Unlike many people weighing in on the Mel Gibson/Oksana Grigorieva debacle, I actually have some experience being punched in the face. Therefore, I thought I might be justified in offering my thoughts on the more salient/pressing/inane questions the media are asking.
Have you seen the picture of Oksana Grigorieva’s broken teeth?
Loathe though I am to admit it, I have. I spend entirely too much time online.
What do you think?
Oddly enough, while I have been hit in the head a lot, I have never suffered damage to my teeth. Moreover, it seems that Grigorieva had veneers on her teeth, and it was these, not the teeth themselves, that were damaged. I don’t have veneers.
I also don’t have an abusive boyfriend, and my non-existent jerk boyfriend doesn’t have a multi-million dollar Hollywood career, an ex-wife who divorced him when I became pregnant with his child, or seven children from that failed marriage.
I don’t play piano, I wasn’t raised in the Ukraine, I’ve never met or been married to Timothy Dalton, and I’ve never been told, by anyone, that I deserve to be hurt or sexually assaulted. If anyone ever did tell me that, I’m pretty sure I would not be the one who ended up losing a tooth. I certainly wouldn’t have the presence of mind to record the conversation and hire a lawyer.
In a nutshell, I’m not Oksana Grigorieva, so I don’t feel entirely comfortable judging what happened to her.
But isn’t Ms. Grigorieva, by leaking the photo to the press, along with recordings of her alleged conversations with Gibson, asking us to judge what happened to her?
Yes, she is. Which is vexing, because battered women definitely need public support, and they should be applauded whenever they have the courage to go public. Knowing that millions of dollars in child support and alimony are at issue, however, makes me feel a little less supportive. People with that kind of money don’t play by the same rules as the rest of us.
Well, isn’t “Those people aren’t like us” just a reflexive way to dismiss domestic violence, or any kind of violence we want to distance ourselves from?
Yes it is. Domestic violence is wrong, period, and while the courts are supposed to determine if it happened, we all ought to condemn it when it does.
The thing is, I’ve only ever been hit by people who had my permission. That’s a fundamentally different kind of transaction from being attacked, or submitting to violence because you feel you have no choice. A contest, where you fight for the sake of the fight, is worlds away from intimate violence.
It’s uniquely, perversely human to fight with an intimate partner. Animals may fight for dominance but they don’t fight with their mates. They sometimes kill them and eat them, sure, but that’s usually a practical matter tied to reproduction. Animals don’t confuse violence and abuse with intimacy. We invented that. And like a lot of our brilliant ideas, we can’t control it.
So, you think he probably hit her?
The odds are good, I’ll say that. And not just because of the evidence in this case; the odds are good across the board. According to the Department of Justice, a woman is beaten every 15 seconds in this country. Jesus, I can’t believe I just wrote that. What the hell is wrong with people?
Grigorieva could certainly be one of those women.
Yeah, but couldn’t she have faked her injuries?
While I suppose that kind of thing does happen, anyone who would accuse a woman of blackening her own eye to make trouble for her boyfriend is, simply put, an asshole. I don’t care how likely it is, or how suspicious the woman’s motives. I don’t even care whether it’s true. A decent human being would never suggest it. Sorry, gentlemen; I know that’s unfair, but you earn more money than we do. Suck it up and deal.
I will say that, whatever else did or didn’t happen between Gibson and Grigorieva, it’s clear that these are two people who are best off communicating via attorney. Let’s hope all this publicity has at least put some much-needed distance between them.
Will the abuse allegations damage Gibson’s box office appeal?
You know, this surprises even me, but I think they probably will. Stars have always gotten away with violence and even murder, but their careers do tend to suffer afterwards. Gibson is about to take his place in Hollywood’s sordid pantheon of the not-quite-convictable, joining the illustrious ranks of Charlie Sheen, Robert Blake, and Fatty Arbuckle. An exclusive club, indeed.
So, what the fuck happened to Mel Gibson?
The mind reels, doesn’t it? Success does weird things to people, and I don’t think anyone can deny that Mr. Gibson, who evidently used to be a likeable guy, has gone seriously off the rails in recent years, even before this meltdown. His DUIs, the paranoid rants against Jews, the homophobia and racism—has anyone checked his thyroid?
