The Golden Globes pride themselves on unpredictable moments and even perhaps a little controversy, so perhaps it makes perfect sense that they have invited actor Mel Gibson to appear on Sunday’s telecast as a presenter.
In the aftermath of a widely publicized DUI arrest in 2006, during which he reportedly made anti-Semitic remarks, and the leaking of erratic phone calls to his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva in 2010, during which he made virulently racist remarks and violent threats, Gibson has largely kept a low profile. He has appeared in just a handful of movies in supporting roles and has done even less media. He did, however, attend the Golden Globe Awards in 2013, and was seated with Cecil B. DeMille award winner Jodie Foster, a friend and collaborator.
The news that Gibson would appear in such a prominent role at this year’s ceremony has been greeted with a considerable backlash on social media, with several users resurrecting some of the most unsavory rhetoric Gibson is alleged to have spewed over the years. Gibson did offer an official apology to the Jewish community, entered rehab for alcohol abuse and reached a settlement with Grigorieva in 2011, pleading guilty to a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge. While doing press for the 2010 film “Edge of Darkness,” his last major leading role, Gibson bristled when reporters raised the specter of his career taking a significant hit for his off-screen behavior.
“That was almost four years ago, dude. I’ve moved on, I guess you haven’t,” Gibson snapped at WGN TV reporter Dean Richards at the time. “I‘ve done all the necessary mea culpas. Let’s move on,” he added, before muttering “a**hole” under his breath as their contentious interview concluded. In another testy exchange over his past actions, Gibson told Jewish KTLA Morning News entertainment reporter Sam Rubin, “I gather you have a dog in this fight?” That same year, actress Winona Ryder claimed in an interview with GQ that a drunken Gibson once made a remark about “oven-dodgers” when he learned she was Jewish.
MSNBC reached out the Anti-Defamation League for comment on Gibson’s upcoming appearance on Sunday, but has not heard back at this time.
Still, in some ways, the decision to feature Gibson makes perfect sense. This past summer’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a reboot of the cult post-apocalyptic series of action films that made Gibson a star in the U.S., is a major awards contender this year. It’s nominated for Best Drama Film and Best Director at the Globes. Gibson appeared at that film’s Los Angeles premiere in May, and his profile has been raised to some degree by its success.
Also, this year’s host, Ricky Gervais, is infamous for taking off-color shots at his celebrity audience, with Gibson being a favorite target in the past. Gervais celebrated Gibson’s inclusion in the show in a tweet that referenced the former A-lister’s blockbuster film “The Passion of the Christ” on Monday. “Mel Gibson is presenting an award at The Golden Globes. Thank you Jesus,” he wrote:
But not everyone is amused by the prospect of Gibson getting a warm reception from the Hollywood community:
Still, Gibson has garnered high-profile support in recent years from Hollywood allies like Robert Downey, Jr. and even GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, all calling for an end to the unofficial “blacklisting” of the “Braveheart” actor. “Will Hollywood ever forgive Mel Gibson?” the former Arkansas governor asked rhetorically in a 2014 Facebook post. He went on slam “showbiz journalists” for overlooking the fact that Gibson has “quietly given millions of dollars to Jewish charities, and not just to polish his image.”
The Golden Globes air Sunday Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. Viewers will have to tune in to see if the film industry truly is ready to embrace one of its former brightest stars.