Summit Distribution has acquired a rep for timidity in the matter of The Beaver. So it’s likely that even if star Mel Gibson didn’t have an appointment last night to be booked and then released for misdemeanor battery at L.A.’s El Segundo police station (which he kept), Summit marketers would have advised him not to join Beaver director-costar Jodie Foster, costar Anton Yelchin and screenwriter Kyle Killen for last night’s SXSW premiere showing in Austin.

But what’s the point of hiding at this stage? If you ask me there’s only one thing to do — man up, face the press, point to Charlie Sheen and say, “Look at that guy and then look at me and tell the truth — am I not looking a little better since he took the stage and sucked all the crazy out of the room?

“I’m a non-drinking alcoholic and a racist arch-Catholic nutbag loon, okay, but grossly offensive antisocial behavior…call it madness if you want, I don’t care…can be gauged in degrees, and…c’mon, listen to that fucker. Admit it, guys — I don’t seem as gnarly to you right now. Britney Spears put it succinctly: I’ve been working on myself and I’m not that bad.

“Plus I’m a better filmmaker than Sheen, a better actor, a lot of good people have stood by me, I’ve struggled with alcohol and humiliated myself beyond all measure, and I’m trying to rid myself of my demons just like Walter in The Beaver, and you definitely have to give me points for not having revolting homie suck-ups in pork-pie hats hanging around downstairs in my home.”

If I were Gibson, I’d ask for a meeting with Summit staffers and say the following:

“Okay, so the South by Southwest screening….that went okay, right? It didn’t? What did Eric Kohn say? What about Variety? And Wells? But the people in the audience were down with it, no? That’s what I read. And even the critics who beat up Jody and the film in general have been saying good things about my performance.

“But let’s face facts besides. The Beaver, good as it is in many respects, is simply too sad and morose to make a lot of money. Jodie emphasized the heartstrings and suppressed the crazy. I would have gone there if she’d wanted to, believe me, but she didn’t and that’s that — fine, I love her, she knows what she’s doing, no worries. But the movie isn’t funny or crazy enough. It’s not a comedy or even a half a comedy, and when people figure that out, it’s going to sputter and stall and make a beeline for the DVD bin. You know it. I know it.

“The thing we need to do is not act like we’re scared of our own shadow, and so far…well, no offense, but no one had done that better than you guys. But you know as well as I do that chickenshit is not a marketing strategy.

“Do you guys want to…what, hide me forever? Don’t want to let me talk or get out at all or sit down with any interviewers at all? I want to ask you a question, and I want you to try and answer me honestly. Are we men or are we mice?

The Beaver will hit the beach in less than two months, and it’s obviously not a bad film and I give one of my better performances in it so let’s just stop trembling in our boots and deal with it, man up and tell the truth. I’ve got issues….duhhh….but the movie is about a guy with issues besides, and in the end it’s about love and family and not hiding from ourselves and owning up to our frailties and vulnerabilities. So let’s stop with the trembling and embrace what the film is saying, and embrace who and what we are and stop all the terrified shilly-shallying. The movie’s going to be gone in two or three weeks anyway so what do we have to lose?”