Mel’s Meltdown

This past July, Mel Gibson’s reputation took a major beating. Tapes were released on the Website in which he screamed at his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, while launching  a threatening, vicious and also racist rant. To date, there are six tapes that have been released, and it has been reported that Gibson placed 30 calls to Grigorieva in one night alone.

Needless to say, Gibson came off as a beast while Grigorieva appeared as the damsel in distress.  It was clear after the release of the recordings that Mel would need an excellent PR team to handle the situation.

The way each party handled the situation differs noticeably. Gibson chose to stay out of the spotlight while Grigorieva was vocal about the situation. According to, Gibson’s PR moves were better than Grigorieva’s.

The site claims that reported that Grigorieva has hired 39 lawyers to date who have either quit or been fired. The methods TMZ used to gather its information is unstated, which may lead to credibility issues. In any case, that does not speak well for Grigorieva, making her appear “unstable,” as Evan Sussman wrote on

While Grigorieva may appear unstable by hiring so many lawyers, Sussman contends that Gibson’s actions are “the classic defense strategy: quietly hire legal representation and avoid creating any negative publicity before trial.”

When considering the judge’s point of view at the trial for custody of the ex-couple’s child, it will not be swayed by public comments. Bottom line: the media attention won’t matter—all that matters is the evidence.

Tiger Woods chose a similar approach. Although the situation with Woods is different in that one concerned adultery and the other verbal and possibly physical abuse, their initial PR strategies are the same.

Woods, like Gibson, chose not to speak about the accusations, at least  until months after the report surfaced about his infidelity. For Woods, it didn’t turn out so well, as his golf performance declined as well as overall
public opinion.

For Gibson, the public was  disturbed with how hateful and unhinged he sounded on the tapes. Despite this characterization, Gibson was still offered a cameo in the sequel to the record-breaking The Hangover, entitled The Hangover 2. Although the offer was short-lived, it still offered hope for Gibson’s career.

Considering the cases of Woods and Gibson and their similar PR strategies, I think the outcome could have much to do with their earlier images. Woods was seen as a professional golfer who would never be unfaithful to his wife, while Gibson’s latest outburst is not his first. It was not necessarily surprising when news broke of his latest tirade.

Evidently some actors are unwilling to work with the actor, as demonstrated in the fact that he is no longer involved with The Hangover 2. Ultimately, the release of the tapes will certainly damage not only his career but personal life, as custody of his daughter is on the line. Although I agree with when they say hiring almost 40 lawyers doesn’t make Grigorieva appear in the best light, that is not nearly as damaging to her image or case as a parent as is Gibson’s behavior.

What do you think about Grigorieva and Gibson’s PR strategies and subsequent behavior?

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