I have no desire to see “The Passion of the Christ.” I’m not a big fan of Jesus movies (I especially disliked “The Matrix” franchise), so that pretty much rules this one out for a Saturday afternoon or night at home with popcorn and stolen Pepsi. Even though I don’t like movies about Jesus, I have been following the controversy (or as my local newspaper wrote, “controversary”), and I think it merits my two cents. Actually, it’s begging for it.

Mel Gibson’s film, which has a title that makes it sound like a porno movie, caused a huge controversy before most people even saw the damn thing. (And by “most people,” I mean anyone not affiliated with a church.) The bone of contention? The way Jews are portrayed in relation to Jesus’ death. This controversy isn’t helped by the fact that Gibson’s father openly blames Jews for everything from controlling the media to burnt microwave popcorn. Not surprisingly, Gibson’s father also thinks the Holocaust is a clever bit of fiction. Gibson, on the other hand, wants people to believe the fruit falls far from the lynching tree — on some things. Is anyone buying that? Yes. And the biggest supporter is your local church.

Some churches have actually voiced in on the controversy and have given the film their blessings. Some have even put up posters for it inside their sacred halls. (Man, imagine how much better the numbers would’ve been if “Catch That Kid” could’ve gotten its posters inside some churches.) With the churches on Gibson’s side, all he had to do was win over the one group of people his father has gone out of his way to insult the entire time.

Oddly enough, the “Jew controlled media” has also hyped the film by doing specials on it as well as running all kinds of interviews with Jesus “experts” and Mel Gibson, the man who starred in “Bird on a Wire.” So, while everyone but the Jews is endorsing the film, the “Jew controlled media” is doing its best to give it all kinds of free publicity.

Father Gibson’s head must be ready to explode.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I love movie controversies. They make life exciting, and they give me something to write about. This one, though, seems a bit odd and kind of nasty. I mean, the movie doesn’t even look that good. Have you seen that shot of Jesus dragging the cross through the streets? He’s all bloody and his mouth is gaping open in pain. That’s just eerie. And the fact that Gibson’s dad is so ignorantly vocal gives the entire thing an atmosphere similar to a David Duke political campaign. The entire reason behind this film is also a bit of a mystery to me.

I don’t know why Gibson wanted to make this movie. I know he mentioned something about it keeping him from killing himself (thus really ruining the chances of another Mad Max film), but it still seems like a strange choice for him. I know he’s homophobic, a man of faith and a prankster, but how does that relate to making what looks like a fairly standard film about Jesus? Is he trying to please his father? Is this an Oscar attempt? (Fat chance in the “Jew controlled Hollywood.” Right, Mel?) Did he like the script? Did he just want to piss off a certain segment of society?

Who knows. The fact is he made it and now people are acting like they’re being crucified just because the film exists. I think the only group that hasn’t had something to say on this is ACT UP. (Maybe if Jesus were a gay serial killer …) Everybody wants to get on the bandwagon and say it either looks like an incredible piece of film history or that it’s hate propaganda made by one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it doesn’t look like either.

Like I said, I haven’t seen the film and don’t really plan on it. It just looks too boring. I don’t care if Gibson is accusing the Jews of killing Jesus. I don’t care if he’s saying the aliens from “Signs” did it. It still won’t change the fact that this is a movie based on a story that most people already know and far too many people take literally. The fact that churches are supporting it is one other reason I won’t see it. Anything any church deems as “appropriate” art or entertainment can only be one thing: bland. “VeggieTales” anyone?

Prosecuted comic book artist Mike Diana once sent me a video he did called “The Second Cumming.” It featured Jesus in a light that was a little less than flattering, and I’m pretty sure it would offend just about every religious group in the country. I’m also sure it would offend Gibson and his daddy. It was one of the few Jesus movies I’ve actually enjoyed, however, and I’m pretty sure I know what that says about me. Unlike Gibson’s film, though, Diana’s movie actually took some chances and really set out to offend (and had anyone besides me and about three hundred other people seen it, it would have). Gibson’s movie just looks like a big budget art film that looked so mediocre that it would need a controversy to get people interested, so that is exactly what was brewed up. Then Gibson’s agent gave Gibson’s father some rum and turned on the tape recorder. It’s been a rollercoaster ride ever since.

Brilliant marketing strategy.

Believe what you want about Jesus and the way he died. (If he ever really existed at all, I must add.) If it makes you feel better, blame the Jews. I don’t believe in any of it, so I can’t really point fingers. (If I had to place blame on anyone, though, I’d say OJ Simpson did it.) Just don’t fall for fake controversy that balloons into real lunacy. Did we learn nothing from “Basic Instinct”?

Apparently not.

Discuss Doug Brunell’s “Excess Hollywood” column in Film Threat’s BACK TALK section! Click here>>>

Posted on February 25, 2004 in Features by


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