As a boy, I read that singer Perry Como never allowed his family to be photographed in public, or otherwise exposed to the limelight by his publicists. He went so far as to not even allow them on his TV Christmas specials, unlike other artists of the time. For all that, he could still return to his hometown on the southern outskirts of Pittsburgh, and walk into his favorite barbershop, as if he had never left.
If you can be famous enough, yet still comfortable in your own skin, that fame will never get the best of you. Now, I know some bloggers who have a problem handling it. Imagine life in Hollywood.
I was reminded of the above, as I read today's piece in The Catholic Thing about the recent challenges facing actor/director Mel Gibson, in light of his impending divorce, and revelations of a child out of wedlock with his Russian-model-girlfriend. Oh, and that drinking thing.
After describing all the things that made Scott handsome, especially his “delicate long-lipped Irish mouth,” Hemingway adds his usual ironic twist: “This should not have added up to a pretty face, but that came from the coloring, the very fair hair and the mouth. The mouth worried you until you got to know him and then it worried you more.”
With Mel Gibson it’s his eyes. There has always been something wild and sad in his eyes, especially in his mug shots.
"The windows of the soul" were what the good nuns called them, who taught us back in the day. The TCT article also quotes an interview of several years ago:
There is nothing more important than your family. If you ruin that part of your life, what’s left? Work? Money? Screwing around? I see a lot of people living like that tell themselves they’re having a good time, but if you look under the surface you see lots of corpses masquerading as human beings.
Mel is right about the importance of home and family, especially as it relates to the core of one's being. It would appear that he has been torn between two forces in his life, and that he believed he could straddle them both on his own terms. If this is so, it is likely that he has failed, and I suspect his life will never be the same.
Inasmuch as I have admired his work over the years, I don't feel the contempt that one might feel for a hypocrite. That is not how I would describe him. The way I would describe him, is like half the people I meet.
We are all Mel Gibson. I am Mel Gibson. And I don't know about you, but I've been lucky.