Have you heard the recordings?
No. I can’t bring myself to listen to them. I did read some very cogent analyses of the recordings—what they reveal about Gibson’s anger, misogyny, control issues, paranoia—and how it all ties in with societal attitudes toward women and violence. I thought that was interesting, so I read the transcripts, and I could write something about how they show Gibson projecting his rage and regret onto Grigorieva, portraying her as the woman who “provoked” him to commit adultery. I could. But you know… what can you really say about a man who harps on “foreign bodies” in his girlfriend’s breasts; calls her a “Vegas bitch” and a “Vegas whore”; tells her, “You should just fucking smile, and blow me. ’Cause I deserve it”; and declares “I don’t need medication. You need a fucking bat in the side of the head”?
You don’t need the DSM-IV to tell you this dude is fucked up.
But Gibson’s ex-wife says he was never violent with her, and he was a good father to his other seven kids.
This is sort of like pointing out all the presidents Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t assassinate. And what do you and I care if Gibson was a great dad? He’s not putting us through college.
His personal relationship problems, on the other hand, are going to cost us money as they are investigated and possibly tried by our publicly-funded legal system. Way to pay it forward, Mel.
Honestly, don’t you just want to kick Gibson in the nuts?
Sure, but that’s been true ever since Braveheart. I mean, kilts in 1280? Has the man never read a book in his life?
Do any of Gibson’s other films shed light on his recent behavior?
Probably not, but why should that stop us from talking about them as if they do? Gibson’s celebrity is built on films drenched in post-apocalyptic vengeance, torture, trench warfare, mutiny, slaughter, execution, rape, sacking, burning, revolt, violence toward women and children (and dogs), hanging, throat-slitting, skull-crushing, disemboweling, beheading, psychotic rage, castration, electric shocks, drowning, beating, bombing, hostage-taking, impaling, and I haven’t even gotten to The Passion of the Christ yet. Maybe violence never solved anything but it’s made Mr. Gibson a very rich man. That’s got to be hard to ignore.
Still, it says a whole lot more about us, the audience, that we’ve sat happily through all those films and idolized the man wreaking so much havoc up on the screen. Now we’re shocked when he gets angry and punches his girlfriend. Maybe, just maybe, this is a little hypocritical of us?
Or perhaps it’s fine, and I’m overreacting. After all, doesn’t every little girl dream of someday growing up and meeting a strong, handsome, unpredictable rogue who will sweep her off her feet and punch her in the mouth?
I didn’t, but I was a late bloomer.
Chicken Run was a pretty good movie though, wasn’t it?
Yes. It’s interesting that when Gibson portrays a cowardly plasticine rooster whose destiny is to father hundreds of progeny with scores of idiotic hens living in a polygamous chicken paradise, his personal foibles are rendered fairly inoffensive. Kudos to Nick Park and Peter Lord for pulling that off; their Golden Globe was well deserved.
Are you working on a screenplay about the scandal?
Well, who isn’t? I can’t wait to see what Nora Ephron cooks up.
My treatment features a climactic scene where Gibson runs afoul of the local Krav Maga school and gets beat all to hell by a bunch of kick-ass Jewish women. Whoopi Goldberg would have been perfect as the Krav Maga instructor, but I hear she’s been standing up for Gibson on The View so that’s a no-go. Plus I don’t think she’s actually Jewish.
Maybe Sarah Silverman; I could totally see her in the part. Or Scarlett Johansson? How Jewish is she?
What lessons can we learn from all this?
None. Absolutely none; there is nothing whatsoever to be learned from this tawdry soap opera. If you’re not already aware that some men, especially privileged white men, are swine; and that adulterous relationships often don’t work out smoothly; and that Hollywood superstars don’t always respond well to adversity—well, then you are an incurable idiot, period, and attending classes at the University of Us Magazine will not teach you a damn thing.
No really, we insist on learning something from this.
OK, how about “Be wary of romantic involvement with a rich, famous, violent, racist, sexist pig, especially if he’s already married with seven children.”
Write that down; it will be on the test.
This is actually a serious issue, isn’t it?
Yes. If you or someone you know has been threatened, hit, choked, shoved, slapped, grabbed, restrained, or abused in any other way, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.