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Saturday, April 03, 2004

I don't know whether to laugh or cry

The Passion is working. A lot of friends and relatives of mine have gone to see this piece of shit, and when I ask them point blank why they are giving Mel Gibson money, they don't know what to say. The Jesus freaks are trumpeting the box office take of this movie while ignoring the huge percentages of the audience who saw it out of just pure curiousity. This whole situation almost seems designed to frustrate us evil well-read liberals who know the history of anti-Semitism and the role that Christianity has played in it. Most people I have asked about the anti-Semitism of this movie have just sort of blinked at me blankly. A handful of the more religious have said, "Well, the Jews did kill Jesus. This movie is just the facts." Pointing out that Romans in fact killed Jesus, and that crucifixion was a part of daily Roman life just doesn't penetrate. Jesus suffered worse than any other person ever, and that's the end of the story. Those other two dudes getting crucified with him in the Bible who were not victims of the ongoing Jewish Conspiracy are roundly ignored. That this movie has more to do with the passion plays of medieval times than the Bible isn't really understood. Most people couldn't tell you what the "blood libel" is.
People I know who have a grasp of the issues that this kind of anti-Semitic movie raises assure me that people's ignorance of the history of anti-Semitism acts as a sort of guard against them having those feelings themselves. If they don't see how this movie is anti-Semitic, then maybe they won't get its message. Well, I grew up in Bible Thumper Land and I know different. It is well-received that the Jews Killed Jesus and the only things that have kept that attitude contained is that the believers don't know or don't know they know any Jews and that there hasn't been a really good way to transmit and sustain this anti-Semitic belief. Well, this stupid movie has filled the hole.
In case, you didn't know, the Nazis had a really good understanding of how effective movies were for focusing people's prejudices. I'm glad South Park confronted this movie. It was surprisingly astute in how people can get swept up in a religious fervor and not realize that they are also getting swept into a racist mob.


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