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Hello and welcome back for another episode of Les Deux You Remember This? where we look back on all the stories from Hollywood’s best worst decade. The early 2000’s. A time in history when America found out that with a trust fund, a sex tape, and a dream, you too, could become a star. As always, I’m your host, Dara Laine.
2 episodes ago, we talked with guest Gabi Conti about the mental health issues of both Britney and Lindsay. Much of their bad behavior can be at least be partially attributed to an emotional breakdown and addiction issues. This week, we’ll discuss two different stories in which other celebrities blamed their bad behavior on the same problems. Is a breakdown or substance abuse an excuse for committing an a-moral offense? And how long must someone atone for these sins before they are absolved? But… does everyone and their damaged hair deserve a comeback?
These are all the questions we’ll touch upon in this episode, entitled “Stranger Things: The Story of Winona Ryder’s Comeback and also The Story of How Weird it Is that Mel Gibson was Allowed to Be in Daddy’s Home 2” …alternative title… “Girl, Interrupted: The Story of Winona Ryder and also the story of the Female Cop Who Was Interrupted by Mel GIbson when he Called Her Sugar Tits.”
We’ll begin with Winona’s story that dates us back to December 12, 2001. Almost 3 months to the day after 9/11.
As Alex Pappademas of GQ put it: “Historians will remember it as the first major celebrity-bad-behavior story of the post-9/11 era, a sign that it was okay for us, as a society, to be preoccupied with stupid bullshit again”
Perhaps that is true for some, but I think that sells a lot of people too short. I have long taken pride in my ability to have enough extra leg room in my brain to preoccupy myself with both stupid bullshit and important bullshit.
So on to the stupid bullshit that has many shades of important bullshit as it relates to how we treat women and those suffering from mental illness and/or addiction issues. Uh kay?
On this day in December, Winona stepped into Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills carrying a large bag. On the surveillance cameras, security noticed Winona walking through the store, putting different items in her bag. She went into a dressing room and cut off security tags with a pair of scissors. As she attempted to leave, she was apprehended.
When they searched her bag they found several items including: a pharmacies worth of pain killers and other meds,
a cashmere Marc Jacobs sweater worth $760, various Frederic Fekkai hair adornments worth about $600 and several pairs of socks, including a cashmere pair from Donna Karan worth $80,
The grand total came out to $5,560.
Let’s be real. This was a lady who wanted to get caught. And also, I’m guessing a very amateur thief. It’s understandable. All those formative years when you’re supposed to learn petty shoplifting techniques she was busy acting in Lucas and Great Balls of Fire.
I, personally, have never shoplifted, but even I know the ropes. 1. Never steal CDs from a Strawberries. You will never get away with it. 2. If you’re stealing a thong from a Rave in the mall, take a bunch of clothes in with you hiding the thong between items, put on the thong over your own underwear, put your pants back on, leave the store quickly and go to the candy store for a baby bottle pop to toast your victory. And for more brazen and experienced shoplifters, hit up a JCPenney, go to the rack of returns that are waiting to be retagged and returned to the shelves. Take a pair of flair cordaroy hip huggers plus a couple other items. Put on the cords in the dressing room, put your old raggedy pants back on the hanger, then light up a cigarette as you walk your smug ass out the mall like you’re Blu Cantrell.
But if you just wanna get caught, bring a pair crafting shears from home and try to get away with pilfering cashmere for a Saks.
During the trial, Winona’s defense team first tried to make the case that Winona didn’t know what that she was stealing. That she just thought that her assistant would come back to do it. A security guard testified that after they had caught her she told them she was just doing research for a role. So far this is sounding like Jodi Arias trying to get out of trouble.
And the trial was a spectacle of Arias proportions, with people scrutinizing Winona’s appearance like they did Jodi’s. If you can imagine, in 2001, tabloids were ruthless in their judgement of the way women looked, something we never have to worry about today.
Here’s one story put out by The Drudge Report on October 30, 2002 during her trial:
XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX WED OCT 30, 2002 20:52:41 ET XXXXX
PANTIES ON PARADE: WINONA GOES TO COURT IN SEE-THROUGH FROCK
Winona Ryder had trouble with her briefs at a Los Angeles court today.
The Hollywood star turned up for her shoplifting trial in a see-through party dress, shocking witnesses.
Let the evidence show:
Ryder presented to jurors how her bra is black and her panties are white.
The see-through caused a complete commotion inside of the courtroom, with one lawyer staring transfixed at Ryder’s brassiere.
“What was she thinking?!” asked one observer. “Judge Judy would have ordered her home to change in to more appropriate court attire.”
The judgement of her taste wasn’t limited to the media. At one point during the trial, her defense picked up one of the hair clips, waved it over her head and exclaimed, “can you even imagine her wearing this?!”
Apparently that rock solid argument didn’t work, because after the jury deliberated for one day, they found Winona guilt of 2 of the 3 felony counts against her.
During her sentencing, the judge let Winona have it, saying “”You have disappointed many people who have been entertained and inspired by your talent,” Judge Elden Fox told her. He went on to say that he had been unable to explain to his 16-year-old son, Ryan, why someone who earned so much ($6m a film) should shoplift: “You are the only person that’s going to be able to answer my son’s question.”
Please God, someone explain this to Ryan!
