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The Passion of the Christ

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http://whosoeverdesi...ng-the-passion/ wrote:

: Finally, it is helpful to keep in mind that alongside the Gospels, Gibson was using the private revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich. An example of some of her more anti-Semitic writings . . .

Ah, but by the same token, just as Gibson has revised the gospels, so too he has revised Emmerich. For example: In Emmerich, Simon of Cyrene is a "pagan" who protests the treatment of Jesus at the hands of the Jews, whereas in Gibson, Simon is a "Jew" who protests the treatment of Jesus at the hands of the Romans. The depiction of this protest is virtually the same in Gibson as it is in Emmerich, but the ethnic identities of the person making the protest and the people against whom the protest is directed have been flipped around -- so if Emmerich is anti-Semitic, Gibson is, shall we say, anti-anti-Semitic, at least in this instance.

Peter: I saw this in the history of this thread also. I found the vehemence of the article linked in the whosoever desires blog to be a bit excessive and one-sided. I always think it's ironic to see the theologically liberal making appeals to authority to resolve problems. There's also a certain sola scriptura approach that seems out of place. It's especially interesting to see a document on the performance of passion plays for parish or diocesan use being invoked to criticize a movie produced by an individual - although the document would be applicable insofar as parishes have organized showings and trips to the theater, etc... that is, the document applies to public devotionals sponsored by parishes or dioceses.

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Peter: I saw this in the history of this thread also. I found the vehemence of the article linked in the whosoever desires blog to be a bit excessive and one-sided. I always think it's ironic to see the theologically liberal making appeals to authority to resolve problems. There's also a certain sola scriptura approach that seems out of place. It's especially interesting to see a document on the performance of passion plays for parish or diocesan use being invoked to criticize a movie produced by an individual - although the document would be applicable insofar as parishes have organized showings and trips to the theater, etc... that is, the document applies to public devotionals sponsored by parishes or dioceses.

The document in question also has zero authoritative status. And yeah, there is a "sola scriptura" dynamic to a critique that seems to go right from the Gospels to Gibson's Passion as if the whole history of Western art had never happened.

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The Hollywood Reporter has an article on the fallout from Gibson's latest outrageous comments, and it quotes one "veteran producer" to this effect:

"I've thought for a while that he was over as an actor no matter what because of his age," he said. "But if he were to make 'The Passion of the Christ' today, it wouldn't do a dime less business."

Does anyone here seriously believe this?

The Passion of the Christ owed a huge portion of its success to the churches that bought out entire theatres and gave the tickets away, all in the name of "ministry" -- and one huge reason why the churches did this was because they bought into the "narrative" of Gibson's life and career, i.e. he was a devout Christian who had lost his way during the early days of his Hollywood fame but he had begun to turn his life around about a decade or so before he made The Passion.

And while some of the film's publicity was no doubt due to the controversy surrounding the allegations of anti-Semitism, churches -- and film critics, such as Ebert & Roeper -- were also keen to defend Gibson and his film against those accusations. But that was before Gibson had begun spewing anti-Semitic remarks in public. And while I have heard a few people "explain" Gibson's anti-Semitic outburst as the result of a deep-seated resentment of the Jewish groups that gave him so much heat over The Passion, there wouldn't seem to be any such excuse whatsoever over his most recent remarks about blacks and Latinos. (Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has asked Danny Glover or even Chris Rock for a comment on this. Was there any evidence of this side of Gibson's back when they made the Lethal Weapon movies together?)

I still think The Passion of the Christ is "better" than what we've seen of Gibson in recent years, if I can put it like that; I think of the film's depiction of Simon of Cyrene, in particular, not only because he is one of the film's most sympathetic characters or because he is clearly identified as a Jew who takes a stand against Roman evil (as opposed to Sr. Anne Catherine Emmerich's version of Simon of Cyrene, who is a pagan taking a stand against Jewish evil), but also because the actor who plays him (Jarreth J. Merz) is himself half-black (half-Nigerian, to be specific; the other half is Swiss), which can't have been accidental, given that Cyrene is in Africa and actors of African descent such as Sidney Poitier have played the character before.

