A video showing actor and filmmaker Mel Gibson raising his hand in a salute gesture as ex-President Donald Trump arrived at a recent UFC fight has sparked controversy online, with critics enraged over the apparent sign of respect.
First posted to TikTok on Monday, the footage shows Trump as he entered the T-Mobile area near Las Vegas for the UFC 264 event over the weekend, with Gibson briefly seen saluting him in the background.
— The Columbia Bugle ?? (@ColumbiaBugle) July 11, 2021
While there was initially some question as to whether it was really the Oscar-winning actor, other footage of the incident has since emerged giving a better view. Gibson was also seen elsewhere at the UFC fight on Saturday, where he was sporting the same clothes.
Yup it’s Mel Gibson pic.twitter.com/0ELAtdiSbq
— Jack Posobiec ?? (@JackPosobiec) July 12, 2021
Gibson’s cameo soon prompted criticism on social media, as many commenters were up in arms that he would dare to acknowledge the former commander in chief, some suggesting it came as no surprise given the filmmaker’s previous controversies.
The crazy thing is, you didn’t even need to know why Mel Gibson was trending to know that he probably did something shitty.
Rest in hell to his dead career. pic.twitter.com/H8eMpA99dq
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) July 12, 2021
Mel Gibson is who we thought he was.
— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) July 12, 2021
However, the nod to Trump was not as obvious as some critics let on. While Gibson has hinted that he leans conservative and does not hide his strong religious beliefs, the actor has voiced misgivings about Trump in the past, attacking his plans for a border wall in a 2016 interview while dismissing both he and Hillary Clinton as poor candidates.
It’s a drag that Mel Gibson “saluted” #45, but two things:
1) He’s done worse.
2) He outright refused to endorse #45 in 2016 and criticized his attack on POWs. There’s still no context for this “salute”.
— adamzanzie (@adamzanzie) July 12, 2021
Other observers were less animated over the ‘Salute Gate’ controversy, with some deeming the outrage “pathetic” and trivial.
Centrist Twitter losing their damn mins over Mel Gibson, uhh, saluting Trump is really hilarious to me. Like, it’s July 2021 and who could possibly give a shit other than actual weirdos
— Trey (@TreyIrby) July 12, 2021
I’m not a fan of #MelGibson or #DonaldTrump. But puzzled that Gibson apparently saluting Trump is somehow becoming news?!?! He can salute the sky or Prince of Darkness if he chooses to, no? Again, I find them both indefensible so I have no skin in the game. Just puzzled. pic.twitter.com/C0pwpblFij
— Spencer Hughes (@RadioSpencer) July 13, 2021
Only twitter gives AF about a Mel Gibson salute
— Father of 3 (@whiter069) July 13, 2021
Gibson and Trump found defenders as well, arguing the actor’s salute is the “appropriate greeting” for a former president, while others insisted they wouldn’t ‘cancel’ his career over a hand signal.
Mel Gibson has a net-worth of over $400 million dollars.
Good luck cancelling him ?
— Art TakingBack ?? (@ArtValley818_) July 12, 2021
The Patriot Saluting President Trump https://t.co/APPdLiX9cS
— The Columbia Bugle ?? (@ColumbiaBugle) July 12, 2021
Oh now people want to cancel Mel Gibson because he saluted Trump? That’s not the only thing he’s done that’s been morally questionable tweeps.
For the record I like Mels acting and that won’t change because of a salute to a former President of the United States
— ?SilverBackedGorilla? (@Frank_Henry_II) July 12, 2021