Celebrity non grata


WHAT DOES IT TAKE to get yourself excommunicated from the church of celebrity? Allegations, even unproved, that you slaughtered your ex-wife (O.J. Simpson) or that you are a child molester (Michael Jackson) can make you radioactive, but it remains to be seen whether Mel Gibson’s poisonous anti-Semitic tirade is enough to end his Hollywood career. Judging from Gibson’s offer (made during his sentencing on drunk driving charges Thursday) to make public service announcements, he doesn’t seem to think so.

Let’s hope he is wrong. Gibson is guilty of more than just driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.12%. He broke one of Hollywood’s most sacred rules -- never let the public see what you’re really like -- proving himself to be a megalomaniacal, sexist anti-Semite. That should disqualify him from being held up as a role model worthy of a public service announcement.

Gibson should be declared celebrity non grata, left to wrestle with his own demons in private, as most other bigoted people get to do. Obscurity would be the most fitting punishment for the man.


Alas, we’re not too optimistic. Hollywood is too reluctant to excommunicate someone capable of producing a blockbuster (the fact that “The Passion of the Christ” was one of the top-grossing films ever helped many overlook Gibson’s peculiar views in the past). Even after Gibson’s drunken outburst, industry heavyweights haven’t stepped forward to say this guy is clearly beyond the pale.

Americans’ addiction to tales of a celebrity’s atonement and redemption is another reason not to be optimistic about Gibson exiting the stage anytime soon. As recently satirized, alluding to the “I am African” AIDS spots featuring the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Gibson’s public service announcements may yet feature him, face painted blue and white, saying “I am an Israeli.”

The stages of Gibson’s well-scripted redemption -- rehab, repentance, a newfound appreciation for the horrors of the Holocaust -- are painfully predictable. We only wish its supporting cast would refuse to do their part, and allow Gibson to continue ranting, or make his peace with the world, off camera.