s installment did not bode well for anyone who hopes to see genuine contrition and humility from the actor.

For one thing, practically all of Gibson’s comments were “you” statements, not “I” statements: “You lose all humility;” “Your judgment is impaired enough to do insane things like try and drive at high speeds;” “You go, what did I do that for?”

The “you” context may have been intended to show some wisdom Gibson feels he had gained from his experience, wisdom he was ready to share with the world. But delivered as they were–in a highly twitchy, manic style–the comments instead took on an air of defensive denial, like these are somebody else’s problems. Even his nod to religion–Gibson is a theologically conservative Roman Catholic–was distancing: “It’s God. You’ve got to go there.”

The other troubling aspect of Gibson’s interview was the cavalier tone he took, physically and verbally. Several times, he unleashed a big grin, perhaps going for the “aren’t I just a boyish rogue?” image. Gibson even wore an impish smirk when he admitted he had “a few cold ones” the morning after his arrest, while he was explaining the incident to his children. His choice of words in the interview was equally unsatisfying–he repeatedly said he was “loaded,” not drunk. When Diane Sawyer asked him what he might have said had he been pulled over by an African American police officer, instead of a Jewish one, Gibson quipped, “I’d have to get loaded and tell you. And then be in those conditions again. Because it’s unpredictable what’s gonna come flying out.”

It’s possible that Gibson’s mannerisms are the reactions of someone so deeply embarrassed by his behavior, he doesn’t know how to act. But wait–at the very least, isn’t Gibson an actor? Not to mention a person of faith who should be a little more comfortable with seeking forgiveness? Today’s interview raises serious doubts that Gibson can re-connect with the show of humility and contrition that followed his arrest.

As he himself put it in the interview, “You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

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