PASSION OF A CRETIN
Despite his on-going denials, Gibson’s malignant with anti-Semitism. Of course he also goes after the Romans—most of whom are drunks with villainous yellow teeth—so the blame appears shared. But Gibson’s treatment of the Jews is irrefutably ingrained, as is his use of an effeminate Devil (played by a woman) who has this sly but nevertheless idiotic smile during the crucifixion very similar to the one seen on Bravefart’s deceased wife when she returns to comfort him as he lay dying. Prejudicial use of suggestive gender isn’t exclusive to Satan: Gibson’s Christ, in immoderate close-ups, couldn’t be a more beautiful white boy, so strikingly unlike what a real Christ might have appeared to be that there’s a disturbing mélange of confused emotions brushing against the movie’s sadomasochistic voyeurism.
More than a decade has passed since The Passion hit screens and hardly anyone seems eager to talk about it, certainly not as a good movie. It’s the residue hangover—a resentment over being duped by a foxy showman-liar who knew how to sell a lasting mythology as a canonical horror show. There’s more, too: the overdose of violence in The Passion produced a sense of blasé; like porno, we were sated fast and then turned off. (Nobel laureate Toni Morrison said she fell asleep during the movie; others, including this writer, sat untouched by all the verbal convulsions from a packed house of Christian right-wingers.) Gibson’s movie making isn’t entirely dishonorable—technically and visually it seems decent enough and the sound effects are realistic (the same is true for Apocalypto)—but his intentions remain highly suspect. In interviews, Gibson’s religious beliefs are marked by a defensive immaturity, a lack of intellectual cogency. Perhaps this comes about because he’s attempting to persuade himself in the process of convincing others, and as a result he appears cretinous—as he did with Diane Sawyer. (Confirmed when he was arrested for drunken driving and re-confirmed later when audio tapes of his misogynistic rages were released.) Chicago critic Don Selle wrote that The Passion of the Christ is “like going to a bad production of a lousy opera—what with all that Berlitz School of Languages.” Gibson didn’t and maybe still doesn’t think we’re smart enough to see through his Grand Guignol education as a way to hide behind his many unresolved hatreds.
Text COPYRIGHT © 2004 RALPH BENNER (Updated 7/2013) All Rights Reserved.