Where Do Mel Gibson, Roman Polanski and Others Fall in Movieline's Guide to Hollywood Morality?

More cameo fun for The Hangover 2! After Mel Gibson was replaced by Liam Neeson because co-star Zach Galifianakis thought he was insane, many understandably wondered why Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist, was kosher for the first film while an alcoholic racist with anger-management problems was unacceptable for the second. Well, here's some salt in the wound: Todd Phillips revealed in a Details interview that Mike Tyson will appear in the sequel as well. Between this and Charlie Sheen's meltdown, you may be asking who fits where in Hollywood's morality guidebook?

Granted, a comprehensive guide to what is and is not forgivable in Hollywood would likely be as long as the Bible and read like a Marcel Proust novel with the words rearranged. But let's try to establish some sort of clarity by looking at what stars have and have not gotten away with in the past (when they were actually caught).

Offense: Murder

Verdict: Not Forgivable

Evidence: Being found guilty of murder will likely ruin a career because of the whole jail thing. But sometimes even the accusation is enough to get an actor blacklisted. Silent film actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle proved this verdict during what was possibly the first major Hollywood scandal. When actress Virigina Rappe died shortly after partying with Arbuckle, accusations began to fly, the most damning of which implied that Arbuckle had raped her and that his massive weight and ruptured her bladder. These accusations were never completely proven, but they were enough to effectively end the career of the well-loved comedian.

More recently, Robert Blake went on several trials for the murder of his wife, and was found guilty only of solicitation of murder. He hasn't appeared in a film since, though to be fair, his presence in general had diminished before that and he currently looks creepy as hell.

Offense: Drug Abuse

Verdict: Totally Forgivable

Evidence: Hollywood has proven time and time again that drug abuse is completely acceptable and will be immediately forgiven, as long as it doesn't impact the work too much (Sorry, Lindsay Lohan). Kate Moss is still very sought after for modeling despite a very public cocaine problem, and Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke are seeing their careers explode all over again now that they've recovered.

Offense: Rape

Verdict: Borderline, but mostly forgivable

Evidence: Again, Mike Tyson was in The Hangover, will appear in The Hangover 2 and also was the subject of a well-received documentary. Then there's Roman Polanski, who won an Oscar and continues to make films with the support of many bigwigs in Hollywood, even if he's not allowed to visit them.

Offense: Racism

Verdict: Less forgivable

Evidence: There's still a chance that Mel Gibson will rebound eventually, but things look pretty bleak right now. And that racist tirade from Michael Richards seems to have spoiled whatever chance he may have had at a comeback -- though everybody does still watch Seinfeld reruns.

Offense: Domestic Abuse

Verdict: Forgivable

Evidence: Two words: Alec Baldwin. The 30 Rock star is still as employed and well-liked as ever, despite some damning tapes and accusations involving Kim Basinger and his child. Time will tell what repercussions Charlie Sheen faces for his hotel freak out, but as of now he is back to business shooting Two and a Half Men. Gibson leaves the subject a bit open for debate, but I'm guessing that the racism and anti-Semitism played more of a role in the pressure on the Hangover 2 cast to remove him than the girlfriend-abuse problem.

Offense: Selling out your friends to a communist witch hunt.

Verdict: Hung jury

Evidence: Elia Kazan, who testified before Joseph McCarthy's committee during the blacklist-era, did indeed receive a lifetime achievement award from the Academy. But his award was met with as many boos and industry members sitting on their hands as Polanski's win. If not more.


  • I think the difference between Tyson and Gibson has a lot of factors. One is that Tyson was never as big a star as Gibson was, so the fall wasn't as large and the climb-up as steep. Another is that Tyson never had the kind of fun-loving, good-looking, regular(ish) guy with a family reputation Gibson had, but which has since been shown to be... not entirely accurate. Yet another is that Tyson was always seen as unstable, while no one knew just how batshit Gibson could be until relatively recently. Also, much of Gibson's fanbase was women, so his sins against them carry more weight with his audience than it does Tyson's. Finally, it's just been much longer since Tyson's crimes than Gibson's meltdowns. It's all too fresh in people's minds.
    Oh, and there's also the fact that Zach Galifinakis et al. weren't big stars when the first Hangover filmed, so even if they hadn't wanted Tyson there, they didn't have the pull they now have.

  • The Winchester says:

    You're forgetting the biggest factor of all: Time.
    Remember Crimes and Misdemeanors? Comedy is just Tragedy plus Time.
    Tyson raped the girl, did his time, then had a good decade plus to rehab his image through Toback films leading up to his scene in The Hangover. (Of which it should be noted his first scene works brilliantly because we all still pretty much believe he's a violent sociopath who could turn on a dime).
    Gibson, he had the whole "Jews run the world" tirade a few years back, he suffered a little bit (and made us suffer with Apocalypto), then next we hear from him, he's leaving his wife of over 20 years for some Russian he knocked up. (Then Edge Of Darkness, yet another tragedy, but that's just the Bah-ston thing). So we've barely recovered from these when the phone calls started getting released. And now we're expected to forgive and forget?
    Long winded point? They should've waited for Hangover 3.
    Or, you know, not announced a tiny walk on scene to the world, but we've discussed that.

  • happygolucky says:

    Oh that we should hold our politicians to such high standards.

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