Mel's apology lacks braveness and heart

“FREEDOM!”

While everyone else is dishing about temple visits and the alcoholism that plagues Hollywood, I’m transported back to the mantra of 1995. After all, who can forget Mel Gibson’s famous cry at the end of Braveheart?

Doesn’t seem like such a great concept now, huh, Mel?

Of course, freedom propelled Mel to greatness in the first place. And I don’t know for sure, but I’m willing to bet he even ate his share of freedom fries while directing The Passion.

Yet, that same freedom allowed Mel to stumble behind the wheel of a car with a .12 blood alcohol level. It enabled him to release an insincere apology and create a spectacle of both Judaism and Christianity with his plans to find ‘an appropriate path for healing.’ I’m sure even alcoholics could find reason to be offended by Mel’s behavior!

Mel was brilliant in recruiting churches to help him market The Passion, so he should know that sincerity is the biggest pre-requisite for persuasion. After all, the best salesmen are not sleazy showboaters but good listeners who believe in their products. It’s probably the only reason why Paul Newman was able to open a packaged food business!

Instead of ringing true, Gibson’s initial apology was “self-pitying and verbose,” according to Christopher Hitchens’ article in Slate magazine on July 31. OK, so maybe his publicist overdid it, but the man at least took a positive crisis communications step by admitting fault. He could have accepted the consequences and recovered.

Then on Tuesday, Mel released a second, more dramatically contrite statement. I won’t reprint the whole AP transcript (there’s also AP video), but the phrases “vitriolic,” “blurted” and “moment of insanity” all made appearance.

Instead of exuding the humble sincerity of William Wallace, the statement was riddled with excuses and embellishments. To regain the public’s trust, Mel should have clung to a simple, straightforward message. He should have meant it. And he should have started living his life according to the doctrine he preaches. But he’s obviously quite free to lead a desperate charge in the opposite direction.

The handling of a crisis reveals hidden truths about people, businesses and even movie stars. Generally speaking, you want to avoid lifting your kilt to the public. Instead, crises are a time to think of others, accept responsibility and somberly fix problems. Even Maverick Mel can’t act his way out of the situation or harness it for his own publicity.

I, for one, feel like I’m skewered on a slab screaming, “TRUTH.” What about you?

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