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It is the audio tape that could destroy Mel Gibson.
The Hollywood star is accused by Oksana Grigorieva of hitting her and their infant daughter in an explosive argument recorded on tape, obtained and released exclusively by RadarOnline.com.
“You hit me, and you hit her (Lucia) while she was in my hands! Mel, you’re losing your mind. You need medication,” Oksana tells him on the newly released tape.
And Mel, raging at Oksana, is caught on audio telling her: “I want my child, and no one will believe you.”
It may be the most damaging tape against Mel yet. RadarOnline.com has released five other audio portions with Mel spewing vile, racist rants, threatening Oksana and telling her she “f*cking deserved it” after she complained that he hit her.
But this, the sixth excerpt released exclusively by RadarOnline.com, may have the most serious consequences for Gibson, as a criminal investigation has been launched against him while he and Oksana battle in court for custody of their eight-month-old daughter Lucia. An investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services is also ongoing.
In the crucial part of the newly released tape, Oksana refers to January 6, the night she alleges Mel punched her in the face and damaged her two upper front teeth.
RadarOnline.com was first to report that Oksana told law enforcement authorities she was holding Lucia, who was two months old, when Mel punched her. And RadarOnline.com broke the news on Thursday that Oksana says she has a photograph of the baby with a bruise on her face after the incident.
In this new tape, Oksana refers to that incident and tells Mel that there is something wrong with him and he needs medication. This is the recorded dialogue after she says that:
Oksana: You cannot raise the child with these symptoms.
Oksana: You’re acting as a crazy man right now and you have been for many, many months. And you hit me, and you hit her (Lucia) while she was in my hands! Mel, you’re losing your mind. You need medication.”
Mel: You need a f*cking kick up the a** for being a b*tch, c*nt, gold digging whore! With a p*ssy son! And I want my child, and no one will believe you! So f*ck you!”
While there is cross talk as Oksana and Mel argue, Oksana’s team views it as an admission that Mel hit the baby when he punched Oksana and damaged her front teeth, the source close to the situation told RadarOnline.com exclusively.
Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon:
When RadarOnline began releasing the violent, racist, horrifying audio clips, purportedly of Mel Gibson raging at estranged girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, it was a harrowing glimpse into an apparently deeply disturbed mind. And as the shocking clips just kept coming, it also became a field day for jokesters.
On Monday, comic Michael Ian Black took to Craig Ferguson’s couch to pitch himself, “now that Mel has imploded,” as the world’s new favorite Australian. Letterman, meanwhile, offered Gibson’s “Top Ten Excuses.” “Number one: Wanted to show the Jews I’m an equal opportunity offender.” There was the inevitable YouTube “phone fight” pitting rage-a-holic Mel against anger poster-child Christian Bale, along with the so of-the-moment-it-hurts mashup featuring that seriously emo double rainbow guy. And in a stroke of twisted genius, Buzzfeed went for the win with a choice collection of Gibson’s most colorful quotes set in Hallmark card doodly fonts and accompanied by photos of adorable wide-eyed kittens. Why? Because “mentally deprived idiot” just doesn’t seem so bad coming from a baby animal in a meadow. In my own home, Gibson’s furious “You make me wanna smoke!” has quickly replaced BP CEO Tony Hayward’s “I’d like my life back” as my new favorite expression of exasperation.
David Brooks in NYT:
The story line seems to be pretty simple. Gibson was the great Hollywood celebrity who left his wife to link with the beautiful young acolyte. Her beauty would not only reflect well on his virility, but he would also work to mold her, Pygmalion-like, into a pop star.
After a time, she apparently grew tired of being a supporting actor in the drama of his self-magnification and tried to go her own way. This act of separation was perceived as an assault on his status and thus a venal betrayal of the true faith.
It is fruitless to analyze her end of the phone conversations because she knows she is taping them. But the voice on the other end is primal and searing.
That man is like a boxer unleashing one verbal barrage after another. His breathing is heavy. His vocal muscles are clenched. His guttural sounds burst out like hammer blows.
He pummels her honor, her intelligence, her womanhood, her maternal skills and everything else. Imagine every crude and derogatory word you’ve ever heard. They come out in waves. He’s not really arguing with her, just trying to pulverize her into nothingness, like some corruption that has intertwined itself into his being and now must be expunged.
It is striking how morally righteous he is, without ever bothering to explain what exactly she has done wrong. It is striking how quickly he reverts to the vocabulary of purity and disgust. It is striking how much he believes he deserves. It is striking how much he seems to derive satisfaction from his own righteous indignation.
