On Tuesday morning, Mel Gibson's critically-acclaimed war drama Hacksaw Ridge scored six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. The movie stars Andrew Garfield as real-life war hero and conscientious objector Desmond Doss, who saved 75 people during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. Hacksaw Ridge is supposed to be fantastic. But the cluster of A-grade nods to the film are about more than cinematic excellence — they're a clear and disturbing sign that Hollywood has officially pardoned the man behind the movie. Mel Gibson has a long and thorough record of antisemitism, domestic violence, racism, misogyny, and homophobia, which begins before his 1996 Best Director Oscar win for Braveheart. A couple standout moments: In 2006, Gibson went on an expletive-filled, antisemitic rant after being arrested for drunk driving in Malibu. ("Fucking Jews! The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world!") He issued an apology. In 2010, a series of taped phone calls with Gibson's ex-girlfriend and mother to his child, Oksana Grigorieva, was leaked. A sampling: "You look like a fucking bitch in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of [racial expletive] it’ll be your fault. All right? Because you provoked it"; "[You're] a fucking little girl with a fucking dysfunctional cunt... You need a fucking bat in the side of the head"; "I'll burn the goddamn house down, but blow me first!" The call is horrifying to listen to. Gibson also admitted to abusing Grigorieva. On the call, when she accuses Gibson of hitting her while she was holding their baby, as well as breaking her teeth twice, he replies, "You fucking deserved it." A month before the tapes were released, he confessed to the LAPD that he slapped her; in 2011 plead no contest to domestic assault. Five years and one restraining order later, Gibson was poised for a grand comeback with the release of Hacksaw Ridge, which received a standing ovation at its September 2016 world premiere in Venice. In press rounds leading up to its theatrical release, Gibson perfected the art of the self-victimizing non-apology. And it appears that the American public, and Hollywood, are perfectly willing to accept that.
In press rounds leading up to its theatrical release, Gibson perfected the art of the self-victimizing non-apology. And it appears that the American public, and Hollywood, are perfectly willing to accept that.
There's a moment during his November appearance on The Late Show that practically predicts Gibson's Oscar love, where Stephen Colbert asks him about his mistakes in the last 10 years. Instead of making an apology, Gibson defends himself, makes jokes, and shames his critics. He also minimizes his wrongdoings, responding to Colbert as if the DUI were the only questionable thing he's ever done (and apparently hoping the audience has amnesia about everything else). "A rough patch, not my proudest moment," he calls it. "It’s a moment in time. It’s a pity that one has to be defined with a label from, you know, having a nervous breakdown in the back of a police car from a bunch of double tequilas, but that’s what it is." The crowd laughs. He continues, "That moment shouldn’t define the rest of my life." Everyone cheers. That back-and-forth between Gibson and the audience right there is no Oscar nod, but anyone watching that night shouldn't be surprised at the announcement this morning. A man with a well-documented history of hate speech and domestic violence is back in the good graces of both the people make the movies and the people who go see them. Whether or not Gibson takes home the statue is immaterial at this point — he's already won.