What Downey wants: forgiveness for Gibson
Published: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Updated: Sunday, October 30, 2011 20:10
In his acceptance speech at the American Cinematheque Awards recently, Robert Downey Jr. advocated for the forgiveness of Mel Gibson within the Hollywood industry, according to a USA Today article. Gibson was arrested in 2006 for driving while under the influence. Later, it was revealed that he made anti-Semitic remarks during his arrest, and ever since, Gibson has been effectively shunned from the Hollywood scene.
Downey Jr. was the perfect supporter for Gibson's amends, as his own past is marked by his struggles with alcohol and drug use. Coincidentally, the ceremony took place on Yom Kippur — the Jewish Day of Atonement.
I agree with Downey; we should forgive Gibson. It's been six years since he was arrested. In that time span, he's issued more than four press releases apologizing profusely to the Jewish community. He was involved with a documentary mini-series on the Jewish Holocaust with ABC a year before his arrest. Just last month, he signed on for a movie about the life of Jewish hero Judah Maccabee.
According to an article published by the New York Times in September 2006, while Gibson was struggling to make his apologies known to the entire nation — let alone the Jewish community — Rabbi Marvin Hier belittled Gibson's attempts at an apology, saying that he didn't think "a telephone call to Jews in the entertainment community or to issue a press release" was enough.
I agree. One telephone call or press release is certainly not enough to repair the damage Gibson caused. What he said was wrong, period. The remarks he made cannot be condoned, written off or forgotten; they shouldn't have been said, and Gibson will have to live with that for the rest of his life. But it wasn't just one telephone call directed at Jews in the entertainment community; it was toward the entire nation, with more than one attempt at an apology.
Isn't it enough that Gibson will have to live with the consequences of his actions without our continual intervention making it worse? I'm not saying we should advocate Gibson's actions. I'm not suggesting that what he did was tolerable or acceptable in any way. I think everyone should be treated equally, and that actions promoting racism and stereotypes are both ignorant and unacceptable. In that way, I don't forgive Gibson. He was an actor I loved to watch on the silver screen, and to see him abuse his popularity through his obvious public inebriation made me think less of him as both a person and an actor.
That doesn't mean America, or Hollywood, should hold a grudge against him for more than six years because of something he said while drunk. Haven't you done something regrettable while under the influence and wished more than anything that you could just take it back? Not that it makes it right, but at least it makes it relatable.
Downey Jr. ended his speech rather simply.
"I humbly ask that you join me, unless you are completely without sin — in which case you are in the wrong f—-ing industry — in forgiving my friend his trespasses, offering him the same clean slate you have me, and allowing him to continue his great and ongoing contribution to our collective art without shame. He's hugged the cactus long enough."