I'll have a Gibson, straight up

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.

A defining moment in Hollywood?


The movie industry should shun him?

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.

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