Mel Gibson

Pencil Portrait by Antonio Bosano.

Mel Gibson Pencil Portrait
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During promotional work for his 2002 movie Signs, Mel Gibson spoke at length about his marriage. At the time, there had been no lurid tales of romantic shenanigans, though the actor wasn’t afraid to admit that the union hadn’t always been perfect.

‘The whole relationship thing is tough, any time. I’ve been married for 22 years and people don’t go that far these days. It doesn’t happen. You’re going to get ups and downs and you’re going to get days when you really want to strangle each other. That is just going to happen. It doesn’t matter who the other person is. You can think, ‘Well, if I find someone else’, but that’s bullshit. You’re going to go through the same old shit with anybody. You just have to adapt and give and take and receive and give. So you might as well stay where you’re at and figure it out’. Love? Nah – doesn’t come into it\’…

Sound words but unfortunately, the actor was unable to take his own advice. After 26 years of marriage, he and Robyn Gibson separated on 29 July 2006. In a 2011 interview, the actor stated that the separation began the day following his arrest for drunk driving in Malibu. What followed afterwards was ‘something else’.

Firstly, his 2012 divorce reportedly cost him at least £250 million, half his estimated fortune. There was no pre-nuptial agreement, and his wife Robyn, the mother of seven of his eight children, was therefore also eligible to receive 50 per cent of the pension benefits the Lethal Weapon star had built up during their 31-year marriage. Now money truly isn’t everything, and most of us could comfortably survive on his retained share, yet ceding such an amount must surely bring into focus the legitimacy of such perceived unhappiness. Unfortunately, in Hollywood, events move quickly as the respective parties marshall their legal troops and battle commences; with unseemly haste, the family fortunes are carved up amidst emotional recriminations.

Since his separation from Robyn, he has remarried and divorced again, this second union with one Oksana Grigoriena producing his eighth child, a daughter named Lucia. Custody is being shared between the child’s two parents.

Looking at the plethora of media reports and public commentary on Gibson’s recent behaviour, I see little point in adding to this morass of sensationalist journalism. What intrigues me more is what exactly Gibson is looking for in life, and more importantly what he needs from a relationship with a woman.

Elliott Katz, a writer in Toronto, is the author of ‘Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man, What happens next in the world’s first relationship?’ He has analysed male-female relationships from the beginning of time. He writes that:

Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden. They have one commandment: Don’t eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

Eve eats it and then she gives it to Adam. He eats it. Then Adam hides in the bushes and God asks him: ‘Adam did you eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge that I commanded you not to eat?’

What did Adam do? Did he take responsibility for what happened?

No. He says to God, ‘The woman you sent me gave it to me and I ate it.’

I couldn’t believe it. He gave in to something he knew was wrong and then he blamed his wife. I thought only men today did that.

Does blaming his wife help Adam avoid responsibility? God doesn’t say, ‘Adam, I understand – she pushed you into it. You’re not responsible for what happened.’ Just the opposite. He punishes Adam for eating the fruit, and for not using his own judgment. I think it’s significant that one of the first lessons in the first chapter of Genesis is about what a man should be in a relationship.

I have no universal answer for Mel Gibson, but I do know that, as a heterosexual man, there isn’t a single woman in the world that can make me happy. In any event, how on earth, could I be so naive as to place such a burden of expectation on any person’s shoulders? No, on the contrary, I have to establish my own inner equilibrium and radiate that goodwill to the person I share my life with. In essence, as a man, the secret to forging an enduring marriage – as far as I am concerned – is to simply grow up. For myself, this has been a task accomplished in many areas albeit with flaws. Seeking acceptance of who we are, and what we do, is a perfectly natural inclination in all of us, but any lack of desired response from our partner does not necessarily imply an absence of genuine feeling. Familiarity breeds contempt, and for those couples who spend decades together, external forces place additional pressure on the union.

A marriage is not validated by exotic foreign holidays, financial affluence, romantic weekends away and career momentum. It’s true worth is tested by adversity – redundancy, debt, infidelity, illness. As millions of people find to their cost, the one perceived truly important relationship in their lives, singularly falters and then terminates in the face of such setbacks. What follows thereafter is stoicism, and a hardening of the arteries to the emotional heart. True emotion, devoid of pride, is replaced by agendas, an acceptable lifestyle based on pre-agreed conditions, whether expressly stated or subtly implied. Loneliness, or rather a fear of it, is also a primary driver. It seems, as far as I can see, that we must purge ourselves of any sense of self importance. Only one woman in my life has ever loved me, both for my attributes and in spite of my failings. An inability to appreciate that fact would be testimony to my ongoing pretentiousness. Much more worryingly, I have experienced in my life, albeit on a small handful of occasions, interest from women for reasons only known onto themselves. I greatly suspect that I simply represented the “acceptable face” of their own secular requirements – acceptable looks without a trace of lifestyle dissipation, financial solvency, interactive social skills and a sense of self deprecating humour. Perceived malleability perhaps also played its part. Of course, none of these women had the faintest clue as to my true persona. It’s one thing to be open and frank about material facts from one’s past when there’s very little dirt to be swept under the carpet, but I’m not about to readily give away how I really tick to anyone.

