Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.
Mel Gibson may have had a few bad times recently, but let’s not forget that he’s still Australian. Let’s set aside the claims that he is sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and allegedly now a girlfriend-beater as well. He’s still the same lovable Mel Gibson who grew up in Sydney, who attended NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts), and who gave us Mad Max.
Surely he’s still the prodigal son of our land, making the nation proud.
Or maybe, now that he’s dragging down the Australian name, it’s time to admit that he’s a New Yorker and we don’t really have a legitimate claim to him.
The rise and fall of Mel Gibson has drawn attention to a startling quality that we Australians possess – the ability to proudly accept a celebrity as our own when the going is good, but as soon as they fall out of line, they’re quickly denied.
It’s now gotten to the point where Mel Gibson’s nationality can be successfully charted using the Fame Claim Index (FCI), as shown.
This graph shows that the high points (Mad Max, Lethal Weapon and Braveheart) are times in Mel’s life and career when we’ve been proud to call him Australian. 2006 will be remembered as a dark period in his life where a DUI revealed several regrettable facets to his personality. His FCI value fell even further in the past month with allegations that he had taken to beating his girlfriend.
But Mel Gibson isn’t the first person that we’ve proudly claimed as Australian only to later change our mind after a fall from grace. Case in point, Russell Crowe, whose career can also plotted on the FCI.
Another NIDA graduate who we’ve proudly called Australian for many years, Russell has acted well in some decent movies, and he saved the South Sydney Rabbitohs from certain death. But there’s no denying that he’s had his ups and downs.
Russell Crowe is known for his quick temper (to the point where I write this while looking over my shoulder) and in 2005 had an altercation that resulted in him being arrested for throwing a phone at a concierge. At this point in his career, Australians were reminded of the fact that he was born in Christchurch, Wellington. In fact, we could go one step further and dredge up his musical career, where in 1982 under the stage name of Rus le Roq, the Kiwi youth released a misguided single called ‘I Just Wanna be Like Marlon Brando’. Are we surprised that he threw a phone? That sounds exactly like something that New Zealand’s Russell Crowe would do.
While it’s been touch and go in recent years, we’ve recently started to open our hearts and shores to Russell again. Let’s just say entry is conditional on good behaviour.
Mel Gibson might find things a little tougher for a while. While a glance at the FCI will see that Gibson is currently an American, there is an inverse effect evident in the United States, with news reports labelling him as Australian. When you’re at the point where neither country has positive interest as a result of your presence, you need to take a look at how you’re acting.
Of course, it would do well to note in the fine print that the Claim Fame Index is subject to the celebrity residing in a country for a certain amount of time. Has enough time passed for Australians to palm the Paul Hogan problem off to America yet?