Good Enough Mother has been thinking about poor ol’ Mel Gibson the last couple of days (see my recent Mel’s Meltdown piece). A lot actually. It’s really sad that he still hasn’t internalized the lessons taught in the second grade; you know the “do unto others” and “words hurt” message.

His behavior was shocking because we got to hear those words with our own ears from the same happy go-lucky guy of Lethal Weapon fame. They were vile, hateful and made us collectively cringe. But this is nothing new for Mel. So I got to thinking how many people have enabled him throughout his career? Why didn’t anyone stand up to him?

Yes, William Morris Endeavor, his talent agency, (FINALY) dropped him last week but what choice did they have, really? In terms of verbal bombs, this was nuclear and WME would have its own backside exposed if it chose to continue its relationship with him. But why now? Why not after his 2006 drunk driving arrest where he spewed all sorts of disparaging remarks aimed at Jews and women? (In 2006, the agency was William Morris Agency and under different management. Still, why didn’t THEY drop him?)

My amateur take on it is this. Mel was a big star, he was bringing in lots of money and while all that was happening, if he dropped his good guy façade, people just wrote it off as “Mel’s eccentricities”.  No one challenged the verbal bully.

One of the things I teach my kids is how to address without being confrontational. I believe in trying to get the lesson across without the other person shutting down.

So the other day when I heard them say someone at school used the term “retard” I stopped them in their tracks. I explained that retard was not to be used as an insult and that it had taken on a pejorative connotation over the years when not used in a clinical setting.

Then I explained how to handle when someone says it in their presence.  “You can simply stop them and say, hey, that’s not cool, please don’t use that term around me” or even put it on me “Hey my mom doesn’t like that and neither do I.” and then move on. But shoot it down fast and firm and be done with it.  If it comes up again, it’s time to reevaluate that relationship.

Mel Gibson didn’t get that at home seeing as his own father didn’t believe the Holocaust actually happened (Gibson has refused to refute his father’s claims) so in terms of the first line of defense, Gibson didn’t have a chance.

Here’s how I see this playing out. Mel will hire the best crisis management team money can buy. He will release a statement, similar to the one he released after his DUI arrest in California. He will go into rehab and promise to come out a changed man. Forgive my cynicism but REALLY? I would love to say that I think he will be able to learn and change but he is a 54-year-old man who has been making statements like this on the record since 1991. I’m not holding my breath.

What about you – do you think Mel can change? How do you talk to kids about name calling?

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.


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  2. Bianca J. Walker

    July 12, 2010 at 11:28 am

    No other word in the English language is more powerful than “Nigger”, and it will always be the deepest, and darkest American shame, because of all the blood shed attached to it. Mel said horrible things about Jews, and women. People were offended and they reacted to it, but in our subconscious you can hate Jews, and women, and still be an okay kinda guy; you can still bring money into the box office. But when you call someone a “Nigger” you’re automatically branded the worst kind of racist and hateful human being. No one will stand by him after this.

  3. Betty

    July 12, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I would love to hear his ex-wife weigh in on this. Is she surprised by this behavior? I doubt it!!!!

  4. Gayle Mahoney

    July 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I have heard so many negative things about him over the years that he lost me around the Mad Max movies (I fell in love with Tina Turner right about then, though!).
    There are so many GREAT actors out there who are also REALLY nice men, move over, Mel, and let’s meet some of them!

    Rene: I do think your advice to your kids is totally on target!

  5. Richard

    July 15, 2010 at 5:41 am

    He will not change. He will simply learn to hide his prejudices better.

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