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'Passion' Critics (Too) Predictable

2/27/2004 - 7:45 AM PST

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by Matt Abbott

The critics of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” are utterly predictable. Besides those Jewish leaders and commentators who have been accusing the film of promoting anti-Semitism (when, actually, their unjust accusations – not the movie itself - might foment the anti-Semitism they are so concerned about), the critics can be placed in the following categories: those who are anti-religion, those who are anti-Christian (Catholic or Protestant), and those who are misguidedly liberal.

William Donohue of the Catholic League (www.catholicleague.org) once again hits the proverbial nail on the head in this Feb. 24 news release:

“Having failed to tag the movie as anti-Semitic, those who hate everything about Mel’s masterpiece are trying to convince the public not to see it because it’s too violent. Alas, there is a New Puritanism in the land. Violence has now joined cigarettes as the new taboo.

“But as it turns out, violence, like cholesterol, can be both good and bad. Consider New York Daily News reporter Jami Bernard. She voted the super-violent flick, ‘Gladiator,’ best picture for the year 2000. But she brands Mel’s film, ‘a compendium of tortures that would horrify the regulars at an S&M club.’ Yet she is a big fan of the Marquis de Sade—the pervert who wrote the book on S&M—and that is why she liked ‘Quills.’ Peter Rainer also condemns Mel’s movie for delving into ‘the realm of sadomasochism.’ Yet he commended Spielberg for the ‘gentleness’ he brought to ‘Saving Private Ryan.’

“Richard Corliss of Time thinks the only people who will be drawn to ‘The Passion’ are those ‘who can stand to be grossed out as they are edified.’ Yet he calls the ‘body halvings, decapitations, [and] unhandings’ of ‘Gladiator’ a ‘pleasure that we get to watch.’ Newsweek’s David Ansen says Mel’s film will ‘inspire nightmares,’ though he hails as ‘a must-see’ movie a flick about incest (‘The Dreamers’). David Denby of the New Yorker cites ‘The Passion’ as being so violent it ‘falls into the danger of altering Jesus’ message of love into one of hate.’ This is the same guy who said of ‘Schindler’s List’ that ‘the violence [is] neither exaggerated nor minimized.’

“The New Puritans will not win this one. The public does not share their deep-seated aversion to religion nor their phony pacifism.”

Then there’s the snide commentary, a la Andy Rooney and some others, that Mel Gibson will make millions off the crucifixion. He should give it to charity, said one commentator. I wonder if they said the same thing about Steven Spielberg for his portrayal of the Holocaust in ‘Schindler’s List.’ I doubt it.

As long as Mel doesn’t use whatever money he makes from “The Passion of the Christ” for some immoral purpose – and that’s highly unlikely – it shouldn’t matter to anyone what he does, or doesn’t do, with his money. It’s between Mel and God.

And dare I say that most of these aforementioned critics likely have no problem with the intrinsic evils of abortion and same-sex marriage. Go figure.

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