Alice Jones: Mel Gibson, lovable? Er, I don't think so

IMHO

Share
Related Topics

Proof, if it were needed, that film stars live on a different planet comes with Jodie Foster's declaration that Mel Gibson is "probably the most loved actor in Hollywood."

Granted she has her new film, The Beaver, starring Gibson, to promote, so you might expect a little hyperbole. But this is blockbusting turd-polishing. Over the last five years, Gibson has revealed himself to be a violent racist, blaming Jewish people "for all the wars in the world" and abusing and threatening to kill the mother of his child on his frequent drinking binges.

In The Beaver, he plays a burned-out, suicidal executive who, in an improbable act of self-therapy, starts to interact with the world via a cockney/Antipodean beaver (figure that one out, David Attenborough) glove puppet. There has, naturally, been much talk of parallels, bravery and redemption through art for Gibson. "He was willing to expose himself and talk about something he knows a lot about – struggling, wanting to transform himself. He found it kind of therapeutic and cathartic," said Foster, pictured below with her leading man. "He wants people to see that side of him."

This is utterly cynical on every level. If Gibson wasn't starring in it, no one would go and see this trite slice of mental-illness porn. So Foster is exploiting her leading man's notoriety. And he, in turn, is exploiting audiences if he thinks they'll see this healing tale and his hangdog face and forgive him for his real-life misdemeanours. Actors and their roles are two very separate things. The kind of glib, 90-minute redemption that Gibson is hoping for, thankfully, only happens in the movies.

Who'd be a Tory female MP? First, they must suffer the indignity of being called a "Cameron Cutie" and be photographed in endless simpering line-ups. Votes won, they must lurk on the fringes, only making headlines when they, to take this week's stories, are dropped from the candidate list at eight months pregnant (Annunziata Rees-Mogg) or get married in secret to an old rocker (Louise Mensch née Bagshawe). The few who do manage to totter into prominent roles must do so in silly shoes, lest we forget that they're women. This week, questioning Theresa May about the National Crime Agency on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Evan Davis couldn't resist referring to a pair of leopard-print heels the Home Secretary wore once, almost a decade ago. "Here's the crucial question. Would you eat your hat – or eat your shoes – if this reform is reformed again within the next ten years?" Even now, the most powerful woman in government is defined by her footwear in political discourse. Here's the crucial question, Evan. Would you have asked May's predecessor, Alan Johnson, the same question?

Occasional sexism aside, Today has its comforting contours, a bit like the hollows in your mattress. There's usually a big-hitter interview, which can stop you crunching your cereal mid-bite, followed by an academically challenging feature, where you can crunch away because you won't understand it anyway, with the odd wacky story or illuminating arts segment to complement your cup of tea in between.

This week, it was an arts segment that became a cereal-stopper as Graham Linehan took Justin Webb to task over the programme's "adversarial" and "artificial" interview techniques. The comedy writer – a prolific blogger and Tweeter and no attention-shirker – didn't see why he couldn't just talk about his new play without the bear-pit antics.

While I disagree that the BBC should offer anyone five minutes of free publicity unchallenged, he's spot-on about the artificial combat. I went on Today last year to talk about English National Opera's lack of understudies. In the absence of an ENO representative, James Naughtie stepped belligerently into the breach, rubbishing everything I said, often before I said it. I wouldn't have had it any other way; the grilling was thrilling. The point of the gladiatorial set-up is that it sometimes turns up nuggets of radio gold – as a huffy Mr Linehan proved so compellingly this week.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Prevention is better than cure if we want to save the NHS

Tanni Grey Thompson
Question time: Russell Brand interviewing Ed Miliband on his YouTube show  

Russell Brand's Labour endorsement is a stunning piece of hypocrisy

Lee Williams
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before