Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mel Gibson's days playing the hero is over

Other stars have recovered after leaked rants, but Gibson's lack of apology could make it difficult to see him as a good guy again

Mel Gibson is usually a movie hero. But his failure to address tapes leaked in July — in which he insulted most of the world's races — suggest it may be time to trade in a white hat for a black one.

The last time Gibson "misspoke" ( offensive remarks after a drunk driving arrest in 2006 ), he said he was "deeply ashamed" and checked into rehab. But the Oscar winner has not commented on audiotapes on which a voice that is apparently his calls his employees "wetbacks," refers to former flame Oksana Grigorieva by a word that is considered the worst thing you can call a woman and uses the N-word.

Maybe he's been silent because he's feeding goats on an anger-management farm or distributing medical supplies to needy children. But even if that's the case, public relations professionals say his silence sends a message: "I don't care."

"The obvious thing is to apologize immediately," said Daryl McCullough, CEO of Paine PR in Los Angeles. "It's human nature to know all humans will fail, but if you misspeak, you apologize. But when people are silent or dig in their heels, that's revealing of who they are."

"He's offended so many people that he better start to (apologize)," said JoAnn Syverson, senior lecturer at Minnesota's Carlson School of Business Management. "He may be to the point where he can fund his own films, but does he want people to go see them?"