But whatever the film's merits, I find it hard to believe that Gibson could have sold this film to North American churches today the way he did six or seven years ago. I find it hard to believe that churches would have wanted to associate with Gibson in the absence of some major, major public apologies -- and even then, I would think these scandals are "too soon". And that's before we get to the disintegration of Gibson's 30-year marriage (which was apparently still going strong when The Passion came out) and his brief fling with whatshername.

So I really, really doubt that churches today would be buying up entire theatres and putting all that money in Gibson's pocket.

Of course, a part of me also doubts that Gibson would have even been CAPABLE of making this movie in the first place if he were trying to make it today, what with all this other nonsense going on in his life. I do seriously believe that Gibson made the movie as an expression of his own spirituality, and it sounds like there have been some changes in that area -- and not for the better -- over the last few years.

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Thanks for that Peter,

I was wondering what you were thinking of specifically with that last bit:

I do seriously believe that Gibson made the movie as an expression of his own spirituality, and it sounds like there have been some changes in that area -- and not for the better -- over the last few years.

Matt

PS How come you don't post stuff like this at your blog anymore?

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MattPage wrote:

: I was wondering what you were thinking of specifically with that last bit:

Well, I was using "spirituality" in the broadest sense, and thinking of reports I've heard about Mel Gibson's marriage being in really good shape at the time The Passion came out, as opposed to a couple years later when Mel was caught driving drunk and the Gibsons' separation began. I didn't mean to imply anything about his religious affiliation or anything like that -- though for a traditionalist Catholic to go through a divorce and having a child out of wedlock etc. must be kind of complicated, to say the least.

: PS How come you don't post stuff like this at your blog anymore?

I'm actually thinking of repurposing that post for my blog sometime today, perhaps while the kids are at preschool. It's strange, though; for some reason it's just "easier" to write here than it is at my blog. It's a psychological hangup of some sort, I guess.

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Thanks Peter.

You should repost it. I almost did! Now I'll wait, see if you do and then link to that instead. I've been thinking that there must be some comment related to the film and the incident but not really sure what.

I know what you mean about blogging though. For a medium that gets such a bad post for being slapdash bad journalism etc., I personally find it hard to post stuff that I think might be sub-par. Sometimes I wish I had (even) lower standards.

Matt

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MattPage wrote:

: I know what you mean about blogging though. For a medium that gets such a bad post for being slapdash bad journalism etc., I personally find it hard to post stuff that I think might be sub-par. Sometimes I wish I had (even) lower standards.

Heh. I know what you mean. Just looking back at my post from last night, all I can think about is the ways in which it needs to be edited.

Meanwhile, re: the spirituality-and-marriage dynamic in Mel Gibson's life, the latest rant that has been leaked to the web (I can't play it, because I'm not based in the U.S.) reportedly includes a bit where Gibson says, "I left my wife because we had no spiritual common ground." I have no idea what to make of that.

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I've never heard of the Radar and as they won't let you listen to their exclusive then I don't want to leap to believing their story just because they say so.

But if it is true then it's pretty shocking. And it would put all that violence in The Passion and Braveheart in a new light IMO.

Matt

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Mel Gibson’s Christian defenders stay mostly silent on latest outbursts

One friend of Mel did respond to inquiries from The Upshot: Bill Donohue. Donohue was conflicted, to put it mildly, about his "friend" screaming a long string of violent and sexual threats at Grigorieva, as well as a number of racial epithets, including the N-word. . . .

Donohue said so few of Gibson's co-religionists are rushing to his defense because "there's a sense of exasperation" about his antics. "We have to see some evidence that he's pivoted. The ball's in his court, but people are going to walk away at some point."

Yahoo! News, July 14

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Donohue said so few of Gibson's co-religionists are rushing to his defense because "there's a sense of exasperation" about his antics. "We have to see some evidence that he's pivoted. The ball's in his court, but people are going to walk away at some point."

Yahoo! News, July 14

it isn't like Gibson is Charely Sheen-there will be limits for what people will accept from Mel.

