I’m glad that it’s left the headlines, but a couple of weeks ago, all the “news people” were obsessed with the whole Mel Gibson sideshow. One radio host that I had the displeasure of hearing was blaming the woman for getting ol’ Mel into trouble.
“Why hasn’t she hung up?” he asked during his daily playing of the most recently released recording. “Who would stay on the line and listen to this?” “She sounds like she’s baiting him… staying calm like that. She’s trying to inflame him!” “I don’t trust this broad – and I use that as a term of derision.”
The radio host had two assistants in the studio with him. I think they might have been his producers. One was male, and one was female. We’ll call the female, “Sally”. Sally was taking the side of the woman, calling the host on his ‘blame the victim’ stance. “What would you like her to do?” she asked. And the host usually replied with, “hang up” or “don’t have the recording be so clear.”
I’m amazed that a person as “enlightened” as this host usually is (I listen to his show often, and he seems to have a pretty open world view – not completely “tolerant” in the PC sense of the word, but mostly common sense) would blame the woman in this situation. Had it been a man recording a woman in a rage, he’d be commended for his shrewdness and cunning – keeping her on the phone long enough, giving her enough rope to hang herself. But because it’s a woman, she’s duplicitous, scheming, and shouldn’t be stringing him along like that. It’s like saying, “she wore those clothes, so she deserved to be raped.”
Anyone who has had to deal with the ravings of a drunken lunatic will have a different take on this whole situation. They know that to hang up risks a more intimate encounter – that person will no longer be on the other end of a phone line miles away, he’ll get in his car and come banging on the door. Often that person is completely different in public – friendly, solicitous, outgoing and personable. If the victim tells any of those people about the rages, it’s the victim who will be regarded as crazy, because it’s unfathomable to outsiders that this great person could possibly exhibit such vile behavior. And even when they witness it, it’s so “out of character” that they excuse it, mostly because it makes them uncomfortable to think that this is true behavior of the person that they thought was so cool.
In that case, the victim has no choice but to document the outrageous behavior. Because if they don’t, at a minimum, they risk looking like a fool when they try to tell the story. At the worse end of the spectrum, should they ever try to separate themselves from this person in any legal way, it’s a “he-said-she-said”. A request for a restraining order must have proof of bad behavior to back it up. Accusations of abuse of any kind won’t stand up in court without documentation.
So back to Mel and his girlfriend, who also happens to be the mother of his young child. A man this out of control has no business being around a child. Even if the rages only occur when he’s drunk, the potential for them exists all the time. The man obviously has a nasty temper. But he’s also an actor, able to change himself into whomever the occasion requires. Need a shrewd businessman? Done. Need a half-crazed, but really smart cop? Done. Need a good father, a quirky love interest, a paranoid conspiracy theorist? Done, done and done. And those are just movie roles. This is what the man does for a living. He can change like a chameleon. And on top of that, until a couple of years ago, he was known as a solid, God-fearing, ultra-faithful family man with what, 10 kids? and a wife of something like 20 years. Who would believe that this ex-heartthrob, producer, director and mega-star was an abusive monster? Nobody.
Until his girlfriend released the tapes.
And now she’s being accused of manipulation and treachery, simply for defending herself.
Now, to be clear, I don’t agree with her releasing any of this to the press… I believe what happens in a relationship stays in the relationship, or with necessary parties outside of it, be they counselors, clergy, or lawyers. There is no need to bring the press into it. In that respect, I don’t think that she had any business going public. But I also believe that with someone who I suspect is as narcissistic as Gibson is, you have to take drastic action to turn his attention to you. To make him believe that you mean what you say. Because they don’t think that anyone, ever, could bring them down. Or has any reason to, because they’re so magnificent, why would anyone want to?
What do you think? Should she have been recording these rages? Or should she have hung up? Did she bait him by staying calm? What would you have done?