There was something refreshingly old-fashioned, in this week of Mel Gibson, in the sight of George Clooney arriving at a Milanese courtroom to a press corps cluster so big the judge had to get a bigger space to accommodate all the journalists and paparazzi.
Clooney showed up in his usual natty style, offering 90 minutes of testimony about the three men who’d allegedly forged Clooney’s signature to fraudulently promote a clothing line in his name. He gave a few good lines — “Nice to meet you,” he said to the only defendant in court, “it’s the first time” — and told the courtroom they could laugh after reciting all the products he’s endorsed, including Martini, as directed by Robert Rodriguez in this commercial:
The interpreter was Valentina Gianoli, a 32-year-old who — as the Telegraph‘s Philip Willan Rome notes — “gave up a day at the beach to be present in court.” She “admitted that yes, Mr Clooney was ‘bello,’ but he wasn’t her favourite Hollywood actor.” Clooney was annoyed at questions implying he’d been romantically involved with one of the defendants, taking the opportunity to snipe against paparazzi. When he was done, the judge noted Clooney had been speaking as long as a feature, and the carabinieri escorted him out.
Even Clooney’s political opponents couldn’t have found anything to complain about here. And, despite the regrettable circumstances, it was far more pleasant than the simultaneous Polanski/Gibson noises going on in the background. Once again, it was proved that when celebrity gossip stops being merely trashy and approaches something like genuine tragedy, people don’t know how to discuss it.
Polanski getting off the hook and Gibson hanging himself on it happened in quick succession, but — unbelievably — Gibson managed to give Polanski the cover to basically slink back into production on his next film (of the play “God of Carnage,” no less).
There’s been something awfully unnerving about the daily release of The Gibson Tapes, which have been dripped out like a daytime soap opera for the internet, especially after the not-precisely-shocking news that the files had been professionally recorded and edited.
Like Tom Cruise, Gibson had managed to make much of the country dislike him even before these developments. The true extent of the damaging tapes, though, made the Cruise thing look mild (which it was!). No matter how much Gibson was at fault, it’s still disturbing, the way the tapes went to the public before the police, and the way they were released in the middle of the day for maximum news cycle consumption and redistribution.
There’s nothing really “tragic” about celebrity problems that don’t affect anyone but those near and dear. Still, Gibson’s meltdown is one of the biggest ones in years, and perhaps one of the most fatal ones, careerwise. People instantly turned it into a kitteh meme!
[Photos: “Intolerable Cruelty,” Universal Pictures, 2003; “The Beaver,” Summit Entertainment, 2010]