And Mel Gibson is the front page news.
The actor/director/Cheesus-loving nutjob is back in the headlines these days, not for his as yet unreleased film about the fall of Maya (whose rites of human sacrifice were probably what appealed to Gibson, who never met a snuff film he didn't like), but for a recent DUI and its aftermath. Apparently, Mr. Gibson, in an intoxicated state, said some things to a Malibu sherrif's deputy that he probably shouldn't have.
Well, that's not really a big deal, Charlie Sheen does this sort of thing on a monthly basis. The intersection of stars and bars and driving cars is one we're all endlessly familiar with at this point: hardly a week goes by without a celebrity meltdown of one sort or another. Drinking, drugging, wenching, assault on an officer - you're not really a star until you've been to rehab, had a messy divorce or spent a night in the pokey. Such is the state of fame in America.
The issue here is that the things Mel shouldn't have said were about a people you definitely can't say them about: Mel Gibson mouthed off about Jews. Apparently, Mel didn't get the memo. The President? Fair game. Whites? Absolutely. The military? Fire at will. Blacks, Arabs and women? You might have to tread a little more carefully, but phrase it right and you'll sail on through. Jews? Uh uh. Don't even try it. Sorry pal, there are lines you just can't cross and this is one of them. Do that and the people who don't control Hollywood will try and make sure you never work in this town again.
And that brings us to the crux of the matter. The Hollywood elite hates Mel Gibson. And it's not because he's a crabby bigot and a miserable filmmaker. There have been plenty of raging anti-semites in the industry, and Mel is hardly the first to let his sentiments slip at a moment of public weakness. The problem from Hollywood's perspective is that this isn't the first time Gibson has played with this particular fire. Gibson's father is an on-the-record Holcaust denier, and Mel himself has been, at best, evasive on the same issue. The controversy surrounding The Passion of the Christ is instructive here as well. This didn't come out of nowhere, there's a long backstory that feeds the hatred of the Hollywood left for Mel Gibson.
And that's the real problem Hollywood has with Gibson. That he is an anti-semite is bad enough. That he is an anti-semite that they have not managed to punish for his beliefs is intolerable, and lies at the core of the current wave of frothing commentary. Mel's mouth has gotten away from him in the past, and he walked away unscathed. Mel self-financed a film repeating the medieval 'blood libel' of deicide and turned it into a nearly $700 million worldwide phenomenon. The people who don't control Hollywood just can't have that, and they're gunning for him again.