A passionate debate on The Passion, revisited
Have you ever noticed how sometimes there is a controversy that seems to be tearing up everyone, as though the fate of the world depended on it, and then it passes, and you wonder, what was that all about? Sometimes the controversy may subside because there wasn’t really much at stake. Other times it may be because one side was proved wrong and the argument has been settled.
I’m thinking of the big fight about Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie The Passion. Certainly the main point of controversy, that the movie was anti-Semitic and would inspire a wave of anti-Semitism, was demonstrated to be a lot of hysterical hot air. Some major names in the world of opinion journalism, e.g., Charles Krauthammer, seriously embarrassed themselves with their fantasies of movie fans leaving the theaters and setting upon the Jews.
For anyone who is interested, here is VFR’s long and intense discussion on it in March 2004.
My own view set me both against those who attacked the movie as anti-Semitic, and those who adored it as a Christian classic. I initially laid out my position in the first comment I posted after I saw the movie, which began as follows:
In America, everyone has a God-given right to express his opinion on “The Passion,” so here’s mine. No offense intended to anyone….Much later, toward the end of the discussion, I summed up my position in the below, typically exquisitely diplomatic comment:
So that’s the key question here. The question is not whether one is Christian or not, or devout or not (or anti-Semitic or not). The question is, does one uncritically swallow the fake, vulgar, degrading tropes of contemporary pop entertainment—or not? And the sad reality is that millions of conservatives and Christians do swallow them.I’m not looking to re-open the debate here, but am re-linking it as it might be of interest to readers who have never seen it. The various arguments are already well represented in the existing thread.
Jim N. writes:
“So that’s the key question here. The question is not whether one is Christian or not, or devout or not (or anti-Semitic or not). The question is, does one uncritically swallow the fake, vulgar, degrading tropes of contemporary pop entertainment—or not? And the sad reality is that millions of conservatives and Christians do swallow them.”LA replies:
I must admit, this is an argument that no one (as far as I remember) made in the original thread: that Gibson’s over-the-top, ultra violence was the expression of a Christian religious vision. I know that some of the more florid elements of the movie came from a specific Catholic source, I guess that’s the Anne Catherine Emmerich you refer to, but not the ridiculous over-the-top violence and other specific things in the movie to which I objected.[Deleted Name] writes:
I remember reading that VFR thread on The Passion when it was in theaters. At that time I was pregnant and my mother had instructed me not see it because it could be too upsetting, but I was very interested and read all the commentary on it I could find. Most Catholic blogs agreed that it was a masterwork, “the greatest film ever made about Jesus Christ,” and I was really excited about seeing it when I was finally delivered of my child. Yours was the only dissenting voice I encountered amongst all the devout Christian commentators. After finally viewing it on DVD, I realized that you were pretty much right and that the glowing reviews from Christians had less to do with the quality of the film than with a sort of tribalism—when a fellow Christian makes a film about Our Lord and gets dumped on by secular leftists, you have to praise it to the skies even if it’s not that good.LA writes:
[Deleted Name’s] comment made my evening last night when I read it, as I had just seen another very unpleasant movie, though unlike “The Passion” it was made by an atheist, Ian McKuen, or rather based on his novel, “Atonement.” I’ll have more to say about “Atonement” later.David B. writes:
My high school math teacher is a devout Roman Catholic. A few months ago, I asked her opinion of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion.” She said that the film is very much a Roman Catholic vision of the story. In a Catholic church, the cross is displayed with Jesus on it. In a Protestant church, the cross is bare. This, she told me, is why Gibson made it as he did. To her, this is why some people do not “get” the film.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 29, 2008 12:04 PM | Send