NEW YORK, N.Y. – Since the celebrity website RadarOnline.com gradually released recordings purportedly of Mel Gibson, the tapes have been used for comedy fodder across the Internet, inspiring remixes, mash-ups and an endless stream of tweets.
The recordings reveal grim, ugly arguments between a man who sounds distinctly like Gibson and a woman identified by the site as his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Oksana Grigorieva. The anger and ethnic slurs make the tapes difficult to listen to.
Parody, though, has come easier.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” says Justin Stangel, who, with his brother Eric, is co-head writer and executive producer of “Late Show With David Letterman.”
“His tapes are so crazy, there’s new areas to deal with everyday. It’s fantastic. They really should have saved it for sweeps,” Stangel said, referring to the period when ad time is priced for TV programming.
Late night shows have put the subject in heavy rotation, none perhaps as much at CBS’ “Late Show.”
Letterman has joked that the biggest problem of Apple’s iPhone 4 is that it “only accepts calls from Mel Gibson.” He has claimed the number one excuse for Gibson is that he “wanted to show the Jews I’m an equal-opportunity offender.” And on Tuesday, the show suggested a more positive version of the recordings, where vulgarities were substituted with pleasantries and compliments.
“We always try to focus on: This is A-list celebrity Mel Gibson losing his mind,” says Justin Stangel. “It’s such a big story that you have to make jokes about it, but you’re not going to make jokes about some of the grim things that may or may not have been going on.”
Added Eric Stangel: “The tapes themselves are so bizarre that you don’t have to do much more than play the tapes and listen to the guy out of breath.”
On NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Tracy Morgan said the often misogynist rants that demeaned women were “nothing but hip-hop. He stole that concept from Lil’ Wayne.”
Gibson has routinely been one of the most popular subjects on Twitter over the past 10 days. Reaction has gone from shock to outrage and finally to belittling.
Comedian Dane Cook has said he’s going as Gibson for Halloween this year. Michael Ian Black (“The State,” ”Stella”) had a one-word suggestion for the actor: “Podcasts.” Bill Maher mused that watching “What Women Want,” the 2000 film Gibson starred in, “just feels different now.”
One of the most common subjects to lump in with Gibson has been the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“BP has successfully placed a containment cap on Mel Gibson although there have been reports of some n-word seepage,” tweeted comedian Kevin Nealon.
Joy Behar, co-host of “The View,” added: “BP says the well is contained and no more oil is spewing out. Now, if only that same technology could be used on Mel Gibson’s mouth.”
Several mock Gibson Twitter feeds have been started. The obviously fake “Real Mel Gibson” has some 14,000 followers.
Others have taken the tapes into their own hands.
One popular video online combines another famous celebrity rant, Christian Bale’s 2009 tirade on the set of “Terminator Salvation.” The video, created by Nick Bosworth of the YouTube channel MovieGodsLive, mashes together the two viral rants. More than 800,000 have watched it on YouTube.
Other fusions include mixing the Gibson audio with the “Grand Theft Auto” video game character Niko Bellic. Gibson has also, by way of the Internet, yelled at Drew Barrymore’s character on the phone in “Scream.” And the radio show “Opie & Anthony” added Gibson into the classic horror film “The Shining.”
There have been numerous dance remixes, too, including one that has been watched by some 175,000 on YouTube.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles police are investigating Gibson on a possible domestic violence case and investigators are attempting to authenticate the recordings. Sheriff’s detectives in Los Angeles are also checking extortion allegations against Grigorieva.
But when it comes to leaked audio of a celebrity doing something terrible, the Web seldom waits.