Mel Gibson's latest audiotape rant lacks the innovation of previous releases, but makes up for it with primal fury
Adding to a collection of bootleg audio that has begun to rival the Grateful Dead in sheer prolificacy, The Wrap has another volume of Mel Gibson: Debasement Tapes arriving in the wake of the latest suggestion that Mel Gibson may have some issues with self-control. This particular performance was surreptitiously recorded by Joe Eszterhas’ 15-year-old son at Gibson’s house in Costa Rica, where the Eszterhas family was staying while Eszterhas and Gibson worked out just how many severed heads on stakes would properly capture the tale of Judah Maccabee. At some point before deciding on “miles of them,” Gibson channeled his frustrations with the creative process into an impromptu gig for an intimate audience, which can be heard here. (A transcript also exists, for those who are not audiophiles.)
As described in Eszterhas’ nine-page liner notes—later dismissed as an “utter fabrication” by Gibson—Gibson started strong with some improvised new material, first smashing his cellphone against the wall and screaming, “I look so fucking old! I look horrible!” before interweaving the more familiar strains of “That fucking whore is destroying me!” as a melodic callback. He then took it into an exciting, completely new direction by screaming at the sky, “Answer me, God! Why did you turn your back on me!? Fuck you! Fuck you!... I’m not gonna take it up the ass anymore and say, ‘Thank you, your honor!’”—a riff that, sadly, only those in attendance got to hear. Fully warmed up, Gibson then ran around the side of the house and began a duet with Eszterhas in the open-air billiards room, which is where Eszterhas’ son finally had the foresight to capture it all on his iPod for posterity.
Compared to the earlier releases, Gibson: Goin’ Cuckoo In Costa Rica lacks in both experimentation and instant gratification, containing neither new, colorful epithets nor revelatory versions of established hits. Instead, it’s mostly a tired retread of old material—“I am earning money for a filthy little cocksucker who takes advantage of me!” especially borders on self-pillaging—while the unimaginative repetition takes the now-familiar Mel Gibson formula and distills it to its most basic, dumbed-down elements. And yet, there’s an undeniable primal power to the way Gibson abandons all pretense and just begins screaming, “Fuck!” until he’s completely hoarse that reminds us why we started listening in the first place.
And, if nothing else, it’s worth a spin alone for the moment where Gibson returns to the dinner table to scream in the faces of his guests, “Who wants to eat?! Who the fuck wants to eat?! Go have something to eat! Hurrrrraaaaayyyyyy!” No doubt some enterprising producer will make a dance remix of that soon; until then, this can only be considered a minor effort. Grade: C+