4 Terrible Celebrities The World Has Given A Free Pass
The world loves some good celebrity gossip, especially if it's the sort about how a celebrity may be some kind of monster in a Hollywood flesh suit. Look at James Woods -- man, is that guy terrible. He sued a guy for slandering him on Twitter, then kept suing him after he died. He also expressed some joy at the thought of the man dying whilst screaming his name. And while James Woods is a current turd homunculus lurching around the fringes of fame, there are others out there who were just as bad if not worse than Woods who are apparently cool as shit these days for no other reason than we just got tired of caring.
I picked Tyson for my first entry because he inspired this entire idea. I was watching The Hangover on TV recently because Bradley Cooper's character always makes me laugh in those films owing to the fact that everyone loves him and he's clearly a sociopath. But when the Mike Tyson scene rolled through, I stopped to reflect on how he's such a goofball in this movie, and the sequel, and he's made a career in the last few years of being kind of an old softy. And he's a rapist. Not allegedly or anything, he very much raped a woman and was convicted of it. And he once bit a man's ear off. And he was a Trump supporter (which is a redeeming factor or not depending on your view, I'm not judging. Sort of).
Their hands are locked in a blood pact over the truly horrible things they have done.
Now here's the hard part to wrap your head around. Tyson did his time for rape, though it was only three years. He's been diagnosed as bipolar and he's sobered up after having years of drug abuse. He's generally looked upon favorably in media these days, as witnessed by the fact you can watch the man sing the Murray Head classic "One Night in Bangkok" on film. But when the fuck did this all happen?
You can look at the news today and someone can get vilified just for the accusation of impropriety. How does a man who is literally a criminal ease past all of that and become a metaphorical teddy bear with a terrifying face tattoo?
When even Jon Lovitz isn't scared of you, it's time to pack it in.
Tyson is a great example of society's goldfishdom. We stop remembering things after a while and they no longer matter. To be sure, some people will be outspoken critics of Tyson for the rest of his life, but by and large he's been accepted back into the fold. He was on Ellen, for god's sake. Ellen is the show mayonnaise and room temperature water would watch if they wanted to live dangerously.
The other side of this is, if Tyson really did change his life around, and he was punished as much as the state felt he needed to be punished, isn't his slate wiped clean? And why is it so hard to tell one way or the other? Justice has to be something bigger than you or I. I've seen people literally call for the death of Nick Spencer, the writer who turned Captain America into a Nazi. Please don't correct that and say he's Hydra, not a Nazi because I'm not a 4-year-old who falls for coin-behind-the-ear tricks. Cap's totally a Nazi, dude. But even so, Nick Spencer probably doesn't deserve to be executed for that. And maybe that means Tyson deserves to be treated just like anyone else? But if that's true then ...
What the fuck is up with Mel Gibson? I loved Mel Gibson growing up. Lethal Weapon, Mad Max, Braveheart. I can literally sit for the full 78-hour running time of Braveheart any time it's on TV. But nowadays when I do that, I always stop to wonder if maybe one of his inspirational speeches to get his fellow Scotsmen riled up had, in its first draft, a whole slew of racial epithets mixed in. Because Mel Gibson is super duper racist.
He's not at a hockey game. He just needs that glass in front of him at all times to block the punches.
Mel has, on tape, dropped racial slurs against Jews, African Americans, Hispanics, probably anyone who isn't Mel Gibson, really. And a lot of people tried to steer Gibson's rampant shittery in one of two directions -- he was a drunk so it's not his fault or how could he be racist, he was in Lethal Weapon with Danny Glover?!? Both of those arguments are so bad that Jesus would throw an actual handful of shit in your face for saying them if he could. You do things when you're drunk that you know you shouldn't do, but not that you don't want to do. Your judgement is impaired and you're unable to say "No, this is a bad idea." But it's still your idea, they're still your thoughts. Gibson is still racist. And that Lethal Weapon argument is just fucking stupid.
So, as you might expect, Gibson sank what was a stellar career. He was probably in the top-ten movie stars in the world when all of this stuff broke; he was a huge name. And he fell like a turd from a diving board, which if you've never tried it ... well, it's something. But that was around 2006 through 2010, the four-year period in which he couldn't stop "accidentally" being racist until it became clear he was just very obviously racist and was made of 50 percent acting talent and 50 percent flagrant racism. And you may notice in 2017 that Mel is starting to creep back in the door like a vacuum-cleaner salesman jamming his shoe in there so you can't shut him up.
Two out of these three faces say it all.
These days Mel is riding on a wave of good will from his film Hacksaw Ridge. It's been very well received and why shouldn't it be? Gibson has always been a talented filmmaker. But is it right to welcome him back as though all he'd done was publicly support Jimmy John's? Where's the line for us when it comes to people who enrich our lives through art and entertainment but also might be walking turd blossoms? It's not like you need Mel Gibson movies to live, so is it just for the sheer entertainment value that we're cool with a guy who "accidentally" spits up anti-Semitism the way cats puke up grass?
A lot of people tend to pull out "everyone makes mistakes" or "we all have a past" or "it was years ago" when it comes to things like this. You'll see the same arguments made for Donald Trump talking about pussy grabbing, for instance, or when I try to explain that time I refused to wear pants to work for a month. But is that a thing we believe across the board, or a thing we believe in deference to someone we want to defend? How many people still bring up Bill Clinton's infidelity as a kind of contrast to Donald Trump's comments? If you don't know the answer, I can tell you it's a lot. They tell me about it on Twitter all the time. Then they tell me I live in my mom's basement.
