(REAL TIMES MEDIA)—I have not been a huge fan of Mel Gibson since his film “The Passion of the Christ.” I found it insulting that man so dedicated to re-creating a realistic view of the crucifixion still chose to cast a White European as Jesus, let alone depict Jews as the ultimate evil in his film. Therefore when he was busted for a DUI in 2006 and recorded using racist and sexist obscenities to the cops I was not surprised. However, his recent media debacle is even more offensive to me, not because of the content of his words, which is bad enough, but because of the particular set of celebrities who seem compelled to be apologists for yet another racist Hollywood goon.
Over the last several weeks Oksana Grigorieva, Gibson’s estranged Russian model baby momma has given Radaronline.com access to various violent and racist phone calls that she secretly recorded as well as messages left for her by Mel Gibson during their bitter custody dispute. The tapes have become the fodder of every gossip magazine and website and are played constantly on talk shows. In addition to threatening to kill Oksana and admitting to hitting her on several occasions Gibson lets loose with a torrent of racial slurs the likes of which we haven’t heard from him since…well 2006 when he was previously caught using racial and ethnic slurs. Gibson calls his ex a “slut” and tells her that she ought to be “…raped by a bunch of niggers” amidst a flurry of other threats. Of course this rant is not surprising, or shocking coming from Gibson, but some of those who came to his defense are.
During one of their ubiquitous chats last week on “The View,” Whoopee Goldberg and co-host Joy Behar had a nice little exchange about Gibson’s behavior and how Goldberg viewed it.
“I don’t like what he did here. But I know Mel and I know he’s not a racist,” Goldberg said.
“Well, that language certainly sounds racist to me,” Behar countered.
“I can’t sit and say that he’s a racist, having spent time with him in my house with my kids,” Goldberg replied. “I can’t say it.”
After receiving a slew of criticism about her comments by media critics and fans alike, Goldberg responded the next day on the air. “Being a Black woman, you’d think you would give me a little bit of leeway to have some feel if I was around a racist.”
Mind you, this is the same Whoopee Goldberg who in 1993 thought it would be funny to have her married White boyfriend Ted Danson get on stage in blackface and tell nigger jokes during her Friars Club roast. The fact that she can excuse a “Kramer-like” rant of misogyny and racism because someone spent a few afternoons (and perhaps overnighters?) at her house is not surprising. Whoopee has about as much authority to voice the opinions of Black people in America as Bryant Gumble. But the issue isn’t the neverending reminders of Goldberg’s self-loathing and ignorance but the fact that such nonsense can still be uttered by anyone who even considers themselves to be knowledgeable on the subject of race is disturbing. While the most prominent, Goldberg isn’t the only defender of Gibson’s two major incidents in recent years yet she displays the same ability to suggest that his behavior was merely “stupid” not “racist.” As if those two adjectives cannot exist simultaneously to describe someone’s behavior.
Fortunately, others have been much more direct in their criticism of Gibson. Super Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, the inspiration for the Ari Gold character on “Entourage” and brother of Obama consigliore Rahm Emanuel, dropped Gibson from the profitable Endeavor Agency which had represented him for years based on his anti-Semitic remarks. Apparently there are some people in America who have enough backbone to come out of the woodwork and call out racism for what it is and make others face the consequences for their actions and words. The only person we haven’t heard from is Danny Glover. After almost 20+ years of “Lethal Weapon” movies with Gibson he’s got to have some insight into Gibson’s character and behavior. Of course maybe he’d already seen enough, knows Gibson for the violent racist psycho that he really is, and doesn’t feel like saying anything publicly. Or in the words of his character Roger Murtaugh, he’s “getting too old for this s**t.” Of course when it comes to Gibson and apologists like Goldberg, aren’t we all?
(Dr. Jason Johnson is an associate professor at Hiram College in Ohio.)