In 2016, Mel Gibson received a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival where he premiered “Hacksaw Ridge,” which, propelled by a rapturous reception in Italy, went on to receive six Oscar nominations. That included a nod for Gibson for best director. The World War II drama was the first film Gibson had directed in more than a decade.
The hiatus was largely due to being virtually shut out from Hollywood, an expulsion prompted by the infamous Malibu DUI arrest in 2006 during which he unleashed an anti-Semitic rant. That was followed by leaked tapes in 2010 where Gibson screamed racist remarks, including using the n-word, at his then-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, the mother of one of his nine children. She later alleged Gibson was physically abusive. Even before his fall from grace, Gibson had routinely been in trouble for homophobic comments.
Themessy headlines diminished Gibson’s star power and made him virtually un-hireable, but then he bounced back.
Last week, Winona Ryder spoke about a time in the 1990s when she recalls Gibson making anti-Semitic and homophobic comments – calling her an “oven-dodger,” a reference to the Holocaust — which Gibson aggressively denied, calling her a liar. It wasn’t the first time Ryder has spoken of the alleged incident, which first came up in a magazine interview over a decade ago, but with her recent comments, the public was reminded of Gibson’s history of bad behavior. In the age of cancel culture, when one slip-up can kill a career, Gibson has managed to survive, despite insulting and denigrating gay, Black, and Jewish people at several different times.
As social justice movements have swept Hollywood, the entertainment industry has taken notice and is holding its own members accountable. Amid anti-racism efforts following George Floyd’s killing, a number of comedians from Jimmy Kimmel to Jimmy Fallon to Howard Stern have apologized for wearing blackface in skits; reality stars from “Vanderpump Rules” have been fired for racist tweets; and Lea Michele lost endorsement deals when a former co-star accused her of bad behavior on