Rage was the original subject of Western literature. It was the opening theme of Homer’s “Iliad.” Back then, anger was perceived as a source of pleasure. “Sweeter wrath is by far than the honeycomb dripping with sweetener,” Homer declared. And the man on the other end of Grigorieva’s phone seems to derive some vengeful satisfaction from asserting his power and from purging his frustration — from the sheer act of domination.
And the sad fact is that Gibson is not alone. There can’t be many people at once who live in a celebrity environment so perfectly designed to inflate self-love. Even so, a surprising number of people share the trait. A study conducted at the National Institutes of Health suggested that 6.2 percent of Americans had suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, along with 9.4 percent of people in their 20s.
In their book, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell cite data to suggest that at least since the 1970s, we have suffered from national self-esteem inflation. They cite my favorite piece of sociological data: In 1950, thousands of teenagers were asked if they considered themselves an “important person.” Twelve percent said yes. In the late 1980s, another few thousand were asked. This time, 80 percent of girls and 77 percent of boys said yes.
That doesn’t make them narcissists in the Gibson mold, but it does suggest that we’ve entered an era where self-branding is on the ascent and the culture of self-effacement is on the decline.
Every week brings a new assignment in our study of self-love. And at the top of the heap, the Valentino of all self-lovers, there is the former Braveheart. If he really were that great, he’d have figured out that the lady probably owns a tape recorder.
Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:
For starters, I think it’s all unseemly. I don’t think this is the kind of thing that should be spilled out for the public no matter who it is. I think Gibson is clearly troubled and despite his well-documented paranoia, there are many long knives out with his name on them. I think it is grotesque for his wife to release tapes like this (assuming she is the culprit).
But I’m much less inclined to buy this conventional wisdom that he’s a mainstream conservative of some kind. I know he’s a committed old school Catholic, or so he says. I know he made a film about Jesus that was very warmly received by many conservatives and criticized by many others. But I’ve seen interviews with him where he could be a commenter on Daily Kos. The most recent movie I saw him in, Edge of Darkness, hinged on an absolutely asinine attack on the U.S. government in general and the Bush administration in particular.
My point isn’t to say he’s no conservative because he’s so clearly troubled. Conservatives are, like all other kinds of humans, perfectly capable of mental breakdowns and other tragic maladies. I guess what I object to is the idea that somehow anyone should treat this situation differently because of the man’s political allegiances, real or alleged. This is a sad situation made all the sadder because there’s such a huge market for it.
Julian Sanchez on Goldberg:
Can we review? The manifestation of Mel Gibson’s “tragic malady” in this instance is that he repeatedly roared threats to kill his estranged ex and burn down her house. And these aren’t exactly idle threats, because in what I can only assume was a terrifying exchange, he alludes to having earlier hit her hard enough to break several of her teeth—something he claims she “deserved.” I suppose it’s accurate, in a sense, to say he’s “troubled”—there’s obviously something very badly wrong with the guy—though also unusually fortunate in that he’d have ample resources to discreetly seek counseling.
But this is, shall we say, not the usual emphasis of conservatives when discussing people who commit violent crimes. Some unemployable inner city junkie who resorts to theft can expect a lecture on personal responsibility—not sympathy for how “unseemly” it is for his crime to be publicly exposed. But a multi-millionaire who beats up women and then threatens murder? He sounds an awful lot like a Victim of Society in Goldberg’s account.
I agree that much of this is unseemly to be aired in public, but grotesque? When the woman involved is clearly fearful for her safety? Gibson, in the passage above, is clearly threatening violence against his girlfriend and admits in this passage to a previous brutal assault, saying that a woman “fucking deserved” to have her face punched in and teeth broken. When you listen to the audio, his voice operates as a kind of lethal weapon, a vocal expression of brute violence. It’s terrifying. Jonah Goldberg, perhaps sensing vulnerability as an editor at a magazine that championed Gibson as a religious genius and a, yes, feminist, pivots:
I’m much less inclined to buy this conventional wisdom that [Gibson]’s a mainstream conservative of some kind. I know he’s a committed old school Catholic, or so he says. I know he made a film about Jesus that was very warmly received by many conservatives and criticized by many others. But I’ve seen interviews with him where he could be a commenter on Daily Kos.
Yes, the man who viewed John Paul II as too liberal is actually a lefty. But what we see in this dialogue is deeply revealing, it seems to me, about Gibson’s mindset and the fundamentalist psyche that is undergirding politics and culture the world over.