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Frank Rich @ New York Times piles on (but of course):

Six years ago he was not merely an A-list movie star with a penchant for drinking and boorish behavior but also a powerful and canonized figure in the political and cultural pantheon of American conservatism. That he has reached rock bottom tells us nothing new about Gibson. He was the same talented, nasty, bigoted blowhard then that he is today. But his fall says a lot about the changes in our country over the past six years. We shouldn’t take those changes for granted. We should take stock — and celebrate. They are good news.

Does anyone remember 2004? It seems a civilization ago. That less-than-vintage year was in retrospect the nadir of the American war over “values.” The kickoff fracas was Janet Jackson’s breast-baring “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl, which prompted a new crackdown against televised “indecency” by the Federal Communications Commission. By December Fox News and its allies were fomenting hysteria about a supposed war on Christmas, with Newt Gingrich warning of a nefarious secular plot “to abolish the word Christmas” altogether and Jerry Falwell attacking Mayor Michael Bloomberg for using the euphemism “holiday tree” at the annual tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center. In between these discrete culture wars came a presidential election in which the Bush-Rove machine tried to whip up evangelical turnout by sowing panic over gay marriage.

It was into that tinderbox of America 2004 that Gibson tossed his self-financed and self-directed movie about the crucifixion, “The Passion of the Christ.” The epic was timed to detonate in the nation’s multiplexes on Ash Wednesday, after one of the longest and most divisive promotional campaigns in Hollywood history. . . .

It seems preposterous in retrospect that a film as bigoted and noxious as “The Passion” had so many reverent defenders in high places in 2004. Once Gibson, or at least the subconscious Gibson, baldly advertised his anti-Semitism with his obscene tirade during a 2006 D.U.I. incident in Malibu, his old defenders had no choice but to peel off. Today you never hear conservatives mention their embrace of “The Passion” back then — if they mention Gibson at all. (Fox News has barely covered the new tapes.) But it isn’t just Gibson who has been discredited. Even as he self-immolated, so did many of the moral paragons who had rallied around him as a culture-war martyr.

Take, for instance, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. During the “Passion” wars, he had tried to blackmail Gibson’s critics by publicly noting that Christians are “a major source of support for Israel” and that Jewish leaders would be “shortsighted” to “risk alienating two billion Christians over a movie.” That evangelical leader was Ted Haggard, the Colorado megachurch pastor since brought down by a male prostitute. Gibson’s only outspoken rabbinical defender in 2004, the far-right Daniel Lapin, would be sullied in the scandals surrounding the subsequently jailed Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. William Donohue of the Catholic League — who defended Gibson in 2004 by saying, “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular” — has been reduced these days to the marginal role of attacking The Times for reporting on priestly child abuse.

The cultural wave that crested with “The Passion” was far bigger than Gibson. He was simply a symptom and beneficiary of a moment when the old religious right and its political and media shills were riding high. In 2010, the American ayatollahs’ ranks have been depleted by death (Falwell), retirement (James Dobson) and rent boys (too many to name). What remains of that old guard is stigmatized by its identification with poisonous crusades, from the potentially lethal antihomosexuality laws in Uganda to the rehabilitation campaign for the “born-again” serial killer David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) in America. . . .

As utter coincidence would have it, the revelation of the latest Gibson tapes was followed last week by the news that a federal appeals court, in a 3-0 ruling, had thrown out the indecency rules imposed by the F.C.C. after Janet Jackson’s 2004 “wardrobe malfunction.” The death throes of Mel Gibson’s career feel less like another Hollywood scandal than the last gasps of an American era.

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Matt linked to this at his blog the other day, but I think it merits mentioning here, too:

Miles Teves has a page on his website devoted to concept art and make-up tests for The Passion of the Christ, including prosthetic noses, wounds that expose Jesus' bones -- did the movie itself ever go that far? -- and a few other things.

Oh, and I don't know what to make of some of the "hair concepts", especially given that Gibson's film is hugely influenced by Renaissance art, which as far as I know does NOT resemble some of the images here, e.g.:

Passion-Jesus+hair+concepts-1.jpg

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Yes, I wasn't sure what to make of these either. Initially I thought it might just be something to do with applying make up, but in that first image the hair is still very much in his face.

Matt

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Ribs were exposed during the flogging scene--er, I mean, act. The flogging act.

