Wednesday, February 25

Beam Scotty up (please!)

A Reply to Mr. Scott's Review of Mel Gibson's "Passion"
(online version @

Scott, P1: "Mr. Gibson has constructed an unnerving and painful spectacle..."

MH: Uh, no, that'd be the Romans who constructed the spectacle...

Scott, P4: "Mr. Gibson has departed radically from the tone and spirit of earlier American movies..."

MH: Ah, but every other radical departure in American culture is embraced and celebrated in the New York Times. Hmmm.

Scott, P5: "His version of the Gospels is harrowingly violent..."

MH: Isn't it Matthew, Mark, Luke and John's version of the Gospels? Oh that's right, this is the New York Times...sources that have names are sometimes not very useful, are they?

Scott, P7: "By rubbing our faces in the grisly reality of Jesus' death..."

MH: Hey, at least he acknowledged Jesus' death! (He died, therefore He is!)

Scott, P7: "Look, the movie seems to insist, when we say he died for our sins, this is what we mean."

MH: Imagine that, people speaking honestly about what they think or feel! A shock to him due to it possibly being less frequently encountered during the Ed boards of the Times?

Scott, P8: "A viewer, particularly one who accepts the theological import of the story, is thus caught in a sadomasochistic paradox, as are the disciples for whom Jesus, in a flashback that occurs toward the end, promises to lay down his life."

MH: Now I'm not quite as familiar with perversity as some people at the Times may be, but I believe that masochism involves one's own self-destructive interest in being abused, rather than an intellectual recognition that one may -- or is about to be -- abused by his captors. When Peter (the first of Christ's Vicars on Earth, you know) cuts off the Judean soldier's ear at the time of capture in the garden, I'd say he is particularly disinterested in being abused himself or seeing Jesus abused...but then again, I'm from the midwest.

Scott, P9: "Mr. Gibson is temperamentally a more stolid, less formally adventurous filmmaker..."

MH: Mr. Gibson is so non-adventurous of a filmmaker that he is reported to have spent $25 million of his own money to bring this project to fruition.

Scott, P14: "Is 'The Passion of the Christ' anti-Semitic? I thought you'd never ask. To my eyes it did not seem to traffic explicitly or egregiously in the toxic iconography of historical Jew hatred, but more sensitive viewers may disagree. The Pharisees, in their tallit and beards, are certainly shown as a sinister and inhumane group, and the mob they command is full of howling, ugly rage."

MH: Maybe the Pharisees do come across as "a sinister and inhumane group" -- except for the two or three of them who actually protested the proceedings of the Sanhedrin and called for Jesus' release. Funny how he left those guys out, huh? And, it was also strange how the mass of persons on the last leg of the trip to Golgotha (I'd assume these persons were Jews, but maybe they were Babylonians bused in from the east, as protesters are wont to be bused from their natural habitat to one where the "action" is) are actually weeping and wailing as Jesus passes them by. Granted the gristle-toothed supporters of Barabas were not a girl's first choice to bring home to mother.

Scott, P16: "The troubling implications of the film do not arise primarily from its religious agenda: an extreme, traditionalist Roman Catholicism that has not prevented "The Passion" from resonating, oddly enough, with many evangelical Protestants."

MH: Ah yes, that "extreme" Catholicism that existed for centuries before a pederastic cult infiltrated the Roman priesthood in the postwar period and began molesting young boys left and right, all the while singing Kumbaya and strumming their guitars as if rehearsing for an MTV "Unplugged" session.

Scott, P17: "What makes the movie so grim and ugly is Mr. Gibson's inability to think beyond the conventional logic of movie narrative. In most movies — certainly in most movies directed by or starring Mr. Gibson — violence against the innocent demands righteous vengeance in the third act, an expectation that Mr. Gibson in this case whips up and leaves unsatisfied."

MH, a. A movie "so grim and ugly" that actually has as its central theme its main character's endless capacity to forgive those who wrong Him, regardless of the severity of the injustice involved. Isn't tolerance and turning the other cheek a cause near and dear to the hearts of those running the Times? Check some back issues, A.O. ...

MH, b. As much as many in the audience would have liked to see the trailing credits roll into the beginning of a sequel based on the Apocalypse, it would be hard to show the Prince of Peace in any other way than the one He came to show Himself to mankind in.

Scott, P18: "On its own, apart from whatever beliefs a viewer might bring to it, "The Passion of the Christ" never provides a clear sense of what all of this bloodshed was for, an inconclusiveness that is Mr. Gibson's most serious artistic failure. The Gospels, at least in some interpretations, suggest that the story ends in forgiveness. But such an ending seems beyond Mr. Gibson's imaginative capacities."

MH, a. Ever hear of a target audience? I don't recall anyone complaining about not having an "Idiot's Guide to 'The Fast and Furious'" before seeing that movie... Isn't it OK for conservative and traditional consumers to have products (in this case, a movie) available that focus on topics they're familiar with? Or do we need to review the Times' Sunday Magazine to sharpen our cultural perspectives?

MH, b. Concerning the line about the Gospels " some interpretations" suggesting the story "...ends in forgiveness..." -- yeah, that's exemplified by the flogged, lacerated, bleeding guy saying "Father, forgive them" at the end of it all, if you recall.


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