Denial is an in-built defence mechanism we acquire in our formative years. How many readers of my site have shouted upstairs to their child – “What the hell was that noise?” only to instantaneously receive the response – “Nothing.” It all starts early. Personally, I’ve lost count of the number of men telling me about failed relationships – “She seemed to press all the right buttons when we met and then it all suddenly stopped”. Of course, within this context of button pushing, men are invariably discussing life in the bedroom. However, I must confess that I’ve always found jokes about the fairer sex inspecting cracks in the ceiling terribly insulting to their naturally superior intelligence. Women think about a focused range of subjects whilst having sex with a man, but I can assure all my male readers that the condition of the ceiling never figures amongst them. I’m saying nothing more on this subject, for Mel Gibson might stumble across my site, thus depriving media writers of the wealth of material his private antics regularly provide.

What I might wish to tell him though, is that whenever I’ve been unsure about a woman, I’ve tried to imagine the revised perspective with which I would return to the burgeoning relationship, were I to be literally yanked away and deposited on a desert island for three months with only my thoughts for company. In every case, with the exception of my wife (despite our ups and downs), I would have let the relationship slide. Since Mel can afford to spend three months on an island, might I respectfully suggest that when the subject of a third nuptial is raised, he charters a private jet and takes himself off for a period of sunshine and solitude. He is immeasurably wealthier than I am, and so his relationship problems are accordingly compounded. Who is the person women around him really see? He’s divorced the one woman who truly loved him before megastardom beckoned, and yet despite his own forthright prescience in 2002, the marriage still came unglued. Whilst most men come to this realisation only after their marriage ends, Gibson could clearly see ahead, which makes his subsequent actions even more regrettable.

Should we ‘cut the man some slack’? He has, after all, acknowledged that he has bipolar disorder. He was quoted as saying, “I had really good highs, but some very low lows and I found out recently I’m manic depressive.” (The Huffington Post, July 13, 2010).

Mania is a symptom of bipolar disorder (also known as manic depressive disorder). Bipolar disorder is thought to affect approximately 1 to 2% of the population. It is a serious disorder and approximately 10- 15% of people with bipolar disorder commit suicide (DSM-IV). It is associated with alcohol and substance abuse.

Gibson has acknowledged his problems with alcohol. In 1992 he was quoted as saying, _“Alcoholism is something that runs in my family. It’s something that’s close to me. People do come back from it, and it’s a miracle”_(Wikipedia). He was sentenced to probation for three years following his 2006 drunk driving arrest. As part of the probation he attended self help meetings for a year. One begins to wonder just how much acting went into his character roles in films like the of it truly reflected his own personality.

With £250M still safely his, plus the fee for the ‘Expendables 3’ project, Gibson will need to be on his guard from women on a marital mission. In reality, they’ll give him far more trouble than Stallone, Statham and co. Focused women don’t need to marry you, dear male reader, and certainly not me, but you see they will marry someone, and within a very short timescale. A rich actor? – That’ll do nicely thank you. And love? Nah – doesn’t come into it…

Recommended viewing

Tim (1979)

Posing more questions than it can possibly answer, “Tim” has nevertheless acquired a sizeable following over the intervening three plus decades since its original theatrical release.

In the movie, Mary (Piper Laurie) is a single businesswoman in her 40’s, who hires Tim Melville (Mel Gibson) to do work around her house. Gradually, these two very different people discover they share much in common and become firm friends. Tim is ostensibly retarded, although his speech and cognitive abilities suggest otherwise. Nevertheless, Mary decides to help her young employee to read, and while they spend more and more time together, their friendship grows into something deeper, much to the chagrin of their disapproving friends.

As a result of his academic deficiencies, Tim has been carefully protected by his decent Melbourne working class parents, Ron and Emily Melville (Alwyn Kurts and Pat Evison) and by his doting sister Dawnie (Deborah Kennedy) who, unlike her parents, views the growing attachment between her brother and this older woman with growing unease.

Whilst it has its detractors, there’s nevertheless a timeless charm to “Tim” that endures.

The Man without a face (1993)

Signs (2002)