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News that Mel Gibson is to star in the John Wick prequel TV series sends out a cry amongst the faithful. Mel is risen! Yet again! Yes, the boulder has once more been rolled away from the tomb of cancellation, leaving disciples and those who think people should at least say sorry once for being obnoxiously appalling now contemplating a place of emptiness. Nothing gets resurrected more often than Mel – not even pussy-bow blouses or the Batman story. It’s like the old Hollywood saying goes: he’ll for ever eat lunch in this town again.
Before we go on, a recap of the details: cinema’s Mel Gibson has landed a role in The Continental, a TV spin-off of the successful John Wick movie franchise, which will air on Starz. Scientifically speaking, there can only be a finite amount of niceness in the John Wick universe, and having all-round good egg Keanu Reeves as the eponymous character in the movies means at some point you have to balance him out with someone with a truly toxic “Controversies” section to their Wikipedia entry. Mel’s very much your guy!
That said, looking at the signs, you increasingly realise that whichever deity Gibson believes in has to be the one true god. How else to explain the continued employability of a now pensionable and notoriously difficult man whose record takes in repeated antisemitic abuse and domestic violence, by way of racism, sexism, and a Christmas movie with Mark Wahlberg? When you consider the entertainment careers of young women cut off for infractions such as an incorrect opinion or minor weight gain, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that the guy Mel worships – and it is a guy, trust me – up there in the private $42m Malibu church compound he built (congregation: 70) is the god calling the shots.
Back in 2006, we became familiar with Mel’s theory – advanced to a Jewish LA traffic cop and his patrol colleague Officer Sugartits – that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world”. But even Mel can’t believe that those same Jews also control Hollywood, given how much work he has had since that incident, to say nothing of the emergence of further incidents where he’d asked Winona Ryder if she was an “oven-dodger” and whatnot. This content strand was, in due course, joined by others. Some years later, Mel’s vicious abuse and admissions of domestic violence were taped by former partner and mother of his child Oksana Grigorieva, who recorded Gibson explaining how she had “deserved” him hitting her, and making mild observations on her outfits, such as: “You look like a fucking bitch on heat and if you get raped by a pack of [n-words] it will be your fault.” That year he picked up the lead in a movie directed by Jodie Foster, followed by a misdemeanour battery charge.
In an absolutely apology-obsessed age, it feels miraculous that those who waited for the “soz for all this” are still waiting. By the time Mel’s movie Hacksaw Ridge was being garlanded at various awards ceremonies – and Gibson himself nominated for best director at the Oscars – our hero was giving interviews in which he implied he had apologised for some notional single incident, long ago, and refused to return to the furrow. And yet, he never had eaten adequate humble pie for any, let alone all of it. What he had done was continue to make money in his various outings, so let that be an end to it.
Perhaps most eye-catchingly, Mel appeared to believe the 15 minutes he spent in the entertainment wilderness were not simply a bogglingly inadequate recompense for his actions, but in fact a significant pre-payment on purgatory itself. The way Mel sees it, all the unfair criticism he’s had to endure has actually guaranteed him “less time in the meat rack after it’s all done”. As he explained to fellow Catholic Stephen Colbert during an appearance on the latter’s show, when he dies he can be sure of enduring less “temporal punishment before the main course”, because he’s been so “manful” about people being rude about him here in the earthly realm.
Enormous congratulations to the various entertainment executives and creatives involved with John Wick, then, for deciding that of all the Hollywood actors in their sixties who deserved a plum role, Mel was the best of them. We must simply assume they’ve grasped the aforementioned conclusion about Mel’s god being the one true one, and are now formally in the business of making him offerings.
Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist