On Mel Gibson and the Decline of Moral Majority

The Good News About Mel Gibson
by Frank Rich
The New York Times
July 16, 2010

For Fourth of July weekend fireworks, even Macy”™s couldn”™t top the spittle-spangled eruptions of Mel Gibson. The clandestine recordings of his serial audio assaults on his gal pal were instant Web and cable-TV sensations “” at once a worthy rival to Hollywood”™s official holiday releases and a compelling sequel to his fabled anti- Semitic rant of 2006. A true showman, Gibson offered vitriol for nearly all tastes, aiming his profane fusillade at women, blacks and Latinos alike. The invective was tied together by a domestic violence subplot worthy of “Lethal Weapon.” There was even a surprise comic coda, courtesy of Whoopi Goldberg, who, alone among Gibson”™s showbiz peers, used her television platform on “The View” to defend her buddy”™s good character.

The Gibson tapes “” in plain English and not requiring the subtitles of some of the star”™s recent spectacles “” are a particularly American form of schadenfreude. There”™s little we enjoy more than watching a pampered zillionaire icon (Gibson”™s production company is actually named Icon) brought low. The story would end there “” just another tidy morality tale in the profuse annals of Hollywood self-destruction from Fatty Arbuckle to Lindsay Lohan “” were it not for Gibson”™s unique back story.

Six years ago he was not merely an A-list movie star with a penchant for drinking and boorish behavior but also a powerful and canonized figure in the political and cultural pantheon of American conservatism. That he has reached rock bottom tells us nothing new about Gibson. He was the same talented, nasty, bigoted blowhard then that he is today. But his fall says a lot about the changes in our country over the past six years. We shouldn”™t take those changes for granted. We should take stock “” and celebrate. They are good news.

Read the rest of this Op-Ed piece here.