So is it true, then, that everyone "has a past" and we should move on? Well ...
The poster boy for creepy fucks is Roman Polanski. He's a rapist who fled prosecution and has been hiding out in Europe ever since because, if he comes back to the US, he's going to jail. He's going to jail because he's a rapist. But in his long absence, he's made a number of films and, as time has worn on, they've become more and more mainstream. People want to separate the artist from the crime, maybe. Or feel that he "made a mistake." Well, for one, fuck that. No one rapes a teenage girl and flees justice by accident any more than you can accidentally put on a tuxedo and shit in the toaster.
That's right, inhale the smell of toasted crap you asshole.
Polanski seems to believe, and I guess I could be wrong, that enough time has passed for this issue to no longer be relevant, like rape is the yogurt of crimes and is only good for so long. A Polish court denied extradition, partially on the grounds he'd been punished enough. That punishment was 42 days in prison before fleeing the country to live the life of a world-famous movie director in Europe, so take from that what you will.
Look at the squalor he is being subjected to.
Further complicating matters is that Polanski's victim is actually trying to help him return to the U.S. because of potential prosecutorial misconduct. Though she doesn't deny Polanski raped her, she sees his continued and potentially biased pursuit by the judicial system in America as a sort of self-aggrandizing parade of bullshit to make the lawyers involved look better with no regard for the victim or the crime, because if you're a lawyer in America you may live up to the stereotype that's existed in every joke about lawyers since lawyering was invented. So does that mean we should be on Polanski's side now? If the victim forgives the crime, should everyone? And what if they didn't?
You may not recognize the name Victor Salva; he's certainly not as well known as Tyson, Gibson, or Polanski. He's probably most famous for directing the Jeepers Creepers movies and Powder, a weird movie about a weird kid. He's less famously known for being a pedophile. This isn't an alleged situation, this is something for which he was prosecuted and served time. In 1988, Salva filmed himself in a sexual encounter with the 12-year-old star of the movie he was working on at the time. Police found child pornography in his home and he was sentenced to three years in prison, then served 15 months because justice!
During the filming of Powder in 1995, word got out about his past and he readily admitted it when confronted by Disney, who produced the film. People argued the film should be judged on its merits because it takes more than one sex criminal to make a movie. And hey, maybe that's right. Maybe.
Thing is, Powder is about a weird, hairless boy with strange powers who is socially ostracized. His next film, Rites Of Passage, is a bit of a coming-of-age thriller about a gay boy at odds with his dad. Jeepers Creepers was about a monster that eats people and the sequel features more shirtless high school boys per square foot than any movie released that year. His next two horror films also focused on children and teens. But that's not weird, right?
No weirder than his rocking the official sex-offender facial hair.
So Salva is a convicted child molester but keeps making movies. He has a sequel to Jeepers Creepers coming soon, the third in the franchise, that's actually heavily anticipated and could very well be quite popular. And hell, I saw the first two before I knew he was a creeper himself and I really like them. Any movie that makes prominent use of one of the most preposterous songs ever to accentuate the horror of an overcoat-wearing demon who eats people can't be all bad, can it?
So would you go see a movie that was directed by a convicted child molester? Should anyone? We make sex offenders register online so we always know where they are. You can go to a website and see how many live in your neighborhood and we ban them from even being near schools or having contact with children. But we'll still go watch the movies they make.
And be prepared to throw scalding butter in their face and run if they show up.
I'd argue that Salva owes much of his success -- which of course is not as great as Gibson's, but directing a fairly successful horror franchise is nothing to sneeze at -- to people not giving a shit. He was never big enough for you to look him up. He was never big enough to make front-page news the way Tyson's rape or Gibson's rant did. He was no one back when he molested that boy, and managed to build a career because it didn't matter to enough people.
Jeffrey Jones, the actor who played Ferris Bueller's principal, had been ostracized for years, after he was arrested in 2002 for possessing child pornography and soliciting a minor for nude pictures. Never a huge star to begin with, he's basically a man-goblin these days, occasionally appearing in the light for fearsome photos that prompt people to write articles that boil down to "Remember this guy? Total creep." However, even he has been oozing back into roles in the last few years.
You'd never think he was the creepier one in this picture.
So it seems no crime is too heinous to be overlooked if time passes. If O.J. could stay out of prison for any length of time and stop making things worse every time he opens his mouth, he'd probably have a career as well.
You can Google "actors who ruined their careers" and you'll likely find Gibson on that list, maybe Wesley Snipes, and others who actually still have careers, just not as big as they were. And maybe they'll never be as big again, but they claw back a fair ways more often than not.
Why does it happen? Humans seem to be capable of outrage for only so long. If a bully punches you and then for the next week punches people you don't like, you kind of start appreciating his work. It's tiring to hold grudges, no matter how well deserved. And so often, we don't. We simmer down. If the outrage didn't happen specifically to us, it's much easier to shrug it off, try to focus on the things we enjoy, like Lethal Weapon sequels and hilarious Fleshlight videos. And maybe that's OK. In fact, it is OK, if you're OK with it. Forgiveness isn't a hard and fast rule. You never have to forgive anyone for causing offense, but you also don't have to stay enraged.
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