One of the most recent examples of a celebrity garnering passionate negative attention is Mel Gibson. Gibson’s much-loved comedic persona as the Lethal Weapon legend came to a stop as numerous answering machine tapes were leaked through RadarOnline. com, via his past girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. The tapes revealed the dark and aggressive side of Gibson, as it exposed him using as variety of expletives and offensive language, including the use of the “N word”–he told Grigorieva that if she were to be “raped by a pack of n***ers,” it would be her fault. With incidents this grievous, a celebrity’s career is most likely unable to make a full recovery.
The blow to Gibson’s time-honed reputation might be irreparable, but this isn’t Gibson’s first controversial action seen by the public. In 2006, Gibson was spotted by TMZ as having made anti-Semitic slurs and was critically judged by the public. This incident seemed to have faded away–that is until his most recent outburst unearthed it once again.
Although the memories of the mishaps made by celebrities often fade with time, as major flaws begin to recur and become obvious to the public, it is increasingly difficult to reconstruct the image of a celebrity in a more positive light. Instances such as Tiger Woods’ infamous escapade with more than a dozen women and Gibson’s repeated exposure as a malicious person proves this concept true.
The effects of Gibson’s rant weren’t limited to his own career. When Whoopi Goldberg defended Gibson and said she didn’t believe him to be a racist on The View, many people were offended. It seems that any celebrity who comes to the aid of a troubled peer is just as susceptible to public disgrace.
Although Goldberg represented a minority of people in close connection with celebrities, some starry-eyed fans hold similarly unshakable opinions of celebrities. The physical confrontation more than a year ago between Chris Brown and Rihanna—which revealed a visibly bruised Rihanna—evoked a less-than-outraged response from most fans. Brown’s followers came to his defense, claiming that he was provoked into abusing Rihanna, or simply that he wasn’t responsible at all for the affair. Such reactions show a serious contradiction to the societal belief that domestic abuse is intolerable. It seems some fans can excuse such behavior because of an infatuation with the artist based on their artwork or image.
Fans aren’t the only ones that give celebrities a break because of their status. The judicial system is infamously known for giving lighter sentences to celebrities than average citizens. Lindsay Lohan’s recent jail sentence for probation violation was reduced from 90 days in jail to a 14-day stint, with conditions that she report immediately to a rehabilitation clinic. This type of special treatment breeds the mentality that the crimes that celebrities commit can be exempted because of status.
With the acquisition of fame and money, a person does not automatically develop a better character or sense of morals. It’s been said that money makes people more of what they are. Basically, if you’re a generous person, money will make you an even more generous person but if you’re a jerk, money will make you even more of a jerk. But regardless, humanity is complex, full of varying personas and attitudes towards life and the way it should be lived – and celebrities are no exception. The issue here is if people can differentiate between an artist and their art and whether the actions of the artist will affect how fans interpret their art. So do Mel Gibson’s or Chris Brown’s actions make them any less talented? No. But should their actions make you look or listen to these stars in a different light? Definitely.
Published Aug. 19, 2010 in “The Signal” http://www.gsusignal.com/entertainment/exclusively-excused-scandalous-celebrities-1.2305740