Photo: BBC
Mel Gibson on the Graham Norton Show (Photo: BBC)


Graham Norton’s rehabilitation of Mel Gibson is impossible to watch

The Daddy’s Home 2 star sat down on Graham Norton’s sofa this weekend. And Kat Lister switched off

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By Kat Lister on

If you need me to provide you with evidence as to how we placate and reward abusive men, let me present with you two examples that are (re)doing the rounds this week. Exhibit A: a transcript that was released in 2010 by Mel Gibson’s former girlfriend alleging actual bodily harm as the Hollywood star retorts, “You fucking deserved it!” And exhibit B: a 2005 Access Hollywood recording of the current president of the United States bragging about sexual assault with the now-infamous line, “Grab them by the pussy."

This weekend, these two tapes have resurfaced on Twitter for one good reason: both recordings seem to have become irrelevant – in spite of our current #MeToo debate. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that recorded evidence – the kind of recorded evidence that documents a Hollywood star threatening, “I'll burn the goddamn house down, but blow me first!” – has become strangely inconsequential at a time when sexual misconduct is dominating public conversation in the wake of Weinstein.

Mel Gibson’s prime-time appearance says a lot about who we’re willing to laugh with right now – and who we’re prepared to disregard in the process

“Oh, God, not again,” I bellowed at my television screen on Friday night in the midst of a discombobulating déjà vu experience. Only a week ago, I wrote about our collective amnesia when it comes to Johnny Depp’s past, incensed by his appearance on Graham Norton’s red velvet couch. Now, I was watching the same comfy sofa occupied by another deplorable star with a restraining order. For the record, Gibson’s past behaviour has been documented fully by my colleague Rachael Sigee for The Pool – and can be read here. I would, however, like to reiterate that, in 2011, Gibson’s former partner, Oksana Grigorieva, accused him of knocking two of her teeth out while she was pregnant – and the unedited transcript that refers to this event can be read in its entirety here (should you wish to navigate through the insults and expletives lobbed at her).

That was then, this is now; and Mel Gibson is back – promoting his new family-friendly film, Daddy’s Home 2, and giving his own thoughts on the Weinstein scandal as a “precursor to change”. His conversation with Norton was accompanied by a live performance by Kesha who, in 2014, sued her own producer for sexual assault, battery and harassment. But on Graham Norton’s show, time is a big healer and it’s all in the mix. That’s showbiz, folks. “Some people watching this will be very surprised to see you in a big, family-friendly film like this,” the talk show host offered up in a manner that made me question who was now gaslighting me – Hollywood, the White House or a BBC talk-show host from Cork. “Are you surprised that you’ve come back to the heart of Hollywood?” he asked Gibson. The actor shrugged. “Sure, after digging a ditch for the past 10 years, it’s been fun,” he replied. And with that, the conversation moved on elsewhere – as did my remote.

Mel Gibson’s prime-time appearance says a lot about who we’re willing to laugh with right now – and who we’re prepared to disregard in the process. Over the last fortnight, Graham Norton’s show has amplified certain voices at a time when women are still asking to be heard. For viewers like me, the symbolism isn’t just uncomfortable – it’s actually impossible to watch.


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Mel Gibson on the Graham Norton Show (Photo: BBC)
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harvey weinstein
sexual harassment

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