26 February 2004

Passion, like every other site on the web

I don’t have tons of time to blog tonight, even though I had a couple
of interesting conversations today (one somewhat strage one with a
student) that I do want to write about.

But I noted what Andrew Sullivan said on his blog on the Gibson film.  Here follows an excerpt:

[The film] brings this simple but
awe-inspiring story to life in a way very difficult to approximate in
the written or spoken word….
The Gospels do end in extraordinary drama,
pathos, plot, agony. Portraying them vividly may, we can hope, bring
some people to read the Gospels and even to explore further what the
redemptive message of Jesus really is.

At the same time, the movie was to me deeply
disturbing. In a word, it is pornography. By pornography, I mean the
reduction of all human thought and feeling and personhood to mere
flesh. The center-piece of the movie is an absolutely disgusting and
despicable piece of sadism that has no real basis in any of the
Gospels. It shows a man being flayed alive – slowly, methodically and
with increasing savagery….
Yet for Gibson, it is the h’ors d’oeuvre
for his porn movie. The whole movie is some kind of sick combination of
the theology of Opus Dei and the film-making of Quentin Tarantino.
There is nothing in the Gospels that indicates this level of extreme,
endless savagery and there is no theological reason for it. It doesn’t
even evoke emotion in the audience. It is designed to prompt the
crudest human pity and emotional blackmail – which it obviously does.
But then it seems to me designed to evoke a sick kind of fascination.
Of over two hours, about half the movie is simple wordless sadism on a
level and with a relentlessness that I have never witnessed in a movie
before. And you have to ask yourself: why? The suffering of Christ is
bad and gruesome enough without exaggerating it to this insane degree.
Theologically, the point is not that Jesus suffered more than any human
being ever has on a physical level. It is that his suffering was
profound and voluntary and the culmination of a life and a teaching
that Gibson essentially omits. One more example. Toward the end,
unsatisfied with showing a man flayed alive, nailed gruesomely to a
cross, one eye shut from being smashed in, blood covering his entire
body, Gibson has a large crow perch on the neighboring cross and peck
another man’s eyes out. Why? Because the porn needed yet another money

…The central message of Jesus – of love and
compassion and forgiveness – is reduced to sound-bites. Occasionally,
such as when the message of the sermon on the mount is juxtaposed with
the crucifixion, the effect is almost profound – because there has been
an actual connection between who Jesus was and what happened to him.
But this is the exception to the rule. Watching the movie, you can see
how a truly powerful rendition could have been made – by tripling the
flashbacks and context, by providing a biography of Jesus, by showing
us why he endured what he endured. Instead, all that context, all that
meaning, has been removed for endless sickening gratuitous violence.

And here’s an explanation for all of this, courtesy of the Times:

As an actor and successful director, from “Mad Max” (1979) through “Lethal Weapon” (1987) and its sequels to the Oscar-winning “Braveheart”
(1995), Mr. Gibson has long been a Hollywood pet. But he has also been
known as a prankster and a self-confessed abuser of various substances.
Many in the relentlessly secular movie industry see his recent
religious conversion — he practices a traditionalist version of Roman
Catholicism — as another form of addiction.

Sorry that we’re just doin’ quotes tonight.  More Nate-substance soon.

Posted in OnTheWeb on 26 February 2004 at 11:42 pm by Nate