Does this Judge require all of his guilty defendants to explain to Ryan why they did what they did or it just Winona? Poor Ryan must be so delicate and simple that he requires a personal sit down or hand written letter detailing the thought process behind every non-violent criminals transgressions. He gets home from a hard day at Harvard-Westlake, fixes himself a glass of milk and pours over the many personal apology letters trying to understand why good people do bad things! Why a rich woman who wants for nothing could steal from things she doesn’t need from a high end department store! Why Ryan Whhhyyyy???
Well probably because she needed help. After she broke her arm on the set of Adam Sandler’s Mr. Deeds she started taking pain medication, which, sidebar, what a film to get a low key pill addiction over. She had been over medicating herself, as she put it, for about three weeks. On top of it, she was run down from a lifetime of fame and scrutiny. As she put it:
““Psychologically, I must have been at a place where I just wanted to stop,” she said. “I won’t get into what happened, but it wasn’t what people think. And it wasn’t like the crime of the century! But it allowed me time that I really needed, where I went back to San Francisco and got back into things that … I just had other interests, frankly.”
After she got 36 months of probation and 408 hours of community service, Winona went to San Francisco and did some soul searching. Eventually she tried to get back into the business, but had a slow go of it for a while.
Another fallen star that has spent time trying to earn… or weasel his way back into show business is famed anti-semite Mel Gibson.
One hot July evening in 2006, Mel Gibson was pulled over as he sped down the Pacific Coast Highway.
As the officers arrested him Mel said to the male officer ““Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” before asking her: “Are you a Jew?”
And to the female, “”What do you think you’re looking at, sugar tits?”
But this, of course, pales in comparison to things he said on tape to his now ex Oksana Griegorieva. To which he says, “”You look like a fucking pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of n*****, it will be your fault.”
And “”I am going to come and burn the fucking house down… but you will blow me first.”
Also caught on tape was Oksana saying “What kind of man is that who would hit a woman when she is holding a child in her hands, hitting her twice in the face?” to which he replies “”You know what, you fucking deserved it.”
So why do I make the comparison between Mel and Winona. Well, after over a decade both have made a comeback- Winona on Stranger Things and Mel in Daddy’s Home 2. Mel likes to complain about how hard it was for him to be accepted again, how unfair it was. But, though Mel’s come back didn’t stick for a while with the public he was given many chances by his peers in Hollywood. Remember the fucking Beaver? That was in 2011, barely 5 years after his DUI and a mere year after being caught on tape saying racist and sexist things to his wife, not to mention committing the crime of domestic assault.
Winona on the other hand, wasn’t given many legitimate opportunities besides a small part in black swan and a voice role in Frankenweenie. Her big comeback didn’t come for about 15 years after her indiscretion. Why was Mel afforded so many opportunities to make a comeback happen while Winona wasn’t? Oooooh I think you know.
But what really annoys me about the difference between the two of their stories, is while Winona went away for a bit to collect herself and reflect on her life, and then came back to hollywood with a sense of humility, Mel came back with a chip on his shoulder. As if he’s been owed this the whole time. On the graham Norton show, he compares the last ten years trying to become relevant again to digging ditches, which he says with a sort of manic bitterness. Or maybe everything he says with that mangey beard of his sounds manic and bitter.
On Variety’s playback podcast, he says
“Ten years have gone by,” Gibson stated. “I’m feeling good. I’m sober, all of that kind of stuff, and for me it’s a dim thing in the past. But others bring it up, which kind of I find annoying, because I don’t understand why after 10 years it’s any kind of issue. Surely if I was really what they say I was, some kind of hater, there’d be evidence of actions somewhere. There never has been.”
“I’ve never discriminated against anyone or done anything that sort of supports that reputation,” the actor/director said. “And for one episode in the back of a police car on eight double tequilas to sort of dictate all the work, life’s work and beliefs and everything else that I have and maintain for my life is really unfair.”
Wahhhh it’s so unfair!!! And of course, he makes no mention of all the things he said and did to his ex girlfriend. But, great, your sober now. Though was alcohol really the blame for all of this? I don’t believe that alcohol makes you a racist. You mean to tell me all those thoughts that he has when he’s hammered don’t exist when he’s sober?
He says there’s no actions of his prejudice outside this incident, though there’s plenty of interviews where he has more awful things to say, particularly about gay people. There’s also evidence in his movie Passion of the Christ that many people considered to be anti-semitic. There’s also the fact that his father is an outspoken Holocaust denier. If we’ve learned anything from South Pacific is you have to be carefully taught to be prejudiced from your terrible parents!
And I submit my final piece of evidence a little anecdote from Winona Ryder from an interview with GQ in 2010:
“I remember, like, fifteen years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties. And he was really drunk. I was with my friend, who’s gay. He made a really horrible gay joke. And somehow it came up that I was Jewish. He said something about ‘oven dodgers,’ but I didn’t get it. I’d never heard that before. It was just this weird, weird moment. I was like, ‘He’s anti-Semitic and he’s homophobic.’ No one believed me!
We believe you Winona. And we’re ready for you now…
Les Deux You Remember This? Is researched, written, narrated, and Edited by me Dara Laine. If you aren’t already, please subscribe on iTunes, and leave a rating and review. You can follow the pod on Instagram and iTunes. And please, if you like the podcast, share it, tell your friends! It’s true what they say: takes a village to make me famous. If you have any questions, comments, or show suggestions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So you’re invited to come back next week. We’ve got a table, and I’ve put you on the list, for Les Deux You Remember This?