“Hugging the cactus” — now that’s a powerful image.
I think you can figure out the backstory. Frank Weathers discusses it. Evidently the event organizers had no idea that Robert Downey Jr. had this planned. They chose Mel Gibson to introduce Downey because they were “concerned a bit about Robert’s checkered past, so they chose someone to present the award who could help balance that out and the choice was so obvious, Mel Gibson.”
Well, they ended up getting a whole lot more than “balance” — they got a peak at what forgiveness looks like as well as the eternal offer of redemption.
I’ve written recently about my hopes that Mel Gibson overcomes his (many) personal demons and seeks and finds forgiveness for his numerous public sins. Too often we can generalize that Hollywood is full of immoral people and forget that, even here, grace and mercy are sometimes powerfully at work.
As for Downey Jr., I outed him as a closet papist long ago — when an AmP reader spotted him wearing a John Paul II t-shirt on Good Morning America:
Downey Jr. talked in 2004 to the New York Times about his experience with the Catholic faith while in prison:
Q. Are you religious? Many people find God as part of their recovery process and there seem to be veiled references in a few of the songs.
A. I’m not above it. But like Jung said about people using religion to avoid a religious experience, I have managed handily to avoid a religious experience. I don’t know where I fall. Spiritual Green Party? There were times when I was into the whole Hare Krishna thing, which is pretty far out. Now I would call myself a Jew-Bu, a Jewish-Buddhist. But there were many times when Catholicism saved my butt.
Q. You were a practicing Catholic?
A.I was in as much when I was on the B yard and they asked me, “Are you going to Catholic services or Presbyterian services?” I think I’m going to Catholic because they just give you more stuff. More candles and there’s a whole calendar where this day you read this, the next day you read that. It’s like a call sheet for spirituality.
God calls everyone, even the broken heroes of Hollywood.