Sure, Mel Gibson might be a crazed, bigoted, foul-mouthed, misogynistic boozehound, but hey, he’s not all bad.

Jodie Foster certainly thinks so. Ms. Foster has stayed stubbornly loyal to her friend, even as the rest of Hollywood turned their backs on Mel. Ignoring the disgraced Australian star’s controversial and well-publicized meltdown, the gifted actress and director gave Mel a second chance by casting him as the lead in her new movie The Beaver. Based on an original script by screenwriter Kyle Killen, Mel plays a suicidal CEO of a toy company who uses a beaver handpuppet to communicate with his wife and two sons.

In spite of myself, the bizarre comedy-drama sounds absolutely fascinating, if only for the fearless absurdity of the premise. Still, watching Mel Gibson try to resurrect his career is going to be more interesting than the movie itself, and because he’s a celebrity who lives in the luminous bull’s-eye of the spotlight, we have front row seats. Ironically, it’s what got Mel in trouble in the first place.

Being a celebrity means you’re giving permission for people to look at you, listen to you, pay attention to you.

Hey! Stop what you’re doing right now! I’m over here!

If the celebrity is famous just for being famous, then it’s not an equitable relationship; it’s just annoying and intrusive. But if the celebrity is famous because of their talent, then we’ll happily and willingly turn ourselves into a loyal audience. We’ll buy the CD, see the movie, watch the TV show every week, go to the concerts, and join the fan club. Usually, it’s a fair trade. The celebrity’s talent enriches our lives and, in return, we make them rich.

If you’re not careful, it’s very easy to become mesmerized by their charisma. Don’t forget, it’s their job, and they’re good at it. There’s a scene in The Rocketeer, a goofy adventure flick set during WWII, that points this out. Jennifer Connelly discovers that her idol, Timothy Dalton (happily twirling his mustache), is a Nazi spy. “You lied,“ Jennifer gasps in horror. “You lied to me about everything.“ Sneering at her, Timothy replies, “No, my dear, I was acting.“ The bottom line is, movie stars are just a better-looking species of used car salesmen, and they’re trying damned hard to sell you something.

But let’s flip this coin, shall we? The bad news is the spotlight follows the celebrity everywhere now, which means there’s fewer places to hide. So, if the celebrity is smart, they will hire bodyguards. They will isolate themselves by living in luxurious golden cages far, far away from their adoring fans. And they’ll desperately hope that the mistakes they made years ago when they were young, stupid, and blessedly anonymous doesn’t show up on YouTube.

Mel Gibson learned a hard lesson, but he’ll get a second chance because celebrities always do. There will probably be the obligatory appearance on “Oprah” while he’s promoting The Beaver, and after a few dumb, self-depreciating jokes and a close up of a well-timed tear running down his cheek, everything will be O.K.

No, Mel Gibson won’t be lying. He’ll be acting.


Culture Mel Gibson Rehabilitates His Image With The Quirky Comedy-Drama “The Beaver”