Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably familiar with the claims of domestic violence against Mel Gibson, stated by his ex girlfriend (and baby mama) Oksana Gregorieva. Last week the Internet was rocked by a series of tape recorded conversations, released on RadarOnline,com, where Gibson could be heard threatening Gregorieva. In the tapes, he accused her of being a golddigging whore (among other expletives), told her she deserved to be hit, that she should be “raped by a pack of n****rs” for dressing provocatively, and that he would bury her in the rose garden after she gave him oral sex.
Gibson’s voice was that of a classic abuser, out to say the most hurtful and horrible words possible to tear her down. Each rant would start calmly, and then escalate into a fear provoking scream, out to unhinge his victim and strip her of any self esteem. This was a perfect example of how domestic violence can affect all people of different socioeconomic situations- regardless of money, education and power.
To make the situation worse, after the tapes were released, there was an onslaught of Gibson-supportive comments on sites such as TMZ, RadarOnline, Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, and countless others. There are many apologists claiming to be fans of Gibson, and they offer one of the following reasons for his deeply misogynistic, racist behavior:
1. Oksana was too calm during the tapes. (After a while, a coping mechanism to deal with verbal abuse is to look at the situation as an observer. How does he bring this up? What does he think I did this time? Instead of reacting emotionally, the victim is able to see things objectively. This makes the abuser try harder to get a reaction.)
2. Oksana was a golddigger, and therefore deserved it. (Too ridiculous to even go into. Even if she was after money in the beginning, no one deserves to be hit or have their life threatened.)
3. Mel has a problem with alcohol, Oksana knew this and provoked him. (Plays on the Russian woman stereotype)
4. Mel Gibson is the victim of a conspiracy. (He is so religious, liberal elites planted her to bring him down.)
5. The tapes were edited (despite Gibson going into long, uninterrupted rants, which couldn’t be anything less than a recording).
6. His family still supports him. (If the reputation sticks, Gibson will not be making any more money, which could play a huge part in his ex-wife and grown children showing support. Mel’s ex apparently still owns part of a production company with him.)
What is most disheartening is the sheer number of supportive messages for Mel Gibson on these message boards. If you read one such strange post, it’s easy to dismiss it as “Well, that’s the Internet.” But when you have 10 messages that proclaim to be “Team Mel” to 1 message stating his behavior was wrong, the impression is just appalling. A casual reader might think, is there something I’ve missed here? Is there some facet of this drama I haven’t read about that everyone else seems to know? Isn’t domestic violence, whether physical or verbal, unacceptable in this day and age?
I was completely dumbfounded, until I came across this gem of information this week in the form of a Blind Item while reading gawker.com. For those of you who are not familiar with Blind Items, they are short news stories, usually in the form of gossip, where the names have not been revealed to avoid accusations of slander. Typically a Blind Item will offer hints towards the identity of their subjects, and they are oftentimes easy to guess, as with this one:
BlindGossip – Money can’t buy you love, but it sure can buy you a public relations blitz. This American-born actor doesn’t have the best reputation in the world. However, despite his claims to a lessening fortune, he’s still got plenty of dough to buy temporary mates to bolster his image. On most websites, public opinion has resoundingly turned against this actor. However, on some of the most popular news and gossip sites, there are a puzzling bounty of posts lauding him as a great man and the victim of a conspiracy. Turns out that it is no coincidence. There is actually a team of people who have been hired specifically to adopt multiple personalities on each of about a dozen of the most popular news and gossip sites. Their job is to try to make their client look better by posting positive and supportive messages about him . . . and negative messages about others. If you look a little closer at those posters, you’ll see that they are new and exist solely to support this m* f* son of a w* c* b*.
Mel Gibson was born in NY and his family moved to Australia when he was young, according to his Wikipedia page. His latest recorded rant had him yelling that his career was over and that he didn’t have any money. Every description above points to this “American-born actor.”
Upon further investigation of the comments on different sites, many of them seem scripted. A reader of gawker.com posted the following, which was an interesting example of a scripted answer:
Mel Gibson, the renowned star of Lethal Weapon and Braveheart, is a monumental talent who has won critical acclaim throughout his career. Gibson is not guilty of the slanderous allegations of Oksana, but he remains respectful of her as the mother of his child. So, there. He’s innocent of these charges. Fuck you hater bitches.
Notice how the first two sentences could have come from a press release, while the last two are juvenile and from a different person entirely. Another seemingly fake support comment from HuffPo, complete with grammar errors:
The powers in Hollywood is out to get Mel every since he had the nerve to make a movie some thought showed these people in a bad light (passion of …), and the drunk driving tape…
And another from PerezHilton.com:
Perez, you’d believe Oksana if she said that she was thrown off a 10 story building. You buy everything this woman says when clearly there is something wrong with this whole thing. I am not fans of either of these people but I dont believe Oksana more and more each day. There are woman out there who will do anything to get a paycheck. Including inflicting abuse. I knew such a woman who did so to get money from her soon to be ex husband. Had a “friend” inflict the damage.
Again, one or two of these types of comments on a page is expected, but to have almost the entire comments section bombarded with this type of criticism towards an abused woman seems unusual. A PR machine to muddle the facts is under way, and it will do nothing but spit in the face of millions of women who have been abused or even killed by domestic violence.
Rumor has it that other scandals, such as Chris Brown, John Edwards, and others have employed PR firms to sway online public opinion in the same manner. It seems to be working to an extent. TMZ seems to have taken a “blame the victim” approach in their reporting of the last few days, circulating rumors that Gregorieva self inflicted her injuries or that her primary goal was to extract money.
I have no doubt she feared for her life. She claims she did not release the tapes, but showing the truth of the situation should ultimately protect her and her baby, not harm her. Mel Gibson is a maniacal, hypocritical, and narcissistic control freak. He has chosen to victimize a woman to make himself feel better about his own insecurities, and being one of the richest men in Hollywood, he is using his resources to try to cover it up. Hopefully the public knows better.
Catherine V says abusive relationships are like a frog being slowly boiled in water- they happen so gradually you don’t realize the abuse exists until it has blown out of control. She is an avid runner and got her first Order of Protection against her husband after completing her first marathon. She realized life was too short, and if she was strong enough to push through 26 miles she could be strong enough to create a safe environment for herself and her 5 year old daughter. You can follow her on Twitter.