Entertainment journalist Allison Hope Weiner’s public plea to take Mel Gibson off the Hollywood blacklist inspires debate on the nature of Hollywood forgiveness.

Gibson's Anti-Semitic Remarks, Recorded Outbursts

Weiner, a longtime journalist, published the piece on Deadline Tuesday, March 11, partly titled “Hollywood, Take Mel Gibson Off Your Blacklist.” The article was timed to coincide with the 10-year-anniversary of Gibson’s controversial film The Passion of the Christ, which caused a huge uproar among Hollywood elite and viewers due to its version of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which many deemed anti-Semitic. Gibson defended the film against such allegations and claimed The Passion of the Christ was an accurate description of the events as described in the Bible.

Soon after the film’s 2004 release, Gibson’s career began to dwindle. In 2006, Gibson was arrested on a DUI in Florida and reports of the offensive, drunken tirade he leveled at the arresting officers was leaked. The report alleges that Gibson asked one of the officers if he was Jewish and said, “F—king Jews. The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Gibson also famously called a female officer “sugar tits.” Gibson apologized for his anti-Semitic remarks, but the damage was done, and the once beloved actor quickly became a Hollywood pariah.

Gibson almost staged a successful comeback in 2010 with the release of The Beaver, directed by longtime friend Jodie Foster. The film was well liked by critics and was initially scheduled to be released in time to be considered for the 2011 Oscars, but was derailed when tapes of Gibson lobbying racist and sexist insults towards his estranged ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, were leaked to the public during a heated custody battle. The PR disaster did Gibson no favors, especially when coupled with Grigorieva’s allegations that Gibson had physically abused her and with his erratic history.

Weiner Says Mel Gibson Deserves Forgiveness

Weiner was the first journalist who interviewed Gibson after those tapes were released, and the reporter says she has developed a friendship with Gibson, a man she herself used to vilify in the press.

“The Gibson I’ve come to know isn’t a man who’ll shout from the rooftops that he’s not anti-Semitic, or hold a press conference to tell media those audiotapes were released as part of a shakedown, and that he never assaulted the mother of his infant daughter. He won’t explain to people that he first got himself into a career spiral because he’s a long struggling alcoholic who fell off the wagon and spewed hateful anti-Semitic remarks to an arresting officer who was Jewish. He won’t tell you that he’s still got a lot to offer Hollywood as a filmmaker,” Weiner writes in her defense of Gibson.

Weiner goes on to describe her relationship with Gibson. She notes that she is an observant Jew and recounts how Gibson met her family at her son’s bar mitzvah. Weiner defends Gibson, saying that his first angry, anti-Semitic rant was a result of an alcoholic relapse, the second angry rant simply an example of a man who had lost his temper.

Weiner aims to expose Hollywood hypocrisy when it comes to justice and the treatment of convicted talent. She cites director Roman Polanski, who was found guilty of raping a minor and fled the country in 1978 — if Polanski returned to the U.S., he would be arrested. Still, the director won an Oscar for The Pianist in 2003 and continues to make highly regarded, popular films. Weiner also points to hip-hop artist Chris Brown, who assaulted his pop star girlfriend Rihanna and still continued to make millions (though, to be fair, Brown is currently in jail for violating terms of his probation stemming from the assault charges). In contrast, Weiner puts forth, “Gibson has been shunned not for doing anything criminal; his greatest offenses amount to use of harsh language.”

Weiner concludes with a direct challenge to Hollywood to accept Gibson back into the fold, writing that Gibson is a changed man, worthy of an A-list comeback.

“He is sober seven years, hitting the gym for a role in an independent film, and thinking positively about the future. It has been 11 years since he was paid by a major studio to star in a film, and he hasn’t directed a studio film since Braveheart won five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director,” Weiner writes.

Weiner does not offer new quotes from Gibson in the article, and she does suggest that she has written this piece as an independent journalis who happens to be friends with the subject, not at Gibson’s request.

Since the article was published on Tuesday, March 11, Weiner has been defending her pro-Gibson stance on Twitter. Gibson has not released a comment.

Mel Gibson’s most recent appearance on the big screen was in last year’s Machete Kills and he will star in the upcoming The Expendables 3 alongside Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Harrison Ford.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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