and the Live Sex Show
Panama Red Plays Roosendaal
to Amsterdam, Buffy
PASSION OF MEL"
from Jim Terr to Panama Red
Santa Fe, NM February
Panny - if you want
to run my review of "The Passion of the Christ", feel
free (attached); I'd be honored. Remove KUNM reference, of course...
I've got a two-word review for Mel Gibson's new movie, The Passion
of the Christ:
OK, to be fair, Mel
is reportedly a devout Christian, and for those for whom the story
of Jesus' betrayal, arrest, torture and execution have great meaning,
evidently this film is a vivid, moving re-enactment. Although at
the matinee showing I attended in Santa Fe, I did not observe the
sobbing and stunned silence I had been led to expect, not even in
my Christian friend who had asked me to accompany her to the movie.
Interestingly, she said her own image and experience of Jesus is
so personal, that she couldn't relate to the actor on-screen as
Jesus at all.
For the rest of us,
non-believers and lesser believers, for myself at least, the film
was an unrelenting, mind-numbing, one-note sadism fest that went
on about thirty times too long. I had seen four excellent films,
all violent, in the preceding couple of weeks: Elephant, City
of God, Bus 154 and Monster. So I don't mind violence
in films when it's interesting, but The Passion of the Christ was
just a nightmare come alive on screen - which I suppose was the
As for the issue
of the film stimulating anti-Semitism, my worst fears were not realized.
I'm no biblical scholar, and I don't know whether the culpability
of the Jewish priests was overplayed and Pontius Pilate's underplayed,
as some have reported. In any case, it may be wishful thinking on
my part, but I found the evil scheming of the Jewish priests, and
their evil countenances, to be so caricatured, that it's hard to
believe such an unrelateable portrayal would inflame anyone today.
Ours is not, after
all, a society so unsophisticated that huge masses of people can
be whipped up and misled by manipulative leaders with their own
I think the film's
Oscar potential is limited by its heavy-handedness and its specialty-market
appeal, and I was also slightly distracted by various credibility
problems, like Jesus' mother appearing to be younger than he is,
and Jesus' lumber appearing to have been machine-milled in Washington
state. I also suspect that the Jewish priests wouldn't really have
followed the bloodbath all the way up the hill and through the crucifixion,
but that's just based on my own modern observation of politicians
who like to keep a comfortable distance from the mayhem they create.
This brings me to
my own novel theory of what Mel Gibson really had in mind
here. Admittedly, I see almost everything in a political way, and
the aspect of this story that interested me the most was how easily
leaders could make - or allow - a cruel decision, without appearing
to be responsible. I see parallels to modern-day schemers and frontmen
directing an anxious society to easy targets, for appealing but
implausible reasons. Like, say, Saddam Hussein, whom 60% of Americans
still believe had something to do with 9-11, and was the most evil,
threatening dictator in the world, compared to, uh...let's see...
who are some of the others?
So maybe Mel Gibson
is trying to help us understand our own times. But more likely,
he's just reinforced the loyalty of the faithful, to those leaders
most skilled at projecting strength, reverence and righteousness.
If the vivid suffering
in this film causes viewers -- as it did me -- to think about the
suffering that millions of people endure every day, and what more
we can do to prevent it, then it will have done some wider good
-- whether intended by the director or not.
For KUNM, this is
( Jim Terr is a Santa
Fe satirist and video producer, whose website is www.BlueCanyonProductions.com
From Panama Red to Jim
Nashville, TN February
Ordinarily I'd be honored to run your review, especially seeing
as how I myself have
apparently stopped writing forever.
of my readers are indeed devout Zoroastrians or something, and there
are a few Republicans thrown in there as well. Neither group is
likely to catch the literary twist of the lips when it comes to
that part about us being a sophisticated society...they'd probably
just agree with you.
over his movie is one that Mel has been manufacturing for over a
year now...first he came out and said that he was gonna release
the movie no matter how many obstacles people put in his way...at
a time when nobody had objected to (or even heard about) it at all.
Then last week I saw a full-page ad from the Jews for Jesus in the
NY Times urging Mel to stay the course (they didn't really say "stay
the course", of course, I'm just using a phrase that has recently
gained currency, one which everyone understands to mean "keep
on fucking up no matter what"). Of course the only people who
see any controversy in yet another rendition of the greatest story
ever told are those who've been told a controversy actually exists
by Entertainment Tonight. And they're all on the side of the true
believers...the rest of us couldn't care less.
The truth is that
nobody really gives a ratsass about Mel's vision of the death of
Christ and the birth of Christianity except...well, fundamentalist
Christians, who like to paint themselves as still being oppressed
and threatened by lions on every side even today when they are the
most oppressive group on the planet.
Except maybe the Chinese government.
And the Taliban, I guess.
And of course the Nashville School Board.
Well, Mel cares,
I guess, and his dad, the famous holocaust-denying, Catholic apologist/writer/scholar,
cares too, and maybe Mel's Catholic wife and eight Catholic children.
And, I suppose, the usual plethora of Jew-baiters and nigger-haters
just waiting out there for something to be stirred up about. And
this "controversial" film, released just in time for Easter
I notice, is gonna put asses in the seats and that's what Entertainment
is all about. But he ain't ever gonna top "Braveheart".
I must confess that
I haven't seen the movie: my vow of poverty prevents me from going
to the cinema unless Patty's in the flick. But I was struck by your
reference to the "countenances" of the Jewish plotters.
Did you mean they have, like, hooked noses and crafty leers and
stuff like that? That Protocols of Zion stuff? If so, just seeing
that might be worth the price of a ticket.
I saw a piece on
60 Minutes the other week about The Rapture: that predicted time
when a very small group of fundamentalist Christians (i.e. those
who actually believe in The Rapture, and Mel, being Catholic and
not born again, will not be among them) are going to leave Earth
and all its sinful fetters and go live with the Lord, leaving the
rest of us down here in eternal torment. Dubya has claimed fellowship
with this group. Will there be oil in Heaven?
Personally, I can't wait for The Rapture to occur: the sooner the
snake-handlers and their used-car-salesmen prophets have shipped
themselves off to hang out with Jesus the sooner we poor damned
can get around to working on saving the planet unimpeded by the
superstitions of old books. I do feel sorry for Jesus, though.
Meantime, just in
case Mel's movie inflames some passions to the point of being incendiary
this Passover, make sure you got that sheep's blood on your door
lintel or wherever it is you people put it.
Yours in Christ