07/31/2006 10:42 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Smile Mel! You're On Mugshot Camera!

Well you have to hand it to Mel. He takes a nice mugshot. The police camera loves him. We have become accustomed to police mughots that look like they were taken by... well police mugshot cameras. No fancy backdrops.... harsh lighting... bad contrast...

Now comes Mel's smiling mug. Anyone expecting a cross between his recent Saddam Hussein look and the infamous Nick Nolte-as-George Clinton will be disappointed. With only one stray hair out of place, he gazes into the camera lens like it was the eyes of one of the blondes who he was reportedly photographed cavorting with just hours before his arrest. (There's already a bidding war going on among the tabs for those still pictures and they may gross more than Mel's next moving pictures.)

But what is with that lighting and background? Where's the scrubbed jail-room walls and the harsh fluorescent lighting from the lock-up in the "Lethal Weapon" movies? Nowhere. Mel's baby-blues match the nicely graded backdrop. Apparently the Malibu hoosegow boasts a nice photo-studio with soft, flattering lighting. He's even shot slightly from above (unlike most mugshots that are straight-on). It's a well-known actor's trick. Helps avoid showing any sagging jaw-line and makes him appear to be even taller than his impressive 5' 7" stature (5' 8'' with lifts.) You have to hand it to the Malibu copshop. Perhaps booked movie stars are able to order a few 8x10 headshots as they leave....

Most notable is Mel's demeanor. In contrast with his statement claim that he was "a person completely out of control" (his way of explaining his anti-semitic rants and misogynistic outburst) - he looks comparatively sober. Maybe a little merry - as though he'd just had the fun of demeaning an entire race or creed - but not totally out of control.

And - showing that he has the same reflexive media-savvy smarts as his ideological soul-mate Tom DeLay - Mel knew well enough to smile serenely for the police camera.

No deranged, sullen mugshot for Mel. He won't look like a hardened criminal or drunken slob. He'll look as much as possible like... like... Mel Gibson. And he succeeded.

But in so doing - he set himself a bigger problem. Now he'll have to reconcile that smiley, almost-sober image with the storyline that his statement, his PR flacks, his damage control squad and his very pricey legal team have been constructing that he was wildly out of control and that he shouldn't be held accountable for anything he said that night.

It would have been better for his "forgive me - I was truly wasted" spin if he'd looked like Nick Nolte's infamous mugshot. But he doesn't look like an out-of-control drunk. He looks like the same ol' smug Mel Gibson who can talk and charm his way out of anything.

Now it's up to Hollywood and the public. Will they allow Mel to sweet-talk his way out this disaster pic with some carefully-scripted faux remorse? Or will the Candid Mel captured on the police's candid camera be sufficiently revolting to make people resistant to his upcoming contrition campaign?