I don’t often call out a movie review, especially not one from the Seattle Times; I’ve always found their reviews to be completely untrustworthy, so I typically ignore them. But Mark Rahner’s review for the DVD release of the Passion of the Christ really has me fed up with this paper’s unabashed dislike of all things Christian. After a generally positive review of Saved! you would think I’d be ready for anything, but this review really lowers the bar. I quote:
“Yow, what a stinker! Almost none of Christ’s meaning. Beautifully photographed fetish gore in prolonged detail that makes Italian cannibal flicks look like quilting-bee material. The Savior by way of Monty Python (No? Check the geyser when He gets jabbed with the spear.) A sicko horror flick masquerading as an expression of Mel’s twisted spirituality.”
“None of Christ’s meaning,” when found in a book or movie review without any supporting facts, is always a clue that the author has no idea what’s actually in the Gospels. It’s equivalent to the jokers who hold up protest signs reading “Jesus was a hippy.” If you don’t understand that Christ’s ultimate meaning was to suffer more pain than any human ever has for the sins of the world, then you have no idea what Christ’s meaning really was.
Then Rahner contradicts himself; was the problem that the movie was too violent, or that the violence wasn’t real enough? Let’s try and be intellectually honest here. There was no violence in this movie that isn’t shown exactly as it was described in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And unlike Kill Bill, which received a glowing review from the same paper, none of the violence was meaningless or random. Is Rahner suggesting that the whipping scenes, so vividly outlined in the New Testament, was some kind of fetish footage? Obviously Rahner skipped Bible class that day. Did Mel Gibson’s movie use violence to inspire faith, or did it demonstrate that being on the receiving end of violence has often been an inevitable result of our faith? Recent beheadings are also reminders that simply being a Christian is sometimes all it takes.
But that’s not the part that bothers me. Rahner punctuates his review with a thumbs-up for South Park: The Passion of the Jew. Once a regular watcher of South Park, as well as someone who walked out on South Park: the Movie, no one knows better than I do that there’s nothing Trey Parker and Matt Stone can do that’s worth recommending to anybody. Like so many did before “Passion” came out they try to dismiss it as anti-Jewish; the problem with that is that things are as they’re written, and if the Jewish leaders had been removed from the story Gibson would have been Biblically inaccurate. The fact that Christ himself was Jewish and so were many of his supporters and disciples doesn’t seem to be very important to critics who want to seem especially “sensitive.” For those well-meaning people who would like to do what they can for the modern Jewish community, I have a more constructive suggestion than going after Mel; support Israel in their fight against terror.