Sunday, August 20, 2006

Spinning Mel Gibson's Relapse (2)

Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Judge Lawrence Mira, who on August 18 gave Mel Gibson a slap on the wrist and sent him to a year’s worth of AA meetings for his drunk driving offense, should have his head examined. Mel Gibson, whose anti-Semitic, obscene, sexist, arrogant, and bellicose outbursts during his July 28 arrest on the Malibu Highway made world headlines, has been attending AA meetings for more than fifteen years already. Not only attending them, but making others attend them on the film set (see blog below). “Sentencing” Gibson to AA is a little like throwing Brer Rabbit into the briar patch. What made the judge think that another year of the Same Old Same Old is going to make any difference?

Maybe the judge is a victim of the U.S. press, which somehow managed to “miss” the fact of Gibson’s long-time AA participation almost entirely. While readers in the UK, Australia, India, and even Thailand learned of Gibson’s 15-year AA participation at the same time as they learned of his arrest and his drunken outbursts, American readers have been fed the line that Gibson is a recovery virgin and that sending him to AA will be a New Thing for him and will Make a Difference. One would like to think that the judge was better informed, but maybe prosecutors played along with the game and kept him in the dark.

Even the L.A. Times, one of the only two American print organs that noted Gibson’s prior AA participation a few days after the arrest, seems to have forgotten about it in its coverage of the hastily-called courtroom event where Judge Mira disposed of the case. The Times’ staff writer Andrew Blankstein quotes a lawyer who specializes in DUI defenses, who claims that sentencing Gibson to AA is somehow outside of standard court procedure. Source. (Where has this guy been?) But Blankstein doesn’t dig any deeper.

So, instead of stories that ask, “What do you do with an alcoholic after AA has failed him?” — a question with broad public health implications — you get pablum like this:

  • An op-ed in the Baxter Bulletin (Arkansas), has Gibson’s arrest serving as the lead for an infomercial promoting the local 12-step meetings. Source.
  • A guest op-ed writer in the Roanake VA Times expresses optimism that Gibson will become clean and sober now that he’s been referred to “the one program we knew worked” — Alcoholics Anonymous. Source.
  • Postcards from a Pug Bus (Source), a supposedly satirical, dig-behind-the-scenes blog, indulges in an imaginary monologue in which Gibson “takes the first tottering step” on the twelve-step recovery journey. Duh.

And much more of the same.

Hats off to whoever is spinning the Mel Gibson story in the U.S. media. You’ve managed the next thing to a media miracle: turning Mel G.’s ugly recovery failure, after 15 years of AA, into a tidy advertisement for the organization. It’s like turning Chernobyl into a promo for nuclear power.


C. B. said...

This was absolutely excellent and deserves the widest possible hearing. I am sure that your blog gets lots of hits, but perhaps it might also be a good idea to also submit this post to a newspaper or magazine near you; it's just that interesting! For now, though, thanks so much for sharing it with us in this venue.

dover said...

Well Gibson continues to make an idiot out of himself so obviously whatever the law throws at him isn't working

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a disconnect regarding Mel Gibson's participation in AA. You can't just go to meetings--you have to work the program. This means having a sponsor and working the 12-steps. The program is for those who WANT it--not just for those who need it

He might also have other underlying issues for which he needs treatment. He is an adult child of an alcoholic father and there may also be abuse issues. Sometimes people need to work through multiple issues through individual programs which are designed to address each issue.

I hope he gets this help. He is a very talented and intelligent person; however, he is out of control and will continue to act out until someone savvy-- who really cares about him--confronts him and helps him get ALL the help he needs.