I'm a little late to the party here (a nod to my fellow contributors - great stuff - and thanks to Kevin for the invitation), so let me just jump right in...
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As we come to the mid-week point in the International World-Wide Mel Gibson Anti-Semitism Crisis (“Andersen Cooper, Special Report: Day Four. Mel Repents”), one thing that’s been especially surprising to me – perhaps even more surprising than Gibson’s ability to recite, from memory, the entire Protocols of the Elders of Zion – is how overwrought and naïve some of the response has been.
Particularly from people who should know better.
Ain’t gonna happen.
The simple truth of the matter is that these kinds of scandals follow a completely predictable, and utterly unsurprising story arc. It unfolds faster these days. But the outcome is always the same. And from crucifixion to redemption, it’s the chronicle of a news cycle entirely foretold, after the original sin:
Spin. Rinse. Redeem. Repeat as necessary, until reputation is restored.
Nikki Finke’s latest revelations aside, here are a few of the stopping points on Mel’s road to redemption:
1) Announce you’re going into rehab. Done.
2) Issue the finely crafted, all purpose mea culpa. Done.
3) Start the spin – you’re the victim here of something beyond your control. Done.
4) Sign on for Sensitivity Training. Done. (See #3)
5) Watch as tragedy starts turning into farce:
- Jon Stewart, later this week: “I hear Mel Gibson has found a way to cure his anti-Semitism. He announced this morning that’s he converting to Judaism. It’s going to broadcast live on ABC, with Sarah Silverman performing the circumcision. They’re calling it “Jesus is Magic, Part II: The Uncut edition.”
- The first comment appears on the Huffington Post, blaming the whole thing on Karl Rove. “Once again, this was all orchestrated out of the White House. For almost a whole week, they managed to keep Iran out of the top of the news.”
6) Now, six months pass, and the resurrection tour begins:
- The Larry King confessional. “I had a death wish.”
- The papal audience with Katie Couric: “I was out of my mind.”
- The 8000 word “book of revelation” in Rolling Stone: “I was imprinted by my father.”
- The 60 Minutes moment of atonement, with Ed Bradley at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem: “I had no idea about the suffering these people endured.”
- The leavening interregnum with David Letterman: “So tell me, Mel… Doing anything special for the High Holidays?”
- And finally, redemption, granted by the high priestess of absolution: “Give us a hug,” says Oprah, wiping back a tear. “You’re a good man, Mel Gibson.”
Oh. There is one last thing, three months later:
7) The Vanity Fair benediction. Mel’s on the cover. Annie Leibovitz takes the shot. The headline on the story inside the magazine:
Braveheart: How Mel Gibson confronted his demons, made peace with Jews, and survived his year of living dangerously without turning a lethal weapon on himself.
(Insert long sigh, here.)
Let’s face it: The road to celebrity redemption is so predictable these days that you set it up as a theme park ride at Universal Studios, sell tickets to it, and eventually turn it into a movie.
Who knows. Maybe somebody will.