Gibson’s “Passion” stirs controversy

By Matt Holtzman

As I plant myself down with the goal of unleashing some preconceived thoughts about The Passion of The Christ on my unwitting audience, Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant voices claw at one and other inside my head and insist that I do no such thing; but what’s really stopping me? The film, which is set to arrive in 2,000 theaters on Ash Wednesday, depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus Christ and uses graphic, protracted violence while displaying what some groups have called a strong emphasis on the guilt of the Jewish leaders in connection with the death of Christ. In particular, the famous line uttered by Caiaphas, “His blood be on us and our children,” which was historically used to condemn Jews, is said to be used in the picture. Among the critics of the movie, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has come to the forefront in recent times by saying that “the tremendous majority of Jews will be horrified” and he draws support from the Anti-Defamation League among other organizations.

The controversy surrounding the film and these accusations must be padded with a small amount of background information. Hutton Gibson, Mel Gibson’s father, is a longtime Holocaust revisionist and has denied al-Qaeda terrorist involvement in the September 11th attacks. His son is no less radical. The man responsible for such hits as What Women Want and the Lethal Weapon series belongs to a sect of Catholicism that denies changes made in 1965 to the Vatican, and the authority of all of the subsequent Popes. Mel lays blame squarely on the Jews for the death of Christ, an idea that has been rejected by the Vatican, and it is important to understand that he may have a more pointed agenda looming behind $25 million worth of artistic expression. Using more direct terminology, Riggs from Lethal Weapon is now acting as an envoy to the world for Christianity, and given the success of other Hollywood types such as Arnold Schwarzenengger, perhaps Mel feels that his film will propel him into the Pope’s chair.

Another plausible explanation is that Mel is a publicity expert who has been manipulating the Jewish community and the Pope in order to promote his new movie Lethal Weapon 33 A.D. Speaking of the Pope, John Paul II, one of the strongest Vatican proponents for the Jewish people, has apparently had praise for the movie falsely attributed to his name. What is even more remarkable is the support given by members of the Jewish community such as Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Lapin has stated that the film is not anti-Semitic in nature, yet he is quoted on the film’s website as saying that he warns Jews not to see the film. In Mel Gibson’s defense, he has stated that his film indicts all of humanity for the death of Christ. However, would it be reasonable to pour the aforementioned amount of green into a film whose sole intent was to present what is arguably a more violent portrayal of the crucifixion? In addition, there have been two network broadcasts dealing with the life and death of Jesus within the last few years, and both grossed healthy amounts of money. Therefore, would it be unreasonable to expect new angles and interpretations in Gibson’s film? I would like to tell everyone to go watch the film. If you disagree with Mel’s beliefs, pay for another movie and go inside to watch what the hoopla is all about.