Mel Gibson getting dumped from 'Hangover 2': Hollywood hypocrisy in action?
A host of issues have been raised after news surfaced that Warner Bros. has dropped Mel Gibson from the cast of "Hangover 2," citing objections from cast and crew. (Gibson is reportedly being replaced by Liam Neeson.) But one of the most fascinating is the specter of hypocrisy, which almost always comes into play in today's world of instant Internet buzz, where the second-guessing of showbiz decisions, big and small, has become just as common as Monday morning quarterbacking on sports talk shows.
According to this provocative post from New York magazine's Vulture blog, why did the "Hangover" cast and crew have a beef with Mel Gibson but not with Mike Tyson, who enjoyed a cozy 15 minutes of fame after his similar stunt casting in the original movie? Gibson has certainly spoiled his reputation by unleashing a torrent of anti-Semitic slurs after being arrested in 2006 for drunk driving, then dug himself a deeper hole after being heard making racist and misogynist remarks to his former girlfriend, who conveniently taped Gibson's abusive rants.
That's pretty bad stuff, but what about Tyson? He's a convicted rapist who spent three years in prison for sexual assault against Desiree Washington, a former Miss Black Rhode Island. So why wasn't there any outrage when Tyson was cast? I'd like to hear your thoughts about this, because Gibson-versus-Tyson opens up all sorts of prickly issues. I suspect that Tyson's casting wasn't such a hot-button issue because the rape charges were more than 15 years old at the time he appeared in the first "Hangover" movie, so people's disgust had plenty of time to cool. Tyson's defenders would also argue that he did the time, so he should have the right to a fresh start. I guess everyone has a different view of how long the moral statute of limitations for convicted rapists should last: Can you start walking the red carpet after five years? 10? 15? Or never?
The issue is different with Gibson, who is still in the midst of a nasty legal battle with Oksana Grigorieva, who had a child with the aging star. One way to punish Gibson for his offensive behavior is by making him a pariah in polite society -- though who knew that a sequel to a movie about a weekend of Las Vegas debauchery would qualify as polite society! I'm still trying to figure out where I stand on this one, because there's a fine line between rewarding bad behavior and blacklisting someone for their past sins.
I know people who are saying, of Gibson: Give the guy a break, it's only a dumb comedy, not a lifetime achievement award. If no one had any problems with Tyson, then why suddenly get all worked up about Gibson? But it's just as easy to argue that just because the "Hangover" team made one mistake doesn't mean it's a good idea to make another. After all, women are already all too regularly treated as hapless sex objects in most boys-will-be-boys Hollywood comedies, so does "Hangover 2" really need to have another big dose of misogyny by having Gibson on board?
Photo: Mel Gibson at the 2007 premiere of "American Gangster" in Los Angeles. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press