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Mel Gibson is probably having a very good week. Aside from already being an Oscar nominee for his work directing Hacksaw Ridge, the actor-director has secured a major role in the sequel to Daddy's Home, the 2015 Will Ferrell-Mark Whalberg comedy and reportedly is being seriously considered to direct Suicide Squad 2 for DC. Reading this news, I understand I should not even care. In a world filled with so much political conflict and anger, it's hard to justify caring about the choices of Hollywood executives. But the more I think about it, the more upset I've found myself at the implications of this "comeback". Right now, Hollywood is attempting to normalize a man who has repeatedly spouted anti-Semitic, abusive, and hateful language by giving him integral roles in franchises destined to be seen by audiences of all ages.
The logical part of my brain recognizes that Gibson is an alcoholic and like any person suffering from a disease, he deserves to find a path that supports his recovery. But at the same time, the destructive side of him that's been exposed to the public in recent years cannot be whitewashed simply so the industry can peddle a resurrection narrative. I didn't see Hacksaw Ridge, partially because of my distaste for the Oscar-bait inspirational tone of the trailer, but largely due to Gibson's involvement. I assumed from the get-go this would follow in the footsteps of his past attempts at resurrecting his status, another film like The Beaver designed to convince audiences of his regret destined to be passed over in a crowded film market. As the film picked up critical acclaim, I waited for the moment audiences would come to their senses and begin spurning the film. But Hacksaw now stands with a worldwide box office total of over $160 million; effectively proclaiming in big neon letters that Gibson is now profitable again.
Look I know this shouldn't surprise me. This is an industry that awarded Roman Polanski with an Oscar despite fleeing America due to rape charges decades earlier, that could offer Casey Affleck, a performer with a history of sexual harassment one of it's highest acting awards. But what makes me pause is the fact that if I was ten years younger, I'd likely blindly walk into Daddy's Home 2 or a Gibson directed Suicide Squad 2 as a Will Ferrell fan and a comic book nerd and unknowingly reward the hateful baggage Gibson has exposed to the world. During a period where performers and artists have been vocal against the President and his regressive actions, it's hard to rectify these same figures sitting idly by at awards show that fete his achievements or audition for his next films. Perhaps this is too much to expect from an industry that focuses on its bottom line as much, if not more than it's artistic merits. So I will continue to refuse to see Gibson's projects, hoping it shows in some small way that his hate will not have my support.
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