Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I haven't seen "The Passion of the Christ" yet, and probably won't get to for a few weeks. Though I'm intrigued by the film, I'm not jumping up and down merely because it's a rare film that takes Christianity seriously. I'll wait and watch it, and then decide what I think of it.

Regardless, I'm amazed at some of the vitriol I'm seeing in reviews. I have to think that Gibson is onto something powerful here, if only because it has so many secularists literally losing their minds. It's nothing short of astounding--they're frothing at the mouth like rabid dogs.

Here's one from Roger Friedman, who writes the "Fox 411" gossip column at (Incidentally, I've never known of a straight, male gossip columnist, but perhaps Roger is the exception....) Note the now-textbook technique of branding Gibson an anti-Semite while pretending not to:
Is the movie anti-Semitic? Several reviewers have already said it is. I can tell you this: Thanks to Gibson, when non-Jews around the world now see the Jewish prayer shawl, the tallis, on the heads of praying Jews, they will think, 'Oh yeah, those were worn by the angry crowds in "The Passion" who insisted that Jesus be killed and then patiently watched him be tortured to death.' Thanks to Gibson, we are reminded that Jesus' friend Judas ? a Jew ? was easily sold out for some gold that was thrown at him in exchange for his betrayal. It's the return of the money-grubbing Jew, straight out of the old anti-Semite playbook.

There's more, of course, but none of this is a revelation at this point. Gibson's Jews are caricatures with bulbous noses. To say they lack compassion is an understatement. They are almost always pictured as an angry, unrelenting mob that wants Jesus dead no matter what. It's so stupid that it's almost not anti-Semitic. It just makes Gibson look like an idiot.
"Supid." "Idiot." You don't see film reviewers attack Pauly Shore and Tom Green this way. There's something personal going on here that runs much deeper than a movie. One wonders if Mr. Friedman, like so many other male gossip columnists, has a sausage-swallowing problem that might be jeopardized by Christian truth claims.

And I love how film reviewers are now suddenly all anti-violence. As if they weren't soiling their shorts over Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" a few months ago.

One of those soiling her shorts over that film was Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News. So great is her devotion to Tarrantino, she's even written a book called Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies. She objects to "The Passion," because, yep, you guessed it: it's too violent.

Says Bernard:
The violence is grotesque, savage and often fetishized in slo-mo. At least in Hollywood spectacles that kind of violence is tempered with cartoonish distancing effects; not so here.
Ah, yes, I see now. If we tie a guy up, cut off his ear, have him spurt blood out of his head, and then we douse him with gasoline and set him on fire (as Tarrantino did in "Reservoir Dogs"), it's "cartoonish." It's fun! But if you treat violence as serious and real, it's out of bounds.

Bernard, who according to her bio "named her parrot Sensei after the kung-fu movies of her youth" and "also has two cats, Tsuko and Buzz" (read: "Jami is a bitter, budding spinster"), steps where most others have feared to tread:
Is it anti-Semitic?


Jews are vilified, in ways both little and big, pretty much nonstop for two hours, seven minutes.

Gibson cuts from the hook nose of one bad Jewish character to the hook nose of another in the ensuing scene.
I've been reading a lot of things like this lately, and I'm curious. Since the movie is not animated, the noses shown onscreen belong to actual actors, many of whom are actually Jewish. Isn't the real anti-Semitism here being demonstrated by reviewers who insist on pointing out these "bulbous" and "hook noses"? Keep in mind, these are actual people with actual noses. By continually remarking on them, who is really foisting the stereotypes? How must the actual Jewish owners of these noses feel when they hear themselves described this way by reviewers? What would we say about a reviewer who attacks Steven Spielberg in "Amistad" for "cutting from one large-nostriled black nose to the next"? Would we think the problem was with Spielberg, or with the person who would write such a thing?

Considering how much some of these folks evidently have to lose (judging by their hysteria), I've actually been suprised with the number of guardedly positive (or at least fair-minded) reviews the film is receiving, including in both major papers here in liberal South Florida. Even the New York Times, which has been pillorying Gibson for months on its editorial page treats the film fairly on its review page.

Which all goes to show that you'll be able to tell a lot about a person by how frothing their reaction to it is .

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