March 01, 2004


Time magazine’s Richard Corliss, on artistic freedom:

Liberals—and being a member of the media, I of course count myself among them—can be a pretty funny bunch. When we are sympathetic to a controversial work of pop culture, we invoke the artist’s right to create in an climate of total freedom, whatever feelings of outrage the work may stoke among the ignorati. (That is: other people.) When we disapprove, we talk about his responsibility to the sensitivities and sensibilities of good people. (That is: us.)

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at March 1, 2004 11:38 AM

Great article. My Christian faith is under constant denigration by all manner of so called "art" "piss-Christ" which I had the honor of paying for thru my tax dollars via a NEA grant, so popular among the parasitic arts community in the US. Guess "artistic freedom" applies only when the taxpayers are getting their pockets picked.

Posted by: debbie at March 1, 2004 at 12:03 PM

No link to the Critical Mass comments unfortunately so I've got to paraphrase: "Disgusting, I don't think it even should be reviewed." (actually I think that might be verbatim)

…and Margaret 'Ken Park' Pomeranz's suddenly discovered that she objected to graphic violence (after having given a favourable review (4*) to Irreversable (sic) just a week ago).

It’s enough to make me want to vomit.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at March 1, 2004 at 12:13 PM

was it really published in Time? i still think it's a rag, but maybe some things are changing?

Posted by: niels at March 1, 2004 at 01:49 PM

Perfect example was The Age last week (no link) which front paged four people looking like a bunch of prim, purse-lipped censorship advocates standing outside a cinema showing the Mel Gibson film. A highlighted quote in the sidebar had one of them comparing the film to Gotterdammerung, 'which Hitler loved'.

Neat. Gibson = Hitler.

Posted by: ilibcc at March 1, 2004 at 02:02 PM

Is there any that we can have the fascist aesthetics without the concomitant nasties (holocaust etc)? I loved Triumph of the Will.

Posted by: Pig Head Sucker at March 1, 2004 at 02:42 PM

Leather boots, mmmm...

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 1, 2004 at 03:26 PM

PHS : Just look at the final scene from "Star Wars". Straight out of Leni Riefenstahl.

Not that this has anything to do with Mel Gibson's Great Gamble - which appears to have paid off. I haven't seen the film, and given the realistic and wholly appropriate depiction of some poor schmuck being judicially and ritually tortured to death by the original Fascist Regime, I won't be doing - but it appears to me that Gibson set out (successfuly) to depict not the Historical Crucifixion, but the view that was held of it by the Catholic church until Vatican II. There are deliberate innacuracies that make it more in conformance with European custom/tradition than with fact. It's a film, a docudrama, a piece of art, not a bald factual documentary.

As for it being anti-Semitic : Mel Gibson appears in exactly one scene. Or rather his hand does, hammering in the nails. Not exactly subtle, but it shows who killed Christ. We All Did. And although I'm not a Christian, even I get that.

Posted by: Alan E Brain at March 1, 2004 at 03:27 PM

Good article, but the best bit was the last five words:

"Guns, fists, tits and smirk."

Best potential title of a blog ever. Any takers?

Posted by: Andrew D. at March 1, 2004 at 04:38 PM

Good article in Time. Corliss makes great points.

Saw the movie last night. Was pretty good. I was concerned about the charges of anti-Semitism levelled at the film. I didn't find it anti-Semitic.

Gibson deals with the Resurrection, last scene in movie, in a unique way.

I didn't get sick or cry. I did go home and read the 4 Gospels to see how true to these accounts Gibson was.

I was very happy someone thumbed their nose at Hollywood and our PC press and made a very un-PC movie. (Christians are non-PC, Devout, Catholic Christians are so much 'worse' than non-PC I haven't a term.)

I wish others would thumb their noses at Hollywood and our PC press and make great movies about other non-PC topics. Two suggestions: "How the so-called 'Palestinian' leaders have used their own people for power and money.", "What the UN *really* does with all our money.".

Posted by: Chris Josepshon at March 1, 2004 at 10:35 PM

Does anyone expect mainstream cultural pundits, so enamored of themselves and petty pop culture, to understand this film? The Passion will persuade or convert no one and is not meant to. It is aimed squarely at the great mass of Christians, most notably American Protestants, who are currently divided into two camps, the true believers and the piety mouthers. The film will reinforce and confirm the faith of the true believers as it throws down the gauntlet to the piety mouthers: make a choice, believe in the Christ who bore all the sins of the world or forever cling to your long-haired, aphorism-slinging, Haight-Ashbury pseudo-Jesus, but don't say you Mad Max didn't give you a chance. The choice that Mel Gibson gives the film's viewers is simly beyond the comprehension of our cultural illuminati.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at March 2, 2004 at 12:20 AM

Absolutely right, Debbie. What many (though not all) of us were objecting to with "piss Jesus" (or perhaps your title is correct) and Karen Finley was not the content so much as the fact that our tax dollars were paying for it. As objectionable as I found those two works, I would have defended the constitutional right of the alleged artists to display/perform them. There is no such constitutional right to taxpayer money.

It is, of course, doubly ironic that many of the same people who thought that it was just fine to use taxpayer money for those two works now object to Mel Gibson's use of his own money to produce a testimony to his own religious faith.

Posted by: Jim at March 2, 2004 at 03:17 AM

Proof that there is a God, and that He has a sense of humor:

The Hollywood establishment, anti-Christians to a man, worship nothing more than money, and were violently opposed to this film.

Because he financed it out of his own pocket, the huge financial success of "Passion" goes straight into Mel Gibson's bank account. Meaning that he will pocket more on this one movie than anyone else in Hollywood history.

Nothing could be better caculated to torment the Hollywoodistas.

Posted by: R C Dean at March 2, 2004 at 03:28 AM

"but it appears to me that Gibson set out (successfuly) to depict not the Historical Crucifixion, but the view that was held of it by the Catholic church until Vatican II. There are deliberate innacuracies that make it more in conformance with European custom/tradition than with fact."

-- As a conservative Catholic, I'd like to ask Alan if he really thinks he knows what he's talking about. Like, have you read the documents of Vatican II lately? As far as "deliberate innacuracies" -- oh really? Like what, for example?

Posted by: Rez at March 2, 2004 at 04:53 AM

I remember striding bullishy through the mob of protesting God-botherers outside the hideous George Street cinemas in 1988 in order to see The Last Temptation of Christ. I went purely because noted redneck Fred Nile decreed that no-one should.
Like I'm gonna drop $14.50 when much the same ilk gives both thumbs up to The Passion?
Like Fred, Mel's never been that bright - he's the sort of fellow who gives the lunar right a bad rep.
While not especially interested in what went down on Golgotha (it "neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg" to borrow Jefferson's wonderful phrase)Gibson's track record as a "historical" filmmaker is not encouraging. Indeed the gross distortions inherent in Braveheart and especially The Patriot were almost Orwellian.
Moreover I've no wish to help Mel recoup his $30 mill _ not while the bastard still owes me eight 1990 dollars for dullest Hamlet committed to celluloid.
Those prepared to risk being struck by lightening might care to read what Hitchens has to say on "our" Mel:

Posted by: Paul Pottinger at March 2, 2004 at 01:59 PM

Waste your $14.50? Here's an idea, Paul: drop into your local parish church, do a quick round of the Stations of the Cross, and then donate a buck for each one on your way out.

Mel misses out and you're 50c ahead of the game.

Posted by: ilibcc at March 2, 2004 at 02:44 PM

I would, but I'm afraid of being struck by lightening.

Posted by: Paul Pottinger at March 4, 2004 at 02:29 PM