OxBlog

Thursday, February 26, 2004

# Posted 10:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PORNOGRAPHIC CHRIST: Andrew Sullivan says the following about Gibson's Passion:
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. We first of all witness the use of sticks, then whips, then multiple whips with barbed glass or metal. We see flesh being torn out of a man's body. Just so that we can appreciate the pain, we see the whip first tear chunks out of a wooden table. Then we see pieces of human skin flying through the air. We see Jesus come back for more. We see blood spattering on the torturers' faces. We see muscled thugs exhausted from shredding every inch of this man's body. And then they turn him over and do it all again. It goes on for ever. And then we see his mother wiping up masses and masses of blood. It is an absolutely unforgivable, vile, disgusting scene.
The same metaphor of pornography appears in this eloquent letter-to-the-editor from the NYT, which happens to be written by my very thoughtful uncle:
As a psychiatrist, I wish to state my profound concern about the mental anguish and suffering that Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" is likely to cause not only to the young and impressionable but to anyone seeing it ("Tears and Gasps for "Passion,' " news article, Feb. 24).

Mr. Gibson's searing and prolonged depiction of sadistic violence is wrenching and traumatic. His meticulous and obsessive portrayal of torture, mutilation, bleeding and physical pain is a lurid, cruel and pornographic assault on the feelings and senses of the viewer.

The intensity and repetitiveness of this sordid and painful imagery are as traumatic to witness as watching the hijacked planes crash into the World Trade Center again and again.

In my opinion, this movie is not only blatantly anti-Semitic but is also anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and demeaning to the true meaning and message of kindness, love and compassion that are the real teachings of both Judaism and Christianity.
The comparison of the Passion to September 11th raises an interesting point. To what degree is an immediate inundation of the senses necessary to overcome the detachment that develops in time? Having lived through September 11th, we have no need to watch the planes crash again and again. But are there Christians who might be inspired by this sort of film, which goes beyond the violence of gospel? Or does a reliance on such fare suggest a spiritual failure on the part of the Church to inspire its members with the ideas that Christ stood for?

Of course, I have no answers. But I most certainly agree with the sentiments of one of the NYT's letter writers (not a relative of mine) who writes that "There is only one thing to be said about Mel Gibson's version of "The Passion of the Christ": Forget the movie, read the book. It's good." Agreed.
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