Over the past two months, we’ve witnessed a reckoning against harassers and abusers in the media, which has brought forth at best upsetting and at worst damning allegations against some of the most powerful and respected men in Hollywood, as well as larger society.
That’s why it’s shocking that as we finally begin to hold men to higher standards, Mel Gibson is essentially able to take back the career he derailed nearly a decade ago after being exposed for the racist and misogynist he clearly was and still is. In case you forgot, Gibson plead no contest to domestic violence charges in 2011, and has a long record of saying racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.
In what began with last year’s Oscar-nominated Hacksaw Ridge, Gibson’s Hollywood redemption continues as he not only currently stars in, but is also featured heavily in the marketing for Daddy’s Home 2, a film that’s not quite all-ages family friendly, but still portrays itself as an enjoyable holiday comedy. As someone who is to abusive men what Oprah Winfrey is to talk show hosts, Gibson has seemingly managed to pull off a second chance from Hollywood, and with the better than expected box office numbers for Daddy’s Home 2, society as well.
Remember 2014’s “McConaissance”? This is kinda like that, only instead of Matthew “Alright, Alright, Alright” McConaughey proving to us that he’s more than just a rom com leading man, it’s Mel Gibson somehow finding redemption and making his way back into the good graces of Hollywood and the larger American society. So, what is it that makes Gibson forgivable, so much so that people are willing to look past his abhorrent treatment of others? Are his movies that good (they’re not), or has the initial shock simply worn off after 10 years away from the spotlight? If we’re going to start holding all men accountable, we need to start with Gibson, and that means holding Hollywood studios accountable as well as ourselves with the art we choose to support with our wallets.
And while Gibson may hold the title of being most obvious abuser in a holiday comedy, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that his co-star Mark Wahlberg is also a celebrated actor with a past steeped in racism and abuse, including an incident in his youth where he attacked a Vietnamese immigrant with a wooden stick and another in which he threw rocks at black children.
Wahlberg is an Oscar-nominated A-lister known for his patriotic tough guy roles, and audiences have been pretty forgiving when it comes to all of the inexcusable behavior froam his past. Again, time seems to have played a role; it’s been 20 years since Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder, so either time really does heal all wounds or we’re just too lazy to find another decently talented actor from Boston.
Interestingly, Daddy’s Home 2 isn’t the only film Wahlberg is set to star in this holiday season. In what can only be seen as a not-so-shocking twist of fate, Wahlberg will portray a CIA operative in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World, the film that recently made headlines when it replaced Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer five weeks before it was set to be released after allegations of sexual abuse were leveled at the former.
In the end, only time will tell whether Gibson, and Wahlberg for that matter, will be forgiven and their past transgressions merely a blip on their careers. And more importantly, is this what we can expect 10 years down the road for abusers like Harvey Weinstein or Spacey? Then again, a known sexual predator is currently sitting in our country’s highest office, so maybe we shouldn’t even be that shocked.
top photo: still from Daddy’s Home 2
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