He is a deeply disturbed man whose “spirituality” is wrapped up in extreme violence and fascist imagery. What motivates him is clearly power – heterosexual white male power – imposed on others by raw violence or the threat of violence. He is a fascist in temperament – which is why racism and anti-Semitism and murderous hatred of gay people come naturally to him. And this is how he sees himself as a Christian.
Will we read any revisions to the encomiums to his disgusting attack on the Christianity of the Gospels in “The Passion”, his depiction of Jesus as a human being killed dozens of times by hook-nosed Jews as a literal expiation for the sins of humanity? Will the right wing now revisit its elevation of this deranged thug as a Christian exemplar? Will Lopez actually revise her view of a man who wishes that the mother of his child be “raped by a pack of niggers”, who uses the c-word liberally, who punches a woman in the face … as a feminist worth revering along with that protector of thousands of child-rapists, John Paul II? Or will we read more posts, like Goldberg’s, suggesting that Gibson is actually a creature of the hard left?
Or will, at some point, the cognitive dissonance actually break? What, one wonders, would it take? What event, what fact, what data could ever undermine the mad certainty of these perverse fanatics?
Christopher Hitchens in Slate:
Every time Mel Gibson unburdens himself of a tirade against Jews or “n______s” or uncooperative females, there are commentators on hand to create a mystery where none exists. When he produced The Passion of the Christ, which lovingly and in detail recycled the bloody myth that all Jews are historically and collectively responsible for the murder of Jesus, it was argued by many mainstream Christians that his zeal for the faith might be a touch lurid but that the film itself was mainly devotional. When he was arrested on the Malibu freeway and screamed abuse at a police officer to the effect that Jews were responsible for all the wars in the world, pundits convened on page and screen to speculate whether our Mel had too much to drink that evening. Not long ago, I watched him go completely bug-eyed on television at a Jewish interviewer who asked him about the latter incident. “You’ve got a dog in this fight, haven’t you?” he hissed. And now, in the wake of a Niagara of cloacal abuse directed at the mother of his youngest child, in which we were spared nothing by way of obscenity and menace and nothing by way of paranoid and sexualized racism, there have been those who diagnose Gibson’s problem as a lack of anger management skills, combined perhaps with a touch of narcissistic personality disorder.
This is extraordinary. We live in a culture where the terms fascist and racist are thrown about, if anything, too easily and too frequently. Yet here is a man whose every word and deed is easily explicable once you know the single essential thing about him: He is a member of a fascist splinter group that believes it is the salvation of the Catholic Church.
It would be highly surprising if a person marinated in the doctrines of this ideology did not display all sorts of symptoms that were also sexually distraught. Racism very often clusters with sexual revulsion, and Gibson’s rants are horribly larded with this element. His obsessive loathing of homosexuality—so seldom a healthy sign—is also well-known. Less well-remembered, perhaps, is the interview in which he announced that his wife of many years and the mother of his children would not, alas, be able to join him in paradise. It was not a matter of her moral character. It was simply that she had not seen fit to join the one true church. Her condemnation, then, was “a pronouncement from the chair.”
Gibson has now traded in this long-suffering lady—hopelessly rupturing his sacred marriage vows—for another, younger one, who, to phrase it delicately, was almost certainly not picked for her salient Catholic virtues. In doing this, he must have had a consciousness, however dim, of having endangered his immortal soul. Not only that, but also of having parted with a sensational quantity of worldly goods by way of a divorce settlement. And after all that, the new girl won’t do as he says; won’t defer; won’t assume the desired position at a single snap of his fingers. A true gauleiter feels entitled to a bit more by way of luxurious subservience. No wonder, then, that Gibson walks around with neon lights behind his staring eyes, flashing the slogan “Contents Under Pressure.”
Yet I still saw a report the other day about a fan site where the members were just beginning to ask, “What’s with him?” Why is there this reluctance to call something by its right name? It’s not as if Gibson was issuing a cry for help. On the contrary, what he is issuing is the distilled violence, cruelty, and bigotry—and sexual hypocrisy—that stretches from the Crusades through the Inquisition to the “concordats” between the church and Hitler and Mussolini. Yet he’s still reporting for work. When will Hollywood, and the wider society, finally decide to shun and spurn him utterly, both for what he is and for what he represents?
