Media quips about Mel Gibson’s violent rants aren’t funny

The reaction to the sexist, racist, and disgusting things that were allegedly said (and recorded) by Mel Gibson to girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva has been … bizarre. As Lauretta said at Tiger Beatdown, people have been focusing on his racist remarks, despite the fact that (1) his racism is not new and (2) the sexist and violent remarks are much higher in quantity:

The above [see link for list of quotes from the tapes] is a fairly accurate survey of Gibson’s vitriol, and the above is not racist. It’s searing misogyny. The headlines focused on Gibson’s racial slurs because his 2006 drunken anti-Semitic speech was such a hit and because it’s oh-so-au courant to debunk “post-racial” theories. It also suggests that people are more agitated/swayed by racism than sexism.

This is troubling, and Lauretta explains why better than I can. But what is also troubling is the media — or at least one celebrity news outlet in particular — making jokes about the sexist, violent things Mel says in the tapes.

The Daily 10, a roundup of the top 10 celebrity news stories from day, is on E! and features a few hosts who have cheesy banter as segways between stories. Twice now, one of the hosts (two different hosts, on separate shows, both men, not sure if that makes a difference) have made a joke about the Mel Gibson tapes, both in reference to the following quote:

I deserve to be blown fast! Before the f*cking Jacuzzi! Ok, I’ll burn the goddamn house up, but blow me first! How dare you!??!

Like most of the things heard on the tapes, this is intense. Mel is threatening to burn the house down, but saying he would demand oral sex beforehand. This isn’t very funny to me. It’s violent and disturbing. Yet both the hosts made comments to the effect of, “Well, that’s nice that he’s asking her to blow him before he burns the house down.”

In fact, one of the hosts — who was a guest host, not a regular — made an even more disturbing comment than that (possibly about how that was the obvious order of things (oral sex –> burn house down), but it was a few weeks ago and I can’t remember it exactly, and doesn’t have videos of the episodes of Daily 10), which actually made host Katt Sadler awkwardly speechless, obviously unsure of how to reply to the host’s adlib joking about the “servicing” of Mel before he burned their house down.

I don’t think I’m being too politically correct when I say that it’s really inappropriate for these TV hosts to use Mel Gibson’s violent comments as comedy material. Of course there’s no simple segway from Mel’s rants to some red carpet event, but poking fun at his comment(s) merely reduces the severity or the seriousness of it(them) — and we don’t need to be downplaying how dangerous these comments are.

Sidenote: No one poked fun at Chris Brown assaulting Rihanna — I doubt Daily 10 has had any hosts make funny quips about the night the assault happened or any of the details regarding it. So why is this different?

Is it because Rihanna is America’s sweetheart so we care more that she was assaulted? Is it because the image of her bruises was much more disturbing than the audio of Mel’s rants? Is it because Chris Brown had no history of lashing out, but Mel has for years been known as a racist and a sexist, so we somewhat think Oksana should’ve known what she was getting into? I’m a bit baffled.


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