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Listen. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the new Mel Gibson film, The Passion of the Christ. Yesterday's cover of the esteemed NY Post boasted these twin messages: "Mel says, 'It's a hit!'" (mel has the humility of the christ) and "Our critics say, 'Too gory!'"

Several other critics and viewers have excoriated the film for its almost obsessive attention to violence, calling the film, "The Sado-Masochistic Passion of the Christ" and "Jesus Tastes the Whip of Shiny, Shiny Leather." One critic, at this web site, lashed out unnecessarily, saying, "If this movie's message doesn't make you believe in the glory of the Christ, it's probably only because you're jerking off to its violence...and shame on you for that, Ben Brown."

The New Yorker ripped Mel a new one for both the lavish, gory scenes and its clear message of anti-semitism. Denby asks, "I wonder, will people become better Christians if they are filled with the guilt, anguish, or loathing that this movie may create in their souls?" He makes a really compelling argument about the movie's hateful tone and spiritual abcess. I think this article would breed a lot of controversy and raise a lot of contemplation if ANYONE WHO READS THE NEW YORKER ACTUALLY BELIEVED IN GOD. But they don't, so it won't. Instead, religious minds will have to settle with Entertainment Weekly's slightly less provocative assessment of the film in their feature story, "Holy Melly! Don't be Cross - Give 'Christ' an Oscar!!"

I'm sure the movie is a sensitive portrayal of the last days of Gibson's – I mean, Jesus' – life. And, though I haven't read all of the New Testament, I believe Mel Gibson probably did not take any liberties with its text. He has spent a lot of time evidencing all of the research he's done for the film. I have complete confidence that the scene in which Jesus Christ fights a mummy and kills it by shooting lasers from his eyes is right there in the gospels. Matthew was there! Paul was there! Wolfman was there!!

As for the buzz about the anti-semitism subtext of The Passion of the Christ – a concern that unfortunately has not been allayed with the film's release – allow me to say this, as a representative Jew: sorry! Maybe we did kill the guy, but I have to be honest: it just didn't seem like a big deal at the time. You know? A lot of people got killed back then. It was just a historical inevitability. Just imagine how many other religions' potential savoirs were labeled heretics and murdered by the Catholic Church many centuries later! So, can't we just call it even? What if we promise not to murder any more Jesuses for at least for the next two hundred years? Come on! How about a hug?

[all i know is, if the jews ever beat this christ-killing rap, the romans are going to have a LOT to answer for. start getting your stories straight, guys.]

WE FIRST MET ON 02.25.2004

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