E.D. Kain at The League:
Perhaps this stems from my admiration of Mel Gibson the filmmaker or perhaps it is simply because I hate to see a piling-on when someone is so obviously in such a dire straits, but I feel compelled to come to Gibson’s defense. Obviously, the things Gibson said to his girlfriend were horrible, and if he did hit her then that is even more indefensible. But I think it is also quite obvious at this point that Gibson has a serious addiction problem and quite likely serious mental problems as well. If he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this may account for quite a few of his demons, including his inability to stay on the wagon or to his faith. It may also account, to some degree, for his creative brilliance.
I suppose Gibson is at his best when navigating the straight and narrow of his Catholic teaching (and that he belongs to a traditionalist catholic church is, as far as I can tell, immaterial here). When he falls off that wagon he falls off all the rest. He has admitted that his divorce was his fault, plain and simple. He is now likely at the very bottom of whatever pit he has dug for himself. Guilt over his failed marriage, his drinking problem – it is all converging. And standing at the center of this convergence is the woman he wrecked his marriage upon, like some hideous reminder of all his failings.
Furthermore, these sorts of people – at once rich and creative and hugely vulnerable to bad influences – are like flames to the worst sort of moths. At their worst they are manipulated and taken advantage of and used up. I suspect Oksana Grigorieva is one of these moths – perhaps if Gibson had taped her without her knowledge a broader picture of their relationship would have emerged. I suspect there is much more to the story.
This certainly doesn’t make the things Gibson said any less awful. Then again anger, mental illness, alcoholism, despair – these are powerful and poisonous and anyone has been through any of this – through addiction, despair, divorce, etc. knows that we all say things we don’t mean. (Even those who haven’t had addiction problems or marriage problems have likely been to these dark places inside themselves.) We lash out. We suddenly use the language of our fathers – of a past we thought we’d buried deep. Certainly Gibson was not raised in a home that looked favorably upon minorities. One doesn’t need to be a racist to have that impulse rise up like bile in moments of despair.
I’ve certainly said things I’ve regretted in darker times in my own life. I’m certainly not without my own grave errors, my own hateful words. I can’t imagine being taped during such a painful time as this, in the middle of a hideous fight at the end of a crumbling relationship.
In the end, we have only a few details, only a scrap or shred of the truth, and yet we all rush as quickly as we can to judgment. That’s a wagon we can all easily stay upon and never fall off.
Rufus F. at The League on Kain:
Certainly, me and my wife have had what she calls “kitchen sink fights” before. And couples must fight, as the man said. And, absolutely, the pain of a collapsing romantic relationship can lead people to say terrible things. I’d never want my private life in the depths of its worst moments to be made public that way, and especially not recordings of those kitchen sink fights.
But, here’s the thing: I don’t fight that way. And I’d imagine you don’t either. What disturbs me about those tapes isn’t the language; it’s the level of misogyny. Me and my wife fight about all sorts of things, most of which are fairly stupid. But the way she dresses doesn’t “hurt” me. It doesn’t “humiliate me” if other men find her attractive. Because, ultimately, on some level, I realize that it’s none of my damn business. Whether or not other people find her attractive isn’t something I expect her to control for my sake or me to control for her sake. This isn’t Saudi Arabia, and her autonomy isn’t something she’s done to me. It’s a fact- and a good one.
I think I hear something different than you do in those Gibson tapes. I hear men from my family who try to control the women in their lives. I hear the possessive, always wounded, always manipulative and controlling, insecure creeps whose wives come to my wife for therapy. I hear someone who’s entitled to sex, entitled to tell his partner how to dress and behave, and who ultimately relates all of the choices she makes in her own life to his personal happiness. I hear the man I might have been, if I hadn’t had the extreme good fortune to be sexually attracted, from a young age, to the sort of smart, independent women who wouldn’t take my crap. Acting like that was simply not an option. And it’s totally freeing to accept that your loved ones will think, act, dress, and be whatever way they want to in their own lives without it hurting you or feeling you need to control them.*
Nevertheless, celebrities are not known for surrounding themselves with people who won’t take their crap. And men, or women, who behave this way are often excused because “everyone gets jealous” or “it’s none of our business”. And, of course, none of us can do anything to change how someone else acts in their own personal relationship. But for society to say in a forthright way that men, or women, who treat their loved ones this way need to stop doing so- that doesn’t strike me as a bad thing. Since this is a site that’s leaning libertarian as of late, I think it’s also very healthy to reflect on the ways that bullying individuals can limit the autonomy of others in their private lives, and how often this impacts women. In terms of casting stones, it’s worth remembering that the specific context of Christ’s comment was a city stoning a woman to death out of rage at her sexual choices.