The Passion of the Mel

Mel Personally, I couldn’t care less about Mel Gibson’s bigoted, drunken tirades the other night. Aside from "Gallipoli," I’ve never really enjoyed any of his flicks and, prior to his outburst, have never really counted Gibson among my favorite actors. That said, Mel’s motor mouth has caused some interesting image and reputation challenges worth discussing.

First, there’s the brand of "Mel." Will he survive or not? Knowing how today’s society works, I think Mel will eventually bounce back and still be a box office star. It may take years, and lots of groveling by Mel, but adoring fans will forgive and forget.

More intriguing in my mind, though, is the image impact on Mel’s production company, Icon, and the management firm that represents him. Gibson’s Icon Productions has become a powerhouse in Hollywood and has the financial wherewithal to act independently of the major motion picture studios. So, will Icon be able to continue making blockbusters regardless of Mel’s mistake? I don’t think so. At least not for now. I think that stars, large and little, will refuse to act in a Gibson movie out of principle. And, I believe theatre chains will refuse to show his flicks for the same reason. So, my guess is that Icon will go dark for some time.

As for International Creative Management, which has managed Mel’s career for 17 years, my guess is they’ll cave in to pressure if their other major stars and the Hollywood community in general pressure them to dump Gibson.

Right now, Mel’s mouth has become a lethal weapon. I think it’ll be years before we see this braveheart, but foolish mind, regain his previous luster.

8 thoughts on “The Passion of the Mel

  1. You get two snack paks added to your lunch box for valid points against my comparisons, Beth. Let me know if you prefer chocolate or vanilla.
    Keep in mind, total compensation world wide will increase that 133 million dollar figure. Nevermind the endorsements and marketing deals before the movie came out, we need to add DVDs, on-demand, and rentals into the equation. Sooner or later, MI:III will be viewed as a profitable movie.
    Also, I will stand pat and continue to believe that Gibson and Cruise, for better or worse, will continue to be among the most bankable stars in Hollywood.

  2. I will have to disagree with you again, LunchBoy. If everyone in Hollywood trashes their faith, then how do movies like Schindler’s List, or more recently, Munich get made? And why was Divine Intervention, thought by many to be by far the best foreign language film of its year (2003), snubbed by the Oscar’s? It is because people very much stand behind their faith and use their power to back it up.
    And again, I have to take issue with your choice of comparisons. Tom Cruise’s reputation has been seriously impacted by his, oh let’s say zany, behavior. MI:III only grossed $133 million at the box office, far less that the previous MI movies. His behavior has led to a downward slide in his popularity, which, if it continues, will lead to people no longer wanting to work with him.

  3. I’ll also add that I do agree with you Rep about HWood folks being lemmings. They do follow conventional wisdom, as evidenced by Mel having to pony up his own loot to make the Christ movie. Again, look where that got him.
    I’m not excusing him for his wrong doings. Please don’t think that I except what he said on ANY level. It was wrong, even if he was drunk and not in the best frame mind.
    I’m just saying that famous people in CA have done far worse…

  4. People in Hollywood treat their heritage like trash. How many names have been changed to better an image? I’m not so certain that many people in that town invest much in their faith. Except Gibson…maybe too much, right?
    The point against powerbrokers having control and the ability to sink Gibson – well, Mel already beat that scenario by doing “The Passion of the Christ” on his own. Nobody wanted to touch that film and look at how it/he faired.
    If I were involved in Hollywood and he asked me to be a part of a film, I would certainly join. For his faults, he still is bankable. That’s like saying people will no longer want to star in a film with Tom Cruise becuase he is a scientologist and jumps on couches. . .
    You’re right – he has nothing to fear except how people perceive him – we’re all in agreement there. However, I’m of the opinion that this will soon pass and Gibson will rebound.

  5. I don’t know, Lunch Boy. It is possible that money will prevail and Gibson will make a comeback, but it is critical to remember just how many of Hollywood’s powerhouses are Jewish (the name Spielberg ring a bell…). I can’t imagine these powerful folks are going to just embrace him with open arms a few years down the road. I know that personally, as a Jew, I sure wouldn’t.
    And I’m not sure the comparison to Kobe Bryant really works in this case. While Kobe was accused of horrible things, it was easy for people to forgive him…his accuser’s reputation was soiled in the media, and she was made out to be a money hungry, attention seeking loon. Poor Kobe….
    Unless the entire Jewish population is vilified by the media (always possible…it’s not like it hasn’t happened before), it’s going to be difficult for people to just let this one slide.
    But then again, how many people remember Brando referring to Hollywood Jews as kikes (ouch)? He’s remained one of the most admired actors in the business despite that little tirade, so anything’s possible.

  6. I disagree with your disagreement. In my mind, the Hollywood crowd are nothing more than lemmings. They follow the conventional wisdom and tend to think and act the same way. If some power brokers decide Mel is toxic, then you’ll see the entire community disengage.

  7. I disagree. If we were talking about a corporate CEO, then yes, I would go along with your line of thinking. Major spin control would be the prescription. In Mel’s case, he has played it honestly and apologized.
    Let’s remember that we are talking about Hollywood – where the rules are different. Controversy rules Hollywood and you can possibly bet that Mel will not only rebound but will also flourish from this mishap. Didn’t everyone think that “The Passion of the Christ” would bomb? Mel certainly had the last laugh there.
    Another example (although he is an athlete), is Kobe Bryant and the knocks his reputation received following his rape allegation in Denver. Sure he lost some of his endorsements, had to buy his wife a 5 million dollar rock, but again, he is among professional sports top moneymakers (see a recent CNN/SI story foe details).
    While people may now take Mel as being a bigot towards a certain religion, he’ll simply spend some time in the confessional and do his quick round of penance. Again, it’s not reality, it’s Hollywood.

  8. Hollywood is about making money and I don’t think you’re going to see anyone pass a buck because he got corked and spouted his mouth off. This is only “big” until the next big thing.