Alec Baldwin, David O'Russell, Christian Bale are among the celebrities who have seen their reputations tarnished after recordings of them in fits of anger spread across the Web.
To that list, we can now add actor-director Mel Gibson.
RadarOnline.com has posted to its Web site what it says is a recording of Gibson, star of such films as "Braveheart," "Lethal Weapon," and "Signs," screaming and cursing at former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva during a recent phone conversation. Not surprisingly, the eight-minute clip has gone viral.
RadarOnline offers little in the way of details about when the recording was made or how the celeb-gossip site obtained it. Still, the male voice on the recording sounds like Gibson. In many ways, the recording differs little from previous meltdowns that were recorded of Baldwin (screaming at his daughter) or Bale (berating a memberof a film crew) or the videotape of O'Russell tearing into actress Lily Tomlin.
Gibson, assuming that is in fact him, sounds abusive throughout the recording and calls Grigorieva numerous names that are unprintable here. At one point, he seems to threaten her life. "I'll put you in a f***ing rose garden," Gibson said. "You understand that, cause I'm capable of it." When Grigorieva reminds Gibson that he hit her while she held his daughter, Gibson responds: "You deserved it."
Years ago, watching or listening to a celebrity during an uncontrolled outburst was rare. In the Internet age, we're getting one it seems every year. The reason for that is unclear but digital technology must surely play a part. It is so much easier now to pull out a cell phone camera or transfer a digital sound recording to the Web.
The onset of file sharing and YouTube makes it simple for anyone in the world with a snippet of hot content to spread the information to millions--the public doesn't have to rely on traditional media companies to decide if it was correct to publish a private conversation between two people.
In the end, the lesson that Gibson and actor Michael Richards (who called hecklers racial epithets during a show) might learn is the digital age promises less privacy and greater scrutiny for those in the public eye than ever before. Now nearly anyone they come in contact is essentially equipped to report their actions.
The lesson for the rest of us may be to keep our cool.
Update, 1:48 p.m. PT: Here is a link to another Gibson rant to Grigorieva where he uses racial epithets .