Aaron R. Davis
At least, that seems to be the message being sent out by Hollywood.
Last week, the first official photo from the probably unnecessary sequel to The Hangover hit the Internet. Apparently, some people were very excited by a picture of the quartet from the first movie standing inside of an airport. Hollywood really knows how to whip up the publicity hurricane.
Anyway, seeing the picture reminded me of the to-do about a month ago over Mel Gibson’s planned cameo in the film. Mad Mel, Hollywood’s angry, drunken, boorish, bigoted, domestic abusing Lout of the Moment, was supposed to play a tattoo artist in Thailand and … do something, I guess. The kibosh was put on this one when the cast and crew, supposedly led by Zach Galifianakis, objected to Mel’s appearance in the flick because of his recent public behavior.
Director Todd Phillips accepted the decision, but later told MTV he was surprised and disappointed by “the outside world’s lack of empathy.”
Apparently when we hear a man on tape tell the mother of his infant daughter that she deserved it when he hit her, that she deserves to get gang-raped, and that he’s going to murder her and put her in a rose garden, we should really just feel sorry for him.
Now, I believe in separating the artist from their work. But one of the many problems I have with this is that Phillips doesn’t seem to understand that putting famous drunk Mel Gibson in a movie called The Hangover 2 automatically brings these recent discomforts to mind. How can you look at Mel Gibson in a movie like that and not think of him calling a lady cop “Sugar Tits”?
It seems obvious to me that Mel was only cast in the movie because of his image as an unstable drunk. Todd Phillips thought it would be funny in a movie to play off of that image. The only reason to cast Mel Gibson in this thing is not to add weight to it, as Phillips claimed, but to add a dimension of meta-humor by spoofing that image. There’s no way that decision gets made for any other reason. It’s just stunt casting.
So I get why Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper McConaughey and whatever the short dude’s name is were uncomfortable with Mel making fun of his tabloid-ready indiscretions.
Now, I’m all for second chances, but what I’m not for is hypocrisy. So here’s where I question the motives behind this decision.
I don’t get why the same four guys were perfectly okay the first time around letting Mike Tyson do the same thing.
Whatever way you want to slice it, Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist. He was a mugger. He bit a guy’s ear off. And they had no problem letting this guy play a cute caricature of his image as a violent sex offender? I mean, let’s face it, that’s the only reason for Mike Tyson to be in The Hangover. It’s not because Mike Tyson is inherently hilarious (he isn’t) or a really fun personality (he doesn’t have one), but because of his past history with alcohol and violence. The movie is spoofing his image the same way the second one would’ve spoofed Mel Gibson’s, even though Mel wasn’t playing himself.
So, you know, I don’t really care if Mel Gibson is in The Hangover 2 or not, but I do care that we’re being given this moral relativism as an excuse for taking a stand on this. I really want to know why Zach Galifianakis refuses to be in a movie with Mel Gibson, but has no problem appearing in a movie with Mike Tyson. Or, for that matter, why he has no problem being in one of the year’s hit movies with former alcoholic and former drug abuser Robert Downey, Jr. Someone really needs to explain to me why the selective outrage on this one.
Maybe these people are all assholes behind closed doors, but you know what? I don’t really care. I don’t really care as it applies to their work. But the inconsistency just nags at me. I have to wonder how Desiree Washington felt about Mike Tyson joking around with the Jonas Brothers onstage at the Teen Choice Awards, given his past history with teenagers and all.
My own opinion is that Mike Tyson — who joked (I think…) in an interview about appearing in The Hangover to earn some drug money — is given a pass because all of the wife-beating and raping was so far in the past. Mel Gibson doesn’t have the pass yet because all of the death-threatening and anti-Semitism are fresh and recent. And that means that people aren’t ready for him to make light of it yet. And there’s always a chance that a new round of craziness can damage the publicity for the film.
But if this is all the case, then it’s merely a commercial decision, and it’s disingenuous to present it as the principled moral stand that everyone is pretending it is.
Zach, please explain to me at what point assaulting women changes from an outrage to a foible from someone’s past to be made light of.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.