Edited by Buckeye Jones

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Miles Teves has a page on his website devoted to concept art and make-up tests for The Passion of the Christ, including prosthetic noses, wounds that expose Jesus' bones -- did the movie itself ever go that far? -- and a few other things.

Very grisly. I haven't seen THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST in years, so I don't know how accurate the conceptual violence is to the real deal.

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Sheesh. You know you're in trouble when you've actually put yourself in a position to be morally one-upped by Leonardo DiCaprio.

We all know the type of Christian movie fan who believed The Passion was the greatest film made since Charlton Heston hung up his robe and sandals, but who would refuse to watch films by, say, Polanski because of his reprehensible immorality. Has Mel Gibson now done enough to get those fans to jump ship, or will he have to do something worse?

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mrmando wrote:

: Sheesh. You know you're in trouble when you've actually put yourself in a position to be morally one-upped by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Quasi-ahem.

But your follow-up question is certainly very germane to this thread. My only question would be whether CHRISTIANS have been boycotting Polanski all that much. CONSERVATIVES certainly have been -- and they've been making much hay over the differences in treatment between Polanski on the one hand and Gibson on the other hand -- but I'm not sure Polanski makes the kind of films that self-consciously Christian moviegoers would be inclined to see in the first place. (Oliver Twist might be the only film of his in the past few decades that would have even interested them.) (Well, and I guess The Pianist had a certain built-in appeal, being a Holocaust movie and all.)

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I think time is the key factor really. Prior to his Switzerland arrest Polanski's crimes were way back in the past. As things settle down most people forget them.

In ten years Mel Gibson will be able to make films again. Some people will still protest, but the majority will have forgotten / found their moral outrage diluted by the years.

Matt

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MattPage wrote:

: I think time is the key factor really. Prior to his Switzerland arrest Polanski's crimes were way back in the past.

For the most part, yeah. Although the fact that he won an Oscar in 2003 and couldn't come to America to pick it up -- and so soon after the Elia Kazan controversy -- certainly revived the issue in some people's minds. That was followed a few years later by a documentary devoted to the subject of Polanski's crimes, and the documentary, in turn, made the American courts more aggressive in trying to get him arrested overseas. In other words, no one cared about Polanski much when he was cranking out easily-ignored crap like Bitter Moon or The Ninth Gate, but once he started winning accolades for his quality filmmaking again with films like The Pianist etc., he became a target and a symbol of the industry's supposedly screwed-up priorities.

So Mel Gibson will be able to make films again, sure; indeed, he might still be rich enough to finance his own films NOW. (I say "might be" because he's going through a divorce and there's no way of knowing how much of his personal fortune will end up in his ex-wife's hands.) But he won't be able to release them without running the gauntlet of "Is the public ready to accept you again?" stories (just look at how irritated Gibson got by such questions while promoting Edge of Darkness), and if any of these films turn out to be "successful", in terms of ticket sales or awards or whatever, we can expect to see all the controversies roaring back to life, just as they did for Polanski and Kazan.

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We have a thread dedicated to the breakdown of Mel Gibson's marriage, but not to the drunk-driving incident that preceded it; we did, however, discuss the drunk-driving incident a fair bit earlier in this thread, starting here. So I figure this is as good a place as any for this link, which mentions a detail that I don't think I've ever heard before:

- - -

Isaacs Shocked By Gibson's Rant

Jewish actor Jason Isaacs was stunned to learn about his friend Mel Gibson's alleged drunken anti-Semitic rant in 2006, because he remembers his The Patriot co-star as a "tender" man. . . .

"The night of that rant he had come from (the home of) a Jewish friend of mine who has an orthodox Jewish wife and had taken a gift for them - that got lost in the headlines. I heard the tapes and I can't make excuses. That said he will be enormously troubled about what he heard on those tapes. We all know people who when they're drunk want to get people to hit them and that's part of what he did."

Isaacs reveals he spoke to Gibson at an event a few months after the incident and adds, "He came up to me, so I said: 'Rabbi Gibson!' And he said: 'Give me a break - I was drunk.' I hope he finds peace."

WENN, June 20

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